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Beginner's Most Frequently Asked Questions about Using Cloth Diapers

Why the decision to use cloth diapers?
Wouldn't using cloth diapers be...umm...messy, smelly and just plain gross?
So changing WET diapers sounds easy. What about MESSY diaper changes?

So, there is only one extra step with a soiled diaper. What about the laundry?

Don’t cloth diapers smell bad?
Do I have to touch dirty diapers?
I'm afraid I'll stick my baby with a pin. Can this be helped?
What’s wrong with department store cloth diapers?
What is the concern about Vinyl (PVC) products?
I'm so confused!! Where do I start?
Do you sell used diapers or have a 'buy back' program?

 

Why the decision to use cloth diapers?

There are many reasons why more and more families today are choosing cloth diapers. Some of the more common answers to this question have to do with the fact that they are better for the environment, healthier for a baby, and of course there are just as many families that choose to use cloth diapers for economical reasons. And believe it or not, a popular response to this question is that using cloth diapers is just plain fun! How often do you hear that from disposable diaper users? For a quick top ten list, read our ‘Top Ten Reasons Parents are Choosing Cloth Diapers ’.

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Wouldn't using cloth diapers be...umm...messy, smelly and just plain gross?

We thought we'd address this one early on because this is still the number one reason parents DON'T give cloth diapers a try. Many parents have misconceptions about the cleanliness of using cloth diapers, both for themselves and their babies. Messy clean-ups, smelly diapers and wet diaper pails are a constant image that is conjured up when cloth diapers are mentioned. We'd love to put these misconceptions to rest, once and for all.

First things first, CHANGING cloth diapers is an almost identical process to changing disposable diapers. Just wait - we'll take you through this. The main difference between using cloth and using disposables is that yes, you have to WASH cloth diapers after a day or so of diaper changes. Now parents ... it's not as if we have to go down to the river and slap our cloth diapers against the rocks anymore. Trust us - our modern washing machines are designed to handle a few messy diapers. And we promise you, you won't have to *touch* a thing.

Now, CHANGING cloth diapers is really not all that different from using disposable diapers. A diaper change is a diaper change, whether it's paper, plastic or cotton that is going on your baby's bum. Messy is messy and smelly is smelly with cloth or disposables.

"How to Change a Diaper" - When your baby is wet you have to (1) remove the wet/dirty diaper, (2) dispose of the wet diaper (it's just as easy to toss it in a diaper pail!) and (3) clean up your baby's behind. Then, you have to (4) put on a clean diaper. Whether you've removed and put back on a paper diaper or a cloth diaper is irrelevant - the process is the same and using cloth diapers can be just as quick and easy as using disposable diapers.

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So changing WET diapers sounds easy. What about MESSY diaper changes?

You're paying attention! We're so glad you've made it this far. So, what do you do about a SOILED diaper?

The only extra steps involved in changing cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers is in the washing of the cloth itself. If your baby only has a WET diaper, just toss the cloth diaper in a DRY diaper pail or diaper bag. That's it! For a soiled diaper you need to shake the solids from the diaper into the toilet (a 2-10 second process - no need to dunk, swirl or scrub!) and toss the diaper in the diaper pail. Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Did you know that even when using disposable diapers the contents should be emptied into the toilet so that the waste can be properly treated? It's true! Next time you're at the grocery store read the fine print on any package of disposables diapers. We realize that most parents don't (or won't!) do this, however, if you were disposing of your baby's solids in the toilet prior to putting a disposable diaper in the trash, you would be using the same steps involved with changing a cloth diaper that was soiled in. You simply dump the solids into the toilet, and put the diaper in your diaper pail, instead of the trash can. Now, I know what you're thinking. Not all solids can be dumped! Infants and/or breastfed babies are notorious for having runny solids, similar in consistency to peanut butter. You still have to clean your baby, just the same, whether dressed in paper or in cloth. The extra step with cloth diapers is that you will either remove your disposable diaper liner and toss it in the toilet (just turn the diaper upside down and it will fall in), or, take that messy diaper to the toilet and SPRAY! A diaper sprayer is easy to use and it's actually FUN - at least until the novelty wears off. ;)

Never dunk a diaper in the toilet or touch ANY mess. Once you've sprayed your diaper clean (yes, it really works!) just drop it into the diaper pail that you've placed conveniently beside the toilet specifically for messy diapers. No mess, no fuss, NO WASTE!

The following are a few of the Cloth Diaper Accessories that have been designed to make the job of cleaning up the "messy" cloth diapers easier, but these are by no means a necessity. For any parent concerned about the "ick" factor, however, we would suggest taking a look at the following - MiniShower Diaper Sprayer, Flushable Diaper Liners or Washable Cloth Diaper Liners.

Mini Shower Diaper Sprayer Flushable Cloth Diaper Liners Liners for Cloth Diapers

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So, there is only one extra step with a soiled diaper. What about the laundry?

Many parents think that using cloth diapers is more work than using disposables because of the added laundry involved. This simply is not the case. For starters, how long does it actually take to turn a diaper pail upside down into the washing machine, add a tablespoon of detergent, and turn the dial? Oh yes, and you'll have to move your diapers from the washer to the dryer in about 30 minutes. When dry, all of your cloth diapers can be tossed into a pretty little basket (no folding required!) and set next to your changing station. This took maybe 8 minutes of your *involved* time. Your washing machine and dryer took care of the rest.

The number of extra loads of laundry involved with using cloth diapers will depend on the quantity of diapers you buy. Generally you will be doing 2 extra loads of laundry a week, so by our calculations, that's about 16 minutes a week spent on cloth diaper laundry. Not a lot of work at all!!

Compare this to the amount of time it takes to gather up your baby (and other children, if you have more than one), get them set for the grocery store, and then pass through the disposable diaper aisle for the next 2 years (at least!). There is also time involved in lugging the extra bag of diapers into your home each week, and don't forget the extra garbage that will need to be taken out on a weekly basis. We think the 16 minutes of your time each week to use cloth diapers will prove to be well worth it - for your baby, your family, your wallet and the environment.

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Don't cloth diapers smell bad?

Cloth diapers don't smell any worse than disposable diapers do! If your cloth diapers are smelling after they have been washed, there is something amiss in your current washing routine. A typical reason for odors with cloth diapers is due to a build-up of detergent within the fabric and fibers. Proper and complete cleansing is essential to avoid detergent build-up and odor retention. A few things that can affect how clean your diapers are getting include water type, water temperature, type of detergent and even the type of washing machine. If you are experiencing problems, usually a small change to your washing routine will help solve the issues.

Do I have to touch dirty diapers?

Again, not any more than you would with disposable diapers. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, solids are water-soluble and will wash out in your washing machine just like yogurt. I know, it doesn't sound pretty, but at least you don’t have to touch anything different than you would if you were using disposables. If you are not breastfeeding, there is a wonderful new invention that has completely removed cloth diapering from the days of dunking, swishing and soaking diapers in the toilet. It’s called the Mini Shower Diaper Sprayer and this is one incredible piece of equipment. This apparatus easily attaches to your toilet and is virtually unnoticeable. You simply spray your soiled diapers right into the toilet. With a Mini Shower you will never need to stick your hand in the toilet water…ever. Trust us! This is not something we want to be doing either.

There are a number of Cloth Diaper Accessories that have been designed to make the job of cleaning up the "messy" cloth diapers easier, but these are by no means a necessity. For any parent concerned about the "ick" factor, however, we would suggest taking a look at the following - MiniShower Diaper Sprayer, Flushable Diaper Liners or Washable Cloth Diaper Liners.

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I'm afraid I'll stick my baby with a pin. Can this be helped?

With modern cloth diapers there is no need for pins! You can select a diapering system that uses snap closures or Velcro to fasten your cloth diapers closed. If you choose to use traditional cloth diapers such as our Diaper Service Prefolds, or, you are able to use a diaper service in your area, we'd suggest an innovative little gadget called the Snappi Cloth Diaper Fastener. Invented by a dad that KNEW there had to be a better way!

Snappi Cloth Diapers Fastener Fuzzi Bunz Cloth Diapers

As we know some families will swear by the use of pins, these are still available at most local grocery stores or drug stores, but rest assured, pins are NOT necessary. You will not need to worry about poking baby or you!

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What's wrong with department store cloth diapers? Or cloth diapers for less money?

We do not carry department store brand cloth diapers. These are easy to find and inexpensive at your local mall. All of the cloth diapers we carry are top-of-the-line diapers that are highly absorbent and will last throughout the entire time your child is in diapers with proper care, and in many cases, for multiple children. We’ve tried and tested inexpensive cloth diapers ourselves, and there is no comparison. The difference in quality adds up to a much more enjoyable diapering experience. You will experience less leaks, less rashes, and a better fitting diaper overall.

We troubleshoot complaints of leaking for some very inexpensive cloth diapers on the market on a daily basis. They seem to work well for a few weeks, and then suddenly no longer. Diapers of lessor quality fabrics often have a poor fit to begin with, use less absorbent materials which lead to leaks faster, and the elastics relax a lot faster than other name brand diapers that use higher quality materials. We pride ourselves on providing cloth diapers that ensure a successful cloth diapering experience and the old adage holds true - you get what you pay for.

Products and materials to AVOID are those made with thin, low quality birdseye cotton, cotton that contains flannel filler or polyester between the layers, and Vinyl, which is not breathable and will crack, harden and yellow over time.

We're often asked about the "$10.00 pocket diaper". Inexpensive cloth diapers such those being illegally imported from China are not being properly tested for lead content in fabrics, phthalates, cadmium and more. Not to mention the fact that working conditions and environmental standards are not able to be verified by the majority of these companies (we ask a lot of tough questions!). The quailty of fabric is not the same as a higher priced option and you may end up with peeling waterproofing, leaks due to non-absorbent fabrics and a poor fit overall. The old adage holds true - you get what you pay for, and when it comes to cloth diapers, this is an investment. Poor quality diapers will lead to frustrations on your part, and you may give up using them entirely, which will be a bigger waste of your money.

Many inexpensive cloth diapers that claim to be cotton or quality microfiber typically contain a high amount of polyester fillers or are woven loose, so that are not very absorbent. You are in a unique position to learn from from our expertise by starting out with something that will work well right from the beginning. To learn more about quality and innovative cloth diapers and diapering accessories available today, read 'Which Witch is Which?'.

There are many options in cloth diapers today and you can get started with a great quailty system for very little money. If your primary reason for using cloth diapers is to save as much money as possible, at Parenting By Nature we can easily set you up with a cloth diapering system that you will be very happy with and that is comparable in price to inexpensive cloth diapers that are made ethically, with quality and safety in mind. Ask us how!!

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What is the concern about Vinyl (PVC) products?

Vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, or, as it is commonly abbreviated to, PVC, is a widely-used plastic. Concerns have been raised in recent years over the costs of PVC to the natural environment and human health. Many Vinyl products contain additional compounds to change the chemical consistency of the finished product. Some of these chemical additives and plasticizers can leach out of these products. Studies on rodents involving large amounts of phthalates have shown damage to the liver, the kidneys, the lungs and the developing testes. A link has also been drawn between the rise in childhood allergies and the offgassing of these phthalates. This is a real concern where babies are involved as their faces, hands and mouths are continuously exposed to these chemicals and harmful compounds. In January, 2006, the European Union placed a ban on six types of phthalates, an endocrine disrupter, that had been used in children's toys over the years, however, no such ban has taken effect here in North America, as of yet (Dec 2007). There are many resources online to learn more about PVC and it's hazards. All of the products we sell are PVC-free, and we encourage you to shop for Vinyl-free products for your baby.

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I'm so confused!! Where do I start?

First, you need to decide what type of cloth diapering system is right for your family. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just as every family is different, each cloth diapering system, wash routine and accessory used will vary from one family to the next. The bottom line (excuse the pun) when choosing which kind of cloth diapers your family uses is that it’s a personal choice, and cloth diapers are a good choice for any family. Whatever you choose will work out just fine - we only carry the good stuff! At some point you need to just jump in and get started, and this can easily be done with a small package of about 4-8 different types of diapers and covers to help you learn what will work for you. For help in deciding which cloth diapering system is best for your family, start with ‘How do we Choose?!?’. Or, you might also take a look at our Dazed & Confused Cloth Diaper Trial Packages - designed with you in mind!

Cloth Diapers Trial Kit
Cloth Diapers CAN be Easy!
 

Once you’ve decided on which cloth diapers to use, the hardest part is over. Really! Now all you need is a pail (a kitchen garbage pail will do!), basic washing supplies (just detergent to get you started), and, for an older or non-breast-fed baby, your MiniShower Diaper Sprayer hooked up!

Remember, cloth diapering does not have to be an all or nothing endeavor. Some parents use cloth full-time and some use cloth part-time. It takes very little money and resources to give cloth a try; you'd spend about the same amount as you would on two weeks worth of disposable diapers. We truly want to help get you started, and help make cloth diapering a success. We are here to answer any of your questions. Cloth diapering really is much easier than most parents realize.

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Do you sell used cloth diapers or do you have a buy back program?

We honestly want your cloth diapering experience to be as successful as possible, and USUALLY this means starting out with new, never before used cloth diapers. You never know for sure how someone else's cloth diapers have been washed, and you may run into issues with repelling, leaking, diapers damaged by bleaches and/or a diaper cover that will not hold up due to bleaching or excess temperatures. If you are unsure about your decision to use cloth in the least, or you are easily discouraged, we would highly suggest buying a small starter package of NEW cloth diapers. However, if you are determined to use cloth and are trying to save as much as possible, eBay is a great place to start for deals on used diapers. Just keep in mind you may need to add some new diapers to your stash down the road, as many parents end up with something that is not the quality it was claimed to be.

We do not have a used diaper section, nor do we buy back used diapers. We specialize in helping out parents that are NEW to cloth diapering get off to the best start possible, and we don't want them to end up with anything that might discourage them. Over the years we have watched and used auction sites such as eBay and Kitty Bids extensively and it has been our experience that you will earn more money selling your used items through these means than if we were to buy them back from you. During the month of August 2005 Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers sold, on average, for about 60% of their original retail price on eBay. Many parents make use of these resources much more so then going to look at a retail store for used items. We suggest cutting out the middleman (us!!) and selling your diapers yourself. If you need any help selling your used items, we are more than willing to lead you in the right direction, or provide you with some suggested auction sites or online forums.

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Want to learn more about using cloth diapers?

Continue on with our Cloth Diapering Tutorial using the following links:

  1. Beginner's Most Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Why Parents are Choosing Cloth Diapers
  3. Which Witch is Which? (aka What’s What in Cloth)
  4. How to Choose a Cloth Diapering System
  5. Washing & Caring for Cloth Diapers (trust us, it's easy!)
  6. Getting Started with Cloth Diapers ~ What do I need?
  7. Cloth Diapering Tips & Tricks