Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cloth Diapers

I have always wanted to use cloth diapers. My first job out of college was at a daycare working with infants, and I was astonished and appalled by the volume of diapers we threw away every day. Ever since then (2007), I promised myself I would at least give cloth a try.

Around 12 weeks of pregnancy I started researching cloth options. It was my outlet for all parenting anxiety, and what I found further overwhelmed me.

Finally I got a book called Changing Diapers: A Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering (also available on Kindle for only $6.99). This book is a MUST for moms considering or choosing cloth. It made everything so much less overwhelming for me. I can’t recommend it enough.

I initially thought we would use the gDiaper hybrid system. It is perhaps the most well-known cloth diaper system, and A has a niece who was pregnant at the time and planning to use them. On Thanksgiving she brought us a couple to look at, and I was surprised by how bulky of a system it seemed. It struck me as a bit over-complicated.

Also, a big pull of gDiapers is their disposable liners. However, if you price out the cost of a disposable liner vs a disposable diaper, you’re probably going to end up spending at least 10 cents more for each liner, PLUS the cost of the actual diaper itself ($20+ each). My main reason for cloth diapering was environmental, but I was also very interested in benefiting my pocketbook. So, gDiapers were out.

Pocket Diapers:
The Changing Diapers book helped me understand all of my different options. I was tempted by the All-in-ones, but was warned by moms on twitter that they take a long time to dry and might not work overnight due to lack of absorbency.

I finally settled on pocket diapers. They seemed very similar to disposables, which was important to me because I really wanted something my daycare provider would consent to try.

My next decision was whether I should go with a one-size system or buy several in each size. I decided on the one-sizers, with the trade-off being that the baby will use disposables in the hospital and probably for the first few weeks of his life. I wrestled with that for a while, but ended up deciding it would be okay. Starting cloth from birth was not as important to me as using cloth for the majority of baby’s life.

I read a lot about different brands, and I ordered a few BumGenius 4.0s and a few FuzziBunz one-size. I liked the BGs way more than the FB, so decided to create most of my stash in BG.

These diapers run from about $17-19 a piece. I was able to buy most of mine on sale or purchase discontinued colors. I also redeemed credit card points to purchase dipes. I didn’t rule out used products, but never really found an incredible deal.

I now have a stash of 30 pocket diapers (25 BG, 5 FB), and I spent an average of $11.77 on each. Not too shabby!

I will say that every piece of advice I’ve read says NOT to do what I did: buy a big stash before baby gets here. However, buying on sale and in small increments in the last several months of the pregnancy was really our only option. I am our primary breadwinner and I’ll be taking 8 weeks off unpaid during my maternity leave – during which time I will be making $0 and also owing my company almost $2,000 for my health insurance and other benefits I receive. I knew that if I waited until we really needed them, I’d talk myself out of the big investment upfront.

If you are in the early phase of researching cloth, or have decided to use cloth and are not sure how to move forward, I have the following suggestions.
  1. Buy the Changing Diapers book.
  2. Figure out your main motivation for using cloth: Environmental? Financial? You don’t want chemicals on your baby’s bum? This will determine your decisions for what you end up buying.
  3. Get on facebook and “like” some cloth diaper manufacturers, even if you don’t plan to buy from them. I’ve picked up a lot of great tips on comment threads. Also, liking the big guns (gDiapers, BumGenius, etc) gets you ads for more local cloth distributors, who will work with you on prices.
  4. Do not be dissuaded by naysayers. A lot of people don’t realize how far cloth has come. They think you still have to swish your dipes around in the toilet. NOT TRUE! I have had so many moms discourage me from using cloth, but only moms who have never tried it or even looked into it. Moms who invested in cloth (I know a lot of them on twitter) LOVE it and actually cringe when they have to put their babe in disposables for one reason or another. Long story short: just like everything, if it’s something you’re committed to, don’t listen to the Debbie Downers.
  5. Buy a few at a time. When I got my FuzziBunz, I didn’t really like them all that much in person. I’m glad I didn’t order more than I did.
  6. Make sure hubby is totally on board. If he’s not, you’re in trouble.
  7. Approach your daycare provider ahead of time about the diapers. I took one to mine at a consultation and showed her what using them would involve. With pocket diapers, she literally just takes them off his bum and puts them in a laundry bag instead of the garbage. It was tough for her to say no to that!
  8. Keep reading my blog, because as baby transitions into his cloth dipes, I plan to keep you all posted : )


Alex said...

Very interesting! I definitely look forward to hearing about how this works for you!

Stacy said...

So excited! I used cloth diapers with my son and plan on using them for baby boy #2. I bought the one size pocket diapers. I have bum genius and I really love Mommy's touch... the Mommy's touch go up a little higher in the front which is better for little boys, I think. My mom bought me a bunch of disposable diapers to use at the beginning since I have to have a c-section and our washer/dryer are in the basement.

I also worked at a daycare in college and it was crazy to see the waste they produced! Cloth diapers are an investment up front, but then you have them. I have a friend who gave me some of her hand-me-down diapers when her kids were potty trained and that allowed me to try out a couple different brands. I also really like the website Nikki's diapers. Yay, so glad you are doing it : )

TurtleMama said...

Hey Lulu - thanks for the book rec - I just downloaded it my kindle! I am definitely doing it, but am a little overwhelmed with all the options. I think the pocket diapers are the way to go too. but I am intrigued by prefolds and diaper covers for when they are going through so many of them. I, like you, will use disposables the first couple of weeks while I'm recovering from birth. But I am so excited about doing it! They are much cuter than disposables, better for the environment, not full of chemicals and are cheaper in the long run. Thanks for the post.

Mrs. F said...

I'm undecided about cloth diapers, but I kind of like what one of my friends did. She used cloth while her baby was little and needing a diaper change several times a day (and night), but always kept disposable on hand for when they were planning an outing and she knew it would be tough to tote her messy cloth diapers all around. She told me that for every cloth diaper she used, she knew it was one less disposable that she had to purchase, and later throw away.

Ruth said...

I've heard a lot of good things about the BumGenius diapers so I hope they work out well for you!! I have gotten a few for myself, but personally am stashing up more on the prefolds & covers since they are cheaper.

TheThirtiesGirl said...

Also, excited to see that you are cloth diapering! We can trade tips/hints..just don't tell me when new colors come out :)