What a piece of cake these things are! Things in the diaper world have changed so drastically since our moms poked us with diaper pins. Now we've got designer diaper covers, sprayers to help rinse the poopers away, and resources galore to help along the way. With the exception of traveling, Beatrice is exclusively in cloth and it's a fabulous way to be.
We get our diapers from Wee Bunz here in Corvallis. The store is relatively new, so they're still building up their non-diaper inventory, but they've got everything you need to get started and they are so very helpful when it comes to questions. We've got about 3 dozen Unbleached Chinese Prefolds and about a dozen diaper covers. The unbleached diapers take a little more washing to get them ready to go (have to wash the natural oils out of the cotton to get to the maximum absorbency), but they're worth the extra wash or two. They hide stains, they're softer, and they're easier on the environment because they don't have to go through the bleaching process.
Diaper covers are a blast (we'll go ahead and make a check in the "Things I Never Thought I'd Say" column). Prorap is the most utilitarian cover. They're burly covers that are all function with very little to say in the fashion department, and they work great for overnight and nap time. Bumkins are both functional and fashionable. They have a little vent flap in the back that allows for air circulation--I was so weary of that little flap at first. I had images of all the ways that poo could escape and I was shocked that such a product was so popular. After I tried them, though, I fell in love. They're lightweight, so they're perfect for daytime. They're adorable, which makes diaper changing more fun. They don't stain. Did I mention they're super cute?
We also use doublers for nap time and overnight (and sometimes during the day because no one in recorded history has produced as many peepers as Beatrice). The doublers provide the extra absorbency she needs to get through the night. Just as with the diaper covers, there are so many options for doublers. The ones we have came from clothdiaper.com and are made of flannel. Even better, they're made by stay-at-home moms and I think that's worth supporting.
Also from clothdiaper.com, we have (and love) the cloth diaper wipes. They do a better clean-up job than disposable wipes and can be tossed in for washing with the diapers. We mix a few little squirts of Dr. Bronner's soap with some warm water and a couple drops of tea tree oil to make a cleaning solution for the wipes, and we store them in a plastic container with a flip-top lid for easy access (we just saved on of the plastic containers from the disposable wipes we used the first few weeks). The Dr. Bronner's is great because it's mild, biodegradable, and comes in all sorts of scents. We're using peppermint right now, but we might do the rose or lavender next. You'll know you've got too much soap in the mixture hands feel slimy after you've had them in the container. I have found that unfolding them and balling them up before you add them to the solution makes them easier to use when you pull them out of the container.
The most exciting advance in cloth diapers comes in the form of the bumGenius diaper sprayer. Greatest. Invention. Ever. Well, greatest cloth diaper accessory ever, at the very least. It hooks into the water valve that feeds from the wall to the toilet and helps spray the poopers off the cloth diapers before you drop them in the diaper pail. Heavenly goodness. A total must-have for anyone who does cloth diapers. We'd be lost without it.
So, we rinse the diapers off and drop them in the diaper pail. We use the dry pail method, meaning we don't soak the diapers while they sit in the diaper pail. When it's time to wash them, we do a soak cycle with 1/4 non-chlorine bleach, a spin to get all the icky water out, and then a wash in hot water with detergent, another 1/4 cup non-chlorine bleach, and 1/2 cup vinegar as fabric softener (we use vinegar as fabric softener for all our clothes). The diaper covers hang on a rack to dry while the diapers, doublers, and wipes go in the dryer on high.
It all sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not so bad. The first couple days are a little overwhelming, but, once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze. We watch football and fold diapers and laugh at just how domestic we have become.
Every once in awhile, if we are traveling, we will use a few disposables. The Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Baby Diapers are our favorites, not only because they are chlorine-free and hypo-allergenic, but also because they do a great job and fit well. They're a little more expensive, but, since we don't use them very often, it's a luxury we'll afford ourselves. On average, we'll go through less than one pack of each size before she's ready to move to the next size up. This is either indicative of our strong commitment to saving the world or a glaring sign that we might need to get out of the house more often...
Another option is the Portland-based gDiapers. I don't have any personal experience with them, but they're a great concept. They use the diaper cover idea from cloth diapers and combine them with a flushable insert.
Looking down the road, babies in cloth diapers are generally easier to potty train. Today's disposables wick the peepers away from the skin, thereby making the baby more tolerant to the loaded up pants. With cloth diapers, the baby is more immediately aware that something just isn't right and, being uncomfortable, will start to demand action. Beatrice starts to growl when her diaper is wet. That she already recognizes that she needs her buns checked is so encouraging. If she continues to be so outraged when she pees, we'll have her potty trained in no time.
Babies in cloth diapers also have fewer incidents of diaper rash. We use a tiny bit of Baby Bee Diaper Ointment if her cheeks start to get a little rosy and it usually clears up in a matter of hours.
Whew! I've been dying to get that all off my chest. Now I have to go fold diapers. Next time we can talk about how it's okay to have a little bit of Carolans in your coffee while you fold diapers :)