family · sewing · tinytuna

cloth diapering: results and ideas.

Thank you so much for all of your comments and questions on my last post – I have answered by posting another comment at the bottom of that post. We are continuing on with our smoothies throughout the day and upon finding more recipes, we are having great success!

I have had questions about the cloth diapers and how they worked since J was born. When I was changing him this morning, I tried to take a bunch of photos and thought when he naps this afternoon that I would put together a quick ‘results’ post.

In talking to people and looking online, I decided to make the pocket diapers offered in the Babyville Boutique pattern book that require an absorbent insert which I had bought in the USA at Fred Meyer. The idea with pocket diapers is that you use a liner between baby and the flannel diaper that basically catches poop and this is thrown into the toilet (or a separate laundry bag if you buy reusable ones such as the ones I’ve linked), the rest is pulled apart and thrown in the laundry. Simple. (see the photo below)

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I didn’t show a picture of the outer liner since it looks a lot like toilet paper but you can see how the insert is placed inside the diaper above.

Before I get into the diapers themselves, I’ll talk about the insert first. The inserts that I bought in the USA were cheap but it meant we were able to get tons. They were cheap for a reason: They didn’t absorb enough. I ended up connecting with Yvonne King of Nic and Elli. I bought 100% bamboo inserts ($4CAD each) after changing him multiple times throughout the day. I bought 20, which is recommended for fulltime cloth diapering as this provides those few extras that you need at night to double up.

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After I bought them, Yvonne recommended I wash and dry them 5 times prior to use to maximize absorbency. I would definitely buy these again.
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This is the front of the diaper. Remember that I used Velcro? If you are dead set on making these, make them with snaps or thinner Velcro then they call for in the pattern. The thick Velcro digs into his skin even though it is the soft stuff. As you can also see, because the sewing doesn’t go through both layers of fabric (this is the same with the snap option version – the pattern tells you to put the snaps or Velcro on prior to sewing the diaper together) so the result is that the diaper pulls quite badly.
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You have to admit, they are pretty damn cute! There are quite a few companies both online and otherwise that offer this style of diaper. They retail for about $12CAD each.
As you can probably sense, there was a downside to these for us. I want to include a disclaimer here: I am sharing this information based purely from our personal experience and am not saying these will not work for anyone. They just weren’t ideal for us for the following reasons. I hope sharing my experience can help you when you are making your decisions about cloth diapers.
Cuteness aside, the biggest problem we ran into was that while these have elastic around the inner leg, they do not create enough of a seal. You can see in the photos below that when I hook my finger under the elastic, it exposes skin. He was moving constantly when I was taking the photos, so I’m so sorry for the blur!
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The result was constant leaking. No matter how absorbent the insert was, pee would saturate everything. Every diaper change meant a clothing change as well – it also meant no overnight and/or going out cloth diapering. More often than not, the PUL was soaked as well*. We found we were using more and more disposables.
*On their website, Babyville Boutique recommends throwing your newly made diapers into a hot dryer cycle to ‘close’ (a.k.a. melt) the places where the PUL has been punched by the sewing needle. I tried this and it worked quite well but we still had the other leaking problem.

The other problem was the lack of adjustability with the Velcro option.

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This option just didn’t give us enough flexibility and while this particular size fits him perfectly, I wish we had done snaps to improve the adjustability of these. For the added money to buy the snaps and pliers, it would have been worth it if this had been our only complaint. I’m still tempted to replace a few with snaps and make some improvements to the diaper itself (based on what I’m about to tell you below) to see if I can continue to use these.

What did we end up doing instead? you ask.
I decided to ask around and do some research on the internets. Another disclaimer here: I am in no way being compensated by g-diapers for this review of their product, nor am I affiliated with them in any way. Also, Babyville Boutique has a pattern for a diaper that is more like this and I’d be tempted to make one to see if it works better versus their above pattern. Like I mentioned above, I’m tempted to try my hand at making something anyhow.
To solve our ‘pocket’ problem, I decided to try out g-diapers. They were recommended by two friends who had had lots of success with them.
The ‘pocket’ is plastic (think 80’s prefold diapers with plastic pants overtop that our parents used) adorned with 4 snaps. There are two options with g-diapers. You can choose to use disposable (but biodegradable) inserts or their cloth inserts. Because I had already bought inserts, I decided to try mine first.
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They work like a hot-damn. They are ever-so-slightly too long but they are perfect for absorbency now that they are right against his skin so I’m not changing a thing. When I change him, I just fold it in half (back to front) and throw it straight into our laundry. Please remember I’m a nurse so this doesn’t bother me at all but if it leaves your stomach churning, you can use disposable liners on top of the cloth insert that are thrown into the toilet when dealing with poop in particular. As you can see, though, after going through the wash multiple times and multiple staining, there’s no evidence on the insert if you were wondering whether this is a new insert (it’s not!).
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The plastic pocket snaps into place on the knit diaper itself. No PUL fabric – these are plastic, which is waterproof, and just plain old knit fabric, which is light and airy. You can see on both ends that the Velcro is thinner, as well as two types. There is both the rough and ‘smooth’ Velcro to ensure it doesn’t come apart when the baby is wearing them. I had found this also helps with adjustability. But, do they work?
In a word: Yes.
Again, sorry for the photo but Mr. Magoo would not stay still! When I lift the fabric away from his skin, the plastic is still there creating a seal. Because it’s waterproof, when the insert is soaked, his outer diaper and clothes don’t get wet because it’s contained.
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We have had some blowouts with these as well – don’t get me wrong! But they are more in line with what we were experiencing with disposables: 1 or 2 times a day and sometimes not at all. Also, if the insert needs changing but the rest of the diaper is fine (which is more often than not), I just wipe out the inside of the plastic pocket with a baby wipe and throw in just a new insert.
g-diapers recommends having 6-8 diapers for fulltime (including night time) diapering. Thus far, that seems about right. They are sized, so you need to buy the size appropriate for your baby based on their weight. These are expensive (~$18CAD per diaper). They are sold in pairs. We found ours at London Drugs and bought them for $34.99 + tax (CAD). They also ship to Canada if you order them online but including shipping, it worked out to the same amount so we bought them in-store.
Knowing what I know now, I think I would have asked for them for a shower gift or something like that. On their website, they offer packages of 6, so someone could take care of getting them and everyone could pitch in money for them. I think this would be ideal since you would have all your sizes: S, M, L, XL and you would then have all the plastic inserts, which you could then start using right away. We are always running out of plastic inserts! Often the plastic needs changing but the diaper is fine!
How do they fit around his tummy? They close to the back, so Mister who is reaching and grasping for everything at the moment can not pull these off. Genius!
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Also, due to the lightweight knit fabric, while they look tight around his stomach, they are actually just a perfect fit. There is no redness when I remove them.
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There is no pulling like the PUL diapers above. They fasten nicely and securely as you can see here on his hip. Something to keep in mind when you are thinking about cloth is that they need more room in their onsies and sleepers to accommodate the slightly bulkier cloth diapers. I thought I would show you a photo of what he looks like fully cloth diapered and while it’s not bad, he’s 18lbs and 5.5 months and wearing 9 month sleepers (but he’s also incredibly long!). At 3 months, he was in 6 month sleepers. He’s still wearing his 6 month shirts and jackets now though just to give you some perspective on how much room the cloth diapers take up in pants and sleepers.
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In the end, we were looking for something that wouldn’t leak, that I could cloth diaper him day or night or out, and that wouldn’t completely break the bank. The cost of one size of 6-8 g-diapers is the cost of ~3 months of disposables so when you look at it that way, it helps to justify the cost. There is not as much laundry with the g-diapers as well because mostly, I’m washing just the inserts and ~2 g-diapers per day. The plastic only is put in the washer and air dried (the dryer will melt them over time!). I basically do ‘diaper’ laundry every third day.
I really hope our experience helps you with your research on cloth diapering and the options out there. This worked for us and we will definitely go this route for our next child but there are many more out there. If you have any questions, PLEASE contact me either in the comments section below or via email.
In the end, he’s happy no matter what he’s wearing!
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Happy Cloth Diapering!

8 thoughts on “cloth diapering: results and ideas.

  1. Ooh, thanks so much for all the details! I'm sorry to hear that your homemade ones didn't work out for you despite all that work. It's interesting because the stiff velcro and the fit around the legs were the two things that mainly concerned me when I tried sewing up the babyville sample. (That, and also I noticed the same thing about the fabric pulling at the tabs!) I imagine that the fit around the legs must just have a lot to do with the size/shape of your baby… and it's not like you can predict that ahead of time!I've been doing a lot of research about this lately and I really value your opinion! Hopefully between now and the time I actually need to get going on making things I'll be able to make a decision about which route to go!

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  2. We used g-diapers sizes s & m, but not size l, as we'd need new inserts for those as well. Many of the diapers we bought new, but some also used via e-bay. It all can be washed, so we weren't bothered at the idea that sb else's baby used them before.Our daughter grew out of the size m fairly quickly. I think she was about 4-5 months at the time. She has really some chubby legs, so the diapers got too snug around them. We thought we'd be able to use them longer than we did and were sad about having to move to disposables. The thing is, there are no comparable options for cloth diapering in Europe.

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  3. I used cloth diapers for all of my four children – although I did only use them for the first year for the fourth baby… I was sick of the extra washing by then and also had a ton of hand-me-down clothes that wouldn't fit over cloth. Anyway. I have tried so many different nappies. Once people know you use cloth they give you all the nappies they bought and never used. (If you were closer I would happily give you as many as you want! I'm not sure what to do with them all now)My absolute favourite were terry squares with nappy nippers and Bumpy woollen covers or my own knitted covers which I soaked in Lanolin from time to time. They are cheap as chips, can be curled up around the legs to help avoid too many leaks and they dry in a flash (I don't have a drier). The wool covers are divine and totally addictive. Do you have terry towelling squares in Canada? I think the woollen covers are Swedish but there are some good patterns on Ravelry.

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  4. It's annoying that the insert size changes although I understand why. We've decided to kind of ignore the M versus L insert difference and use them interchangeably. Thus far, so good!

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  5. Ooooh wool covers — what a great idea. I had done some research on these back when I was pregnant and forgot all about them – good reminder to look into them again!

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  6. I obviously have time left to learn and change my mind, but I do have a loose plan. The key piece of information I've learned is that there is no guarantee what will work – between sizing and allergies/skin issues and personal preferences. So I think my plan is to lean towards a mix-and-match system so that if any one piece doesn't work it doesn't mean the whole system has to go (much like how you were able to use the bamboo inserts with both your pockets and the g-diapers). Right now, it seems like the best option would be to go with fitteds (or prefolds) with a variety of covers. I've read this means savings in PUL because you can re-use the covers without needing to wash them at each change, and it also means the investment wouldn't be lost if the kid had some kind of PUL reaction and needed to go with wool covers (which I'd also like to try). After hearing your feedback here, if I make any of my own covers I'll for sure make the gusseted ones, though! A good friend of mine primarily used prefolds/snappis/covers for her son, and loved it, but I tend to think that fitteds would be a bit more straightforward for Alex?Obviously this may change as I read more and then again when I actually have a kid to try it all out on!

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  7. (As an aside – the g-diapers are so cute! Sadly, someone I know had to sell her whole stash of them on craigslist because some part of the waistband rubbed her daughter so badly it broke the skin. I guess every baby really is shaped differently!)

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