Tell us about yourself! What is your name? How many little ones do you have?
I'm Janet. I'm a full-time WOHM, working as an engineer in the auto industry, married for almost 10 years to Barry. I have one son, Alex, who is 19 months old. Alex was a preemie, born at 27 weeks, 1 lb 7 oz, and has a lot of breathing issues; he came home on a ventilator but is now only on it when he's not feeling well. We're hoping to be rid of all the tubes in the next year and a half or less.
Alex at 2 days old
How long have you used cloth diapers? Alex's premature birth complicated our cloth diapering journey. We had a whole stash ready for Alex's eventual homecoming, and a daycare lined up that would take cloth (yay!). He outgrew the first stash before he made it out of the NICU at 9 ½ months old, so I got to buy a whole new stash all over again (which was a lot of fun, in all honesty), and his medical needs have made daycare an impossibility for the time being.
So, in total, we've been cloth diapering for about 10 months. I realized recently that the smell I most associate with hospitals is the smell of disposable diapers, so I think if we have another child, we'll be cloth diapering from the very beginning.
What made you decide to use cloth diapers? We had always planned to use cloth diapers. I remembered using cloth diapers with my younger brothers, and then I found out there were such easy versions available now. We try to be environmentally friendly, and I had a lot of heartburn about how much trash disposable diapers would cause.
When I realized how much less expensive used diapers could be, or even that I could win diapers for free in various contests, the challenge of finding what we needed became a nice entertainment break from the NICU.
Furthermore, we had a horrible time with diaper rash in the NICU. It was apparent to us that Alex's skin needed more air, and that he needed to be changed more frequently, and disposables encouraged some of his caregivers to leave changes indefinitely rather than staying on top of it.
pic of Alex w/ Pocket diaper
What was the first cloth diaper you bought? Our first purchase was infant prefolds, quickly followed by more prefolds, covers, some Happy Heineys, and two lovely Minkee Pockets that I can't remember the brand name of.
Alex's first day at home, 9 ½ months
Tell us about your cloth diaper stash (numbers, sizes, types, brands, etc.):
Out of rotation: a dozen or so small AIOs and pockets (mostly no-name; one BG 2.0, one of the minkee ones, I think 2 Happy Heineys) 2 dozen infant prefolds 2 dozen more infant prefolds dyed in various solids and tie-dyed, and 3 preemie prefolds, all of which are in use as burp cloths 2 or 3 small fitteds a half dozen small and extra small covers.
There's also a handful of medium covers out of rotation. Most of these were bought used, but a couple were bought new with baby shower money when we thought Alex was coming home at 4 months old.
Current rotation: 7 covers - Out of that, one is heading towards worn-beyond-usability, and 2 more are going to be outgrown soon. Almost all of these were new. 3 dozen flats. All bought second hand, though 2 dozen were still new in package. We've mostly only used these when we took a long trip out of town recently. 26 premium prefolds (some dyed, some bleached). All bought used. 18 Imse Vimse contours - 3 new, the rest bought well used. Many of the used have holes, and ought to be patched. These are a really great "one size" diaper solution for our nurses who aren't so used to figuring out cloth diapers, since all they need is a snug cover 8 WonderWorks pockets - bought used, not our favorites. 2 more of these have serious leak issues and are out of rotation. 1 AI2 - It's cute, green, and embroidered, but I can't remember the name off hand. I won this one. 1 Smartipants pocket - I love this diaper, and the snaps - I won this as well. 16 BG3 - a white one that I won, the rest were bought barely used, in yellow, orange, and 2 shades of green.
Addtionally, we've got several snappis (most bought used), a half dozen pins (which we only started using now that we've got flats), 3 hanging wet pails (2 of which get used as pail liners, one of which I won; the other hangs in the laundry room for any diaper changes that happen downstairs), and numerous smaller wet bags (almost all of them purchased new - we use them to segregate things in the massive diaper bag/emergency medical kit). We use cloth wipes too, most of which I made in a frenzy one weekend – they're either flannel/flannel or flannel/fleece.
I'm still shocked when I write this all out, because I never intended to have more than a couple dozen diapers total. But…it works for us. It gives a little flexibility on when laundry has to get done (and extras for days where things get puked on), and to do whatever works best for the day's plans.
Alex in July w/ diaper cover
What is your favorite cloth diaper? Why? Our go-to diapering solution is prefolds and covers. We have 6 nurses who take care of Alex throughout the week, and most of them manage just fine; prefolds are more forgiving of diaper creams and such, and convincing some nurses that Alex doesn't need to be plastered in cream has been a challenge. They also seem more forgiving of washing routines. Our favorite covers are the new Thirsties Duos.
Alex w/ original Thirsties cover
Our out-and-about choice is pockets – mostly one-size BG 3.0s (largely because I caught a good deal on gently used ones locally), but my personal favorite is our one and only SmartiPants diaper – it fits perfectly, never leaks, and I love the snaps.
Tell us about your wash routine
Except in very unusual circumstances, we wash diapers every other day.
We do a double (cold) rinse. Then we wash on hot with about a half cup of a mixture of equal parts regular Tide, Oxy-clean, and baking soda, and a cup of white vinegar in the softener dispenser. We finish with another double rinse on cold.
We're in Michigan, so much of the year, line drying is out of the question. Even during the summer, we were often bringing still-damp diapers in off the line at dusk and throwing them in the dryer.
Alex, after a bath – see the bag of diapers in the corner?
Have your friends and family been supportive of your decision to use cloth?
Mostly. Our family members are somewhat hands-off because of Alex's medical issues, but both my husband and I were cloth diapered, so it's not a huge deal either way. Our friends think it's funny that we're being so "trendy" but agree with the idea of less waste. A lot of people generally think we're crazy for using cloth diapers with a special needs child, because it's "just so much more work" but really, we find it's not – washing diapers is easier than running to the store for another package of disposables.
Any challenges with using cloth diapers? What did you do about it? We've had some leaky diapers, and we've given up and taken them out of rotation. In this case, reviews when I bought them were great, but I'm finding more and more bad reviews on that particular brand after it changed ownership.
Our biggest challenge has been convincing nurses that putting a microfiber insert from a pocket diaper into a contour or prefold as a doubler is not good for Alex's skin. I try not to be too picky about how his clothes get put away, since the nurses often fold and put away his diapers and other clothes for us, but this is one thing that drives me nuts. We've got multiple signs up in the room, and we've talked with each of them, but sometimes it slips through the cracks.
Alex all dressed up for a New Year's wedding
Your best piece of advice for someone new to cloth diapering Don't go out and buy "a whole stash" of just one type of diaper. Buy a few of several different things, because no matter what your friend/sister/neighbor says, what works on their child may not work on yours, or it may not work for you at a certain point - either in terms of fit, or in terms of function, or in terms of your daily routine.
Also, don't assume some particular type of diaper is too hard or too easy just because everyone else says so. We love our flats, and would put them back into regular rotation if we were convinced the nurses could figure out how to actually attach them to Alex successfully :)
Your favorite scripture, quote, or anything else that you'd like to add?
One of my new favorite quotes is, "I've met the villagers, and I don't want them raising my child." We try to be mindful of the influences in Alex's life, and try to ensure that we surround him with people who care about him and are interested in helping him grow up to be a caring, thoughtful, independent, and responsible adult. We are thankful every day for the blessing of his life, and that it appears at this time that he will outgrow all of the medical issues he faces.
I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. I'm a wife, friend, and semi-crunchy, babywearing, attached, gentle mama to the sweetest little boy. Baby #2 is scheduled to arrive around April 12th. I always try to look for the blessings in everyday life, and I'm constantly reminded that this is the day that the Lord has made, so I will rejoice and be glad in it.