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Montessori-Inspired Parenting – Why We’re Loving Cloth Diapers & Cloth Diaper Pattern Roundup

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Welcome to another post about our Montessori-inspired parenting philosophy, why we chose cloth diapers, a paid & free cloth diaper pattern roundup, and why we’re loving cloth.

Cloth diaper pattern roundup

I’d already researched cloth diapering and decided I wanted to give it a go when a friend offered me her cloth diaper stash just a few days after I “announced” to friends on FaceBook. A few months later another friend who I know a completely different way and hadn’t mentioned cloth diapers to asked if I wanted a stash of cloth diapers she’d been given previously. I guess I seem like the ‘type’ to use cloth diapers and I’m totally okay with that! I did wonder, however if this perception came from my fondness for upcylcing and if folks assumed I wanted reusable diapers mostly for environmental reasons. Mainstream disposable are notoriously horrible for the environment. They’re believed to comprise 30% of non-biodegradable waste and account for an estimated 7.6 billion pounds of trash each year in the US alone. And then there’s the ridiculous quantity of oil used…the list goes on and on. {{I suggest you check out this post from Small Footprint Family for a full accounting with a thorough list of sources at the end if you want to know more.}}

However, I have to confess: large-scale environmental reasons are actually not my primary motivation for choose cloth diapers.

I have very fair, sensitive skin and a sensitive nose. I despise and mistrust virtually all chemical scents. When I was first price shopping diapers at a local Target, standing in the middle of the aisle was completely overwhelming for me. If I could smell these products through their packaging from several feet away, how on Earth could I bring them into my home and place them on my baby’s skin? My primary reason for choosing cloth diapers  is to keep mainstream disposables off our baby and away from our home. Saving thousands of dollars, especially since we inherited so many reusables, and environmental reasons are also huge benefits. Once you add on things like less diaper rash and an easier potty training experience at an earlier than average age (for the US), a bit of extra laundry seems like a perfectly reasonable price to pay!

I was so proud of myself for having it all figured out until I realized these cute stash of cloth diapers wasn’t going to work on a tiny newborn bum! I did some more research, read about a zillion reviews, talked to friends, and decided that disposables would be a more reasonable option for the first few weeks. Sigh. After even more research into disposable diapers, their “ingredients,” and what I can even reasonably get here in Hawaii, I decided to purchase Honest diapers for the first couple of months. Other options were either cost prohibitive to have shipped or didn’t actually seem to be as ‘natural’ as reported. I know that Honest diapers aren’t perfect, either, but they are better than conventional disposables in many ways and I was able to get a really good per diaper price by taking advantage of a coupon and a Subscribe & Save discount. Awesome! I’m not sure if there’s anyone out there who doesn’t already have Prime, but if you’ve never tried it out, I encourage you to get an Amazon Prime 30-day free trial. Plan your trial period purchased carefully and you could save some serious money, even if you decide not to continue with the service.

And while we’re on the topic of saving money – one of the biggest concerns people have about cloth diapering is the high cost to get started. Luckily, inheriting several dozen diapers removed this concern for us! If you’re considering cloth diapers, or know someone who is, and haven’t received any hand me downs, you can also save money by sewing your own cloth diapers. Sewing your own can make the per diaper cost anywhere from $3-$10, depending on the materials you use, what types of sales you can find, etc. Upcycled materials like t-shirts, old flannel sheets, and towels can help bring the cost down, too! I did a lot of research on making my own cloth diapers when we were TTC. Even though I ultimately didn’t end up sewing any, I wanted to share my findings with y’all today in a this cloth diaper pattern roundup. There are a zillion different cloth diaper patterns on the web, but I carefully selected a handful that have working links/images, actual instructions (instead of just pattern pieces), and positive reviews. I hope you enjoy!

Free cloth diaper pattern roundup

The blog that hosts this free cloth diaper pattern doesn’t appear active anymore, but the pattern is still accessible! The pattern includes options or snap and hook & loop closures in a variety of styles and sizes.

This Grovia-style diaper pattern doesn’t have instructions, but if you’re already familiar with sewing diapers you could use it.

This prefold pattern from Diapersewing.com is basic and easy to follow.

This pattern from Backwoods Home Magazine is for a basic fitted diaper that looks perfect for the first-time diaper sewer.

The Rita’s Rump Cover pattern can be used to make a diaper cover, all-in-one (AIO), or pocket diaper.

For purchase cloth diaper pattern roundup

This cloth diaper pattern for a hybrid fitted diaper from HomespunAesthetic on Etsy has great reviews.

The Darling Diapers Unlimited pattern is a bargain at $10 because it contains options for all-in-one, all-in-two, fitted, and pocket diapers as well as diaper covers. It also covers three different sewing methods, instructions for using a sewing machine or serger, and both snap and hook & loop options.

If stuffing diapers or dealing with refolds isn’t your thing, stop by this AIO pattern from Mama Can Do It.

The Trimsies pattern from SewMeAGarden offers independently adjustable waist and leg openings and also has great Etsy reviews.

Cloth diaper sewing patterns & tips

If you’re worried about the amount of time sewing your own diaper stash could take, check out her totally awesome, streamlined method in this post on sewing cloth diapers in bulk. Her book The Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth Diapers has instructions for sewing diapers as well as other ‘accessories’ like cloth wipes and reusable snack bags.

If all the different materials have you a bit confused, stop by Diaper Wrecker’s post on Getting started sewing your own cloth diapers.

Places to buy pre-loved cloth diapers

Checking local FB ‘mom’ and swap groups is a great place to start your search for cloth diapers. There are also several places to look online. Of course, you can also use these sites to sell off your stash and the end of your CDing experience.

Cloth Diaper Trader

Nicki’s Diapers

Kelly’s Closet

And, of course, there is always Ebay

Cloth diapering and Montessori-inspired parenting

Alright, now let’s get to the Montessori part of this post? In what ways are cloth diapers “Montessori?”

Conventional modern disposables are incredibly absorbent and can essentially remove the feeling of being wet when a child pees. From a Montessori perspective, this is not beneficial because it doesn’t help the child understand what is going on with their bodies. Cloth diapers, while absorbent, do tend to feel wet, which helps a child make the connection between the act of ‘going’ and its results. With cloth diapers, you do end up changing a bit more frequently so the child becomes accustomed to recognizing the wet, just peed feeling and the clean, dry feeling. Purportedly, this helps children become toilet trained a bit earlier than the current average, which is a plus.

Montessori believed that the ‘sensitive period’ for toilet learning is typically between 12-18 months, so going with a system that promotes ‘earlier’ learning is an excellent choice. After this sensitive period has passed, the child loses their interest level in the activity, so toilet training/learning can become more difficult. Although we’ll obviously have to see how this goes for us, I know that many of my CDing friends had children using the toilet ages before many of my disposable-using friends.

Additionally, with cloth diapers you are much more likely to have a natural fiber against your baby’s bottom than with disposables. For parents, Montessori-inspired and otherwise, who find this important, cloth diapering is a good choice.

In the coming months, we’re hoping to start moving our diaper changing into the bathroom to help LG realize that this is the place to ‘go.’ We also intend to start trying standing diaper changes once she can stand on her own. If you want to learn more about standing diaper changes and how they fit into the Montessori philosophy, there is a fantastic post on the why & how right here.

Why we’re loving cloth diapers

In addition to the savings, potential for earlier toilet training, and more natural materials on our baby’s body, we also love cloth diapers for a very big reason: way, way fewer leaks and blowouts. As long as the fit is adjusted properly and the diaper’s elastic is good, we’ve had virtually no leaks or blowouts with cloth. We’ve had to use disposables and/or disposable inserts for the Grovias a couple of times while traveling (and we use them overnight about half of the time) and, of course, until she grew into her reusables. Sometimes we’d get an instant poop leak on a correctly installed, fresh disposable diaper. The only time we’ve had leaks with cloth is when the diaper was experiencing some sort of technical difficulty or, once, accidentally left on too long.

Plus I have to mention that they’re darn cute! Forget diaper covers – you can just coordinate tops with the diaper, itself.

There are so many posts on cloth diaper washing routines and care out there, so I’m not going to go into in this post. I’m just going to say that I haven’t found washing them to be at at all difficult. We have the Ubbi diaper pail and use with with their washable bags made especially for cloth diapering. I was afraid drying them would be difficult since Hawaii can be humid and we don’t have air conditioning, but even on several recent days with 90%+ humidity they dried fairly well. I put them on a flat sweater drying rack and turn the ceiling fan on high – it really does the trick!

I know not everyone loves cloth diapers and that’s okay – we’re lucky to live in a time and place where we have so many different options! When my husband was a baby in Cuba, they only had access to the really old style “flats” secured with pins. When they came to the US, my MIL was so excited to have access to disposables and I can’t blame her. If you’re on the fence about trying cloth diapers, I hope that you at least give them a go and are willing to experiment with a couple of different brands/styles if the first try doesn’t work for you. They’ve been wonderful for us and I want to spread the word about a practice that’s eco-friendly, healthy, and a huge money saver!

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