I remember [very clearly] having a conversation with someone while I was pregnant with my first babe where I said I just didn’t understand cloth diapers. “If you have to wash the diapers multiple times to get them clean, isn’t that going to cost as much as just buying disposables?!” I thought cloth diaper bums were cute enough, but that was certainly not enough to sway me to the cloth side.
But then, when I actually had that kiddo things changed [anyone else have about fifteen things they thought they knew about motherhood pre-kids that they can laugh about now?]. First, God gifted me with this adorable child who also had incredibly sensitive skin. Also, after going back to work full-time for a month I was spending an exorbitant amount of time budget-crunching to try to figure out a way to stay home with my sweet eczema baby.
So like things tend to happen when God’s in charge, we caught a break. On a whim I’d signed up to receive newsletters from the cloth diaper store in town and they were letting me know that they were having a garage sale that weekend.
Off we went. And it was a sale of a sale. I was able to purchase an entire set of second quality diapers for about $150, including all the accessories I thought I’d need [I was kind of shooting in the dark]. So our journey began!
We started with a set of Flip diaper covers with organic prefold inserts and a few BumGenius that we double stuffed for night time. It didn’t take me long to decide the prefolds that came with the Flips were a bit bulky for a 3 month old so I spent about $30 to buy infant sized Indian prefolds. And they were amazing. They are totally what I recommend for itty bitty babies who need lots [and lots] of diaper changes.
There is a little bit of a trade-off in using prefolds. They are wonderfully cheap but they do require a little grunt work to make them ready to use. When I get mine home I set up the biggest stock pot I have with boiling water and boil each prefold for a few minutes. You have to do this because the cotton needs to release it’s oils to be more absorbant. It also makes them super soft. Super, super soft.
The amazing thing about the cloth diapers I bought is that you’re able to use them from a pretty early age through potty training. To do that there are snaps that make the rise adjustable. Eventually, Lucy needed the rise on her diaper let out. This meant the infant prefolds were a little too short so I was on another search to find a cheap solution to line the Flip covers. But this time, I wanted something that included microfiber. I’d seen how much the microfiber inserts of our BumGenius diapers absorbed [something like seven times their weight] and I wanted something similar. I tried the stay dry liner that was made for the Flip covers but they were both cost-prohibitive and not as absorbent as I wanted.
So I made some liners myself. Seriously. I bought a pack of microfiber cloths in bulk and found a remnant of an interlock knit. I folded the microfiber cloth like you would a letter to be mailed and sewed in in place. I then made a tube out of the knit and used it to enclose the microfiber. I sewed the whole thing closed and sewed a line down the middle to keep the microfiber from scooting around inside the knit. For about 50 cents each I’d made a set of liners that were long enough for the new rise and had three layers of microfiber absorbancy!
To start I went to Sam’s and bought a pack of microfiber cloths from the automotive section. First, I washed them in hot water and dried them. Next, I folded the cloth into thirds and sewed around the edges. I also sewed down the middle but I later realized that wasn’t necessary.
I laid each sewn microfiber on my interlock knit and cut out a piece that would be large enough to create a tube around the cloth. I found that I liked the inserts made with interlock best because they’ve stayed soft over the years [yes, I'm still using them three years later]. I tried some with flannel and some with upcycled t-shirts but both of those eventually turned rough and the fabric pilled. To measure the knit I laid it down on my work surface, laid the microfiber on top of it, folded the fabric like a taco on the microfiber and then trimmed around giving myself about 3/4 of an inch to use for seams.
How about a little 2010 flashback, just for fun.
After it was cut I sewed up one of the bottoms and the other side to make the tube. I turned it right side out and inserted the microfiber inside. I then sewed up the side and sewed it all together to keep the microfiber from moving around inside the knit. I started out sewing around the edges but eventually realized I could just sew one line straight down the middle. You will have to use a heavy duty needle. And you should use a polyester thread so that it will hold up a little better.
Sew along the black lines. Turn right side out. Insert microfiber. Sew end closed. Sew along the dotted line.
So for somewhere between 50 cents and a dollar you can make your own inserts with three layers of microfiber protection. If you want to come in on the 50 cents side you’ll have to scour the remnant bins or find a great sale or coupon for the knit.
And I officially turned from someone who raised an eyebrow at cloth diapers to an advocate.
*Cute baby not included.
[So I know cloth diapering isn't for everyone but it's something I feel pretty strongly about for a few reasons: it's cost effective, better for the environment, and better for our babies skin. If you haven't jumped on the cloth diaper train, or if you tried it and gave it a thumbs down, or even if you don't have kids, bear with me for a little while. I have another post coming up in a little while about cloth diaper laundry. Pretend to be interested. Do it.]