cloth diapers

while i’m on the topic of being a little crazy and a little “crunchy,” i thought i’d throw up a post about the cloth diapers we are using.  if anyone is interested or has been thinking about using cloth diapers, maybe you’ll find our experience helpful?  ::shrug::

once the fog of the first 6-8weeks post partum had cleared and i needed to start buying larger quantities of diapers for Jack (gifted packages had run out), i flinched deeply when i realized that we would be dropping close to $50/month for diapers.  for us, the more expensive name brand diapers really did work the best – far fewer leaks and issues, and even buying in bulk from sam’s club proved to cost a pretty penny.  now, i care about the environment as much as the next person, i guess, but the biggest draw for me toward cloth diapering was the monetary savings.  the savings of cloth diapers over disposables simply cannot be disputed.  it’s crazy, actually (in the $thousands)!  however, i realize that “paying” in money is only one side of the issue.  yes, cloth diapering means paying more in time and also a certain level of dealing with the dirty diapers a bit more…directly.  but personally, i was willing to “pay” in both those areas more than i was willing to fork out the dollars.  but that’s me. 

i had been toying with the idea of cloth diapers before Jack was born and now decided to look into it more closely.  ooohhhh my.  all the different types and styles was overwhelming!  this video series on YouTube was extremely helpful in getting a grasp on the various types and pros/cons of each.  i also posted a status and a note on facebook asking for friends’ opinions and experiences – love hearing from people i know!  lastly, i ordered a customizable trial package from a cloth diapering company that allowed me to try 6 different types of diapers (for only $10 plus shipping) – all after i had established a general idea of what i wanted to try.  the trial was exactly what i needed and i knew what kind would be best for us within 2 days.

we opted to go with the Best Bottom diapering system and here’s why:
1. both zach and i disliked the idea of having to wash an ENTIRE diaper every time there was even just a little bit of pee (which is the case with pocket diapers and “All in Ones” (AiOs). best bottoms (BBs) is an “All in 2” (Ai2) system with outer shells ($17ish) + inserts ($3-$5ish depending on what type of cloth/fiber you get) that snap into the shell. so for pee-only diapers, you just snap out the insert, snap in a new one and diaper back up. you can often do the same for poopy diapers and just wipe the shell of any poo that got on it. or, if the shell is too soiled, you drop that in the wash pail and grab a new one. but you end up needing only a handful of shells and a decent supply of inserts total.

2. BB seemed to have excellent “gussets” – the elastic enclosure around the leg openings – which held in pee and poopy blowouts very well.  several of the other diapers i tried leaked badly from even just a light pee.

3. BB is a pretty slim fit, which fits my lean little man much better. a few clothing items will need to be “sized up” to fit over the bulk of a cloth diaper, but not a lot and not by much. plus, these diapers were adjustable both in waist width AND length, making them a “one size fits all” option that aren’t particularly bulky and will theoretically last until we potty train!

4. have to admit, the BB shell color/pattern options were darn cute! i ended up getting colors that leaned more toward “boy,” but were also fairly gender neutral should we have a girl next. that way i’ll only have to purchase a couple extra shells if we have a girl.
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5. BBs are slightly closer to the “cheaper” side of the pricing scale. total cost so far has been: $10 trial package + $10 s/h trial package + $10 to ship BACK the trial package* + $200 order** (6 shells, 18 inserts, 3 “doublers” to thicken reg inserts for overnight, etc, 1 small wet bag for the diaper bag and 1 medium wet bag for the nursery or laundry room (i’ll graduate to the large wet bag when we have more kids)) = $230. depending on how old jack is when we have a 2nd kid and how many inserts/diapers he’s going through per day, i anticipate spending maybe an additional $100 for a few more shells and inserts plus a larger wet bag. but still! less than $350 for pretty much ALL the diapers i should need potentially for ALL our kids (i’m planning for jack to be out of diapers by the time a possible 3rd and 4th child come along, Lord willing)!  a GREAT deal in my mind!

*i did the trail package through Jillian’s Drawers. they advertise that it’s a $10 trial, but it really works out to be $30 because they charge you an additional $10 for shipping and you also have to pay to ship the trial package back. however, they give you free shipping on your next order… (not a “break even” deal necessarily though unless you order $75+ worth of items)

** i ended up placing my BIG order from Nicki’s Diapers because they were slightly cheaper (discount if you buy quantities), offered FREE shipping on orders of $75+, and had WAY more color/pattern options for both the diaper shells and the wet bags. unfortunately right now, Jillian’s inventory is a very limited, at least as far as the BB stuff goes. however, i would like to at least remark that i had a WONDERFUL experience with Jillian’s customer service.  reasonably prompt email responses, personal and very helpful. no complaints about the company AT ALL.  simply chose Nicki’s because of the better inventory and pricing.

a word on the maintenance/work of dealing with cloth diapers:
yes, it IS faster and cleaner to simply fold up a disposable and drop it in the trash.  no arguing that.  but honestly, the amount of “extra” time i have put into the handling and washing of the cloth diapers we got comes to a grand total of about 1.5 hours… per WEEK.  i’m not even kidding.  pee diapers? drop in the wet bag until laundry time.  soiled diapers?  i drop them in the bathtub and spray ’em down with our combo/hose shower head that we already had, then drop them in the wet bag until laundry time.  (breastmilk poo is very runny and essentially water soluble so it rinses right out and down the drain easily.  since jack has been on the goat milk formula, however, his stools are now thicker.  i started using flushable liners and rinsing any spill-over.  still quick, easy and cheap!)

i “use up” the cloth inserts about every 48hours.  so every other day i put everything – shells, inserts, wet bag – into the washing machine, run a cold rinse/pre-soak, and then a hot wash using a scant 1/8cup detergent.  after that i have the option of putting it all in the dryer on medium or low heat, but i usually opt to put them all up on the clothesline outside.  the sun is a natural bleaching agent and kills any remaining bacteria and/or smell.  they smell all clean and fresh when i bring them back inside!  the whole process literally takes me less than 10 minutes, not including the time they’re actually IN the washer. 

here’s a few tips/opinions of mine, if you’re thinking about / looking into cloth diapers:
– wait until your baby is 6-8 weeks old.  not for the baby’s sake but for yours!  let the post partum fog clear a little.  let your body adjust to the sleep deprivation a little.  get past the thick and tarry meconium poop.  get past the “changing their diaper every freaking hour” stage. 
– do your research and do the trial package!  talk to friends!  that was the most helpful part. 
– still keep disposables on hand!  i use disposables when we travel or when Jack is with a babysitter or in the church nursery, etc.  this is a personal choice we have made and i don’t want to inconvenience others or gross others out by making them use the cloth diapers if they don’t want to, or asking to wash my cloth diapers in their washing machine.  and actually, since Jack has been on the goat milk formula, he is SOAKING his diapers like CRAZY.  it’s a good thing and a good sign of hydration, etc. but the cloth diapers aren’t cutting it during the long stretch at night.  so i’ve started using disposables at night too.  i can handle buying 1 bulk size box of disposable diapers every couple of months.  it’s worth it to not have to change his clothes and the sheets and his blanket at 2am every night because he’s soaked through it all! 
– do cloth diapers because you WANT to, not because you feel guilted into doing it because your friends are, or it’s the big thing in the “all natural” community, etc.  not that there may not be future seasons where you use disposables for awhile, but if you’re not all in and up for the extra work, you’ll fizzle out fast and the feel even worse about the money you invested. 

i have yet to feel any regret or remorse about our cloth diaper choice – in fact, i LOVE it!  🙂

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