Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Cloth Diapers: What The Heck Am I Doing?
I know that my mom used cloth diapers on my brother and me, but I don't know if that had any bearing on my decision to use cloth either. After all, Mom told me that her mother in law couldn't believe that she would choose to use cloth diapers when the new disposable ones were available. I don't think her decision was based on any great concern for the environment. My mom says she couldn't afford to buy diapers just to throw them away. I can see that reasoning.
When I found out I was pregnant I knew that I would be using cloth diapers. It didn't even require any thought. I was going to use cloth and my poor husband (who had never changed a diaper either) was going to be dragged along for the ride.
I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.
Now, I consider myself a fairly "green" person. I try to be environmentally responsible, I recycle, I drive a hybrid; but I am not perfect. I still use plastic grocery bags and I don't always buy recycled. Why? Well, I re-use those shopping bags and I prefer the really soft toilet paper. I'll admit, sometimes convenience wins out over environmental responsibility. So why would I choose to go the route of washing and folding cloth diapers instead of just tossing paper ones in the garbage?
As I mentioned earlier, I had never changed a diaper before. I knew nothing about them, but it seemed to me that if there was a more environmentally responsible option available, and a chance to save some money, then why not go that route? So, I decided to add cloth diapers to my baby registry.
Again, I had no idea what I was getting into.
Target.com has a nice online baby registry. As does Babies'R'Us. I had no idea what I needed. I went to the registry and entered "Cloth Diapers". What came back was a page of Gerber prefolds, Gerber flatfolds, Kushies diaper wraps, Bumkins all in ones and inserts and a lot of other things that left me completely in the dark. I just needed cloth diapers. Don't you just get diapers, rubber pants and some pins? How did this get so confusing?
I decided to ask a friend. One of my friends was a mom-to-be and was planning on using cloth diapers. She was registered at a local baby boutique called Happy Bambino. I decided to go to their online registry and see what I could find out about cloth diapers. (Yes, I could have asked her some important cloth diapering questions, but I really thought that this was something simple enough that I could figure out on my own. I didn't want to be embarrassed by my lack of knowledge on what should be such a simple subject as putting a diaper on a baby!).
Happy Bambino has a nice online registry as well. I went to their site and clicked on "Diapers". Prefolds, inserts, pockets, liners, all in ones...still all Greek to me. However, they also offered Diaper Packages! Everything you need to get started in one convenient package! Finally, everything I need without admitting I knew nothing about wrapping a baby's butt! All for the low price of $600!
I thought cloth was supposed to be a money saving option. This was a lot of money to spend, and I really had no idea what I was even getting. Prefolds, Proraps, Bummis, Snappis, Stuffers...what the heck is all this stuff?
I was just as lost as ever.
But then, salvation.
When I was about 6 months pregnant I saw an article about a new diaper store opening in Madison. It was called Nicki's Diapers. Of course I had to check it out. I went to their website.
This is what I had been looking for! At first it seemed just as overwhelming as everything else but Nicki's had something else: descriptions of what all of the different kinds of diapers were and how they were used. Prefolds, Pockets, AIOs, Fitted, One Size, Inserts, Doublers, Liners, Snappis, Minkies! All the info I needed was RIGHT THERE! I bookmarked the site. I read everything I could. I watched tutorials on how to fold diapers. I started a registry and chose one of everything! Thirsties, Prorap, Bumkins, Happy Heinys, FuzziBunz. The colors! The prints! Cloth wipes! Special Diaper Detergent! Wet/Dry Bags!
OK, so, I went a little crazy.
In reality, I didn't need all of the items that I registered for. In the next few weeks I probably re-did my registry 20 times as I learned more and more about cloth diapering a newborn. In the end I settled on one of Nicki's Newborn Package Deals. It ended up being exactly what I needed. Nicki's put together a nice mix of prefolds, covers and all in ones. It was perfect for someone new to cloth diapering who wasn't really sure what she needed. I won't even get into all the research I did just on folding prefolds: angel wings, jelly roll, bikini twist, newspaper fold...
My little guy is 6 months old now and I am proud to say he has only gone through 2 small packages of disposable diapers. Mostly these were used when we were on vacation, but a few were used for trips to the gym childcare and the rest by my husband. The reason? Well, there are a couple. When traveling it's just a lot more convenient for us to use disposables than it is to worry about diaper laundry. Particularly if we are gone for several days. Also, until recently I have mostly used prefolds with covers. I love them, but it's a little more work for my husband to fold and cover than it is to just throw on a disposable. I have now expanded my Fluff Stash to include some All in Ones (AIOs) and Pockets and it's a lot easier for my hubby. I also put the little dude in an AIO when I take him to the childcare at the gym. So far they haven't needed to change him, since he's usually only there an hour or 2, but I want it to be simple in the event he needs a fresh nappy at the gym.
Cloth diapers are not only easy and environmentally responsible, they are FUN! Ask any modern day cloth diapering momma and you will hear about how addictive cloth diapers are. Which is also the drawback.
Any time you read about the benefits of cloth diapers you will see the statistics stating how much money you will save over disposables. This is only partly true. Why? Because they are SO DAMNED CUTE!!! It's nearly impossible to keep yourself from buying tons of diapers to go with all of your baby's outfits, or just because you couldn't resist the diaper with the Space Invaders print.
When I started out with my Chinese prefolds and solid color Thirsties covers I was all geared up to save money. After all, I just needed a couple dozen prefolds (cheap) and half a dozen pul (polyurethane laminated fabric) covers. These would get me through a few months and then I would buy then next largest size. The smaller ones go into storage for the next baby to use. So we were looking at only having to spend money on diapers every 3 months. Maybe $50 for some covers and another $50 for some new prefolds. No problem. Think of the savings!
And then, out of nowhere, I was blindsided by the infinite cuteness that is the Blueberry Coveralls Cow Print Diaper Cover.
It seemed innocent enough. Tripp was outgrowing his diaper covers and I needed the next size up. I also needed to get some AIOs and Pockets for the above reasons. I went back online and started looking for new diapers and planned a shopping trip to Nicki's. I am always looking to try new things, and I hadn't tried the Blueberry Coveralls yet. I clicked on the link and saw the cow print cover. I had to have it! So Cute! My little dude would look so awesome in that! I mean, we live in Wisconsin, he has to have a cow print diaper, right?
Well, it turns out that THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF CUTE PRINT DIAPERS OUT THERE!!! Cows, hearts, guitars, trains, skulls, camo, flowers, plaid, animals (giraffes!), motorcycles...you name it, someone puts it on a diaper. And don't even get me started on Minkies!
Soon I was completely obsessed. I spent hours on my beloved iPad surfing online diaper shops and bookmarking the good sites so I could go back and buy some new, super cute diapers as soon as I had a little extra cash. Side note: iPads are awesome for new moms. Get one!
I have found a lot of great sites and tons of awesome new diapers. (Most of them I haven't had a chance to try yet, but when I do I will post reviews here. ) Diapers for every occasion. Diapers in every style and color imaginable, to match any outfit or to just look awesome by themselves. Who cares if most people will never see them, right?
So, that is the drawback of cloth diapers. Yes, they can be a very inexpensive, frugal way to diaper your baby. Unless you decide you need to "feed your stash" every other week with a dozen or so new, cute diapers. Some can cost up to $35, so it can be very pricey. I'm doing OK though. I have a diaper budget and I'm limiting myself to only buying a couple new diapers a month. I am, however, entering every online diaper giveaway contest I find (there are tons out there) so I can try some new stuff too.
6 months into The Great Cloth Diapering Adventure I have become cloth savvy. I know the lingo, I know the folds, I know the tricks, thanks to some great online resources and a bit of trial and error. I'm feeling good about my choice to use cloth not just because of the environmental impact, but also because Tripp never has diaper rash. Plus, believe it or not, I think cloth diapering is fun. Are we saving any money by using cloth? Well, maybe not as much as we would be if I could stick to the basics and not have to have every cute diaper out there, but at least these diapers will be re-used by any future babies. There are also great places like DiaperSwappers where you can sell your gently used cloth diapers.
I've come a long way from the uninformed, naive mom-to-be who thought it would be neat to use cloth diapers that I was a year ago. I've learned a lot and despite all of the infinitely cute, hi tech or just neat diapers I have found so far, I still prefer my old standby of a good, DSQ Chinese prefold in a Thirsties cover; double angel wing fold with jelly roll and a Snappi.
If you want to learn more about cloth diapering, both Nicki's Diapers and Happy Bambino offer classes in cloth diapering which, of course, I never took.