Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The decision to cloth diaper

When Miss M was born, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment.  The on-site laundry facilities consisted of a single coin-operated washer and two dryers.  Whenever I did laundry, I always washed the adult clothes first so the final load of baby stuff would have as little "contamination" as possible -- particularly the residue of other people's laundry detergents and fabric softeners.  Miss M had such bad eczema that her tiny baby cheeks would bleed on her crib sheets at night.  Prescription ointments didn't work.  I wonder now if cloth diapering would have helped with her sensitive skin, but it really wouldn't have been feasible for us what with the time involved and the expense of coin-operated laundering.  We finally discovered Aquaphor by Eucerin; it helped keep the worst of the eczema at bay until she outgrew her hypersensitivity.

This time around, however, I have my own washer and dryer (hallelujah!) and have decided to cloth diaper the new baby.  It was a bit of a mental dilemma to come to the decision to cloth diaper.  See, it's a giant Unknown.  I've never been around anyone who has cloth diapered.  I haven't seen it done in real life.  I've read quite a bit about it online, but I just don't have any real life experience with it, no matter how indirect.  (Okay, so my little sister was cloth diapered, but I was only 5-6 at the time and I really don't remember anything other than the plastic pants she had on).  So it was a matter of me deciding to take a leap into the Unknown.

One night it came to me that this isn't the first Unknown I've met and surmounted thus far in my life.  College was an enormous Unknown.  My mom hadn't gone to college and I didn't really have anyone to guide me as I struggled through college applications, financial aid, registering for classes, etc.  I felt so overwhelmed my first year of college as I tried to navigate the world of academics, not even knowing what questions I needed to ask to get the information I needed to have.  (I consciously made the most of being a "Freshman" because I figured by the second year I would be expected to know how it all worked...at least as a Freshman I had a bit of an excuse for my stupidity).  Thankfully I spent my Freshman year at a private university...the personnel there were much more pleasant and helpful than at the state university I attended later on.  Slowly the Unknown became the Familiar and I learned to successfully navigate the bureaucracy.  Once I realized it was only the Unknown holding me back from cloth diapering, it was easy to decide.

I hate disposable diapers.  Not only do I hate how rough and "unnatural" they are (I couldn't bear to put anything other than Pampers on Miss M when she was an infant because they were so much softer than anything else I tried -- don't even get me started on the Costco-sized box of Huggies some one gave us!), but I hate spending the money for them!  I hate knowing that they go into a landfill.  I hate being dependant on the stores to have them in stock.  And silly as it seems, I hate having characters on them -- Sesame Street, Disney, etc. -- if I have to go with disposable diapers, I just want to have plain ol' diapers!

Having finally made the decision to cloth diaper, I went about searching the internet for patterns and materials.  Hubby and I went to a few thrift shops this weekend (Labor Day sales made it a bit of a zoo) and I spent a whopping total of $17 for an armload of flannel sheets and wool sweaters.  It may not be enough for the duration, but it's definitely enough to get started on...and possibly enough for the first year.

I printed out the Ottobre diaper pattern, read some reviews on it, made a few minor adjustments, and whipped up my first cloth diaper.  It turned out to be about equivalent to a size 4 disposable (with the changes I made).  So I re-drew the pattern to make it approximate a newborn size disposable and whipped up my second cloth diaper.  I love them both!  They are so soft!  They won't go into a landfill!  They're soft!  They cost mere pennies to make!  Did I mention how soft they are?  And cute to boot!

That's a newborn size disposable in the last frame for size comparison.

I used a quarter inch seam allowance, sewed right sides together, turned and topstitched; rather than the way the pattern has you sew wrong sides together and serge the edges...both for neatness and to make it turn out a bit smaller since the reviews I read said the pattern runs large.  I can't wait to get started on a whole supply!  But I'll need some more velcro soon...


  1. Those are so cute! I cloth diapered all but my first born and made all their diapers (not Ottobre pattern tho). I began cloth diapering because I had two in diapers and then was buying Pull-Ups for nighttime for my daughter. I was so sick of the money I was spending, not to mention all that I was dumping in the landfill. Like you, I knew no one who cloth diapered (except my mom, MIL, etc), nothing modern like I was using. It turned out to be great for my family and yep, they are soooo soft. Yes I sometimes used disposibles when I would be gone to town for an extended time from or on vacation, but that was pretty much it. Happy diapering! :-)

  2. I've cloth diapered all 4 of my kids and loved it! We use(d) prefolds and covers for around the house and pocket diapers at night and when we're out and about. We've even used cloth diapers while traveling. Our youngest has very sensitive skin and ends up with "baboon butt" if she's in disposables. If you haven't already, check out diaperswappers.com It's a good resource and a great community. Good luck!

  3. I admire people who cloth diaper- I've never done it. I've just had my fourth baby though, and am considering making the diaper covers just for fun!!!

    Also, Thanks for the encouragement about facing the Unknown. :)

  4. Your diapers are amazing! Wow! I use disposables with Malachi but I hate them too. . .they seem hot, uncomfortable and stuffy and scratchy. I'd LOVE to make some cloth ones for him but am overwhelmed by the thought of having so much laundry. . .or having to change him every time he goes to the bathroom. My mom said she tried c.d. with me and every time I went, she had to change all of my clothes. I can't wait to hear how they work out for you.

  5. [...] 2009 October 13 tags: cloth diapering, Ottobre, Sewing by Christephi After making the decision to cloth diaper, it took me a bit of time to get going on the sewing side of things.  But…a little over a [...]

  6. The diapers look great! One thing to keep in mind is that baby's bottom will be significantly rounder than when wearing a disposable so some clothes may not fit as well. We didn't have a problem with this so much when our babies were newborns but definitely with a toddler there are some shorts/pants that don't have enough ease. Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the tip! If this one's built anything like my daughter (and he may not be, we'll have to see), it shouldn't be much of a problem. She's such a skinny thing and pants were always rather baggy in the butt for her. Anyway, if we do find it to be a problem, pants are pretty quick and easy to make. :-)