|My method: a prefold diaper in a cover.|
Act I: The Diaper Service
When my first baby was born in our little NYC apartment (no washer/dryer), we used a diaper service for the first 6 months. It seemed nice because we didn't have to deal with the laundry or the up front investment of diapers. The diaper service only used the prefold style of diapers pictured above. Once a week I would put a plastic bag of dirty diapers outside my apartment door and the service would replace it with a plastic bag of clean diapers. Here is what I learned from the diaper service:
- It is okay for dirty diapers to sit a week in a plastic bag (websites everywhere tell you to wash them every 2-3 days).
- The heavy duty "prefolds" that the diaper service use are easy if you pre-fold them in the shape that you need.
- The covers are very easy to hand wash (since I didn't have a washer) or throw in the cold wash weekly.
- I loved 100% cotton was against my baby's skin. Other types of modern cloth diapers (like the "all in ones" and "inserts" are synthetic fleece).
- The diaper service was using bleach and I did not want that up against my baby.
- $20 per week is way too much money to pay for diapers. This is what I was paying so I entered Act II below.
Act II: G-Diapers
Friends had told me about "G-Diapers" that appeared to be like the prefolds that the diaper service was using except that instead of having to collect and wash the prefolded fabric, you would use and flush a pad that fit in the diaper cover. I had heard from experienced moms and read about how they work best once the child starts solid foods and has solid waste so we waited until the 6 month mark. This system was ingenious for us because our building had industrial toilets that could handle the load and it made diapering really easy. It also cost half the price of the diaper service and I didn't have to remember to put diapers out on a certain day. Then we went away for 2 weeks and used disposables and got a diaper rash that just would not easily go away. I was using un-natural creams with all sorts of chemicals that I did not want to be using. I realized that the best thing for my baby would be to have that nice 100% cotton of cloth diapering against her skin so we moved on to Act III below and ditched the diaper creams.
Act III: Cloth Diapering at the Laundromat
Since I loved the 100% cotton prefolds (instead of the synthetic modern fleece diapers), I stocked up a supply of prefolds and was shocked at how inexpensive they are! I quickly learned that you MUST buy the more expensive heavy duty laundry service quality prefolds. I used basic covers like the Prowraps and Thirsties. I let my diapers build up for a week in a plastic like at the diaper service then I took them to the laundromat (in the stroller with my other laundry while baby-wearing my baby). The machines were so big and hot that I never did any special rinses. Just a hot wash with half the detergent worked perfect and I never had to strip my diapers (like I do now that I have hard water in the suburbs; and I now have to do those rinse cycles!).
Why am I Cloth Diapering with Prefolds and Covers for a 3rd Time?
I love prefold diapers and I think that they are highly underrated in the modern cloth diapering world. The modern "all in one" and "insert" diapers are made of synthetic fabrics, take a long time to air dry, are expensive (about $18 each) and can only be used once per washing thus making it financially impossible to have a week's supply. Since you cannot have a huge supply, you are doing laundry every 2-3 days (which is what is recommended anyways). I have other things to do in life and want to do my diapers just once a week so prefolds are great for me. I reuse the covers until they are dirty then toss them in my regular cold wash laundry (although I hand washed them in the city to make my 3-4 covers last all week). After doing laundry, I fold the prefolds in thirds so they are ready to insert in a cover at diapering time. It is then just like putting panties and a pad on the baby; no diaper pins or clips are used in my house! When we have a babysitter, I put the prefold already in the diaper and they change the diaper just like a disposable. It is very easy! Everyone thinks that my diapers must smell. Breastfed only diapers do not smell. When babies start solids, the urine and bowels do start to smell but you flush the bowel down the drain and a good diaper pail will keep the odors out.
Edited to add:
There are details on how to wash and fold prefold diapers now on my blog! They are still my favorite!