Friday, June 28, 2013

A big cloth diapering post

Of all the parenting decisions we've made so far, the choice to cloth diaper has generated the most interest.  Going to break down why we did this and our thoughts...


1) Environment
Most people know that I'm a little recycling obsessed (little might be an understatement).  I use my reuseable bags at Target, compost, and recycle almost everything I touch: wrapping paper: yes, on vacation: yes (I carried cans and other things around London and NYC until we found recycle bins for them).  It seemed like an obvious next step to use cloth diapers.  I like that we aren't generating near the waste of disposables.  In the 3 weeks we exclusively did disposables we would fill (stuff) a plastic bag in about 5 days.   We do more laundry now with cloth but using more water doesn't seem nearly as bad as throwing away so many diapers.  Plus, if this infographic is correct, disposables use more water, probably to make?  (Have you heard that it takes more than a bottle of water to make a bottle of water??  I'm guessing this is similar).

2) Money
We spent a total of $300 on cloth diapers and accessories:
$250 on 12 cloth diapers
  $25 on a sprayer for the toilet (we bought a sink sprayer and Matt installed)
  $25 on 2 wet bags - a small one for the diaper bag and a big one for home. 

I don't know what disposables could cost until Luke is potty trained.  This infographic estimates it to be $2,700.  I don't know how accurate that would be for us (would probably use Target disposables which are fairly cheap) but I'm 1000% sure cloth will be much cheaper in the long run.  We should also be able to use the same 12 diapers on any future kids.

I could keep track of how many times we change diapers and then figure out disposable costs...but that's too much work.

3) Word of mouth
I grew up in cloth diapers, as well as 4 of my sisters.  My sister now uses them herself and a growing number of friends who do as well.  Everyone I know who uses them, really likes them.  

4) Chemicals
It is nice knowing there are fewer chemicals on his new butt than with disposables but this wasn't a deciding factor for us.  Just another benefit.

1) We primarily use BumGenius Elemental all-in-oneWith organic cotton.  Yep.  Only the best for our baby's butt.  I liked the idea of all-in-ones because then we didn't have the extra step of stuffing them once they were clean.  And these got good reviews.  We got 2 each of 2 shades of blue, 2 greens, an orange, and a yellow.  Gender neutral in case we have a girl later on.

If you click the link you can see how the diapers snap and can expand to fit him as he grows.  They say they fit 8-35 lbs so they should last until he is potty trained.

My sister also just gave us 4 more cloth diapers that she wasn't going to use.  We have no idea what brand they are (no tags).  We would have been fine with 12 but the additional 4 will help us go 2 full days between washings instead of the 1 1/2 we do now.

2) Our wet bags are Planet Wise wet bag in Lime Somersaults.  In my cloth diaper research these bags were highly recommended and I picked the pattern because it goes with our blue/green house.  They contain the smell pretty well and we've never had any leakage problems.  And they are washable which means they go right in the washer and dryer with the diapers.

3) Normal butt creams (Desitin, A&D, etc.) can't be used with cloth diapers because they can affect the absorbency.  I just ordered some cloth diaper friendly creams but they haven't come in yet so I don't have any opinions on them.  The ones I ordered did some highly recommended from a friend so I am very hopeful. 

I ordered the diapers the day we brought Luke home, as he sat on my lap.  When they came we had to prewash them 5-7 times (we did 6) for maximum absorbency.  Since they aren't supposed to fit well until 8 lbs, and Luke was 7 when we brought him home, we had to use disposables for a few weeks.  Luckily the hospital gave us a lot and we received some as gifts so we only ever had to buy 1 pack of newborns.  Plus, while in theory, I was excited about cloth diapering, in practice I was completely terrified.  Seriously scared.

We finished with our 6 pre-washes the day before we would have run out of newborns (I think I only had 4 to give to my expecting sister).  That is why we finally started - no more reasons not to, plus I wasn't going to buy disposables after all this money spent on cloth.  So we started on May 9th.  I spent a lot of Luke's nap time reading blogs about people's cloth diaper processes...I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

Now, we pretty much have it down.  With the cloth you can't really tell when he's wet, unlike disposals.  We change him first thing in the morning, between every feeding, and right before bed (and over night if he wakes up).  Or if we know he's just pooped.  And check him if he's fussy for no other reason. 

If the diaper is just wet then it goes into the large wet bag which currently hangs on the back of our bathroom door (we never shut the door unless we have company or it's really cold and we turn on a space heater for showers).  If it's dirty and wet then we dump the poop into the toilet and spray the diaper as needed with the sprayer.  Then it goes in the same bag.

Once we are on our second to last diaper (#11) we start laundry.  We wash them in hot water with our normal (homemade) detergent.  Then they go through 2 low heat dryer cycles, turning them all inside out in between.  This usually gets about half of them completely dry.   The rest are either put outside in the sun or under a ceiling fan in the house.  I need to get better about drying them more outside, as the timing works out (sometimes we are putting them in the dryer overnight).

When they are dry I bring them upstairs to fold and put away.  Most stay downstairs (where we do all of his daytime diaper changes) and a few upstairs (for bedtime, nighttime, and morning).  We've been doing laundry about every 1 1/2 days (such as Monday morning, Tuesday evening, Thursday morning, etc.). 

(We just got our 4 extra diapers yesterday so I'm not sure how they will affect our laundering schedule yet.  The diapers we bought aren't supposed to sit dirty for more than 2 days.  My thinking is that we'll wash diapers every other night, using the extras to hold us over.)

I'm no longer scared of cloth diapers, now that we have a routine down.  Actually, being scared of them seems so silly now but it was a huge adjustment.  When we were back to disposables for 2 weeks I realized how much I actually prefer cloth (I'd get mad every time I had to buy more disposables).  Matt, when asked, said he has no strong opinion either way.  He doesn't mind them more than disposables or like them more than disposables.  

Luke doesn't seem to mind them either.  We have had fewer leaks and the only rash he's had so far was with his "digestive problems" so he was in disposables then anyways (way too many really gross diapers to wash out).  He is fine going all night (up to 10 hours) in them.  I've heard kids start leaking out of them overnight around 1 year but we'll deal with that when we get there.  So far, no problems.

After saying all that...we aren't opposed to using disposables when needed (mainly the lake and traveling).  For just being out of the house during the day cloth has been working fine, but we've never had a poopy one away from home either.  I mostly plan on using disposables only on overnights or maybe realllly long days away from home. 

Overall, I'd definitely recommend cloth but also know they aren't for everyone.  I certainly don't judge those that use disposables.  To each their own. =)


Lauren said...

Where is the picture of Luke modeling one of his diapers??? I love cute cloth diapers on a little baby!!! :-)

diana said...

I know, I know. I wrote most of this Thursday night when he was already in bed and then Friday he took 2 super long naps so I didn't get a chance! I'll add one soon. =)