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Why use cloth diapers? TOP

They are better for your baby

Babies who wear cloth diapers get far fewer diaper rashes than babies who wear disposable diapers. Many parents who switch to cloth from disposables, switch because of a problem with diaper rashes. The chemicals in disposable diapers can irritate babyís skin and may be dangerous. Sodium polyacrylate, the absorbent little gel beads you may find on your babyís bottom when using disposable diapers, was banned from use in tampons in 1985 because of its link to toxic shock syndrome. To learn more about potential health effects for your child, read these studies. Finally cloth diapers are more comfortable for your baby since they are softer and more breathable. The same way adults prefer cotton to plastic underwear.

They are cute

Cloth diapers have more colors, prints, and styles to choose from. There are even cloth diapers with lace sewn on that can be worn under dresses. They are also softer to the touch for you and your baby. 

They are convenient

Cloth diapers are convenient?! Yes! You will never need to make a special trip to the store to buy more diapers. You will have less trash to take out (disposable diapers make up 1/3 the trash volume in the average household that uses these diapers). You will likely have less diaper rashes to treat. And finally, cloth diapered children potty train an average of six months earlier than disposable diapered children, leaving you changing diapers for a shorter time.

They are better for the environment

The environmental impact of using cloth diapers in water usage is equivalent to the water a potty trained person uses flushing the toilet. While you may have heard of studies that showed the environmental impact of disposables and cloth to be about the same, these studies were paid for by Procter & Gamble (the makers of Pampers & Luvs). Disposable clothes would be no worse for the environment than washable ones according to this logic.  Here are some disposable diaper statistics. More than 18 billion disposable diapers enter landfills every year.  No one knows for sure but it is estimated that each diaper takes 500 years to decompose.  It takes over a million tons of wood pulp and 80,000 tons of plastic, to manufacture disposable diapers every year. You can feel good about not contributing to this waste in your childís environment. 

They can save you money

Even the most expensive cloth diapers cost less than the cheapest disposable diapers over the course of diapering one child from birth to potty training. Any other children you have will cost far less to diaper since you will already have diapers. You can even sell your used diapers in good condition when you are finished with them.
They can make potty training easier

As if you need another reason, cloth diapered children potty train an average of six months earlier. It is thought that the super absorbency of disposable diapers make it harder for a child to learn when they need to go to the bathroom.

How do I wash and care for my cloth diapers? TOP

After changing your baby, remove any inserts or doublers, and throw into your diaper pail, covered trash can, or hanging diaper pail. If your baby is eating solid foods and has soiled the diaper then the solids should be knocked into the toilet first or you can use a disposable liner or diaper sprayer to remove poop. When your baby is only drinking breastmilk the poop is water soluable and when thrown into the washing machine will wash clean.  About every two or three days, depending on how many diapers you have, you should wash your diapers to keep them from smelling. Start the load with a cold water rinse, then use a hot water cycle with a quarter cup of detergent and let it run through the rinse cycle. Then you can throw the diapers into the dryer on a medium heat setting (do not use fabric softener as this can leave a residue on the diapers and cause irritation to your babyís skin). Some foods, illnesses and medications could cause staining on the diapers, this however wonít interfere with the utility of the diaper. The best way to remove a stain, if desired is to lay it in the sun for several hours. Most cloth diapered babies wonít need diaper rash creams or ointments. The use of creams with most cloth diapers will add a residue to the diapers that can cause them to repel liquid and leak. If your baby gets a diaper rash, a combination of zinc oxide / cornstarch may be applied to help it heal.  You can also dry the affected area by laying your baby on his stomach on a towel and using a blow dryer on a low setting at a distance to air out the diaper rash. You should carry a wet tote in your diaper bag to bring home any used diapers when you are out.
Choosing the right detergent is important since some detergents may add a residue to the diapers and cause them to repel liquid. Look for a detergent that does not contain additive like bleach, color brightners, fragrance and fabric softners. Free and clear detergents are not good either since they contain an anti-microbial additive for people with allergies. You could buy an all natural detergent as long as it isn't called a soap which can leave its own residue.

What method of cloth diapers are best? TOP

This can depend on preference and budget. Pocket Diapers and All In Ones (AIOs) are the simplest to use and can make diaper changes on a mobile toddler much easier. Both pocket and AIO diapers are the slimmest cloth option for less bulk inside babyís clothes. These diapers are also preferred by sitters for their ease of use.  The pocket diaper is versatile because you can stuff more inserts into the pocket for nighttime or outings while only using one insert for routine changes. Prefolds used with wraps are the most economical solution for cloth diapering. The prefolds are easy to change when used with wraps or covers which usually close with velcro or snaps.  Covers can be used multiple times while only the prefold is changed. Prefolds can be doubled up or used with an insert for heavy wetters or nighttime. When your child has potty trained the prefolds make great rags. If you are thinking about using a diaper service to wash your diapers for you once a week, then you will almost certainly be using prefolds, usually provided by the service but you would need to buy your own covers. Using a diaper service however does take away the economical advantage of using cloth diapers as they usually charge about the same price per week as disposable diapers would cost.

What do I need to get started? TOP

The following diaper recommendations are based on doing laundry every two or three days. You will need:

-18-24 Pocket or All in One style diapers
You will need one insert for each pocket diaper if one is not included. You may want extra inserts to increase the absorbency for night time, outings, or heavy wetters. All-in-Ones have everything you will need in one diaper.

-24 Prefolds and 4-6 Covers as the waterproof layer

-24 Cloth Wipes (or you can use disposable wipes)

One diaper pail or a kitchen trash can
1-2 Diaper Pail Liners
One diaper bag
1-2 Wet Totes (for carrying used diapers when away from home)

Are cloth wipes difficult to use? TOP
They are easy when you are already using cloth.  One trick is to keep a spray or squirt bottle in your changing area so that you can wet each wipe when you are ready to use it.  They are thicker and larger than disposable wipes which allows you to do the job more efficiently.  Since you already have a diaper pail for cloth diapers you can throw the wipes in there instead of needing a separate trash can for disposable wipes. The same great benefits of saving money, being reusable, and having less chemicals applies to cloth wipes just like cloth diapers.

How can I use cloth diapers with a daycare or sitter? TOP

Momís who work outside the home may think that they canít use cloth diapers because their childís daycare or babysitter wonít use them. The ease of use of all in one and pocket diapers are often appreciated by caretakers since changing these diapers is almost the same as changing disposable diapers. Most cities have several daycare centers that will use cloth diapers, call around to find the ones near to you. Usually at these daycare facilities you will bring the cloth diapers to be used that day and the daycare will send you home with the soiled diapers in your wet bag at the end of the day. Talk to the daycare about what the requirements are at their facility.

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