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Cloth Diaper Tips: Flats and Handwashing Challenge

Posted by Becca on 5/21/2013 to Cloth Diaper How-To

My daughter is now 3 ½ which means it's been 1 ½ years since I've changed a diaper. I have to admit, I miss it, especially when I see things about the Great Cloth Diaper Change or Dirty Diaper Laundry's Flats and Handwashing Challenge going on. This spring marks the second that I won't be participating in any fun cloth diaper challenges, but I am definitely looking forward to experiencing them all again with a little boy this time next year. As the Flats and Handwashing Challenge approaches, I admit that I think back fondly to the week where I participated in the challenge with my daughter, Bunny. I think of it fondly for a couple reasons:

  1. It was something different.
  2. I learned so much.
  3. I fell in love with flat diapers.

As I look forward to cloth diapering my newborn son for the first time, I'm not going to lie that I want to buy some newborn diapers--diapers that I may never use because my babies seem to come only in the XL variety. However, despite the fact that I'll probably buy a couple of the Lil Joeys or Grovia NB AIOs just for fun, I most envision pampering my little guy's bum in flat diapers. Why? Because they're amazing! Super soft, breathable, easily washed, and totally versatile when it comes to the positioning of absorbency and correct size. I don't really need any fancy AIOs or fitteds for my guy. I can easily use the same flats I used on my daughter when she was a 25lb two year old on my 8-10 pound newborn. In fact, if he's as small as 5 or 6 lbs, they will still work for him! I'll probably make and buy a couple of PUL covers to add to my growing stash of handknit shorties and those coupled with the flat diapers will be all he needs to get him through his first summer.

So, back two years ago, in my weeklong journey of using only flat diapers, I discovered that they are sometimes my very favorite diaper to use. It's no wonder they've stood the test of time! They are soft, all natural, and often organic. They're the easiest cloth diaper to wash because they unfold into one layer that doesn't require tons of rinses. They dry quickly whether by machine or on the line. They're extremely versatile because you can adjust both absorbency and fit based on the type of fold you use. My favorite thing about them is that they're gentle on sensitive skin. My daughter got rashes if you looked at her the wrong way and with a little cloth diaper safe rash cream and a flat diaper, those rashes disappeared quickly, especially if her cover was made of wool.

Because of Flats and Handwashing week, I discovered a great diaper to take on camping trips. About a month after completing the challenge, my family went to Creation--a 4 day, camp-out Christian music festival that has become an integral part of mine and my husband's relationship since we were “just friends.” I brought a homemade camp washer (a bucket with a hole cut in the lid and a never-been-used toilet plunger) and my flats with me and washed and dried my diapers out in the sun while my daughter practiced using her potty next to the fire pit under her Daddy's watchful eye.

During that week, I also discovered that I dislike hand washing but I really, really love my washing machine and dryer and that I'm loathe to give them up. I also love the diversity that comes from a diaper stash filled with as many pockets and fitteds as prefolds and flats and I missed being able to pull from all of my diapers. However, it was nice to know that if push ever came to shove and I didn't have my modern conveniences, my family would survive without having to spend money every week on expensive disposables because it is so easy to hand wash flat diapers. In addition, I discovered that you don't actually have to use flat diapers to diaper your baby. Tea towels, T shirts, and receiving blankets will all do the trick just as nicely. All you really need is a nice-sized square of absorbent fabric and you're all set to go.

In addition, I discovered that, as much as I loved flat diapers, my husband hated them. Now my husband is one who was just as eager to cloth diaper as I was (if not more so) when we were pregnant with our first. We're both pretty frugal and hate the idea of throwing money in the trash week after week. So it says a lot that he hates flats. He used them. He's a sweetie that way and dutifully used only flat diapers as long as I tri-folded a couple into some covers so he could put them on like his favorite pocket diapers. But he never used them again after that week. As much as I thought that flat diapers were a fun, new adventure, he regarded them as a nuisance. “Why would I use those, Becca, when we have all these great pocket diapers?” he asked me good-naturedly.

Before I committed to do the Flats and Handwashing week, I was terrified of flat diapers. I would have never considered buying them or using them because why on earth would I want to do all that extra folding? Why would I willingly submit myself to diaper changes with not one or two, but three or more steps (folding, pinning, covering)? Flat diapers scared me. But once I used them in order to support a really good cause, I found that I not only had nothing to fear, but that I'd fallen in love with the most affordable cloth diapering system there is. For as long as I have babies in diapers, I will definitely be putting flat diapers into my diapering rotation. They're the classic cloth diaper for a reason--they're awesome!