All about Prefolds! (34w1d)

Preface: if you could care less about how we’re going to diaper this kid or why we chose the method we did – go ahead and skip this posting.

I talked about cloth diapering a bit a couple of months ago, but we decided to go with a different type of diapers (to start with at least) after I did more research. (We might start out in disposables anyway, especially if our little guy comes as soon as we think he might and is very wee.)

The type of diapers we’re using are referred to as Prefolds. They’re similar to the cloth diapers that our parents used on us – absorbent cotton layers within a moisture-barrier cover. But whereas the diapers our moms used on us were single layers (flats) that required piling 4-8 layers on top of each other, pinning them onto us and then stuffing our huge fluffy butts into plastic/rubber pants with really tight leg gathers to prevent leaking… today’s prefolds and covers are a much easier, thinner option.

The term ‘prefold’ and opposed to ‘flat’ means that there are varying layers sewn into the diaper, in thirds. So the left and right thirds of the diaper are thinner than the middle third, expressed as #x#x# – so a 4x8x4 has four layers on the left and right sides, and 8 layers in the middle. MUCH easier to achieve the necessary absorbency without trying to pin 8 whole diapers onto a squirming baby!

The covers are single layer, moisture-resistant (I’m hesitant to tempt fate by saying moisture-proof) material in the shape of a disposable diaper with velcro tabs. The prefold diaper can be folded and applied to the baby using a Snappi (or pins) or just folded in thirds, laid into the cover and applied like a disposable diaper. (Folding and using a Snappi is preferred as it will contain baby poo much better.) The covers usually don’t get messy when the diaper is changed and can be used several times before needing a wash. Rotating through two covers during the day gives time for the cover to air out between uses. (Of course, if the cover gets wet or dirty, it goes into the diaper pail with the dirty prefold it held.)

We decided to go with prefolds and covers for a couple of reasons:

  • Prefolds and covers are more customizable in sizes than the AIO (all in one) or pocket diaper options we were looking at. The covers are adjustable in size, and there are myriad sizes and thicknesses of prefolds to choose from.
  • Prefolds can be used on newborns much easier than AIO diapers because you can use to use thinner inserts. Less layers between newborn baby’s legs is good.
  • Prefolds are less picky than other types of diapers. With other materials (microfiber, fleece, hemp, etc) you can’t use diaper creams and have to pay much closer attention to your washing routine. The materials are very sensitive to build up from detergents or hard water and will start to repel moisture, which causes diapers to leak like mad. Cotton prefolds are much hardier and actually work better the harder you wash & dry them. (Detergent choices are still important with cloth diapers though, as you don’t want to strip the moisture-resistance from the covers nor do you want the chance of enzymes or brighteners to not be rinsed from the diapers which could cause a nasty rash when combined with baby pee.) Another benefit of cloth diapering is that diaper rashes are almost unheard-of, but if a rash happens you don’t have to worry about ruining your expensive pocket diapers by using diaper cream.

I’ve purchased 3.5 dozen infant-sized and 3 dozen regular-sized prefolds along with a dozen covers, which should be enough of a stash to get us through diapering this kid from start to finish. (Cost on all that was just over the cost of 2 months of disposable diapers.) We might still purchase some pocket/AIO style diapers (like the ones I originally blogged about) but we’re not sure. Those all-in-one styles are easier to use, but word on the diaper forums I frequent is that once you start using prefolds, you just don’t wanna use anything else! We’ll see. I’m just glad that I’ve found options out there that we can afford!

I color-coded all the prefolds by running a blue or red zigzag stitch along the serged edges – thinking that once we’re using both sizes together it will be easier for Paul to tell them apart at a glance by checking the color as opposed to the size. (An infant-sized layer inside a regular-sized layer can make all the difference for staying dry during a long nap when the little guy is 6 months old!)

I had some fun last weekend prepping the prefolds for use. That’s the only downside to prefolds – the first-time prep of them. You have to wash them with hot water 5-10 times (drying in-between) to wash out ALL the natural wax and oil from the unbleached cotton and to get them to shrink up fully and “quilt” to full absorbency. But I found a shortcut on one of my diaper forums: BOIL THEM!! Two stock pots and two hours later, 3.5 dozen diapers were ready to be put into service! Boiling the prefolds for 15 minutes did the work of 3 full cycles through the washer and dryer. I was able to wash them all twice in the washing machine and after the 2nd time through the dryer, they’re SO soft and fluffy! Even Paul was impressed and remarked that he thought they’d make good diapers!

So our schedules will be enriched with the addition of 2-3 extra loads of laundry a week. But the cost savings over disposables, and the benefit of knowing we’re not tossing 60-80 diapers a week into the local landfill is well worth it to us. The laundry part won’t be a thing at all, especially while I’m exclusively breastfeeding our little man. EBF baby poop is totally water soluble, so with a regular wash + an extra rinse, our baby’s diapers will be perfectly clean – and so will our washing machine. We have enough diapers to do laundry every 2nd or 3rd day (assuming 12-15 every 24 hours) so we won’t be struggling to keep up. Once baby starts on solids, we’ll dump the poo into the toilet (we’ll install a little sprayer onto the supply line for the toilet to help spray off the diaper) and wash everything the same way. Wet diapers are wet diapers, regardless of how old he is.

Paul and I are happy with our choice. We know it’s not for everyone, but we think it will work for us. If anyone has any questions about cloth diapers, I’m happy to answer them or provide links to where I got the info that helped us make our choice. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

  • Little Lions is who all our prefolds came from. They have great prices on seconds and clearance specials as well as great customer service. They also have some great info about cloth diapering in general.
  • Luv your Baby Products are the supplies of Kawaii Baby diapers in the US and Canada. The lady who runs the place is amazing and has seen her business explode in the last year thanks to favorable ratings on diaper forums. I got our covers from LuvYourBaby and I’ll purchase pocket/AIO diapers there too if we go that way.
  • DiaperSwappers is a fantastic CD (cloth diapering) forum and sales resource. It’s probably the biggest clearinghouse for the used CD market anywhere and is a VAST resource of CD knowledge from amazingly helpful mamas all over the world.

Diapers & Fun Stuff (29w1d)

Lots has been going on in addition to boring appointments. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a real planner. So researching stuff for our little guy hasn’t been a burden. One of the first things I started taking a look at was cloth diapers.

Paul and I (truthfully, more Paul) have become a lot more eco-conscious since I got pregnant. I think it’s natural for expecting parents to start thinking more about the kind of world they’re leaving for their kid. The facts about disposable diapers are just terrifying. Bottom line, in addition to whatever goes into them during manufacturing (IE tons of chemicals in the plastics manufacturing process and the bleaching process for the filler, and the chemical compounds that absorb the wetness) they stick around in landfills for somewhere between 200-500 years. So, enter cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers have changed incredibly in the last 30 years. Gone are layer upon layer of cotton diapers secured with safety pins and crammed into a pair of rubber pants with too-tight gathers at the legs to prevent leaks. Today’s cloth diapers work similarly to disposable diapers, but with varying abilities to add (much thinner) layers for varying needs.

Cloth diapers are cheaper in the long run over disposables – even when you factor in the cost of washing them ourselves. (At least here in Las Vegas where water and power are cheap.) That said, cloth diapers main barrier to entry is the start-up cost. At an average of $15-$25 per diaper, building enough of a stash to allow for laundry days means a fairly large initial investment. (The used cloth diaper market is HUGE.)

But I found a brand of diapers that has been around for quite some time in their native Japan, and has been brought to the States in the last year or so: Kawaii Baby Diapers. They’re getting rave reviews all over the internet (on baby websites, and diaper blogs – yes… these things exist) and they’re about a quarter of the price!! No, they’re not organic cotton, and they do have velcro fasteners. I’m totally OK with all of this. Why? Because I can get a 20-diaper stockpile for $115! That makes this a MUCH more viable option for us!

We’ll still end up using disposable diapers for the first month or so, as cloth diapers tend to be a little big between the legs of a teeny newborn. But we’re really happy to be able to try out cloth diapers. We’re not concerned about the extra work of a couple of loads of laundry a week. The benefits of cloth diapering make it worth it to us. I haven’t purchased our diapers yet, but I will in the next couple of weeks. (I’ve been holding off as much as I can on buying things until after we have the nursery put together – and after the shower.)

Speaking of the shower: I’m having one at work too! I can’t believe that two weeks from Saturday is the shower at Paul’s parent’s place! I’m having such a good time seeing the RSVPs trickle in on the Evite. Especially now that more of Paul’s friends are responding that they’ll be able to attend. I know he’s really stoked that his buddies will be at the shower too. (Although I think we’re gonna have to get creative on the seating! I’m hoping it’s a lovely day outside so we can take advantage of the patio.) We’ll have two babies at the shower, because Caroline is bringing her 7-month-old little girl and Jeremiah and Jamila are coming from San Diego and bringing their 4-month-old little boy! Paul and I are SO looking forward to having friends and family gathered to celebrate our little man. It’s just going to be such a great afternoon (and weekend!)

But, I found out this week my co-workers will be throwing me a shower at work too, a couple days before the shower at Tom & Jeanne’s! We’ll connect up our three offices with the video conference system so friends in the Northern offices can share in the fun as well. I was really happy to hear that something is being planned. I tend to miss out on a lot in my office since my physical office is so far removed from everyone else – which facilitates getting stuff done, but can have an isolating effect as well. I remember Caroline’s shower late last summer – everyone had a good time. I hope mine is as enjoyable.

Other big thing right now is the house. We’re (again, mostly Paul) killing ourselves this week to clear out our belongings in preparation for the carpet install on Saturday. Dangit, there’s a lot of stuff in this house. But at the same time, I’m so stinking excited about the new carpet and then putting the house back together – because it means the nursery will be mostly put together, and we’ll be that.much.closer to having our baby here!! Paul and I both spend a moment or two in the baby’s room in the mornings when it’s bright and full of sunlight. We love the colors we painted. I can’t wait to finish the room in the next week.