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About Cloth Diapering

How many diapers do I need?

Some babies need more diapers than others. You should change your baby every 2-3 hours when they are awake. If you plan to wash your diapers every 2 days, 24 diapers is a good starting point for babies under 6 months. For babies 6 months and older, 18 diapers is a good number to start with. You may end up needing a few more. I've yet to hear anyone complain that they have too many cloth diapers.

How much is it going to cost?

That depends on what kind of diaper you're getting. The following guidelines will help you estimate the cost of your diapers:

  • If you want to use a system that has separate diapers and covers, you should aim for one cover for every 3 diapers.
  • If you're using one-size diapers, you should get 24 diapers. Depending on the size of your baby, these may be the only diapers you need. If your baby is born weighing less than 8 lbs, there is a good chance that you'll need newborn diapers as well. If you have a larger baby, you may need an extra set of diapers before your baby is potty trained.
  • If you are getting sized diapers, cost out 24 small diapers and 18 medium diapers. Depending on the brand, you may also need to add 24 newborn diapers. (Check the size ranges as they vary by brand.) You may also need 18 large diapers, depending on the size of your baby. However most babies only go up to medium in most brands.

Cloth diapers cost the most in the first 6 months of life, after that your baby should be able to wear medium or one-size diapers for at least a year and most will wear them until potty trained.

There is no rule that says you have to buy all your diapers all at once. If you are concerned about cost, consider purchasing a few diapers at a time. You could also ask friends and relatives for cloth diapers as gifts for your baby. We have a gift registry, which you can use for baby showers, birthdays, or any other occasion.

How do I store my cloth diapers?

Dirty diapers should be stored in a hanging, waterproof cloth bag or in a diaper pail. You can hang the bag from a door handle or a wall hook. On washing day, simply turn the bag inside out into the washing machine and wash the bag with your diapers. Dirty diapers can also be stored in a dry diaper pail inside a diaper pail liner.

Clean diapers can be stored in a laundry bin, folded in a basket or on a shelf, or any other way you would store clean clothing.

What do I do with the poo?

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you can just throw the poo into the dirty diaper bag with your diapers and it will dissolve in the washing machine. When baby is eating formula or solids, you will need to rinse dirty diapers before washing them.

If you want to minimize your contact with baby poo, you can use a diaper sprayer, which will spray the poo from your diaper directly into your toilet. The other option is to use flushable liners. Flushable liners can be shaken right into the toilet with your baby's poo so that you don't have to touch it. Leave the liner in the toilet for a few minutes to break down and then flush.

A lower-tech solution is to buy a pair of cleaning gloves. Shake off the poo into your toilet, flush it, and then throw the rest of the diaper into the toilet. Put on your gloves, swoosh your diaper around, ring it out and throw it into your dirty diaper bag.

What kinds of cloth diapers are there?

Every cloth diaper has at least 2 layers:

  • a waterproof outer made of PUL, fleece or wool
  • an absorbent inner made of cotton, hemp, bamboo or microfibre.

The cover may or may not be attached to the absorbent inner. Some diapers have a 3rd layer: fleece on the inside of the diaper to keep baby dry.

The following is a list of the different types of diapers that Bums Away sells:

Pre-folds are diapers that you fold. They can then be laid inside a cover to be placed on your baby. You have the option of pinning these diapers or using snappis. Pre-fold diapers can look intimidating to people new to cloth diapering, but are actually no harder to use than any other kind of diaper (you can become an expert folder in almost no time). Using pre-folds can be a great way to save money while purchasing good quality diapers.

Fitted diapers are shaped to fit your baby and have either snap or aplix closures so that no pins are required to get a good fit around your baby's legs and waist. These diapers are not waterproof and should be used with a cover.

Pocket diapers assemble into one piece that you put on your baby. The absorbent liner has to be removed from the pocket before washing and put back into the pocket before you put the diaper back on baby.

All-in-one diapers are one-piece diapers. Some all-in-ones have parts that unfold to allow for quicker drying.

I like to travel and spend time out of the house; can I still use cloth diapers?

Yes, you definitely can. Using cloth diapers does not mean that you have to stay at home. I have taken my cloth diapers with me on camping trips, on airplane rides across the world and when visiting friends out of town. Here are a few tips for traveling with cloth diapers.

Just pack a few (or a lot, depending on how long you'll be away) clean diapers, some wipes, bottom cleaner, and a wet bag in your diaper bag and off you go. Change diapers as usual and store the wet ones in your bag. If you're not near a toilet and you have to change a dirty diaper, wrap the poop up in the diaper. When you get home, you can shake it into the toilet and rinse off the diaper with your diaper sprayer. I also carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in my diaper bag in case I have to change a dirty diaper somewhere that I'm not able to wash my hands afterwards.

If you are going on an overnight trip, bring two large wet bags/diaper pail liners with you. Store your clean diapers in one wet bag, and your dirty diapers in the other. Flushable liners can be a nice bonus on the go when you might otherwise have to rinse dirty diapers in public toilets. With the flushable liners, just shake the poo and liner into the toilet, flush and then put your diaper into the dirty diaper bag.

Can I use cloth and disposable diapers on my baby?

You certainly can use a combination of cloth and disposable diapers on your baby. Keep in mind that the more often you use disposable diapers though, the less money you save.

Can I use Diaper Cream or Vaseline with Cloth Diapers?

When using cloth diapers, only use diaper creams that are free of zinc, petroleum jelly, and fish oils. Vaseline should not be used with cloth diapers. Diaper creams with the above products can coat diapers decreasing the absorption and eventually causing them to leak. There are a variety of diaper creams that are safer for cloth diapers. When using a diaper cream, you should always use a diaper liner to protect your diapers from the cream. You could use flushable liner, fleece liners, or cloth wipes, as long as there is something between the diaper cream and the diaper.

Can I use cloth diapers if my baby has a diaper rash?

Yes, you can. Diaper rash can be caused by a number of different factors, including a change in diet, yeast infections, not changing diapers often enough, washing routine, etc. If you are dealing with a yeast infection, you'll have to treat your diapers as well as the baby (see this Bummis blog post on how to do this). For good washing tips see Bummis Very Simple Washing Method.

Your baby should not have persistent diaper rash with cloth diapers. If they do, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Can I use cloth diapers overnight?

Certainly. If you're lucky, you'll be able to use your daytime diapers overnight. If this doesn't quite do it, try adding a second insert to your daytime diaper to see if this provides enough absorbency for overnight. If it doesn't you may need a special overnight diaper.

My toddler is ready for toilet training so it's too late for me to start using cloth diapers - isn't it?

Toilet training time is the perfect time to start using cloth diapers if you don't use them already. The big advantage of cloth diapers for toilet training is that toddlers feel wet after they've peed. This feedback helps them to learn when they need to use the toilet. You can purchase training pants with elastic waistbands that your toddler can pull up and down.

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