CategoryCloth diapers

Cloth diapering thoughts

We’ve been talking cloth diapers a lot around here lately. Caleb’s diapers have been leaking, and we’ve been trying to find out what exactly the problem is so we can solve it. I think I have it figured out.

I’ve seen a lot of ladies make cloth diapers using links I’ve used. I’m honored that people even read my blog! But since I’ve seen so many people sewing the same patterns I have, I wanted to share some of my observations about them, a year later. Maybe it will help other mamas not deal with a bit of the frustration we’ve dealt with.

Mama Bird Pocket Fitted – this was a great diaper because we could use it on a newborn. I stuffed it too full sometimes though so he ended up pretty bowlegged at times. I didn’t sew many because I didn’t want to keep sewing more every time he hit a growth spurt. Her sizing is pretty accurate too. Just make sure your printer is set to 100% or else you’ll have a bunch of preemie dipes.

Rita’s Rump Pocket – the one we use the most now. I love it. It’s easy to sew, goes together quickly, and is really versatile. We have 2 dozen of these. They fit well from about 10 pounds and up. When the babies are much smaller than that there’s just too much diaper.

Diapersewing.com – a great how-to site with lots of pics

I did learn a few things along the way. The first dipes I made were actually fleece covers and not the diapers themselves. I used two layers of fleece and drew my own pattern, following the instructions on diapersewing.com. They’ve held up wonderfully, and I’m actually using them for Caleb right now with his nighttime diapers. The fleece will compression wick some though, so now I add a waterproof layer and that is solved.

The RRP and MB patterns are really nice, but I would change things around the next time I make them. Made just as a diaper that needs a cover, and they’d be great.

I didn’t see that there was a pattern for the Rita’s Rump Pocket cover until I’d already sewn all of the basic pattern as fleece outer pockets. That’s ok, but one of the other patterns on her site would have probably worked better for us.

The way I made them was with an outer layer of flannel and an inner of fleece, and they wick. A lot. The problem is there’s too much of the inner flannel edges exposed to baby’s clothes – which ends up getting everything wet. I would either make the outside out of PUL the next time or find a way to keep the flannel away from the edges (I just saw a pattern on the RRP site today that looks like it would fit this description). I chose fleece for the outer because it’s water resistant, but either the fleece I used was too cheap (a possibility) or the flannel gets too close to the outside. When you sew the leg elastic area, you can pull the flannel so that the fleece rolls to the inside, but I didn’t do a good enough job of it.

The fleece outer is great because it’s pinnable, but it compression wicks too. I stuff them with two pieces – a waterproof rectangular piece (which was an old crib liner I had laying around – I needed something fast and it worked) and a microfiber shop towel. The microfiber is a lot more absorbent than the cotton I was using.

I was using cotton washcloths, sandwiched in a flannel case to stuff the diapers with. Those were ok, and I used them because I had them. Then I read about how good microfiber was, so I bought a pack of the cloths. They’re about the size of a large washcloth. Folded in thirds, and they hold just as much as the cotton did – without as much bulk. I’m a lot happier with them so far, but we’ve only had them for about a week so that opinion could change.

I’ve been reading up on diaper sewing again wanting to get ideas to make our system work better. I like the ease of the pocket diapers, but that’s useless if they leak.

I’d considered going back to diapers with covers, but don’t really want to mess with prefolds again (we probably have a good 6 dozen of varying weights).

Another thing I tried was turning the elastic edges of Caleb’s diaper in when I change diapers. That seems to be working, but I’ve not done it long enough to have much of an opinion on it yet.

All that said – I wanted to give an update. I still love cloth diapering (my blue plaid diapers are just too fun), but we’ve had just enough leaks that it’s time to revisit our system again. Having cloth diapers is useless if you end up buying disposables just to avoid leaks!

Our cloth diapering system

My friend Jessie and I have been discussing cloth diaper sewing on her blog. She’s expecting a new little girl soon via adoption, and she’s trying to find last-minute things to do while she waits. She mentioned that she’s sewn some cloth diapers, and the discussion began.

We really have an odd assortment of diapers for our cloth diaper stash. I have two dozen (I think) Rita’s Rump Pocket diapers (RRP), several dozen prefolds of varying weights, a variety of fitted diapers, and a couple covers that were given to me.

We used some Mama Bird pocket diapers when C was a newborn. I loved those, but he grew out of them and since I had the RRP diapers, I didn’t sew any Mama Bird ones in bigger sizes. They were my favorites, but they’re not one-size-fits-most like the RRP diapers are.

The Rita’s Rump Pockets all have fleece on the outside and flannel on the inside. There are four different kinds of fleece that I used. Two were given to me, one from Walmart, and one from our local fabric store, Mary Jo’s. The thicker fleece is more waterproof, but not drastically so. They worked fine at first leak-wise, but now that C is bigger we need more than just one layer of fleece. We were stuffing them with homemade doublers – a cheap washcloth folded in thirds and encased in a “pillowcase” of flannel. Those work fine just like that for shorter periods during the day. Then we added some waterproof pieces – an old waterproof crib mattress pad cut into pieces slightly larger than the washcloth doublers. I zig-zagged around the edges of the mattress pad sections just to keep the layers together better.

I’ve also been using the fitted diapers with the fleece covers I sewed when S was tiny. I used the instructions from diapersewing.com. They are all two layers of fleece, and work pretty well at containing leaks. For nights I like to add another waterproof layer though. We might not really need it but the waterproof layer is really thin and doesn’t add bulk, and I like the extra peace of mind.

We also have quite a few contour diapers. The thin ones we use to stuff the RRP diapers, and the thicker ones we use inside the fleece covers.

We still wash a load of diapers every 2-3 days, but that’s because our diaper pail is really small. If we had to, we could probably go a good 5 days between diaper washing.

My babysitter oops

Yesterday I went and picked up our babysitter A for piano lessons. I meant to tell her that C had a cloth diaper on and would be needing a change soon.

Quick explanation here. . .she watched S for me too when he was tiny. We used to use prefolds and separate diaper covers with him. Since not everybody is adept at diaper folding, pinning, etc., I kept disposables on hand so she wouldn’t have to mess with it. Now I use the pocket diapers with C, so I showed her the ones with the velcro tabs to use if we were out of disposables. Just as easy as paper. . .

Yesterday she goes in the room to change a diaper. . .and cannot find the disposables. So she looks for one with velcro. Those are nowhere to be found either. So she finds one of the bigger pocket dipes and uses that. No problem.

I felt SO bad though! There were plenty of the velcro ones left, but because of our washer situation, they were still sitting in a laundry basket in my bedroom waiting to be stuffed and put away. I’m having a hard time staying on top of laundry right now, but I’ll be making sure the diapers are washed and easily found from now on. I tend to forget that not everybody knows which liners work best in which diapers and that there’s velcro diapers and waterproof covers in the bottom drawer.

A was very sweet about it all, but I still felt really bad about it!

Cloth diaper picture

Here’s a picture of C wearing one of the Mama Bird pocket diapers I made for him. He’s just over 9 pounds and these diapers fit him well. The ones where I didn’t lengthen the tabs won’t fit for much longer, but these are great.

The tabs have to be positioned lower down on the strip of velcro otherwise the edges rub against his skin. I’m not really sure what I could do next time to prevent that. Maybe rounding the edges of the velcro would help; but I don’t know. Oh well. I found a way that works for now so it doesn’t worry me.

He wasn’t too happy about me taking the picture though – this was the best of the bunch. The last one I took he was screaming. Poor little guy. Life is so rough when you’re six weeks old. LOL!

Cloth diapers – so far

Well, I started with cloth diapers today. I’m not convinced I like some of the ones that I made.

The first ones I made were from the newborn size Mama Bird pattern. I didn’t make very many since babies grow so fast. That was a good decision. The rest that I made are from the Rita’s Rump Pocket pattern. It was great to sew, but they’re considerably bigger and won’t fit C for a while, even folded down.

Leak-wise, the Mama Bird ones are fine. As big as they looked, the size is okay too. I was actually surprised to see that the tabs didn’t fit as far around C’s waist as I thought they would, but they still fit. Most of the ones I made I lengthened the tabs on, so that should be good once he grows more too.

The only complaint I have is they don’t fit my skinny baby all that well in the legs. Maybe I should have used shorter elastic in the legs so that they’d be tighter; I don’t know. So far he hasn’t had a massive poo blowout, so they haven’t leaked, but there’s enough space around his thighs that it looks like it could potentially be a problem. Unless he chunks out in the very near future. . .

The convenience of the all-in-one diapers is wonderful though. That much I’m 100% sold on – they’re SO much better than the prefold and plastic pants routine that we did with S. I didn’t mind it then, but this is a big improvement.

I thought about starting the cloth sooner, but figured I’d wait a little first. They were pretty big, and we had quite a few disposable diapers in the newborn size that needed to get used. Those things are so tiny! :O) We’re out of NB size now though, and the Size 1 that we do have are just too big for him yet. So I decided to start the cloth today. It feels good to toss a cloth diaper in the bucket instead of having all the paper ones that just get thrown in the trash.

So far, so good. . .

Cloth diapers – my reasons why and some pictures

It absolutely amazes me sometimes how fun something like cloth diapers can be. We used cloth with S, so when we found out about this baby, we figured we’d use cloth this time around too. I wanted to make some changes though – while I didn’t mind the folding and pinning and using a cover, I wanted an easier system for this little one than I had with S. . .especially now that I’ll have a pre-schooler and a newborn in the house.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against using disposable diapers. But after using cloth for one baby, I just can’t justify spending that much money on disposables now. It saves enough money that I don’t mind the extra work of cloth. And really – the only extra work (outside of actually sewing them) involved is throwing an extra load or two of laundry in a week. I can handle that.

A friend asked me if I would use the cloth diapers from the store if I had them. I do have them – probably a good three dozen or more of the typical storebought pre-folded cloth diapers. The problem with them is that it is very hard to find good quality ones anywhere around here. Most of what you can find is so thin that they’re only good for burp cloths. I found that out the hard way with S. And the thicker ones that I do have are pretty big. Great for an older baby. . .not so great for a newborn. That’s another lesson I learned the hard way with S. Seeing a newborn baby with a massive diaper so big he has to almost do the splits to keep the diaper on. . .um. . .I’ll pass this time on that one.

Toward the end of S’s time in diapers, I made him some fleece diaper covers. I really enjoyed sewing them, and it was nice knowing that I was making something that he needed for such a low price. Some of the diapering stuff I made him I was even able to make with supplies I already had in the house. When I started mentally going through the cloth diaper supplies I have for a newborn, I realized that even though I could use what I had, I wanted an eaiser system.

After some asking around and a whole bunch of research online about the myriad of cloth diapering systems, I finally decided I wanted to try using pocket diapers this time. I really wanted some All-in-one diapers, but didn’t want to have to make or buy a couple dozen new diapers each time the baby grew out of the ones we already had.

Someone recommended the Mama Bird pocket diaper pattern. It’s free, and comes in several sizes. I made up 11 of the newborn size, using fleece for the outside (it’s water resistant) and flannel for the inside. The best part – I already had all the fleece and most of the flannel in the house from other projects. I only had to buy a bit of flannel to finish making them! And since the flannel was $1 a yard at Wal-Mart, even better.

Mama Bird diapers folded

Mama Bird diapers open

The navy and light blue ones I tried to lengthen the tabs some, but forgot to increase the seam allowance too, so they ended up with really narrow tabs. They’ll still work, but I like the wider ones better. My father-in-law likes them because they’re Carolina Blue. That wasn’t intentional – when I bought the light blue flannel, I was just trying to get flannel that would coordinate with the fleece I already had – but since Stephen’s a Carolina fan too, it works.

I put velcro (well, actually it was Touch Tape) closures on these to make them even easier. I will stuff the opening with flannel and terrycloth soaker pads that I made to go with S’s diapering system. Nice and easy all-in-one diapers that anyone can use. They probably won’t fit for that long, but I’ll be able to use them on the next baby if God decides to send us another one some day.

Then I discovered the pattern for Rita’s Rump Pocket – it’s a pocket diaper that fits most sizes. I was thrilled! It’s pretty similar to the Mama Bird pattern that I used, except it’s larger and can be folded down to fit a smaller baby. I actually liked sewing this one better – it doesn’t have elastic at the back opening like the Mama Bird pattern does (to make it easier to fold), and it sews up a lot faster.

A friend had some fleece that she wasn’t using, so she gave it to me. I like all the different combinations of the flannel and fleece. My favorite is the one in the upper right hand corner. You can’t see it very well in the picture, but it’s light blue and white plaid, with a solid light blue inside.

Rita's Rump Pocket diapers

After I had decided to sew so many diapers, I mentioned it to a lady at church. She told me that she had done cloth with her babies, and asked me if I wanted her cloth diapers. I said, “Sure,” and she invited us over to come pick them up. I was NOT prepared for what she had for me. There were so many diapers that it filled a plastic garbage bag so full we couldn’t tie it closed! They weren’t the cheap, no-good “regular” cloth diapers – these were the fitted ones that you just place under the baby and pin closed. No folding. She gave me several covers and even some crib sheets and waterproof covers. Between the diapers that she gave me and the ones that I made, I should be able to easily go three days between washing diapers, possibly even longer. What a blessing!

I’d say we are definitely set for cloth diapers for a while!

Packed up the cloth diapers today

Today was such a different day. Although Little man is doing better, he still wasn’t feeling well enough for us to take him to church. Poor little guy – he’s just miserable enough that he doesn’t know what he wants.

Since we need to be moving soon, I figured I’d better get packing. No, we still don’t have a place to live (thanks for asking, Lora!), but I didn’t want to go nuts trying to pack everything all at once when the time does come. I started with things we don’t use as much.

That’s how I happened upon the diapers. As I sat there folding them, I realized that I had no idea how long it had been since we had put Little man in a diaper. Ok, we still use pull-ups at night, but that’s only because I haven’t been able to come up with a better idea for our still potty-training little guy. He just can’t go all night long yet.

Anyways, it was kind of a bittersweet moment packing away those diapers. It’s a great feeling to have him out of diapers now, but at the same time it stings a little because I’m not sure I’m ready for my little man to grow up yet. For a long time I also thought that the diapers would go straight from Little man to his little brother or sister. . .but that is not to be. No little sibling for him yet, at least not that we can see. It was strange to see that dream before me again, and yet, it too was folded up along with the diapers.

It amazes me how hard it is sometimes to let go of our dreams and surrender them to God. I know He knows best, but it’s not easy to just let go and hand our dreams over. I suppose God has a different plan for our little family. But then again, His plans for our family this far have been drastically different than I ever dreamed. Maybe I should hold on to Him and just enjoy the ride, huh?

Too much bleach…

…can put holes in your laundry! Right before we went to bed last night we threw in a load of diapers to wash. I don’t know what Stephen put in the washer, but I did smell bleach. No big deal.

So today I took them outside to dry on the line. I figured they’d dry pretty quickly in this wonderful 104 degree heat. As I was hanging them, I could smell them. For some reason, all the “stink” didn’t wash out. It didn’t make sense, especially since they were washed with bleach, but I threw them back in the washer. The phone rang, and while I was listening to the insurance salesman, I tried to pour a little bleach into the dispenser. I got more than I wanted, but I didn’t worry about it until I went to hang them on the line the second time.

The bleach ate holes in my diapers! I only found one hole, but it’s definitely a bleach hole. 🙁 I’ve been using the Gerber prefolds (the thick twill ones). I know they’re not the best on the market, but you use what you can get. I could get others on ebay, but I don’t know what to buy. Any suggestions? I’m not switching back to disposables, and I’m really not in the mood to go spend another $50 or so on more cloth diapers.

I normally don’t put bleach in every load, because I know that it can ruin and weaken the fibers in the diapers. But every 4 or 5 loads I’ll add a little bleach to kill the smell. The diapers aren’t bad dry….but when they’re on Sam and they get wet again…they really start to stink. So I add a little bleach when they start to smell funny.

I’d post a “Wanted” request on Freecycle, but I highly doubt that people would have any decent cloth diapers!