Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Category: Cloth Diapering (page 3 of 4)

Prepping Cloth Diapers

Fluff mail

Fluff mail: Smart Bottoms (3.1 in J&J), Blueberry (Rainbow waves in organic), TotsBots Easyfit (Shoemaker & the elves), Smart Bottoms (3.1 in Luminescent Adventure), Bambino Mio (Zebra crossing), Grovia (Chesapeake Bay), TotsBots Bamboozle

After months of agonizing wait (me)  and traveling distant shores and seven seas (USA to UK to Mumbai, via some Middle Eastern countries) these diapers reached me this week. This is them fresh out of the bags. I held them, touched them, gave them a little hug, admired them from all angles, probably like I did with T when he was put into my arms. It was so difficult to untag these beauties. But they are meant to go OTB (on the bum, in cloth diaper parlance) so off they went for ‘prepping’.

Prepping is a word you will hear often in the cloth diapering world. It basically means getting the cloth diapers ready to do their job, i.e. hold pee and poo. No rocket science there, is it? Oh but there is. There is a lot of science behind cloth diapering and its just one of these things about CDing which make me go weak in the knees. 🙂

Cloth diapers, are made of cloth, duh! No surprises. And cloth comes in all forms and types – natural (although experts will say there is nothing natural about the so-called natural fabrics which still have to be processed to get them into a recognizably usable state.) and synthetics (which undergo vigorous processing using chemicals and structured methods to give them their identity. ) Basically all this processing and running around machines in factories, mills and workshops gets them to a stage where they look functional, but they still need to be brought up to a level where they are functioning as effectively as they are meant to. That’s where prepping comes in.

Natural fabrics like hemp and organic cotton, contain a lot of their natural oils (oil repels moisture) and hence cannot absorb liquids readily. A good washing is needed, and several ones at that, to get rid of those natural oils and get the fibres ready to hold. Once fully prepped, there’s nothing quite like the efficiency of natural fabrics in cloth diapering. Synthetic fabrics don’t really contain any oils per se, but they are highly processed remember, so they do tend to pick up the processing elements and a lot of the factory dust, which needs to be washed away before ending up OTB.

Having said that prepping is no rocket science, but it can still be a daunting task. I remember how my first bamboo AIO sat on the shelf for weeks, because I was too scared to ruin it and never had the perfect set of dirty laundry, read: non-synthetics with which I could prep it. But moments like those are a distant memory now and I no longer fret over prepping. I follow a simple wash method which helps me get the diaper OTB faster and also saves much more water and detergent.

First of all, I would say, don’t worry about washing synthetics and natural fibres separately. Unless you have ten organic cotton or hemp and only one microfibre diaper in your laundry mix, don’t even bother washing them separately. I know experts will tell you that the oils from the naturals will get onto the synthetics but don’t forget that there is detergent present which is doing the job of removing all of that from your wash. Keep it simple, and make cloth diapering less tedious and more fun instead.

So here are some tried, tested and succeeded methods which work for me:

  1. Pre-wash fresh diaper in plain water, without detergent. This is like a 15 minute cycle of wash, rinse and spin on my machine. This removes much of the superficial factory dust from the dipes.
  2. Wash with regular laundry – diapers or other baby clothes. If I have a lot of natural fabric diapers, I even like throwing them in with bedsheets or towels. (Detergent does go into this cycle.)
  3. Now for synthetics I start using immediately after one wash (that goes for microfibre, charcoal bamboo and for pockets, covers, inserts) But natural fabric diapers (mostly in case of AIOs, prefolds, inserts) need several washes to come up to best absorbency. I find that my Smart Bottoms diapers (organic cotton AIO) are perfection only at 20+ washes. And I definitely don’t advocate waiting that long a time to start using the diaper.  3 to 4 washes are great to get the diaper on the baby, click some otb pics and post to social media. 🙂
  4. Where multiple washes are needed, you don’t have to dry the diaper before the next wash. One rule of thumb I follow, two washes – one drying – two more washes – dry – OTB. This ensures that the diaper gets up to 4 washes but is used within a time frame of 1 – 2 days. However, you may find that the diaper still won’t be good to hold for long hours, or overnight just yet. It will still need its double digit number of washes to get there, but you can start using the diaper albeit for shorter periods.
  5. Hot water is good, but not mandatory. I have a very simple, no-nonsense, top loading washing machine. It has only one type of water setting and we have been good thus far.
  6. Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble: Don’t be afraid to boil to prep your natural fabric inserts or prefolds. Bring up a large pot of water to boil, add the inserts/ prefolds/ flats to it and boil for about 15 minutes. No need to add any detergent. Some people do add dish washing liquid to it, to quicken the process of removing all the natural oils, but I don’t find washing diapers in dish washing liquid very effective. It left my prepping with varied and patchy absorbency.
    Do remember to check that there are no plastic bits like snaps, pul/tpu or elastics on the items you would boil to prep.
  7. Accessories like wetbags don’t need any prepping. But I’m finicky about these things and if I intend to carry fresh diapers or other stuff which babyT is going to bite, chew or play with, I do make sure the wetbag has had a wash first.

How does one know if your diapers are prepped?

They will be absorbent and hold for the amount of time they are meant to. Genius!

But no, seriously, synthetic fibres are good to use after the first wash. You will see only marginal improvements in absorbency after subsequent washes. With natural fabrics there is no universal indicator as such. For example, I find that Blueberry  AIO (organic simplex) is good for overnight use with even one wash (add a booster anyway), Grovia organic cotton AIO take about 5 -6  washes and Smart bottoms (again organic cotton) takes around 20+ washes before I will risk using it for nights. So you just have to go with trial and error and see what works for you. A lot depends of course on your baby’s wetting pattern.  My recommendation is to therefore, test out the diaper for daytime naps (if you’re lucky to have a baby who naps more than 20 minutes *eye roll*) before venturing out for overnight use. And don’t underestimate the power of a booster, the right one can even sail you through the night with a half-prepped diaper. 🙂

 

 

Anatomy of a cloth diaper


Most people get flummoxed by jargon and Cloth Diapering is an area that is rife with it. Read on to decode the CD terminology that you encounter.

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Front view of a cloth diaper

  • The outer cover of the diaper is PUL or TPU. This is fabric which has been treated to gain a waterproof quality. So when used on a diaper it prevents water from the absorbent inner to seep outside. Read more about PUL here
  • Waist tab snaps – the waist tabs are brought up to the front of the diaper and snapped on to this panel here, to give a snug fit around baby’s waist. The diaper must not be too tight so as to dig into the baby’s stomach, nor too loose such that it is gaping. Experts suggest that it must be snug enough to allow one finger to slide along the inside edge of the diaper.
  • Rise settings – you would have heard that diapers come in one-size fits all range, allowing them to be used from newborn to potty training stage. These rise settings help with that. Bring up the row of snaps to snap up to the desired size. This will reduce the length of the diaper. Usually the lowest row of snaps is for newborn size and leaving the rise setting snaps totally open (unsnapped) gives the largest size.
Front view - diaper open and laid flat

Front view – diaper open and laid flat

  • Waist tabs – these are the wing like panels of the diaper which are fixed onto the front of the diaper to hold it in place. See below image:
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Cloth diaper in the position it is fastened on to baby

By adjusting the rise settings and waist tab settings, you can get a range of sizes to suit babies at various stages in their growth stage and sizes of course. For more details on fitting, see this post on My First Cloth Diaper.

This is the inner of a cloth diaper.

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Cloth diaper laid out flat open, to show inner side

This is a pocket diaper with a suede lining.  There can be many variants to this, but I’ve used this particular cloth diaper as it shows most of the other features inside.

  • Suede lining – the introduction of a stay dry lining in diapers revolutionized the cloth diaper industry. The magic of materials like suede and fleece is that they draw away moisture quickly from the baby and onto the absorbent inserts; and yet themselves are stay dry, i.e. baby does not feel wetness. How awesome is that in a cloth diaper that comes with no chemicals?  Inner can be of  various types: suede, fleece, charcoal bamboo (all stay dry and synthetics) or cotton, bamboo, hemp (non stay dry, but natural fabrics) Here are some of the other inner linings that cloth diapers can have. 2016-10-28_16-56-42There are others too. Will save them for a specific post in the future.
  • Leg elastics – these wrap around baby’s thigh once the diaper is fastened on. They hold what goes on inside (think runny newborn poop, teething poop) and prevent leaks. When putting onto baby, the diaper rise and waist settings should be such that there are no gaps at the thighs.
  • Double gussets – if single elastics are not foolproof enough to hold in the business, double gussets do this job well. They at least prevent or delay leaks from out the diaper, even in the worst case of pooplosions. I swear by double gussets and find cleaning them relatively simple too. Double gussets also work well in case of babies who sleep on their side.
  • Tummy leak guard – these are designed to prevent leaks from the front of the diaper, ideal for tummy sleepers.
  • Waist flap – pocket diapers usually come with a flap over the pocket area which covers the pocket hole and also prevents leaks from the back of the diaper.

Depending on the brand and type of diaper, tummy and waist flaps can look like a free piece of suede or PUL stitched in the diaper inner.  But basically their function is to hold it all in. So together, the leg elastics, double gussets, waist and tummy guards all help to prevent leaks no matter what kind of sleeper your baby is.

A cloth diapering system also comes with absorbency in the form of inserts. I’d like to do a detailed post on that, including prep and care instructions, soon.

My First Cloth Diaper

I wanted to make a  type of cloth diapers post. But before that, I felt I should share how I felt when I received my first cloth diaper in my hands.

After weeks of research I placed my first order for a cover, a pocket and a fitted diaper. Yet when I received the diapers in hand, they felt alien, like something I had never seen or experienced before.

That’s why this post.. this is for all the new parents and care givers who wish to cloth diaper, but have no idea what a cloth diaper even looks like. Hopefully this post will familiarize you with the ins and outs of a CD and help you make a better, informed choice when buying them for your little ones.
So here is my first CD: a Pororo pocket diaper in owls print. Owls for some reasons are very popular on cloth diapers. Almost every brand has an owls diaper.

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Pororo one sized pocket cloth diaper

 

A cloth diaper is a modern cloth nappy. Unlike the erstwhile cloth nappies, modern cloth diapers are designed to hold much more matter read: pee and poop; prevent leakages and are waterproof. One major improvements is also that they don’t give baby a feeling of wetness, baby stays dry and happy for longer periods of time, even overnight. So basically, a modern cloth diaper imitates a disposable diaper in function, without any of the dangerous chemicals, bleach, paper and plastic. Wow, right!

Cloth diapers also make sense because they are size adjustable. They go right from the newborn stage to toddler-hood.

But how does it achieve this? Let’s look at this function by function.

Waterproof

A modern cloth diaper has a PUL exterior. PUL (polyurethane laminate) or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) as some diapers have, is a laminate treatment applied to cloth (either cotton or polyester blends.) It is in essence a plastic layer added to cloth. This makes the cloth waterproof, while at the same retaining some amount of breath-ability. This does not mean that you can hold the laminated fabric to cover your face and breathe through it, like a mask. But it means that the fabric releases heat and water vapour thus keeping baby’s bottom comfortable.

Here is a closer look at PUL on a cloth diaper.

PUL treatment inside the cover which makes CDs waterproof

Leak proof

Cloth diapers are meant to fit on snugly on to baby. They should not be put on loose around the waist or thighs or at the crotch area. Unlike disposables which have liquid crystals which readily absorb any liquids, cloth diapers and their inserts absorb a little slowly. So things need to be snug and fit well, such that there are no leakages. Elastics around the thighs and at the back help achieve this. In fact in my experience, modern cloth diapers are so much better at containing new born pooplosions. These leg elastics and the inner double gusset created here, do that marvelously well.

Leg elastics and double gussets inside the CD which holds it all in

Stay dry feel

The inner of a cloth diaper, or the lining inside is the fabric that touches baby’s bottom and is usually made of material which wicks moisture away from the source and take it down to the absorbent material which will hold it until changed. This material touching baby skin therefore needs to be safe and not cause rashes, or heat up irritating baby. Usually it is made of suede, fleece, cotton, velour, hemp, bamboo, charcoal bamboo. Not all of these are stay dry though.?

Suede lining inner: wicks away liquids quickly & gives stay dry effect

Customizable absorbency

This owl diaper here is a pocket type, which means that it has a pocket in which you can stuff the absorbent material i.e. the inserts. Depending on your baby’s wetting pattern and your ability to change baby (example: is it for short periods, or for post lunch naps, nighttime, going out) you can add absorbent material into this pocket.

Pocket opening inside which inserts are added

Once you feel the baby has peed enough to fill the diaper capacity, you need to change it. This is roughly between one to two hours for most diapers (or immediately in case of poop.) In the case of a pocket diaper, the entire diaper needs to be replaced. Other systems do allow you to change just the absorbent part i.e the insert and re-use the same shell (diaper outer)

Inserts come in a variety of types based on their material and their holding capacity. There are natural fibre inserts or synthetic ones. Each have their own set of advantages, there is no one insert which is better than the others. But I would say each serve a specific purpose and so it really depends on your baby’s wetting pattern and your convenience with respect to changing baby and doing laundry.

Size adjustable

The wonder of wonders about modern cloth diapers is that they can last you right from the newborn stage to toddler hood. How? Because they come with snap adjustments to make the diaper smaller or bigger. Therefore there is no sizing depending on baby’s age or weight. (Most diapers do mention a general weight range, but it is more of an indicator than a hard and fast.) You do  get sized diapers with certain brands, but most people prefer getting a one size diaper. The diaper has snaps, most usually on the front which can be closed down as per the baby’s size. So you start with the lowest and then work upwards as baby grows. This info-graphic is a commonly referred to indicator for sizing one-sized diapers.

 

We started using this pocket diaper around a few weeks old. BabyT was not very lean and we did not need to use the preemie or newborn sizing, but that is achieved by crossing over the tabs like so.

 

We started off from small size (from the time babyT was around 4 kgs) and are currently at the medium setting (at close to 9 kgs.)

Different sizes achieved by shutting the rise snaps in the front of the CD

This is just an indicator, the waist can be adjusted at every setting to fit a range of baby sizes.

What did you expect when you ordered your first cloth diaper? Did it meet your expectations or you had some surprises? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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