Every baby wearing disposable diapers can generate as much as one ton of landfill waste before the age of two.
Readers of this blog probably already know that our family has long been trying to maintain a simple, sustainable and non-consumerist lifestyle. Now that we have a new addition to the family, we attempt to carry on with these principles while raising a newborn.
Why cloth diapers?
The decision to cloth diaper our baby is an obvious one. Disposable diapers may be convenient, but they are also wasteful and expensive. The cost savings are actually secondary. It’s the amount of waste created by using disposables that we can’t live with.
From pockets to prefolds.
In my earlier post, I’ve decided that I would go the prefolds + covers route to cloth diapering this time around. I’m done with pocket diapers and microfiber inserts because of how difficult they are to wash and dry. Next to using flat diapers, I believe this is the next most economical option, both in terms of upfront investment and laundrying cost.
This would be my first time to try prefolds and covers, and also my first time to try cloth diapering a newborn full-time. (Uri was also CD’d full-time before but he was already more than a year old then.) I did my research, had a couple of options on which prefolds and covers to purchase, found local suppliers, but I was hesitant to start buying until I knew exactly how big my baby will be and how much diapers he will likely consume in a day. Back then I wasn’t sure whether I should get newborn-sized or one-sized covers, or what size prefolds I should get.
It’s a good thing I waited until I had given birth. Baby weighed nearly 8 pounds and would already fit small and one-sized covers, instead of the newborn ones. Information online also suggested that newborns average 12 diaper changes in a day, but my baby ended up with around 16 diaper changes in a 24-hour period. So if I had a diaper stash for 12 changes in a day, that wouldn’t have been enough.
In baby’s first week or so, we used disposable diapers. I received 3 packs of disposable diapers as gifts prior to giving birth, and these came in handy during those days that I was hardly able to move coming from a C-section. I also used this opportunity to observe baby’s sleep patterns and diaper consumption, so I could build a cloth diaper stash that was appropriate for his sleeping, peeing and pooping patterns.
Our diaper stash.
When we started building our diaper stash, it started with the most readily accessible and most familiar for me to use – flat gauze diapers. I bought 2 dozen Curity flats before I gave birth. While I know there are a lot of modern cloth nappies nowadays that are far more absorbent and convenient to use, the old-school nanay in me couldn’t let go of the breathability of wearing only a “lampin” during daytime.
Once we got home from the hospital, I started placing orders for prefolds and diaper covers, had them shipped, and pre-washed and prepped them. By the time baby was 2 weeks old, our cloth diaper stash looked like this:
- 18 infant-sized unbleached cotton prefolds (OsoCozy, GMD, Econobum)
- 24 gauze cotton flat diapers (Curity)
- 12 gauze cotton prefolds (Curity)
- 5 fleece liners (Bummis)
- 2 diaper covers (Bummis Super Brite, Bummis Simply Lite)
- 1 Snappi
I hadn’t been able to save any of the cloth diapers we’ve used from when Uri was a baby so I had to buy everything this time around. This cost us a total of PhP6,068.50.
This present stash allows us to cloth diaper our newborn baby full time, washing soiled diapers three times a week. PhP6,000+ worth of cloth diapers might seem expensive at first, but looking closely, this amount is equivalent to only 3 months worth of disposable diapers. The cloth diapers we bought will be used from now until the time our baby is potty trained, say at least two years. Perhaps we will be needing some larger-sized prefolds and diaper covers when he gets bigger, but this would still be minimal cost compared to diapering with disposables full time.
Our CD routine.
During the day, especially when baby is awake, we use flat gauze diapers or locally known here as “lampin“. This means changing every time he pees and poops. This may not sound too convenient to many but as I’ve said, I like the breathability of gauze diapers, and this helps keep baby feeling fresh especially in this warm tropical climate.
In the evenings and during naptime, we use infant-sized prefolds snappied in a bikini twist or angel wing fold to catch runny newborn poop. I place a fleece liner on top so baby’s skin feels dry even after a couple of wettings. Then I use a diaper cover to avoid leaks on his clothes, crib sheets and beddings. I once tried just to lay a trifolded prefold onto the diaper cover, but the cover tends to get soiled when baby poops. If we had more covers in our stash, this would’ve been fine. But at the moment, we’re only rotating 2 covers, so Snappi is the way to go. So far, this nighttime/naptime diapering system has worked for us, allowing 3 to 5 hours between diaper changes.
Washing cloth diapers.
Our diaper laundry routine is pretty straightforward. We use fermented rice washing to soak pre-rinsed gauze cotton diapers overnight so they would be whiter and brighter, before washing with a biodegradable detergent the following day. The unbleached cotton prefolds are soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, before washing with the same detergent. The pre-rinsed gauze cotton diapers and unbleached cotton prefolds, together with the diaper covers can be washed together in the washing machine. After washing, the diapers and covers are rinsed thrice before line drying under the sun.
Even poop stains are easy to remove on both gauze cotton and unbleached cotton diapers. Our usual laundry routine is enough to get all diapers clean, without the need for special stain removers or running an additional wash cycle.
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So far we are getting by with our current minimal stash of cloth diapers. I would have loved to purchase more prefolds, fleece liners and cute diaper covers, but these should do for now. Perhaps when baby is bigger and we will start to take short trips, I would know what else to purchase. But until that time, our CD stash is on status quo.