Making Cloth Diapers & Wipes {Tales From the Cottage Cheese Cottage}

I stumbled across the blog Tales From the Cottage Cheese Cottage, and I knew Heather was the perfect guest author for Baby Week!! This girl knows her baby stuff!


Heather is the mother of two-- a basketball obsessed toddler and a charming, opinionated nursling. She started considering cloth diapers when she realized there was no way their small budget could afford buying diapers for two babies. Spurred on by economic reasons she started researching cloth diapers, liked what she discovered, and made the change. She hasn't looked back since. When she isn't changing diapers, chasing chickens, or snuggling babies she works as a doula and blogs at Tales From the Cottage Cheese Cottage and Women in the Scriptures.

After several fits of tantrums, numerous soggy accidents, and a dozen boxes of Buzz and Woody fruit snacks I've finally reached the point where I can now declare my toddler "potty trained." As I traded out his stash of cloth diapers for his "big boy" underwear it got me wondering just how many diapers I'd actually taken on and off that little boy's bottom in the last two and half years. Here is what I came up with...

He is two years and five months old= 883 days

On average he has used about 5 diapers a day since he was born
(He used ALOT more than that when he was an infant but tapered down to two or three at the end, so 5 a day is a pretty conservative average)

That means he has gone through at least 4,413 diapers.

The disposable diapers I buy cost about $11 a package and contain, on average, about 50 diapers.

This means if I'd used only disposable diapers for him I would have bought at least 89 packages of diapers and spent more than $971 in the last two and half years.

I want you just to take a minute and try to imagine what 4,413 diapers and $971 looks like.

That is one big pile of expensive poop.

I've been using cloth diapers now for over a year and I can confidently say that I love them. I started with this great tutorial about the basics of cloth diapering and tried out Jillian's Drawers trial program where you can try out a variety of different cloth diapers for only $10. After using the diapers for several weeks I was hooked. I loved that they worked better than disposables, especially for newborns (my little girl has only "blown out" a cloth diaper 3 or 4 times in her entire life). I loved how cute they were and the great variety in styles. I loved how easy they were to take care of and wash. I loved that I would be able to use them for multiple children (the companies claim they will survive six children). I loved that my children had less diaper rash... but mostly I really loved how much money they were saving me.

It is true that cloth diapers are a bit of an investment up front, anywhere from $200-600 depending on what brand you buy and if you get them new or used. Yet if you are handy with a sewing machine, which I assume most of you are seeing this is a crafting blog, then you can make your own for much cheaper.

The most popular type (also my personal favorite) of diaper is called a pocket diaper. They are usually made with fleece insides, PUL or fleece outsides, and snap or Velcro closures. This wonderful site has a variety of patterns for seeing cloth diapers and cloth "pull-ups" for toddlers. The challenging thing about making your own diapers in finding PUL material because most stores don't carry it. You can buy it by the yard (one yard makes around 4 diapers) or in "diaper cuts" which is usually around 21" x 20" and is enough to make one diaper. Diapershop and Diaper Cuts usually have a good selection and good prices, or if you are willing to wait a few months to get your order you can join a PUL buying co-op to get very cheap material. Another option is to make the outsides and the inside out of fleece or wool which are fairly waterproof.

For pocket diapers you also need inserts (sometimes called pre-folds) to go inside of them. You can buy them at most baby stores (even Wal-mart), sew them, or small microfiber towels, usually sold in the auto section of super markets, make really wonderful inserts that are easy to clean.

The other great part about using cloth diapers is that you can use cloth wipes, which are SUPER easy to make and to wash. I made my cloth wipes out of some old terry cloth material I had lying around. I've also used old baby washcloths and I've heard that old baby towels and receiving blankets also make good cloth wipe material. I cut them into 5X5 squares and ta da... cloth wipes. If you make them out of a material that frays you will need to serge the edges to keep them from unraveling.

I make and store my cloth wipes in a large mouthed disposable wipe container.

To make them I mix:

2 cups of warm water
1 TBSP of baby oil
1 TBSP of baby wash
20-25 cloth wipes

I squish the wipes around in the mix until they are all covered and all about the same wetness. They usually last about 2 or 3 days before they start to smell mildewy. I've found that keeping them in a diaper container rather than a Tupperware container keeps them from getting rancid as fast. If you have trouble with your wipes smelling rancid you can also make the above mixture and put it in a spray bottle. Then you just spray the baby down with the solution and wipe them with a dry wipe.

You can also use cloth wipes with disposable diapers. You just have to discard them in a diaper pail and then wash them like you would cloth diapers. Personally I really LOVE using cloth wipes because they are thicker and more moist than disposable ones. It also brings me great peace of mind knowing that if there were ever a disaster in our lives, natural or economic, that I wouldn't have to worry about how to diaper my children. I usually suggest to friends that even if they don't want to do cloth diapers they should think about getting a small stash of cloth diapers and wipes to put in their emergency preparedness kits... just in case.

In all honesty, cloth diapering isn't as intimidating, hard, or gross as it may seem. Once you get use to them they are just as easy as using disposables but with all the added bonuses of being eco-friendly, cheap and down right adorable. Besides it is sheer glee to be able to walk past the baby aisle at the grocery store and not have to buy anything.

If I've piqued your interest here are some more cloth diaper sites you might want to check out.

Simple Organic
The Diaper Jungle
Nicki's Diapers

Wow! Heather, you have really done your research!! I love that this is a green and economic alternative to regular old diapers and wipes! Thank you so much!

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