Cloth Diapers 101

May 29th, 2012

Cloth Diapers

Saves money
Less trash
Less smell
No chemicals on baby’s skin
Many styles

More laundry
Washing can be a trial and error depending on your water
Bigger cost up front
Have to be careful with ointments and fabric softeners (can’t use most)

There are many different styles of cloth diapers. AIOs (all in ones), Pockets, Fitteds, Hybrid, and Prefolds/Flats.

Daycares and care givers often request the AIO style. They are the closest to disposables in the ease of putting on. They are typically the most expensive option, though. Because of everything being together, they can be the hardest to wash correctly and keep looking/smelling good. They will also take FOREVER to dry. I have used AIOs just a handful of times. I have tried a brand called Baby Beehinds – Magicalls – they are okay, just not my favorite. Also, I used BumGenius x-small aios. They are a perfect fit for the tiny stage and lots of people love them. An All-In-One has the soaker and waterproof layer all sewn together. There’s no stuffing and only one thing to put on.

The next in line for ease of use are pocket diapers. They are a diaper with a PUL lining (maybe cotton print with PUL on inside, or a printed PUL outside). PUL is poly-urethane-laminate – basically a waterproof material. There’s a soft material that goes against the baby’s skin and in between creates a pocket that you stuff with an absorbent insert. Most pockets come with a microfiber insert that holds a decent amount and is inexpensive. Microfiber CAN be a pain when it comes to washing. A lot of people have trouble with soap building up on it and it will repel and start to stink. I personally have used microfiber for a long time and don’t have a problem with it. I think it just all goes back to making sure your wash routine is good. I can help with that :-). Some people I know will stuff their pockets with prefolds. There are other kinds of inserts that you can buy to stuff in the pockets like hemp or bamboo. Both of these materials are more natural fibers and hold a LOT. They are easier to clean than microfiber, but are usually more expensive. Alva carries some nice bamboo inserts, though, for a great price. I love pocket diapers. They are all I used for a while. I have tried Swaddlebees, Green Acre Designs, Knickernappies, Fuzzibunz, Babykicks, Mother’s Touch, BumGenius, WAHM made (work-at-home-mom made – Etsy or Hyena cart), Alva, and my new favorite , Sunbaby. They are all great brands. Usually you will find you love one brand over another because of the fit on your baby. My favorite fit for J was Fuzzibunz until he was around 6 months or so. He started getting too long for them and I found Knickernappies had a longer rise (the length from the top front to the top back). Once I tried those, they were my new favorite. So far, my favorite pocket for A is the Sunbaby. They are trim and snug. Pockets prices are all over the board – some are high, some are incredibly cheap but still well made, and so on.

The next are Hybrid diapers. I really don’t know a whole lot about these. They are basically the convenience of disposable inserts that are put inside a reusable cover, but you can also buy reusable inserts if you want. I think they mostly snap inside the cover instead of being put in a pocket. Some of them just lay in the cover. Actually, I have tried the covers from hybrid diapers, but not the inserts. I like the flip covers pretty well. I also tried the Grovia and they were okay too. Both a good fit and good style. I’m guessing these would be middle ground for pricing as well with the reusable inserts. With the disposable inserts, they might get up to the pricing for the AIOs or at least close.

Next, we have fitteds. These require a cover. I actually haven’t really figured out the fitted appeal. I think the fact that they are made of natural fibers (cotton, hemp, or bamboo) is the main reason people like them. They have snaps or velcro, but they are not water-proof. A lot of people use fitteds with wool (more on that later). Here are the Fitted Diapers. I’ve tried old style thirsties fitteds, a couple WAHM fitteds, and a lonely Goodmama (which is acutally a very popular brand). I just can’t seem to get into them. I think my problem is that I can’t find a fitted that “fits” right AND has snaps (since I’m not a velcro fan). I do see how fitteds are more appealing to people who LOVE wool. (like me!) Fitteds are pricey. Even just simple WAHM fitteds can go for $13 each.

Prefolds are usually considered “old-fashioned”. They are rectangular in shape and are several layers. Even though they are “pre-folded”, you still need minimal folding to go on baby and then fasten them with diaper pins or a snappi. I prefer snappis – hands down. I can NOT figure out how to use diaper pins. A snappi is a stretchy little gadget that has 3 ends and each end has little teeth that grab the fabric and hold on… you stretch it over the sides and bottom of the folded prefold to hold it together on baby. It’s quite easy and quick once you get the hang of it. As the baby gets older (preferably out of the runny poop stage), you can just tri-fold the prefolds in a cover. You want DSQ or Diaper service quality prefolds. Do not buy Gerber prefolds from walmart. Those will not work. I recommend Green Mountain Diapers, and Cotton Babies. Typically, prefolds are cotton and are SO easy to clean and keep looking fresh. Sometimes you will see prefolds made of hemp or bamboo. These are very popular for night time as they hold a TON. My favorite is Thirsties Hemp Duo. Prefolds are VERY economical.  Flats are very similar to prefolds. They’re just … flat – one layer – and there are SEVERAL ways you can fold it to put on baby depending on your needs. These also require pins or snappi. These are also very economical!

Now on to diaper covers. There are pull-on covers, sized snap/velcro covers, one-size snap/velcro covers, wool covers/soakers, and fleece covers/soakers – just to name a few. I’ve never used pull-on covers myself. I imagine they might be good for potty-training though. Also.. they would be easy for a busy baby I’m sure. I’ve used Thirsties, Flip, Greenline, Blueberry, Rumparooz, Bummis, Grovia/Grobaby, and Wiggle Worm Bottoms. I prefer the easy-wipe covers (don’t have cloth on the inside, just PUL). These are much easier to re-use several times (which is GREAT!). Even with a newborn (once I got a good fold on the prefold) I could use a cover at least 3 times before washing it. Makes for less laundry, which is nice. Different covers work for different babies. I LOVE Thirsties Duo covers. They have a great fit for any size. Wool is a different kind of cover. Why use wool covers? Wool is a natural fiber, it’s breatheable, diaper wool is untreated, it’s naturally antibacterial so it doesn’t retain odors, it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and it holds 30% of it’s weight in liquid without being “WET”. The way it works is, wool will pull the moisture from fitteds/prefolds/flats into itself… then, the outside of the wool cover will feel ‘damp’ but not wet and won’t make your hand wet – but then the liquid will evaporate from the outside … this just happens over and over and thus the fitted/prefold/flat will last longer. This is why wool is so great for overnight. Not to mention, knit/crochet wool shorts and pants are ADORABLE.

There are a few cloth diaper accessories as well. One is the snappi I mentioned. You also can get wet bags (water-proof pouch for wet/dirty diapers on the go), diaper pail (we use a flip-top trash can), pail liners (wet bag for a diaper pail), cloth diaper detergent, (I’ve used 2-3 tbsp of tide original with great results and currently use Crunchy Clean and love it.), and a diaper sprayer (used mostly when baby starts eating solids — I’ve never felt like I had to have one, I just knock off solids with a piece of toilet paper or a cloth wipe). The only accessories I’ve really needed in my cloth diapering were the detergent, snappi, and wet bags.

Washing – I don’t spray my diapers personally. I just scrape if necessary with wipe or toilet paper .. and then put the diapers in a dry pail/flip top trash can. Sometimes I pull out the insert, most of the time I don’t. I wash every other day in the summer or every 3rd day in the winter – we use as little heat/air as possible, so in the winter our house is cool and in the summer our house would be considered warm. Dirty diapers in a warm house just can’t be left long .. especially if you have a fly in the house. I won’t go into any more detail on that one… just trust me. So….wash time, I shake/pull out all inserts and toss diapers into the machine. I have a non-HE top loader. I try not to put too many in there because the more water per diaper, the better. I first do a cold rinse. Then I do a HOT wash with Crunchy Clean for hard water. Then… I do a cold rinse again.. and sometimes and extra warm wash/rinse without detergent. If my diapers start getting stinky when peed in or smell funny – I strip them with a hot wash and a squirt of blue dawn… and I rinse, rinse, rinse (hot/warm water) until there are NO more bubbles. I dry inserts, but not the pockets or covers. I also will only put fitteds and anything else that has velcro or elastic on a low heat setting and then hang dry the rest of the way to save the life of the elastic/velcro.

I hope this helps!!
~~ Rachel (cloth diapering mom for almost 4 years)

Laundry Savings

May 14th, 2012

We’re getting ready for a trip and I always try to get laundry caught up before we pack, or at least before we leave. I’m doing pretty well this time. I have 6 loads of laundry left to do. SIX!!  It’s the little things. :-) So, in light of the laundry on my mind, and a couple questions I’ve had recently regarding laundry, I thought it was time for a “Laundry” post. More specifically, let’s talk about laundry savings. Saving time .. and saving money.  Ah, NOW I have your attention!!

Here are my laundry tips:

  • Reduce the amount

My Grandmother (who lost her battle with cancer early in 2006) used to say that if you have too much laundry, you have too many clothes. Of course, having a big family will also produce a lot of laundry, but she was still right. So, if you find yourself with too much laundry, start consigning some clothing. Does DH (Dear Husband) NEED 30 tshirts?  Do you NEED 20 dress shirts? Do the kids NEED 10 pairs of pants each? Go through and decide what you can get by without.

  • Start a laundry routine

I recently ordered the Large Family Logistics book. I really love the way it’s concepts. It works much better for our family than Fly Lady ever did since it incorporates ALL the family members and not just you alone when everyone else is gone. In LFL, she suggests having a laundry day ALONG with doing 2-3 loads every day (for basics like towels, underwear, and cloth diapers). Following this has made a huge difference. On laundry day, I don’t worry about anything else but keeping the washer/dryer running constantly.

  • Buy Wool Dryer Balls

Dryer balls will help cut your drying time, reduce the need for softener sheets, and save wear and tear on your dryer. There are many different kinds – you can even buy plastic ones at walmart, but I HIGHLY suggest WOOL. For one thing, heat + plastic releases toxic chemicals .. and I’d like to reduce that as much as possible. Mostly, Wool is absorbent and all natural.  I’ve bought most of my wool dryer balls from Leaping Sheep, but you may find them at local Farmer’s Markets or Craft Shows. They aren’t all just plain white either. Ha! The dryer balls will reduce static, soften clothes, and reduce drying time by separating the clothes and absorbing some water (only WOOL ones). Also, since wool is absorbent, I can drop 3-4 drops of my favorite essential oil onto a ball and toss it in to freshen up a load here and there.

  • Make Your Own Detergent

Thanks to Pinterest for making Homemade Laundry Detergent “popular”, you’ve probably heard about this already. Of course, many families have been using similar recipes for years.  I’ve been using it for about 4 years and I LOVE it. My ingredients are Ivory soap, Borax, Washing Soda, water, and several drops of my favorite Young Living essential oil. I use the “wet” version – about the consistency of egg noodle soup. I store it into a medium plastic container with a snap on lid and keep a plastic orange juice bottle filled with my soap above the washer.  I do NOT use this recipe for cloth diapers, however. From what I understand, the borax is not cloth diaper safe and I also was concerned with the ivory soap causing build up. For my cloth diapers, I currently use Crunchy Clean – which I get through a coop at a GREAT price.  I have also used 1-2 tbsp of Tide Original in the past with no problems for cloth diapers.

  • Put Up A Clothesline
Another way to save money and dryer use is to hang as much as possible. We have an outdoor clothesline AND an indoor one. I love to hang outside to get the natural bleaching and antibacterial affects from the Sun. For indoors, we have a large wooden rod across the laundry room wall for some hanging clothing and another hanging rack that was up-cycled from a baby crib.  I hang pretty much all of our t-shirts, dresses, dress pants, and many other items.
I hope you enjoyed reading through my laundry tips and find some things that you can try in your home. Have a great week and happy laundering!!

I Choose This

May 4th, 2012

We get comments all the time about our family size and pretty much anything that goes along with that. I often just have to brush them off, nod and smile, or say Thank you. So many times I’ve wanted to say MORE. To somehow help them understand why I CHOOSE THIS.

“I’m sure you need a break from the kids.”

I had fun before kids. It was, of course, a much different lifestyle with different decisions. When my husband and I decided to have children, we wanted to raise, to protect, to teach, and to love them. This was a silent promise to our children, that by deciding to have them, we would do all these things. And this promise for me, as the Mother and primary nurturer meant not just during the day, but at night too. Not just a few hours a day when I come home, ALL DAY. Not just when it’s obvious they need my help, but when it isn’t so obvious as well. Not just when I have time, but ALL the time. Not as a  side-thought, but as a constant though.  24/7.  Of course, as each child grows, they will need me less and less. And one day, it will be only on occasion that they need me and what I will have are the memories and reminders of the time when they were dependent on me. On that day, I know I will be sad that they have grown up, but I will also be happy and pleased in knowing that I was THERE.  I choose this.


“Why don’t you just give him a bottle?”

I’m a nursing mom. Going on 11 months with Baby A.  I don’t think Mothers were made to produce milk “just because”. I believe we were made to produce milk because that’s what our baby is supposed to have. I also think that breastmilk should be the primary source of nutrition at least for the first year, and preferably for the first 2 years. Of course, I could pump and bottle feed. A lot of moms do this and it works great for them. Personally, it’s an unnecessary step for me. I’m with my baby  (see above) and so I feed him “from the tap”.  I choose this.


“I bet you’re glad when they go to bed at night.”

If I should be that ecstatic when my children are asleep at night or any time I’m not actively taking care of them, then something isn’t right. I love hearing the chatter, the play, the babble, and yes – even the fuss. It means there are CHILDREN in my home. And Children are a blessing.  Does this mean I don’t enjoy my evenings?  No. It IS nice to sit and work on a blog entry, pay some bills, fold laundry, or wash dishes without interruptions. But I also don’t have my little helpers. :-)   And that’s what I choose.


“You know what causes that, don’t you?”

I honestly don’t understand how people can not know how rude and inappropriate this question is.  But if you must know, the answer is YES.  And we made that choice together.


“You mean he’s not sleeping through the night? Aren’t you tired!?”

If you mean from the time he lays down 9:30 until he wakes up for the day around 7:30, then NO, my almost 11 month old does NOT sleep through the night. But then, I think this is subjective. Baby A wakes up at least once to nurse during the night. I roll over, latch him on, and then go back to sleep (as does he when he finishes).  So, for the next question “Aren’t I tired”. Sometimes I am if we’ve had a fussy or late night, but mostly, I sleep rather well and so does Baby A. and I choose that.


“You have your hands full!”

Why is this a bad thing?  What’s so great about “empty hands”?  If my hands ever find themselves empty, I’m immediately looking for an infant to pick up. :-)  “Full hands mean a Full Heart.”   Also, if my hands are full, that means I have lots of little hands to HELP!  I love having little helpers.. just helping me along. I choose this.

I Choose THIS.




  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.