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Two moms trying to raise their families a little greener, a little healthier, and with a whole lot of love. All this while trying to save a little green along the way. Product reviews, green ideas, money-saving tips, and more!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A cloth diaper convert

With the birth of my first son last July, I was overwhelmed, as most new parents are... the LAST thing I thought I could handle was the added laundry or bother of cloth diapers. Well, after 9 months of throwing disposable diapers in the landfill, the guilt added up and I decided to give cloth a shot. After a bit of research, I discovered cloth diapers were not what I was expecting... I was picturing the white pre-folds and nasty plastic covers, but today's cloth diapers work similar to disposables with velcro or snap closures and are absolutely adorable!! I consulted with my fellow Greenie, Daniella, to get her input on what she liked and didn't like about her cloth diapers and found a local cloth diaper company, Denver Diaper Company, which now actually has a retail location in the Highlands neighborhood and a new name, The Giggling Green Bean. Owner, Amy, was also a wealth of information and allowed me to come over to her house to check out her inventory and pick her brain about cloth diapers. I decided to try two different diapers: the organic BumGenius all-in-one, one-size diaper and the GroBaby system. I started out with 3 BumGenius and 1 Grobaby shell set plus 2 extra snap-in soakers to see if Cloth diapering was really for me. Amy educated me on how to prep the diapers, launder, and actually use them on my little bug. I was off and super excited to give them a shot! If you are in the Denver area, I highly recommend The Giggling Green Bean- their prices are reasonable, they have cloth diaper education classes, and Amy is super helpful AND honest about what you need/don't need and finding a system that works for you and your lifestyle.

After returning home, I began the somewhat long process of prepping the diapers. Because the diapers I chose are organic, it means that no bleaching of the fabric occured during the manufaturing process... This means that the cotton still has the natural oils on the fiber and this needs to be stripped so those cotton fibers can then, in turn, soak up all that pee. To prep the diapers, it is recommended to do 3-5 washing and drying cycles to remove the natural oils (but can take up to 10 cycles for the diapers to reach their maximum soaking capabilities). I did the minimum of 3 cycles because I was so anxious to actually use the diapers! The GroBaby diapers seemed to work just fine with onle 3 cycles, but the BumGenius diapers leaked the first couple times I used them and I assume that it because there were oils still left on the cotton fiber. So, after my experience, I would do the 5 cycles in the future to avoid and leakage and so your diapers will have close to the optimum soaking power the very first time you use them.

Using both diaper systems, I have found that they are both easy to use and work well containing all the pee and poo E dishes out. The only times I have had leaks were in the beginning when the diapers weren't properly prepped and occasionally after that if I forget to change E before a long nap. Overnight, the GroBaby system comes with boosters that you can pop in on top of the regular snap-in liner and I have successfully had Ethan wear the cloth overnight with no leaks. I haven't tried the BumGenius diapers overnight yet, simply, because I've had good luck with the GroBaby diapers overnight. And why fix what's broken!

The BumGenius Organic All-in-One, One Sized Diaper:
What I love about the BumGenius diapers: Super easy to use- requires no snapping or stuffing of an insert- pull them out of the dryer and they are ready to go; the sizing snaps on the front match the color of the diaper, so they blend in; amd they come in 9 adorable colors!

What I'm not crazy about: the hook and loop closure (that's velcro) edges are not the softest, the laundry tabs don't seem to work well (laundry tabs are where you velcro the velcro to itself so it doesn't get caught on everything in the wash), and they take longer to dry because they are all-in-one and don't come apart (you win some, you lose some). And, the price is $24.95 per diaper.

The GroBaby Cloth Diaper System:

What I love about GroBaby: The soft loop fabric and hook closures (velcro) are what it says- SUPER soft and never catches on anything, the 4 colors GroBaby offers are fun and unique, the diapers dry quickly because they come apart - I actually don't even put the outer shells in the dryer anymore because they dry so quickly air-drying. Economically, these are a little cheaper than the BumGenius- because you can reuse the outer shell several times, provided it doesn't get poopy, you only need a few outer shells and then can just buy extra inners at a lower cost. A shell set (1 outer shell + 1 soaker pad + 1 booster for heavy wetters or overnight) costs $24.95 and then a 2 pack of soaker pads is only $16.95. I have a 2 pack of inner soakers for each shell I have. So it is basically like getting 3 diapers for $41.90.

What I'm not crazy about GroBaby: The snaps on the front for sizing don't match the fabric color. I know, it's a total cosmetic thing, but I figure if BumGenius can have it match, why can't GroBaby. I just like those snaps to blend in nicely. The inner mesh gets caught on the hook and loop closures and looks kind a of worn after a number of washes, but no one sees that part, so it's not a huge deal. The hook and loop tab edges have started to curl slightly- it doesn't effect the usage, but they just don't look brand new anymore. I guess most of my gripes about these are cosmetic... take it as you will, they ARE diapers and get worn under clothes (most of the time). And lastly, snapping the liners in IS an extra step, but one I have found my husband gladly partakes in!

So, did I scare you off with the cost of a single cloth diaper above? Considering I was dropping over $80 at Babies R Us every few weeks for many months, a small investment of $300 in cloth diapers and accessories is going to go a long way PLUS, can be used for future babies. I purchased 6 BumGenius diapers, 3 Grobaby Shell sets and 3 soaker pad sets which lasts me about 3 days before I have to do laundry. And trust me, you don't want to wait longer than 3 days because it can get smelly. I also bought a waterproof diaper pail liner ($15) and a plastic garbage can with lid at Target for $7.50 to use as my diaper pail for the cloth dipes.

So, yes, the initial investment may be a bit more than picking up a package of Pampers at the store, but you are going to be using these puppies for a long time and can use them for multiple babies too! Cloth diapers also have an excellent resale value (grossed out? think about diaper services- remember cloth diapers can be sanitized!).

My thoughts having 4 months of cloth diapering experience under my belt: I really love both systems we're using and would gladly purchase more of either brand. I still use disposable diapers when we are out for a long time - I just can't bring myself to tote around dirty diapers. I think if I purchase more cloth, I will opt for the snap versions of the above (instead of using a hook and loop closure they are snap closures) because once your newborns and infants turn into toddlers, they discover it is pretty easy to get diapers off that use velcro closures - just ask Daniella- she found her little T naked in his crib with his GroBaby tossed across his room. My E is just about getting to that age and I'm thinking some snaps will be a good investment for his second year.

This is a pretty broad overview of my cloth diapering experience, so please let us know if you have any questions ... we are happy to answer any questions, offer our advice, and our opinions!

Oh and one last cloth diaper tip- if you end up with any stains on your diapers, have them dry out in the sun-- I did this a couple weeks ago and the stains magically disappeared! I love natural stain removal!


  1. Thanks for sharing the joys of cloth diapering with your readers! I'm 100% on board with it...and I LOVE the BumGenius all in one,one size diapers. I've had my daughter in them since she was 3 months old (did prefold diapers before, and those were also great).

    For those interested in experimenting with cloth diapers, I'd love to recommend checking out a sample set from www.nomorebummers.com. Bethany will rent you a set of diapers for a fixed price...when you return the rental diapers, you will get store credit in the amount of the cost of the rental so that you can purchase diapers (or anything else sold on her site). It's a great way to explore the world of CD.


  2. I'm glad to hear that you like the GroBaby diapers so much. I have tried the Organic BG and am not entirely thrilled with it's performance, yet. However, maybe it will grow more absorbant over time. I'll keep using it! I'd love to try a GroBaby diaper, but there aren't many used ones and the cost new seems prohibitive. Maybe I'll jump in and try it anyway! I'm using prefolds and covers; I started 2 weeks ago with the whole CD experience. They are working great for us, but I'd love to have a few more "easy to use" diapers for baby sitters and on the road. Thanks.

  3. Rachel and Josh - a sample cloth diaper package is a great option for people who want to give cloth a try! Thanks for sharing! I am curious, when you used prefolds what type of cover did you use?

    James, Andrea, and Clara Smith - What is it that you aren't crazy about in regards to the organic BG performance? I agree with what Jackie mentioned in the post, they definitely grow more an more absorbent. How many washes did you do to prep them? Also, if you are having leaks it may be possible that you need to adjust the rise settings that you have it on. If you are interested in trying the GroBaby but don't want to invest a lot upfront I would suggest starting simple. I would buy one shell which will come with one soaker pad and one booster and another set of soaker pads. This will basically get you through 3 diaper changes if you don't have any leakage onto the shell. I have found that I rarely have urine or poop leak out onto the shell. Keep in mind that the resale value on most cloth diapers is great. SO, if you try them and find they aren't the cloth diaper to meet your needs you will most likely be able to sell it and recoup some of the cost. I'm so glad you're giving cloth a try! The first few weeks are a learning period but you and your diapers will soon find your groove!

    - Daniella, Gaga Greenies

  4. I love the Thirsties covers. As long as the diaper is entirely contained by the cover, you won't have leaks. Thirsties have these adorable leg gussets to make for a really snug fit. And the hook and loop closure is very durable. I bought the XS size and am still using them on my chunky 18lb baby.

  5. The BG Organic AIOs come in snaps so you can avoid dealing with the velcro issue and it's wear. They are actually discontinuing the velcro version and you can get them on sale at most places for $19.99 instead of $25.

    BG also warranties their diaper, including their velcro for a year and their customer service is great! But the easiest way to avoid that is to just get the diaper in the snap version.

  6. Alicia - Thanks, both Jackie and I have been eyeing the BG AIO with snaps. I am dying to stock up with snaps in the new colors. It's just hard to justify when I already have so many diapers! Maybe number two will come along soon and I'll have an excuse!

  7. The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use by using it on yourself also. I'm not sure how many people know this but that is what they were originally created for. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review: http://jonathanandandrea.blogspot.com/2009/04/spray-it-or-scrub-it.html