Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cloth diapers: Getting started

It's been a big week over here in baby world.

First off all, a follow-up on my last post about Natalie's sleeping schedule:

Turns out that by writing about her sleep habits I did not, in fact, jinx the pattern. Instead, Friday night she slept soundly for 7 continuous hours, prompting us to go ahead and move her to her crib in the nursery for the first time ever Saturday night. We figured it was better to give it a trial run on a weekend night rather than on a week night in case incessant crying became the order of business and kept Matt up before going to work. Somewhat miraculously, after rocking Natalie to sleep for the first time ever in the glider in the nursery, I carefully laid her to bed, turned on her Sleep Sheep sound machine, hit the switch on the baby monitor, and quietly left the room. Saturday night she stayed asleep for 7 hours before waking up!

Sunday night she did wake up in the middle of the night, but it was only once at 3:30 a.m., and after a quick feeding she was back to sleep for another 4 hours. I had the confidence on Monday during the day to put away her Pack N Play.

Then last night she fought sleep for a while after having a big bottle at 9:30 p.m., so by 10:45 p.m. I fed her again, she fell asleep by 11 p.m. and stayed that way until 7 a.m. today. Thank you, Natalie, for a solid 8 hours of sleep.

It's worth noting that each night I have done something different -- one night she had a bottle, one night she had a bath, one night she stayed out late socializing, one night she took a late evening nap and stayed home. In all cases, though, she still slept through the night (or in the case of Sunday night virtually made it through the night uninterrupted). So, I have no secrets to share about what was gotten Natalie to sleep through the night, other than perhaps her increased age. Right now we don't have much of a bedtime routine, besides making sure she has had a diaper change, a Sleep Sack around her, and she's been fed.

Now that we've successfully transitioned Natalie from the Pack N Play bassinet in our bedroom to the crib in her nursery, I'm feeling bold and ready to take on a new experiment: cloth diapering. It also doesn't hurt that we only have about five disposable diapers left.

So yesterday one of my few agenda items included washing all 17 of Natalie's Bum Genius 4.0 cloth diapers. We have the one-size-fits-all pocket style diapers with snap closures. These are intended to fit babies from 8-35 pounds. We opted for the snap closures instead of the hook-and-loop Velcro closures because the snaps seem more durable. The rather cute and colorful polyester diaper shells each come with two inserts: a newborn insert and a one-size-fits-all insert. According to the Bum Genius people, once the baby outgrows the newborn inserts they can be used along with the one-size-fits-all inserts for added protection at night.

To prepare a diaper, simply stuff the insert inside the diaper shell's pocket, snap it on your baby (adjust snaps according to the baby's size) and you're set. As I've said before, these are not your mom's cloth diapers.

Confused yet? Here's a visual to help. Notice the pocket on the inner diaper shell.
Insert the smaller newborn insert and/or the one-size-fits-all insert that comes with a couple built-in snaps that allow for three different sizes: small, medium and large. The one-size-fits-all inserts are thicker than the newborn inserts, but note that when adjusted to the smallest size they are as long as the newborn inserts.

Select the snap settings best suited for your baby. There are three different length options and five different width options. I know, lots of snaps, but you only use a couple snaps at a time.

Before Natalie's arrival one of the items on my long to-do list involved washing all her clothes and linens. I did not, however, wash her cloth diapers because I knew it would involve more than standard laundering practice, so I decided to wait until we actually needed to use the cloth diapers. I'm also, frankly, afraid of screwing them up. But, I went ahead and followed the instructions on the Bum Genius website, and I have to say it wasn't that complex.

First I prewashed both the diaper shells and inserts on a cold cycle. Then I washed them with detergent on a hot cycle with a second rinse. I'm using Tide Free and Gentle to clean Natalie's diapers. It's the same detergent I'm using on her clothes and linens, and it's free of dyes and perfumes but not free of enzymes. On this detergent link on the Bum Genius website it says that "at best" the detergent used on these diapers would be free of dyes, perfumes, enzymes, optical brighteners and anything else designed to stay on the diapers after washing. Given that this says "at best," though, I'm taking that to mean that my Tide Free and Gentle is fine -- at least for the time being.

To dry the diapers I line-dried the shells and put the inserts in the dryer. The inserts themselves take up a decent amount of space. Aren't all the colors so pretty?

In the future as Natalie starts using these diapers I'll be washing a load of them every other day, seeing as it's recommended because it's not a good idea to let dirty diapers sit around. Because newborn waste is water soluble these diapers can be thrown straight into the washing machine. Later on down the road we'll be installing and using our Bum Genius diaper sprayer to spray down the diapers before throwing them in the diaper pail and then in the washing machine.

I'm still working on the best way to organize these diapers in the nursery, but for now I'm thinking it makes the most sense to keep the shells and inserts separate, seeing as we'll probably double-stuff her nighttime diapers (especially if she keeps sleeping through the night!). It also seems like there's no use in snapping the shells or folding them much. Although they'd be prettier all neatly folded, the reality of changing and diapering a baby needs to take priority here.

I can't comment on the effectiveness of these diapers yet on a newborn as we're just getting started with this experiment, but I'll be back with more extensive reviews as we gain experience. And, assuming this experiment goes well, I'm planning to still pick up a few more cloth diapers to at least make an even 20 diapers.


  1. I stuff my diapers right after taking them out of the wash (it's nice to have a diaper ready to go, especially as babies start getting a lot squirmier!) - and we've handled the nighttime diapers in two ways. With Aidan, we had designated nighttime diapers that were only blue. Blue diapers meant nighttime, and were double stuffed right out of the dryer (we only had 3 blue diapers, which is why. Plus Peter thought blue = night.)
    With Ryan, we picked up a few more blue diapers, so we didn't have a designated color. For him, we just take any old diaper and put the extra liner in right before putting him in jammies.
    I should note that we started using both these methods when we switched to no more diaper changes at night, although the Ryan method you don't need to have any pre-stuffed nighttime diapers.

  2. We love our BG4s {I just posted about CDing the other day too}...I do wish we would've gone with the velcro as the snaps are killing my fingers, but they are more durable in the long run.

    Have fun with the diapers!