The Decolonial Parent

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how we cloth diaper

Maybe we got lucky but we feel like it has been pretty easy to cloth diaper our baby. We decided early on in pregnancy that we were going to give it our best shot, and spoke to a lot of parents who started then stopped or who intended to cloth diaper but then didn’t. Based on our conversations, we decided that we were going to choose a low-cost diaper format that prioritized cleaning over changing.

I’m writing this up so anyone who is curious can get an idea of what works for us as a fairly low-effort way to approach cloth diapering.

our setup

We switched to cloth the very first change once we got home from hospital. We started out using newborn-sized prefolds with Snappis and wool wrap/snap covers. Baby wasn’t big but graduated to size small within 2 weeks, then medium in the first month. Soon after he moved to size medium prefolds, we discovered a pair of Boingos. These are easier to apply than Snappis but don’t stay on well without a wrap-style cover.

We plan to continue using prefolds for the foreseeable future as they work for us. We’ll continue to use wool wraps in summer because they are lightweight and breathable enough, but we’ll start incorporating wool pants as the weather cools.

Our prefolds are all organic cotton, mostly from the two big European brands: Blümchen and xkko. Their sizing is not identical. Blümchen has 3 sizes (NB, M, L) while xkko has 5 (NB/XS, S, M, L, XL), so Blümchen M size sits in between xkko S and M. Xkko are also more square while Blümchen are more rectangular. The square sizes fit our baby better.

building a secondhand stash

All our prefolds and wool wrap covers have been secondhand. After a lot of researching and reading the r/clothdiaps subreddit, I decided that these were some of the safest secondhand purchases as long as the cotton isn’t raggedy and the wool isn’t felted. The more engineering that goes into a diaper the harder I found it to gauge secondhand condition.

If you’re looking to buy secondhand then price-wise I paid €0.50-1.00 per prefold (newborn-sized at the top of that range because they tend to be used less) and €3.00-10.00 per wool wrap, but these prices took a fair bit of hunting. I would suggest you start looking once you’re ready to buy because if you find these prices then you should buy them immediately you confirm the quality and condition meets your standards.

DIY cloth wipes

I made washable cloth wipes by cutting up muslin burp cloths. We bought a lot of our baby things in secondhand lots, so the more worn or raggedy burp cloths were perfect to trim into wipes. I used pinking shears but they still frayed completely and made a mess in the laundry for the first few times they were washed. Now they’re ugly but they do a great job!

change routine

Use Biolane cleansing milk and DIY cloth wipes to gently clean skin thoroughly. Spray diaper area liberally with witch hazel hydrosol and pat dry with a fresh cloth wipe. I do apply change cream at night or Biolane Eryderm water paste if skin is red, but otherwise nothing.

laundry routine

Soiled diapers and wipes are stored in an open plastic laundry basket in the bathroom. Daily prewash on short cycle (<1hr) at 40°C with half dose detergent and 180ml bleach (2.6%). Prewashed diapers and wipes are stored in an open plastic laundry basket in the laundry room. When enough prewashed diapers plus baby clothes and burp cloths have accumulated for a full load: cotton cycle (~3.5hr) at 60°C with full dose detergent plus scoop of sodium percarbonate. Tumble dry hot with wool dryer balls. We use a front loader machine with Briochin sensitive liquid detergent. I know a lot of sources recommend powder over liquid but liquid works better in our machine and we haven’t had issues with it.

wool cover maintenance

Spot clean any fresh poop spills with an old toothbrush under warm running water. Wool wash cycle in machine using unscented Eucalan once every 2 weeks, lanolize on stovetop every month using Savon de Marseille and pure lanolin.

Our wool wraps are Puppi and Responsible Mother. We prefer Puppi for daytime because they’re thinner, and generally have a more dynamic fit with rise snaps as well as the waist adjustment. We have a few of these in rotation and switch them out during the day to let them air out. Responsible Mother’s thicker fluffier wrap is just right for nighttime absorbency and dries easily during the day.

night diaper setup

Along with the usual prefold/wool wrap daytime setup, I add in a cotton/hemp doubler between the prefold and wrap, with a wool booster and a cotton booster layered inside the prefold beneath a fleece liner. I had originally intended to skip the liner because I wanted to avoid using plastics against baby’s skin, but he was waking up with such damp skin and I felt bad. Once we made the switch, his skin was much clearer and healthier, so I guess the fleece liners are here to stay!

change frequency

We change diapers every 2 hours on average but don’t wake the baby for a change, so if he takes a 4 hour nap then he doesn’t get changed for 4 hours! I’ll try to change him before naps for this reason. His night diaper lasts 9-10 hours.

No matter how tired I’ve been or how bogged down with tasks, the thought that disposable diapers might save us time or effort just doesn’t occur to me. We’ve only been doing this for 3-4 months at this point, but I can answer any questions you might have! Just reach out.


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