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07 September 2010

cloth diapering de-mystified

We use cloth diapers, and since I've had a lot of inquiries about them recently, I thought I'd put together a little tutorial on how we use them...

I will admit, up until a couple years ago I was clueless about cloth diapers. Up to that point whenever I'd hear "cloth diapers' all I could think of was the scene from Back to the Future 3 when Marty gets peed on by his great-great-great (or more?) grandfather. If you know what I'm talking about, then you would understand why I was confused anyone would willingly choose them over disposables. Then I read a blog post about cloth diapers by someone who uses them, and my eyes were opened! Upon reading it and realizing how easy they are, I determined I would use them too with my next baby. And since I was inspired by a blog post, I figured the easiest way for me to help others who are thinking about it would be to do my own.

Here is how we do it, step-by-step. The before-mentioned blog post I read wasn't quite as detailed as I needed it to be, so with this I tried to cover every detail I could think of (even the stuff that might be considered more common-sense) in hopes that some of those trial-and-error (but mostly error) moments aren't so bad for you:) And I should also point out, we are not a 100% of the time cloth diapering family. We use them at home, and then use disposables when we're out and about.

To begin, we use the Bambino Mio system, with some tweaks. I looked at a lot of different diapers, and was really confused because there are so many different types (which I'm not going to go into, but if you want to know about them there are lots of cloth diapering resources out there). But as soon as I found the Bambino Mio site, I knew they were the ones I wanted to use; not only does their website explain things so well, but their products make cloth diapering even easier than it already is. And the tweaks I mentioned involve using a snappi and Thirsties Duo Wraps in addition to our Bambino Mio gear (don't worry if you're lost, I'm about to cover it all).

So, to begin! (to see the pictures larger for more detail, just click on them)

You take your Bambino Mio nappy and lay it down flat:
Then you fold up the bottom edge (I do it about a quarter of the way up, but it really doesn't matter how far. If you're baby has a longer trunk then you might want to do it less, a shorter trunk, maybe more. It all depends on how it fits on your baby, which will be determined in a later step):
Then dividing the diaper into thirds, fold the right side in towards the middle:

Then take the top (non-folded) edge and fold it back out, but keeping the bottom folded in (kind of like folding a paper airplane):
Then fold the left side to the middle, but tucking it into the right side (the part you already folded in):

Then fold the top of the left side back out (the paper airplane technique). And this is what you end up with:

You then slide this nicely folded diaper under your babies' little bum. We fold the diaper this particular way because of Nick's great talent of blowing out of the leg holes of his diapers. (There are other ways of folding these, but we found this to be the best for us.) This particular fold is great for containing blowouts because the flaps form a sort of "pocket" for the poop to go:

Then you take the front part (the thick folded part) and pull it up and over their front:

And starting with the right (not that it matters which side you start with, that's just the one I always grab first) pull the corner of the back up to the front:

And this is where we tweak it (the fold is one of the ones in the instructions that come with the nappies but the Bambino Mio system doesn't require any fasteners; I just like to use one because I'm paranoid about it falling off of his bum, something very unlikey to happen since the covers are really secure), using one of these, a snappi (shown front and back. It has little plastic teeth that grip the fabric of the diaper, making pins unnecessary):

And I attach it to the right side, then stretch it and secure it in the middle, then do the left side. And voila! The diaper is very secure:

Then I check and make sure the diaper is snug against the legs, making sure the poop has no choice but to go into the pocket instead of escaping through the leg holes:

And that is what the secured diaper looks like:

Now time for the cover! I just slide it under him like I do the diaper, and secure it in the front:

I check the legs again (and the back too, but I'm pretty good about making sure it covers the back when I slide it under him) to make sure the cover is covering the diaper completely, and if not, adjust as necessary. If the cover isn't completely covering the diaper, then you will have moisture leaks (like in Back to the Future 3):

And that's it! Here is the finished product:

A cloth diapered baby, front and back. Now one downside to cloth is the fact that there is more bulk, especially between the legs. But I think the sumo bum is pretty cute:

Here is Nick in the Thirsties Duo Wrap. I really like having a couple colored ones for fun. And I recommend getting the velcro ones; the snap ones are cuter, but the velcro allows you to adjust the cover to fit your baby's body shape:

Now, time for the poop talk. Bambino Mio makes these nappy liners, which are fabulous! They go between your baby and the diaper, catching the solid poop and letting the moisture through. You then flush the liner when you change the diaper, and then wash the diaper like normal. I used them the first few weeks, then stopped because a. breastfed baby poop is pretty much liquid anyway so it was a waste of money to use them and b. because they don't help out the blowout situation any (it's hard for the poop to make it's way into the pocket with them in the way). But once he's on solids these things will make their way back into his diaper!:

And these are the wipes I use. They too are flushable! However, you can only flush two at a time, so I try to limit myself to two wipes per change. And surprisingly, a lot of time I only need one because the poop doesn't stay on his skin with cloth like it does with disposables:

After I flush the necessary items, I then place the soiled diaper (and cover if necessary) into the diaper bucket, located in the bathroom (and it's a pretty awesome bucket, no matter how long I leave those dirty diapers in there it doesn't release any vapors, not to mention it's small and discreet and has a carry handle):
Before I get into the washing of the diapers, I do want to say that cloth diapers have been great in preventing blowouts! It doesn't prevent them 100%, but the times that it does happen, instead of blowing out onto his clothes, it blows out onto the inside of the cover. So we go through more covers than I thought, but I can live with it since I don't have to change him a million times a day or worry about his clothes getting stained!

When it comes time to wash the diapers (on average most people wash them every other day, but I usually wait and do it every third day, or until the bucket is full) I just pick up the bucket by it's handle and carry it to the laundry room:

Once there I remove the lid and lift out the laundry bag liner and dump it straight into the washer (no touching those dirty diapers!):

We use the Mio Fresh cleaner, which eliminates the need for any soaking or pre-wash or any other crazy stuff:

I just put in one scoop (the scoop comes with the cleanser) of the Mio Fresh, then my regular laundry detergent (like I would for any regular load):

Then it washes in hot water:

And once they're done washing I toss them into the dryer. The covers are ok to go into the machine, but I opt not to. I just leave them on top of the dryer and let the heat of it dry them out. If you're concerned about your diapers staying bright white, you can dry them outside on a line so the sun bleaches them. But you don't have to worry about needing to do that for any smells or anything, the Mio Fresh takes care of all that. They come out of the washer smelling fresh! :

Then I take the bucket back to the bathroom and wipe it out (this step isn't really necessary, I just do it to avoid any possible funky smell or something from building up):

Then a fresh laundry bag goes in (they only come in a pack of two so you automatically have a spare!):

And it's all set for more dirty diapers!

And here's my cloth diapered Nicola!
Wearing a white Bambino Mio cover, under his clothes:

Wearing the two colored Thirsties Duo Wraps we have, which don't need clothing on top:

So here's what we have:
3 Bambino Mio size 1 Nappy Packs
4 Bambino Mio newborn covers, white
3 Bambino Mio small covers, white
2 Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1 covers, one Mango, one Meadow
1 2-pack Snappi fasteners
8 packages Bambino Mio flushable wipes (so far I've only gone through 2)
2 packages Bambino Mio liners
1 container Bambino Mio Nappy Cleanser
1 Bambino Mio diaper bucket
1 2-pack Bambino Mio Laundry Bags
1 wetbag (in case we ever are out in public and need a place to put the dirty diaper)

All of this cost us about $350, but all of it is good through 16-18 pounds (as of right now Nick is about 12, so we have a few more months before we even need to think about bigger stuff). Now, you can definitely do it cheaper than I did. While the Bambino Mio system isn't the most expensive option out there, it isn't the cheapest either. If you're concerned with spending less, you could definitely use a cheaper brand (like Gerber or something) of the cloth diapers themselves. Although, I can honestly say that the Bambino Mio ones are built to last (they're designed so you can use them with multiple children), and the Gerber ones (that we use for burp cloths) feel flimsy in comparison. But I have found that getting 3 packs of the Bambino Mio nappies wasn't really necessary; we could definitely have gotten away with only two since you're washing them so frequently (there are 8 to a pack and our boys don't soil 8 diapers in a day, but if your child does than maybe you would want the 3 packs). Also, the Thristies covers are a couple dollars less than the Bambino Mio ones, plus they are good from 6 to 18 pounds. For that same coverage, you have to buy two different sizes of the Bambino Mio covers (newborn and small). And who can pass up the colors (they also have white)! But I would definitely recommend the Nappy Cleanser. It makes life so easy. No soaking or pre-washing makes the laundry so much faster and easier. And the liners are great because it means no toilet sprayer!!! So, if I knew then what I know now, I would've bought 2 packs of the Bambino Mio Nappies, but gotten 6 (like I mentioned before, Nick can go through some covers with his explosions) of the Thirsties Duo Wraps. And then stuck with all the Bambino Mio "gear." Oh, and I bought everything from BabyEarth and Amazon.

I have no idea how often we would go through a pack of disposables with Max, so I'm not sure at what point the diapers will start paying for themselves (although it will be a little longer then normal since we still use disposables too). But since we spend most of our time at home, some weeks we hardly use disposables at all. I think we go through a jumbo pack of diapers every 2? weeks. Sometimes it's a little longer, sometimes shorter, depending on how much we go out.

But I will say this, I LOVE CLOTH DIAPERS! They really are so easy, and so much easier on those sensitive baby bums. I hope this helps out those of you thinking about it!


  1. Thanks, Jackie! That was very informative! Now I have lots to think about. What do you use at night? Kaden eats a lot, so he pees a lot. But he also sleeps for a long time at night.

  2. This looks intense. But the covers are so cute!

  3. What a great post Jax. Wow, I learned so much...and I'm definitely going to look into this. SO informative!!!!