I've had a lot of questions from friends lately about cloth diapering. What made me decide to do it? Am I glad I do it? Does it really save me money? Is it really better for the environment? Isn't it gross handling your kid's poo? Why do you want to put so much extra work on yourself? What if you forget to wash the diapers? Do you use a diaper service? How do I know which cloth diaper is best for me/my kid? What about when you travel? Don't the diapers leak a lot? I could go on and on with these questions...So I decided to go ahead and work on a blog post detailing our life with cloth diapers.
Before you go on, be warned that this is a rather lengthy post...if you aren't interested in the subject of cloth diapers, you may want to stop reading now :)
First of all, I'll tell you what made me decide to cloth diaper. Sadie has some pretty sensitive skin. She actually had chemical burns from Pampers Swaddlers with Dry Max. I didn't know why we couldn't get her terrible rash to clear up for literally months...the burns would explain why. It just made me really question what I was putting against my baby's bum. Why would diaper manufacturers think it's ok to put chemicals in diapers that could harm baby's sensitive skin? That's just terrible to me. Also, I was under some crazy misconception that if I used cloth diapers Sadie would never have another rash again (I was WRONG). *Note: Pampers has since stopped manufacturing the diapers with "Dry Max", which was causing chemical burns on the sensitive tushies of babies across the country. YAY!! I'm so glad they got rid of that so more babies (and parents) won't have to go through what we did.
Before I bought the cloth diapers and all the necessities that go along with them, I sat down and did some serious research. I found that by using cloth diapers I would save just over $1,000 over the course of 2 years (assuming Sadie actually potty trains at 2). I took into consideration an increase in our water bill, additional detergent, saving money by not buying baby wipes, not buying diapers, etc. I put A LOT of thought into it. It turns out we won't be saving as much as I thought because we're still buying disposable diapers and wipes...but we'll get to that later.
There are arguments as to whether or not cloth diapering is better for the environment. It is in the sense that we're not throwing human feces into the landfill. (In fact, did you know that disposable diaper manufacturers actually ask consumers to flush feces and NOT throw it away? Little known fact...) Cloth diapering is NOT so environmentally friendly when you consider the extra water and electricity you have to use to wash and dry these babies. My wash cycles take about 6 hours to complete. That's a whole lotta water, even with my HE machine (which is actually why it takes so long to wash them!!).
Am I glad I cloth diaper? Absolutely! Making the decision to cloth diaper has definitely been a good one. I'm not a crunchy granola mom who plans to save the earth one cloth diapered baby at a time or anything...in fact, it wasn't the environmental factors that made me want to use them so it wasn't an issue to me. If I had known how much I was going to love cloth diapering, I definitely would've done it for my first baby as well as my second.
Yes, diapers leak. But, hey...you can't tell me your kid has never leaked out of a disposable, either. Right? I find that I have to change Sadie every three hours at a minimum. Any longer than that and we risk a leak. But with her sensitive skin she needs to be changed that frequently anyway. I can honestly tell you we have NEVER, seriously, not once, had a poop blow out. You know how babies get to that age where they start pooping all the way up their back into their hair line? Yup...Sadie never had to experience that. Amazing!! That's my best "selling point" for cloth diapers. It's totally worth all the money and all the washing JUST for that!
Yes, cloth diapering is a lot of work. I wash diapers about every 3-4 days. I only have 18 diapers (actually 16 because two of them need the elastic repaired and I haven't gotten around to that yet) so it's best to wash them every 3 days so we don't risk running out. I always spray out the diapers with our diaper sprayer as we take them off of Sadie. This gets most of the pee/poo out before the go in the wash. I put them through several wash/rinse cycles in the washer to get them super-duper clean then I like to dry them in the sun (a GREAT reason to live in Houston!!). If it happens to be a rainy day, I just dry the diaper covers on the drying rack under a ceiling fan and put the inserts in the dryer. No big deal, just doesn't get them sun bleached, with is always a great way to keep them smelling their freshest!
I'll admit, sometimes I lose track of how many diapers we have left and we end up running out before they're washed and/or dry. This is a good reason to keep a back up of disposables on hand! Other good reasons to keep disposables on hand? Sadie still gets diaper rashes. When she has a rash we have to use diaper cream (of course) and you can't use any kind of creams or lotions with cloth diapers. These creams will build up in the inserts/liners and will cause the diapers to repell instead of absorb...something no one wants! We also put a disposable diaper on Sadie at bedtime. She leaked out of a few of her diapers overnight (even with extra inserts) and then her overnight diapers started smelling like a barnyard. NASTY. They didn't even seem to smell fresh after we washed them. I didn't like feeling like I needed a gas mask to enter her room in the mornings so we figured one disposable diaper a day was a fair trade-off! Also, I haven't used cloth diapers when we've traveled. I know a lot of people do, but when I'm on vacation I want a vacation from washing diapers, too! Also, it might make some people feel weird to have me washing poo diapers in the same machine they're going to wash their clothes in. Of course, no one else I visit has a diaper sprayer either, and that's kind of essential for getting the poo out BEFORE it goes in the wash!
Have I forgotten anything?
A few things I've learned along the way:
1) a diaper sprayer is a MUST
2) the right detergent makes all the difference. I use Rockin' Green detergent. It's the first detergent I tried and it worked so I stuck with it. I've heard horror stories of moms going through detergent after detergent finding one that works. I'm so happy I found Rockin' Green when I did. It's a little pricey, but it's definitely a fair trade off!
3) buy all you need up front and it helps to have all the same type of diaper. There are SO MANY options out there. At first I thought I would try several different types of diapers and see which worked for me. Then I came across a 50% off sale and ended up buying 18 of the same diaper and inserts. These diapers work for me, but I don't know if there's something "better" out there. I like that all the inserts and liners go to the same diapers. There's not sorting out what goes with which so that makes the washing process easier.
4) put all the diapers together before you need them. There's nothing worse than having a wiggly baby on the changing table while you're trying to stuff inserts into the diaper! We try to get all the diapers put together and put in the top drawer of the changing table so they're ready to go. Of course this doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's so nice!!
5) clothes will not fit your baby like they do with disposable diapers. I haven't found "the brand" that fits over fluffy baby bums. We usually go a size up or just buy Carter's cotton pants since they always seem to fit well. Also, Sadie wears a lot of dresses :) However, the cute little diaper covers that come along with dresses don't usually fit. If you try to force those tiny things over a fluffy cloth diaper, you tend to get leakage from the diaper cover creeping in too tight on the edges of the diaper.
Ok, I think that's it for now (I've been working on this post for WEEKS trying to get it all covered). If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Again, I'm by no means an expert, just a mom who chose to cloth diaper. I'll tell you anything I know. If I don't know, I'll tell you that, too!
If you're still with me at this point...thanks for hanging on and reading all this info! I hope it helped!