[Edited on 22 July 2021: skip here to read the addendum!]
I am writing this entry because I think I would’ve loved to have such a guide for myself! Cloth diapering is overwhelming when you start researching; I just wanted to know what people use and what works with reasonable costs.
Warning: lots of mum-speak and technical jargon.
Hey, we already have three babies! What took us so long to convert? Although I went through the whole “research”/YouTube/join-all-the-Facebook-groups phase for Baby #1, I think we just weren’t ready. Specifically, my husband wasn’t keen on the process of having to experiment to find out what works, and the upfront investment. Looking back, being a new parent is already hard enough! Same with Baby #2, it was a tough time transitioning to shift work (husband) and staying home for long hours with a toddler and a baby (me). For our first two kids, it was disposable diapers all the way.
I believe we started when Fuaad was three weeks old, after my mum returned home (she kept us company beginning a week before my due date). I needed the space to learn CD-ing: buying them, preparing them, laundering them, cleaning the messes from leaks…
I bought pre-loved diapers via Facebook posts, and a few new diapers and inserts on Shopee. Only a few were purchased before he was born, and the stash slowly grew after the experiments started. We didn’t do 100% CDs full-time; some days we decided to use up the newborn-sized disposables before he grew too big. And initially we also used disposables when going out.
In fact we didn’t have enough CDs in rotation for once-a-day laundry until very recently (baby is three months old now). So we had to either use disposables, or do CD laundry twice a day: once in the morning, once in the evening and left to dry overnight.
Most were bought pre-loved. In my opinion, these are the most beginner-friendly. As long as the fit is good, inserts are good, and you’re not over-stuffing, chances are the system will work great. The con is the time it takes to stuff and un-stuff the pockets. And no one likes to touch soiled inserts!
Purchased a couple of these new, on Shopee. I didn’t realise they were covers, honestly, I thought I was buying pocket diapers. Basically covers are single layer only: no fabric lining. And believe it or not, it took me like a week to notice the existence of snaps on the front and back of the cover: these are for inserts that have snaps to snap/stick onto the cover! No wonder I felt that just laying inserts on the diaper seemed fussy and impossible with a newborn.
I then proceeded to install snaps on some of my inserts so I can use them this way. Compared to pocket diapers, covers with snap-on inserts are easier to tuck into the wet bag (just a small tug un-snaps the insert for proper cleaning in the washing machine).
We use covers with inserts for daytime diapers. I’ve read that people use fitted diapers with covers, but the homemade fitted diapers I made seemed way bulky and hot for our baby so I haven’t gone the fitted route yet.
These were purchased as pre-loved diapers and I didn’t really know what I was getting. Truthfully, they were all-in-ones (the end of the soaker was sewn onto the diaper) and I decided to cut them out of the diapers. Reason: we had trouble with fit on the smallest rise. Basically the soaker when folded short to fit in the diaper, gave a belly gap and caused leaking. Also, I didn’t like the material of the soaker (likely microfibre). Now that the diaper is more like a cover-with-lining, we use a separate hemp insert just laid on the diaper, followed by a fleece liner.
I feel that AI2s are more comfortable and effective than covers or pocket diapers because the diaper itself (without a separate insert) has absorbency built into the layers. Whereas the lining of pocket diapers is merely a stay-dry (non-absorbent) layer and covers don’t come with any fabric lining at all.
And of course, the fact that the insert is not attached to the diaper means you get to just chuck the whole thing in the wet bag without any disassembling. #convenience
My favourite! Hemp is a miracle. It’s so trim but absorbs lots. Bought quite a few on Shopee. Cons: relatively pricey, takes awhile to dry, and dries stiff.
Good all-rounder. Can be trim or thick depending on how many layers are stitched to become one insert.
Happened to buy two on Shopee to try. I find them bulky, though absorbency is good. And I read that bamboo may wear out faster than other natural fibres.
My least favourite because I experienced leaks with them, they’re bulky and they retain poop stains easily (probably an incompatibility with the laundry soap we use). So only used in combination with hemp for night diapers. (Edit: I think the ones we’ve been using for night is an insert with both bamboo and microfibre layers. It works better than the regular microfibre ones.)
(Technically not inserts.) I cut up a fleece blanket into small rectangles to function as liners when we use covers or AI2s. Basically they help to keep the skin-side dry. In the future when baby’s poop is solid, it also helps to make the poop-discarding process easier.
*I always combine inserts for pocket diapers and covers, eg. cotton+hemp, cotton+bamboo, and microfibre+hemp (for nighttime).
We use homemade laundry soap (went to a soapmaking class by Barakah Organics, so the soap is similar to what they sell). If you search online, you will quickly find out that laundry soap is one of the more controversial issues in the CD world, but so far it’s been working great for us with no build-up problems. And yes, the diapers come out c-l-e-a-n.
I now wash in the morning, following this order:
About every 3 hours. Unless he poops: a poopy diaper is changed as soon as possible. One of the things I feared with CDs was that you need to change them more frequently than disposables (I’ve heard people mention 2-hourly changes), but 3 hours to me is reasonable, and works with the number of diapers we have.
Night diapers can sometimes last all night (9pm-7am), but if the baby starts shrieking around the range of 3-5am we usually change him once and it’s fine.
One thing to note is that CDs don’t have magical chemical powers like modern disposable diapers, so you might be surprised at the odours that greet a diaper-changing session!
I actually broke down our expenditure in a note on my phone:
Pre-loved diapers & inserts = RM120 New diapers & inserts = RM211.78 Wet bags = RM39.72 Washcloths (old t-shirts) = RM0
Totaling RM371.50. Some of the purchases turned out to be unusable (read below) so I reckon you can CD a baby for less than RM300. Of course one can also easily go up the scale by opting for better-quality and longer-lasting brands, which gives you the option of reselling the diapers if you wish to.
So far we haven’t noticed any increase in electricity/water bills.
Overall it’s been a positive experience! Once you arrive at a system that works, it’s pretty much like regular diapers. Doing CD laundry is actually very satisfying. And I feel that there’s much less diaper rash with cloth diapers; almost zero. One more point: CDs are much better than disposables at containing explosive poop (aka poonami)!
I am conscious of the fact that things might need to be adjusted as baby grows (maybe buying more diapers in case of travel, or coming across new issues to solve), but so far I’m glad I made the jump!
I’ve read and saved the following for myself:
Hope this was helpful and let me know if you’ve CD-ed, what do you think of it? Any advice for a newbie CD-er?
Two main updates now that baby is over 9 months old:
He has started eating solids and is at the “muddy poop” stage. The fleece liners are mandatory because they really help in the rinsing process:
For easier poopy diaper management I have also retired all our pocket diapers. I find that PUL covers+inserts and all-in-twos are better suited for older babies and toddlers.
This is interesting because I mentioned above that I intended to get into fitted diapers, which I now have! They last longer than any other type because the absorbency is distributed throughout the whole diaper.
In the time that we’ve taken to figure out nighttime diapers that last, we’ve opted for the disposable diaper route, and of course those can last 12 hours with no problem.
Still, I think even just CD-ing during the daytime is a reasonable option for many families and recommend it as a starting point. InshaAllah every little step we take for the environment is a good thing!