Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cloth Diapering, Part II

So back in the fall I wrote about our venture into cloth diapering waters.  I think I promised an update and I have been sorely remiss in doing so.  This is because, like diapers, things just kept changing.  Just when I thought I had the hang of it something would go wrong and I'd be back at square one again.  It's come to the point where I've all but given up on cloth diapering.  For the last two weeks they've been sitting in a drawer, completely unused.  I guess you could say I've quit, but I honestly don't want to.  So I'm gonna wait it out a bit and see if we can't pick it up again in the future.  If not with Jude then maybe with #3.

That said, I like to keep honesty the policy here and hopefully someone out there can learn from my experience.  So here is a list of my cloth diapering issues and solutions:

When I first started using gDiapers I had the hardest time with fit.  They tend to have a higher rise than disposable diapers, but the waistband should be loose.  And most importantly the edge of the diaper needs to hit at the highest crease in the groin.  This is where I always had trouble.  Sometimes it would take me multiple tries before I got the diaper on right.  This is difficult with a wriggly baby but it becomes easier with more practice.  Eventually I got the correct fit most of the time.

Unfortunately, as soon as I started getting the fit right we started experiencing leaks again.  And for the life of me, I could not figure out why.  I kept thinking it was the fit, but it wasn't.  I started changing Jude every two hours or less and he was still soaking through his pants.  And I think the cold, wet diapers were causing him to wake early from naps as well.  Finally, after researching online and discussing with some other gDiaper moms on a message board, I figured out that the gCloth inserts I was using were just not able to hold Jude's amount of pee.  Apparently it's a common problem as the babies get older and pee more.  This is my beef with gDiapers.  I have an average-sized baby who is exclusively breastfed (and definitely not over-doing the liquids), wearing a size medium/large diaper that's supposed to last up to 28 pounds, with a size medium/large insert which is supposed to be good until the baby is potty-trained.  If he's oversaturating a diaper in about an hour's time, just what kind of kids are these inserts supposed to work on?? 

So it was back to more researching and exploring.  I decided to make my own inserts using Zorb, supposedly one of the most absorbant fabrics on the market.  I bought a yard directly from the manufacturer  I used microfiber as the top layer since it is soft and wicks away moisture, followed by 3 layers of Zorb.  Zorb must be fully encased otherwise it will fall apart in the wash.  So I added a layer of flannel to the bottom since a.) it's thin and b.) I've got a ton of it in the form of old receiving blankets.

My parents got me a serger for Christmas and I was SO excited to test it out.  The best part was the machine arrived completely threaded and ready to go!  I did a few dry runs on some homemade wipes and was ready to roll!  I had pictured some perfectly formed inserts that rivaled the gCloth itself, or at least the homemade ones I saw on Etsy.  It didn't exactly work out that way.  First of all, Zorb is thick and I was working with three layers plus two layers of another fabric.  Even with a serger I was having a tough time cutting through all those layers.  And since I have no previous serging experience, I had to learn the hard way.  If I ever do this again I'll definitely not try to round the corners, it nearly killed my machine.  In fact, I did bend a needle that way.  This was actually much worse than it sounds because, although replacing a needle is inconvenient, it's not nearly as difficult as re-threading the machine, which I then had to do.  Then again, by the time I had finished my project I ended up re-threading the machine a gazillion times.  Have you seen those serger thread guides?  They're a killer.  I'm pretty sure I spent more time threading and re-threading the machine than I did actually sewing.

And that was just one of my issues.  Turns out my original top layer was the wrong material and not only did not absorb liquid but actually repelled it.  Oops.  This meant undoing my first batch of inserts and re-sewing them with new fabric.  Then I had issues with the bottom layer pulling away from the seam and leaving a gap.  And these were just technical errors.  These say nothing about my sewing skills, which are sorely lacking.  I was able to finish the project but the end result was anything but eye appealing. 

A J9 original and a regular gCloth.

But the good news is, they work!  Really well actually!  I still couldn't let Jude go more than 2 hours but I don't mind changing him that often anyway.  I also started doubling up on my old inserts and that got us through about 2 hours as well.  Woo hoo, we were back on the cloth diapering train!

In addition to the leaks Jude's diapers had a signature scent, and it wasn't a good one.  They'd come out of the wash smelling all fresh and clean, but the moment he peed in one the resulting odor was enough to make Daddy gag.  This is actually a common cloth diaper issue and easy to solve with a laundry detergent specifically for cloth diapers.  The gDiapers website says you can use any laundry detergent, but that you will need to strip your diapers occasionally if they start to lose absorption.  I didn't want to invest in fancy detergent since I was just starting out, so I went with All Free and Clear.  This is better than regular detergent but still not great.  After several months of use my diapers were suffering from detergent build up, which while not affecting their absorbancy, was causing them to smell foul.

More research and I decide to go with Rockin' Green detergent.  I ordered some samples in the mail and used them to soak and strip the diapers a few times.  I noticed an immedient difference.  So then I bought a bigger batch from with a coupon code.  I haven't got to use the big batch yet because we've since run into another problem...

Soon after I made my own extra-absorbant inserts and invested in some cloth diaper friendly detergent, Jude got a horrible, terrible diaper rash.  But this wasn't your typical diaper rash because it wasn't on his bottom.  It was on his inner thigh right where the diaper liner hit his leg.  I mean it was really, really bad.  I took a few days off from cloth diapering and it cleared up on its own.  I put him back in cloth and it came back.  Since this was never an issue before it could have been a reaction to the new detergent but since that stuff is supposedly all-natural and should completely wash out in the laundry, I find it highly unlikely.  I waited a few weeks before attempting cloth again but it doesn't really matter because we are once again having problems with ...

Yeah, here we go again.  Remember how I said gDiapers need to ride high in the leg to create a "seal" to keep liquid in?  Well I suddenly can NOT seem to get them to sit right on his inner thigh.  I will literally put on and take off the same diaper 10 times and still not get a good fit.  And by this time Jude's patience has worn thin and he's ready to roll off to some new adventure.  It's beyond frustrating.  I have read on some message and review boards that gDiapers only work well for chubby babies.  I just figured these users weren't trying hard enough but I'm beginning to become a believer.  Jude isn't tiny, but he has really thinned out the past few months.  He's long and lean and basically has none of that adorable baby chub that his brother was, and still is, known for.  It's really hard to create a "seal" when there are no rolls to work with. 

And so, all these issues combined, and the culminating fact that I simply cannot even put the gDiaper on my son anymore, has led me to put the cloth away, for now at least.  I hate to say I'm giving up entirely because maybe Jude will chunk up again in the next few months, and I'd love to use them again on the new baby.  I'm also open to trying another kind of cloth.  One of the areas we may end up moving to has a cloth diaper store and offers cloth diapering classes.  If we end up there I definitely want to have a chat with their resident expert.  But for now, in my current unmotivated, just-trying-to-make-it-through-the-day-until-my-new-9pm-bedtime state, I think we'll keep up with the disposable diapers.  It certainly helps that I just got an entire box of 203 diapers, shipped to my door, for free a few weeks ago.  Moms, if you're not signed up yet, you NEED to join Amazon Mom.  It's worth it for the free shipping alone.

That's it for now, but hopefully I'll have a cloth diapering Part III post someday in my future mommy career.


Brian, Tawnee, Avery and Caitlin said...

I enjoy reading your blog when I have a spare minute (which isn't very often!) I tried cloth too and had similar problems. Hoping to use them on the next child, too. I just signed up for Amazon Mom a few weeks ago, but how did you get FREE diapers?! I only heard of the 30% off deal.

J9 said...

Thanks Tawnee, glad to hear I'm not the only one!
Do you get American Baby or Baby Talk magazines? (I think the subscriptions are usually free, and if not the Babies R Us near us always has a stack by the front door.) Anyway they have 20% off coupons in them for Amazon diapers, and one of them had a $10 off coupon, so I stacked the two together, plus the 30% off with subscribe and save, plus I had a little bit of money left over on a gift card that I bought for half price on one of those deal sites and ended up with a free box. :) I love it for the free shipping alone. I did a ton of Christmas shopping (and some tax refund splurging) on Amazon. It's worth it not to to have to leave my house with two little ones!

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