My son is almost 7 months old and has been cloth diapered since he was a month old. My husband and I both work full-time jobs so our son goes to daycare 5 days a week. I used to think cloth diapering was only for stay-at-home moms. But it’s not. Cloth diapering is actually very easy and takes a lot less time than you think.
There are a lot of different topics of discussion when it comes to cloth diapers – reasons to use cloth, types of diapers, wash routines, benefits, saving money, etc. This post would be really long if I tried to go into all that and besides it’s all out there on the web already (see links at the bottom). I just wanted to share my story as a working mom who cloth diapers and hopefully inspire other working moms to give it a shot.
The first step in cloth diapering as a working parent is to either find a child care provider that allows cloth diapers or ask your current child care provider if they are willing to use them. My son goes to a center and I never thought they would allow cloth diapers until a friend encouraged me to just ask. I did and sure enough there were two other families there cloth diapering already.
If your child care provider doesn’t have any experience with cloth diapers or seems unsure, offer to go in and do a demonstration or a training session on how cloth diapers work. For the child care provider the only difference from disposables is where you put the dirty ones (wet bag vs. trash). They may not realize how easy it is.
After a little bit of trial and error, my husband and I decided we liked the BumGenius one-size pocket diapers with aplix the best. These are the only diapers we send to daycare because they operate just like a disposable. At the day care center there can be several different people changing a diaper so we wanted to make it as easy as possible on them.
We have 22 daycare diapers, which are a mix of BG 4.0 and 3.0 pockets as well as a few medium-sized all in ones. Some were acquired new, many were acquired as seconds and some were bought new without tags off eBay.
We have other diapers that we only use at home and do not send to day care. Click here if you would like to see a picture and a full list of my diaper stash.
There are so many different types and brands of cloth diapers out there and every baby is different. What works on one may not work on another so you may have to do some experimenting to find the one that works for you, your baby and your child care provider.
Here’s how it actually goes down every day.
1. Each week day morning we take our son to daycare with a Planet Wise hanging wet/dry bag. In the front pocket are 6 clean BumGenius pockets with aplix, stuffed and ready to go. We have two of these wet bags so when one gets smelly we have a clean one ready to go.
2. The daycare workers take the clean diapers out of the front dry pocket and put the dirty ones in the large wet pocket. My son typically uses 4-5 diapers per day and he is there 8-9 hours. Sometimes they keep the extra clean ones there for the next day and sometimes they are still in the bag when we pick him up.
3. At the end of the day we bring home the bag of dirty diapers. I take the dirty ones out of the bag and put them in our even larger wet bag at home. The daycare workers close up the dirties like they would a disposable. We don’t ask them to fasten laundry tabs or pull out inserts. If there are any number 2 diapers I try to spray them off immediately with the diaper sprayer attached to our toilet.
4. I count the diapers and make a mental note if there are clean ones missing (I sent 6 and only 5 dirties came home). With the exception of Wednesday nights, I go ahead and load up the front pocket of the bag with 6 clean diapers (or 5 if they kept a clean one) so it is ready to go for the next day.
5. We do diaper laundry on Wednesday nights and Sundays. Yes that’s right – only two extra loads of laundry per week. Our wash routine is as follows:
Gather up all dirty diapers and take them downstairs to the laundry room. Pull out diapers one by one and fasten laundry tabs and pull out inserts. Toss in the washer. 10 minutes
Run a cold, rinse-only cycle. If diapers are especially dirty run a short cold wash (effectively two rinses). No soap.
When the washer is finished go back downstairs and set the washer to a heavy hot wash with soap and a double cold rinse. Sometimes on Sundays I’ll also do a 15-30 minute soak. 1-2 minutes for pressing buttons and scooping soap.
When the washer is finished go back downstairs and put all inserts, cloth wipes and pail liner into dryer. Set dryer for 80 minutes on low heat. Take shells upstairs and hang on drying rack or over the shower rod in bathroom. 10 minutes
The next morning (or later that evening on Sundays), bring liners up from dryer. Gather up shells from various drying racks. Bring everything into the living room and stuff all diapers. 15 minutes
Take stuffed and folded diapers back to nursery and store in changing table. 1-2 minutes
Note: While I prefer to stuff all the diapers at once so they are ready to go, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I just stuff them as I need them and leave the laundry basket with the separate components next to the changing table.
Total active time for one wash: about 40 minutes broken up into short intervals. I do this twice a week (my husband helps).
Once or twice a month we might put our boy in a disposable at night if he needs some diaper cream that is not compatible with cloth. But that’s it. I bought a small pack of size 3 diapers at the end of the summer and we have barely used half of them.
I will admit there are times when I think “man it would be easier if we just used disposables”. This has happened lately when spraying poo off diapers. 🙂 But I get over it quickly when I think about how much money we’re saving and how much better cloth is for the environment and his little bum.
Overall I enjoy cloth diapering and hope to continue with it until my son is potty-trained. And if we are blessed with a second child we’ll be able to use the same diapers for him or her as well. I’ve included some links below with more information on cloth diapering and you can always leave a comment or contact me with any questions and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.
Cloth Diapering Resources
Cloth Diaper Basics – Cotton Babies
Cloth Diapering 101 – Momadvice.com
Cloth Diapering Community – BabyCenter
Cloth Diaper Types – Diaper Jungle
Kelly’s Closet – Besides Cotton Babies I also shop at Kelly’s Closet. They frequently have deal where you get a free diaper if you spend X amount. I’ve gotten several freebies this way which is fun because you get to try out different types of diapers.
Update: my kids are now potty-trained so I am no longer in the cloth-diapering world. I hope you find this information helpful and know that cloth diapering is possible as a working parent!