Friday, March 6, 2009

Getting ready for the Baby: Cloth Diapers

Before I was pregnant, several of the bloggers I read had mentioned cloth diapers (CD). Naturally, I balked at the idea, because "eww, that's gross" and thinking they were ineffective at absorbing leaks and such. But the benefits (I believe) more than make up for the ick factor (which is present either way!). The cost savings, environmental concerns, baby's health, and cute fabrics rank on my list. Note: while the cost savings are worth it, if you choose to do cloth, you will ultimately be spending some money (however much is up to you) up front; these are an investment after all.

Today's cloth diapers are nothing what parents used 30 years ago. Diaper Services still exist, so even if you aren't keen on the idea of laundering them yourself, there are companies which will do it for you.

If you Google "Cloth diapers," you will certainly receive millions of pages on the subject. I felt so confused as someone who had only had experience with disposable diapers, and no knowledge of cloth. Because there are so many types nowadays: All-in-Ones, Pocket, One Size, Prefolds, Fitteds, etc. I needed a glossary for such terms (with pictures please!). It took awhile to understand this new vocabulary, but I feel quite comfortable now with it. An encouraging word to ladies without children is to go ahead and research your options now. I am already feeling the time crunch at 18 weeks along, but am so glad that I was well-versed in CD-ing, now that decision time is approaching. And for me personally, it takes awhile for a new idea to really settle into my mind and feel comfortable with it.

Last night my husband and I headed out to a local organic baby store for a CD workshop. It was my first time seeing and touching the varieties of CD in person! I was glad to see that we were not alone, we were one of about 12 couples. It made me feel like I wasn't the only weirdo in town. :) Let alone I have several close friends in my Bible Fellowship group that are using, or will be using cloth.

After hours of research and reading lots of reviews from, we decided to start off our new adventures in CDing by using Bummis brand organic cotton prefolds with Thirsties brand covers. For newbies to the CD scene, the prefold is what the baby will be primarily messing on, and the waterproof cover (which goes over/on top of the prefold) will make sure it is contained, and doesn't get transferred onto your lap.

Our initial investment is a mere $120! Not too shabby, considering that some estimate using disposable diapers (DD) from birth to potty training can add up to $2500. Here's a quick breakdown courtesy of Motherease brand CD:

"Disposable diapers get more expensive as they get larger, but the average cost is about $.35/diaper. Based on 6,500 changes (average 7 - 8/day), cost would be $2,275 for 2 ½ years. However, babies diapered in disposables tend to be changed less often than babies diapered in cloth. Based on an average of 5 - 6 changes/day, cost for 5,019 diapers would be $1,757. Cost of 1,500 disposable wipes would be about $100., making the totals $1,857 to $2,375. (average .37/change)"

I'd like to interject something about the statement, "However, babies diapered in disposables tend to be changed less often than babies diapered in cloth." At first glance, the reader might believe that cloth must hold less or be less effective in containing the mess. But the real meaning behind this is that caretakers of babies in cloth know relatively soon that the baby needs changing. Disposable diapers and their mysterious gels are designed to create a "stay-dry" feeling and soak up everything, thereby only postponing a needed change. What does this mean for the baby? Well, first, no regular consumer truly has an idea of what chemicals are in a DD...what your baby is wearing/sitting in for hours at a time. Second, babies in DDs are subject to diaper rash due to infrequent diaper changes where moisture abounds, growth of bacteria, friction, and allergies to chemicals to name a few. An extensive list of diaper rash culprits is here.

Have I sold you on it yet? :) While I still don't hold all the answers to issues that I know will arise once I start using them, it is never too early to learn, learn, learn. One of my latest homemaking endeavors is making my own cloth wipes. I made my first one Wednesday night, and I'm embarrassed to show the picture, so I'll spare you until I get it down pat. :) I am a beginner at sewing, so needless to say, I need much practice.

I'll leave with one last thought. Being the logical-minded person I am, I have noticed on ads for toilet paper, diapers, kleenex, paper towels, etc. that boast "cottony feel" and "soft and quilted for your comfort." Methinks paper products are simply trying to be like cotton! Why wouldn't I go to the real source if that's simply what paper is trying to emulate?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of this...questions, suggestions, anecdotes, etc. What worked? What didn't?


Sheila said...

I did a blog carnival about this a little while back-- check out some of the links, the moms had some things to say about CD'ing!

Chelsey said...

I have been cloth diapering for about 5 years now and absolutely love it and would NEVER go back to sposies (although we do use them on occasion if need be for certain situations - but that is rare!)

I have used almost everything out there and have hands down come to love, love, love my prefolds and covers.

I use buy my prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers as I have found them to be the absolute best in thickness and wear and tear and LOVE my thristies covers. I use Bummis covers and platic nylon covers as well but my absolute favorite are the Thirsties.

Just this year I begun to use a diaper service for laundering only. We have two in diapers currently and one due in June and I have three other children as well. So the diaper service is a HUGE convienence for me and only costs about $40 a month, which is highly affordable and worth it for me!

I'll never use anything but cloth! :)

Congrats on your new one and your cloth diapering adventure!

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :) I am glad to hear yet another mom praising CD (and esp. the system I'll be working with). I figure there will be a huge learning curve when I begin, but I'm looking forward to it. It really takes the stress off knowing that so many websites with forums on CD exist. And I'm glad to hear that CD is doable even with several kids.