Tales of a Reluctant Cloth Diaperer: Chapter Pee

We’re three weeks into the cloth diaper experiment, and I’m thiiiiiiiis close to actually calling myself a CDer. Owen has been wearing cloth diapers for most of every day lately.

Owen seems pretty happy in his star-patterned CD

I did forgo using cloth diapers over Christmas when we were traveling.  Like I said, I’m close, but still a bit reluctant, especially at the idea of transporting poop.

Since I last updated readers on the cloth diaper chronicles, a college friend sent me an extra-special Christmas present: a sample box of reusable diapers she doesn’t use anymore, which brought my stash up to a level that allows me to CD frequently. Inside were a few different styles of diapers, so I’m now more familiar with the variety out there.

For the uninitiated, here is a very brief rundown of the basics (with help from Diaperjungle.com):

All-in-One (AIO): Just like it sounds, the entire cloth diaper is one piece. It has a waterproof outer layer so no cover is needed. You change it just like a disposable diaper, except it fastens with snaps or Velcro instead of tape. Similar are AI2, which feature a removable soaker pad.

Pocket diapers: Like the AIO, you don’t need a separate cover, but you do need to stuff the inside with an absorbent insert (or two).

Fitted diapers: These fasten a lot like the AIO and pocket diapers, but are not waterproof so they need a separate cover. When wet, you change the fitted part but can continue to reuse the cover.

Prefolds: Old-school style, you place these folded squares of fabric inside a wrap or cover. They’re often made from cotton, hemp, flannel or bamboo. Again, you can reuse the cover until it’s soiled or smelly. They may need a fastener, too.

My sister-in-law loaned me a prefold and Flip cover. She said these are her and my brother’s favorite. (And they are the ultimate CDers in my mind. They took their then 9-month-old daughter on a trek across Ireland, cloth diapering all the way!)

I’m much more partial to the pocket diapers, though. I like that they’re separate so each part dries faster than an AIO, but you still end up touching less wetness than with the fitteds. My SIL said she has a couple pocket diapers, but never really used them. I think your preference for diaper type depends a lot on what you try first, and what you get used to using.

I’ve also discovered I like snap-fastening diapers more than Velcro. Velcro is kind of a pain in the washer and dryer. If you’re not careful, you end up with a chain of diapers.

I’ve spent another $30 on the Cloth Diaper Experiment (bringing my total investment to about $80). I bought a medium-sized cover on Amazon.com to go over the fitteds, as well as some flushable liners (I’m told these will save on the gross factor once Owen starts solids).  I also got a bigger wet bag, to hold all my fancy, new-to-me diapers. Check out how cute it is:

Polka-dotted poop storage!

Who knew I would ever use the word “cute” when talking about the containment and disposal of bodily waste? That may evidence enough that I am officially a cloth diapering mama.

The Cloth Diaper Chonicles: Part Poo

Last weekend, I wrote about the cloth diaper experiment I was undertaking, in spite of my hesitations and easily turned stomach.  I figured they’d be a way for my family to save money, provided the diapers are purchased cheaply enough. So far, I’ve spent about $50 on a handful of diapers and inserts, concentrated laundry soap and a wet bag.

When we last left off, I was awaiting Owen’s first poopy cloth diaper. Because I breastfeed him exclusively, his No. 2 isn’t that noxious, but I was still surprised how well the cloth and insert absorbed the yellow-y goop. Again, way less gross than I’d anticipated! Woohoo!

Next up was my biggest fear of all: Washing the diapers.

Now, with a few loads under my belt, I have no idea what I was fearing. It’s seriously no problem at all. I just dumped out the wet bag into the washer without touching anything. I washed them one cycle in cold water to get out the stains, and then one in hot to sanitize them. Into the dryer they go, and they’re perfectly clean. Of course, we haven’t started solids yet. I’ve been told diaper liners and a diaper sprayer are helpful here, but I’m still factoring those additional costs.

I’ve also gone out into public with Owen wearing a cloth diaper, but because I was only out about an hour, I didn’t need to change it in public. I’m still reluctant about carrying around a wet bag of poo, so that adventure is yet to come.

We also haven’t tried a cloth diaper overnight, and I’m not sure I will. Unless I do so for your amusement.

I am discovering a few things:

It really doesn’t work that well to use disposable wipes with reusable diapers. While I usually tuck the used wipe into the used diaper and throw it all into my Diaper Champ, now I’m just left holding a poop-covered cloth with no where to put it. I think I’ll look into making my own reusable wipes. A friend once told me you can keep them a wipe warmer (which I got as a baby gift) with some water and essential oil.

The wet bag I bought can only hold about 5 diapers and inserts. That’s fine for now, because I only have four, and will work well for going out and about. But if I’m going to keep this up, I’m going to need to get more cloth diapers. Washing such a small load is wasteful. So, I think I’ll also need to get a diaper pail (a plain old lidded garbage can, probably) and some sort of liner for it, so I can let the laundry pile up a little. But again, that’s more money to invest, and less potential savings.

Finally, I’ve discovered there is waaaaayyyyy too much information out there about cloth diapers. There are so many brands and styles and accessories and techniques for washing/wearing/etc., it makes your head spin. I need to start applying some common sense and trying my own thing, rather than finding the “right” way to cloth diaper. I don’t think there is a “right” way.

That said, I would appreciate any tips from experienced CDers (acronyms are big in cloth diapers, I’ve learned). What’s worked for you? What was a colossal fail?

Let the adventures in cloth diapering begin

At 11:15 a.m. today, I put my first-ever cloth diaper on my baby boy. It’s a bit of an experiment in our household, one I’ve been putting off for fear of the unknown, and a healthy dislike of handling poop.

Owen in his first cloth diaper. He looks a little perturbed.

I never used cloth diapers with 3-year-old Eve, and claim complete ignorance as the reason. I had no idea the advances that had taken place with that particular garment, until my friend Tammy Swift did a story on their resurgence. Eve was 7-months-old, and Tammy asked me if I had any cloth diapers she could borrow for a photo. I said yes, referring to the 12-pack of white cloths I now use as rags. I think she was confused when I said I didn’t have any safety pins for them.

Once I found out how super cool cloth diapers are now (Snaps! Velcro! Inserts!), I still hesitated for three reasons. First, I’m not totally convinced, considering how much extra laundry they produce (and extra water used), that the end result is better for the environment. Before you lambaste me, please read this article in which Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the group doesn’t recommend cloth over disposable (or disposable over cloth).

The second reason is the dollars. Many parents cite cost savings as a reason to use cloth diapers, but I’m not sure the savings always add up, especially because I use generic-brand diapers. Here’s the math to back up that statement: My boss once told me he wrote a check for $500 to a local baby store for cloth diapers and supplies. Those would fit his daughter for her first year. My family goes through roughly one jumbo pack of disposable diapers a week. The Target brand costs $6.29/pack (though I usually buy the box and pay less per diaper than that). $6.29 x 52 = $327.08 plus tax, less than my boss spent and that doesn’t even include extra laundry costs.

There are exceptions to my money math. If you use the diapers for more than one kid, yes, it will save you money. Or, if you can sell them to recoup your costs. My friend Jacy ordered her cloth diapers online, and then after a year’s use, sold them on Craigslist for the exact amount she paid. Or, if you’re able to get the diapers super cheap. When a friend (another Jaci) was selling a generic brand of cloth diapers through a co-op for less than $5 for the cover and insert, I thought it was worth a try and ordered four. (If I use each one at least 30 times, I’ll make my money back.)

I wanted to wait until we were past those first couple of months, when Owen and I were still getting to know each other, before venturing into cloth. Then a couple more months passed by. I knew I needed to wash the diapers repeatedly in a special soap before the first wearing to increase their absorbency, a step that I unnecessarily complicated. And I needed to get a wet bag to store the soiled diapers, which I delayed.

See, there’s that third reason: My weak stomach.  The whole changing/storing/washing of the dirty diapers grosses me out a little. A lot, actually.

Which is why I was thrilled at about 1:30 p.m. today, when I changed that first cloth diaper. It was way less gross than I thought it would be. The diaper and insert (and extra mini-insert Jacy gave to me to pad the front of the diaper) absorbed all the moisture really well. I probably could have left the diaper on him longer. (I will say, it was hard to tell how wet the cloth diaper was. With disposables, I can tell by how “poofy” they get in the front. These were poofy from all the padding as soon as I put them on him.)

Cloth-covered bottom

So let the adventures begin. Owen’s napping now, and I anticipate change No. 2 will contain, well, No. 2. That will test my stomach, and perhaps my will to continue on with cloth.