Working Moms and Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapers and Working Moms | CorporetteMomsUsing cloth diapers might seem too time-consuming or too much of a hassle for busy working moms, but CorporetteMoms reader Miranda Hlady has found a way to make it work for her family. Today she shares her cloth diapering tips and suggests a couple of products she likes. Thank you, Miranda!

Cloth diapering is definitely popular with many moms these days, including working moms. We currently cloth diaper our almost six-month-old baby boy using made-in-China pocket diapers. We use GroVia O.N.E. diapers for daycare, and when travelling we use disposable diapers. (Pictured: GroVia All in One Cloth Diaper, available at Amazon for $23.95.) Before considering starting, supplementing, or switching to cloth diapering I would suggest considering your priorities:

Convenience

It can be handy knowing a clean diaper is a laundry cycle away. If you buy enough cloth diapers — which are as easy to put on as disposables — you certainly won’t run out, and once your baby reaches about 12 pounds you don’t have to worry about needing a different size. We order our disposable diapers from Amazon Prime for convenience, but we find that they don’t always safe drop and sometimes we have to go to the post office to pick up the package. Lugging around the giant box of disposables isn’t fun either. We don’t presoak, use a diaper sprayer, or use special detergent for our cloth diapers. My husband and I work full time and we only ran out of cloth diapers when the washing machine broke for unrelated reasons.

Cost

Not all cloth diapering moms are saving money — but not all cloth diapering moms are concerned with cost. Here are three things to remember:

  • You have to consider the value of your time doing the extra laundry, or the cost of someone else doing it.
  • You will end up using more water if you launder the diapers at home.
  • Cloth diapers can cost anywhere from a few dollars a diaper to over a hundred dollars a diaper depending on what you are looking to buy.

My husband and I picked up two packages of Glowbug Diapers when they were on sale and supplement with additional Chinese diapers mostly bought on eBay. We haven’t had any problems so far. Certainly we could have bought more expensive diapers — they might last for more babies, they might look trendier, and they might retain their resale value a bit better, but what we have works for our family. We use the GroVia O.N.E. diapers for daycare, as our son has his longest sleep of the day there. They are fantastic, but pricey compared to the Chinese diapers.

Division of Labour

Both you and your spouse (if you have one) have to be on board. Your childcare provider also has to be on board or you are going to have to buy disposables.

Baby Comfort

You will hear a lot of anecdotal things about baby comfort. As far as I know, our baby is as comfortable in disposables as he is in cloth. He has never had a diaper rash. He has had blowouts in both cloth and disposables. Sometimes clothing doesn’t fit as well over a bulky cloth diaper so we do have to think about that when we buy him clothing. A lot of cloth diaper parents use disposables at night or have a different cloth system for nights but we have never needed to.

Environmental Impact

We definitely generate less trash than we would if we used disposables full time. This is a significant issue for us as we only have trash pickup twice a month. We also like not having to take the trash out on a daily basis in the winter. We haven’t noticed a huge increase in water usage. The reality is that someday our cloth diapers will end up in a landfill; however, the environmental impact is still less than it would be if we only used disposables, and we will likely donate the diapers to a diaper charity when we are done with them. You can certainly research cloth diapers to find a system with the smallest ecological footprint possible if that is important to you.

Toilet Training

A huge issue for us was that cloth diaper babies toilet train faster than disposable diaper babies. Whether you use cloth or disposables, you probably want to be done with diapers ASAP so this is a really cool plus.

Community

There definitely is a community around cloth diapering. You can choose to be as much of a part of it as you like. It’s a good way to meet other moms — we bought our crib and change table from a cloth diaper mom in a local diaper Facebook group.

Getting Started

If you are interested in cloth diapers I would recommend checking out a local store that carries a few varieties. Larger cities tend to have rental programs or diaper services that you can try. Look on Facebook to see if your community has local cloth diaper mom groups you can join. Make sure you discuss your choice with your childcare provider, as not all people are on board with cloth. When you purchase your diapers keep in mind that they are an investment that can last for over two years with each of your babies and that they do have resale value — so be prepared to spend a bit.

Ladies, which cloth diapers are your favorites? And for those of you who’ve chosen to use disposables instead, which brands have worked best for your baby? Have any of you started off with one option (either cloth or disposable) and then switched later on?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this. I love our cloth diapers and I haven’t found them to be too difficult as a working mom. We love BumGenius, Blueberry and many other brands. We use All in Ones and Pockets for daycare, and add in Prefolds + Covers at home. I have a few Chinese brands, but I like the idea of supporting American and WAHM brands, so we buy more of those even if they’re a bit more expensive. A few things that have helped us get into and manage the diapers: We have a local CD store that has been so helpful in understanding the different types and helping us make selections. Like Miranda, it’s no big deal if we need to throw a disposable on the baby if we can’t get to the laundry right away. Finally, my husband does the majority of the laundry and that really helps a lot :)

  2. Thanks for the timely post! We are planning on cloth diapering and I’m struggling to figure out which kind to use (prefolds, all-in-ones, etc). I want to use a service, which apparently means prefolds, but I hear they are more difficult. That made me think that doing prefolds at home and something easier at day care might be the way to go. Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing about people’s experiences, especially as the relate to the different kinds of cloth diapers, how bad washing them is/was, and using different kinds (or not) to accommodate day care/nanny/babysitter/etc.

    • Philanthropy Girl says:

      If you wan to use a service that provides prefolds, check out Snappis. I haven’t used them, but they are supposed to make prefolds much easier and safer than using pins.

    • Chicago K says:

      We use service prefolds and they aren’t really that complicated. We don’t use snappis, or pins with them – just thirsties covers to hold them in place. The nanny and grandparents seem to be fine with them – we just watched a few videos of how the prefold gets folded in the diaper cover and then showed them (we use the angel or newspaper fold). Our service is great, nanny can put prefold into a tiny garbage bag and reuse the cover (unless wet/dirty). We can put diapers or diapers in other garbage bags into a large bag the service provides and we leave it outside our door once a week and they get it in the middle of the night.

      We do have to wash the covers (since we own them and they don’t supply those) so we have a wet bag for the nanny to put it in and then you just run the wet bag and covers through the wash.

      Not all services only do prefolds, some now offer All In Ones but they cost more.

      Good luck!

      • I did cloth diapers as a high-school babysitter and we didn’t use snappis or pins or anything, just the cover like you. But I quit watching the kid before she was mobile, so I’ve been wondering if snappis etc. were good for mobile babies. Is yours crawling/walking yet?

    • Beancounter in Texas says:

      I second Snappis. They make pinning a prefold on a baby a breeze.

      I used prefolds and covers for my LO as a newborn. I had Green Mountain Diaper cotton prefolds and GroVia bamboo/cotton prefolds. I preferred the GroVia prefolds and ordered more so that I had 36 diapers and washed every other day. I had about a dozen covers, but I really only used about four or five total. The newborn sized covers really fit better.

      After she stopped going through 12 diapers a day, I bought a bunch of BumGenius pockets from Craigslist. This was a mistake, because I didn’t know enough about diapering to realize the Velcro tabs were full of lint, the Velcro strips were getting worn out, the elastics were completely relaxed and I paid about double what they were really worth. So while buying used diapers can really save you money, the more you know, the better you can spend your money.

      For daycare, I use pre-stuffed pockets, ready to go. The daycare seems to find an easier fit with Velcro closure over the snaps. Once they saw how easy it was to use the cloth diapers, they preferred them, saying that they’re prettier and they don’t have to record when my LO has a bowel movement – I’m going to see exactly what happened!

      In my opinion, a great resource for getting a look at the different types of diapers are the videos on YouTube by Jaimee Gleisner and for reading all about cloth diapers, Fluff Love University. Good luck lulu! Remember: if it doesn’t work out for you, you can do it part-time or always go to disposables.

    • Anonymous says:

      This in my opinion is THE best diaper on the market right now. You will also get great resale for it or be able to use it for multiple kids. If I had to do it over again I would buy 20 of these and that would be it.

    • We started with newborn prefolds (diaper rite) with covers (Thirsties duo wraps) and they worked so well we never got anything fancier. We used snappis for runny newborn poops but as they started pooping less, just ended up trifolding the diaper like a giant maxi pad. The cover keeps it in place.
      I also found great cloth wipes on etsy (single ply flannel). If you’re already dealing with diaper wash it’s not any more work and you don’t have to deal with poopy wipes in your trash. We just wet them before we use them with the hospital peri bottle.

    • Thanks for all the great information!

    • We use prefolds with covers/snappis and love them! They dry very quickly and don’t get smelly like I’ve heard some all-in-ones do. They are also affordable. If you want something that is a big easier to put on, check out the Clotheez Workhorse. They are so similar to a prefold that I’m sure a diaper service would treat them the same way.

  3. Philanthropy Girl says:

    We love our China pocket diapers (BabyLand is the one we like the best). We got them on Craig’s List from a family that never used them because their daycare wouldn’t take them – by my calculations we spent about the same as we would have spent on diapers in about two months, so we definitely saved money on that front. We don’t have a fancy sprayer, we have a kitchen sprayer attached to the toilet that my husband rigged. We did switch our family detergent, but we don’t buy separate detergent for diapers. We keep a wet bag in the bathroom and a dry bag in the nursery – it’s a very simple system.

    For travel, long days out of the house, some baby sitters and the occasional diaper rash, we switch to Earth’s Best disposables. They’re pretty affordable on Amazon Prime.

    As a newborn, my LO wasn’t big enough for the one-size pocket diapers, so he was in paper about six weeks before his cloth fit. For a future babe I may look into buying some newborn size cloth diapers.

    We also use cloth swim diapers – we have Alva Baby. I’ve been very happy with those, too.

  4. EB0220 says:

    Don’t tempt me (again)!!

    Here is my experience with cloth diapers: Buy a bunch of cloth diapers used. Cloth diaper in the evening for approximately three days. Ponder how cute my baby’s bum looked in all that fluff. Realize I am terrible at laundry and the diapers would never get washed in a timely manner. Order Pampers from Amazon. Take up a different crunchy mama obsession requiring significantly less laundry (woven wraps). The end.

    Seriously, I think cloth diapers work well with a spouse who is on board with helping out. When I tried cloth, my spouse was traveling 4 days a week so I was on my own. It was just one more thing to think about and I couldn’t handle it.

    I still use the shells for swim diapers, though.

    • Anonymous says:

      I managed alone even post C-section with the laundry in the basement. I was determined to do it though. If I did it again I would not bother with newborn cloth. Plus as a new parent those blue lines on the diaper are helpful. XD

  5. We love our CDs! We have been able to use nearly all of our BumGenius and Flip diapers with our first and second daughters, although we have replaced a lot of the Flip covers. I do a ton of laundry anyway with two kids, so one extra load every other night is not a big deal to me. DH is an environmental hippie freak, so he loves that aspect of it. We’ve spent a lot on diapers, I’m sure, but most have been purchased as seconds, on sale, and we have some used diapers as well.

  6. Beancounter in Texas says:

    I’m so happy to have found this post here!

    My favorite cloth diapers have been BumGenius. They just fit my LO well, they re-sell well and they’ve held up well over time. I do not go crazy for them, buying all the latest prints. My favorite pail liner and wet bag maker is Planet Wise. They’ve performed beautifully for me too.

    I was just checking this yesterday, but I’ve cloth diapered for 23 months and I’ve only saved $217 (including the cost of laundering), which doesn’t seem like a lot. But I’ve bought 42 diapers (only two new), five wet bags, some wool longies and cloth wipes, amongst other accessories. Had I spent the same amount of money on disposables, I would have run out of diapers four months ago. And had nothing left to sell. I aimed to make cloth diapering easy for us.

    Now my LO is approaching potty training and I’m guessing I’ll recoup enough money on the diapers to pay for all of the potty training stuff. Then I can sell the potty training stuff and buy myself some shoes. :)

  7. Meh. Not difficult, but we didn’t find much benefit. We cloth diapered (with a service) for 8 months or so – once baby got wiggly and impatient with changes, we switched to disposables. Always did disposables at night. Hauling 6 clean diapers (prefold inside cover) to and as many stinky, dirty diapers home from daycare every day was just one more thing to forget. We had abuot 20 covers, so did laundry about every 3rd day as he went through about 6 over course of day at daycare. Grandparents and other sitters hated them. Made backside enormous – had to size up in clothes.

  8. hoola hoopa says:

    We cloth diapered with my first child. They were cared for at our home, so I can’t speak to day care cloth diapering. We started with fitted newborn diapers, then prefolds, then cotton one-size all-in-ones (now called BumGenius Elements, I believe).

    We initially cloth diapered our second child, but they were a ‘happy spitter’ who puked constantly and the resulting laundry was astounding so we cut what we could (diapers). And we didn’t with the third child because, um, we had a family of five. Tons of laundry. So little time.

    The newborn diapers were fine, but I’d skip because they are so briefly worn before outgrown. Just use disposables.

    The prefolds were okay. Pros: cheap, useful for other stuff, easy to wash, not at all scary with a snappy. Cons: you still have to buy different sizes of prefolds and covers as kiddos grow, there’s a learning curve which comes into play with rotating caregivers.

    The one-size all-in-ones were soooooo easy. They took longer to dry and were more expensive, but we only had to buy one set so I think they came out roughly similar over the long term and even if they didn’t it was worth it for convenience. Anyone can put one on correctly, so there were a lot fewer messes to clean up.

    Nighttime: Disposable. One a day won’t break the bank or the earth, and they work so much better for the longer period.

    In our experience: There’s no correlation whatsoever with cloth diapers and earlier potty training. Cloth diapers are cheaper than disposables, even when considering utility costs (and we have really expensive water), but not when using a service. It was fine when we did it – it really does feel icky going through all the disposables and wasn’t much of a burden for one kid at home – but it’s not something to feel superior about doing or to feel guilty about not doing.

  9. We are a part-time cloth family. Daycare won’t use them (and the daycares that will cost twice as much) and she does better in a disposable for overnight.

    I started with Glowbugs, which have the best prints ever, but have slowly switched to all Happy Flute AIOs with a pocket. I get them through co-ops on Facebook. They seem to work best for us. We do have a sprayer hooked up to the toilet, but I also have flushable liners and usually use one when I know a poop is coming (first diaper of the morning is pretty much a guarantee). I use powder Tide to clean them, with a splash of bleach to control yeast and I use stain spray on anything that got poopy. I put them in the sun to dry if they need extra whitening, but most of ours are now charcoal bamboo inners, so there’s nothing to whiten.

  10. NewMomAnon says:

    I really wanted to love cloth diapers and did it part-time while on maternity leave, but I found that I wouldn’t put my kiddo in cloth if I thought a poo was coming and, um, she pooped all the time. And had enormous blowouts in both cloth and disposables, but the cleanup seemed less onerous when you could just strip her down, soak the clothes, throw away old diaper, and apply new diaper. The idea of spraying a cloth diaper covered front and back in seedy yellow bm poo was really hard for me. And once we switched to solids, it was all over. We had a couple poopy cloth diapers that required more than a perfunctory rinsing, and I was over it. It certainly didn’t help that her dad was adamantly against cloth diapers and refused to use them or wash them.

    I do still use the cute covers under dresses to cover the disposables. And once in a while I pull out the bin of diapers and wonder if I could still go back (but I’m not going to try). At the moment, I use communal laundry facilities that are coin-operated, so minimizing my laundry is important.

    Also, on snappis – I lived in terror that I was going to catch one of those snappi teeth in baby’s skin or that I would stretch it and it would snap back at me. I always ended up connecting them too loosely and they would fall off. But I never really “got” the prefolds/flats/fitteds anyway, and tended to use the pocket diapers. I think if I had a second kid and a more supportive co-parent, I would try the pockets or AIOs.

    • All that yellow seedy breastmilk or formula poop can just be put in the washing machine–it dissolves and washes away very easily. It is only when they start solids that you need to rinse. We just threw them in a wet bag lined diaper pail and then washed diapers every other day. I’m not writing that to say that you shouldn’t have quit, but just in case someone is reading this and wants more inform.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        That was my experience in my first washing machine, but when we switched to a super high efficiency washer, we often had residue left on the diapers or in the washing machine.

      • Anonymous says:

        Our kid is on solids (most of diet is still milk) and we still don’t rinse. If we sense there might be something extra coming with our kid we sometimes use a flushable liner (though we don’t ever flush them haha). Most of the time we are too lazy for liners and it still works out fine.

  11. Sarabeth says:

    A day late, but our biggest cloth diaper tip is to follow the 80/20 rule. We use cloth 80% of the time. Exceptions include: newborn stage, overnights, and any time we travel. We also don’t stress if laundry gets behind and we have to use disposables for a day.

    Also, probably all the systems are fine, but it’s going to be easiest if you just pick one and get a ton of them, rather than trying to continually optimize. For us, it’s the Flip system (plus off-brand similar covers).

    FWIW, we never had a bad blowout in cloth, while disposables seemed to leak poop frequently before our daughter started solids.

  12. I’m a teacher and I’ve lucked out on a lot of fronts. My mother-in-law watches the little one, so she is supportive, and my sister-in-law gave us all her pre-folds and covers, so free diapers! Also, daughter started pooping on the potty first thing every morning after being on solids for a little while–she is 12 months now and this summer has had about five dirty diapers total–otherwise using the toilet. This wasn’t really planned–she just gave a lot of warning in the beginning and now just goes first thing in the morning every morning. So, that makes the whole thing a ton better. We wash them about every other day and don’t really fold them–just throw them in a drawer, so it doesn’t really take a lot of time. Only had diaper rash once in this year. Never had a blowout. We’ve really loved cloth–and I love the prefolds in general.

  13. Sarah says:

    We CD with two full time working parents. The extra effort hasn’t been significant. The really big cost savings came with kid #2, for whom we invested a total of about $100 in dipes total, about $60 to get new elastic put in a bunch of covers and the rest for disposables for travel. All dipes are now going to colleagues and friends who also CD, so further savings there.