Ode to Cloth Diapers: 5 Ways We Make Cloth Diapering Work
Cloth diapers are worth it
There are two things that have kept me sane as a parent: cloth diapering and sleep training. Okay, three things if you count whiskey. This is a post about the first: cloth diapers.
I didn’t set out to be a cloth diaperer. I like things simple and low-maintenance, and cloth diapering seems high-maintenance. Also, people who like cloth diapers love to proselytize about them. Like cloth diapers are the second coming, or something. And to a pregnant lady just trying not to lose her lunch, the last thing you want to talk about is all the poop.
But when I was pregnant with my daughter, I briefly looked into cloth diapers and the cost savings astounded me. So, I dug a little deeper, browsed the cloth diaper store, demanded that friends with cloth diapers show me how they changed their kids, and I read a ton of blogs. Then, I approached my husband. “Let’s cloth diaper,” I said. He looked at me like I had just suggested getting naked and joining a yoga commune in South Florida. For my winter-loving, polo-wearing, Republican husband, that was quite the look.
Before he could respond I went through the numbers with him: Conservatively, we could spent $50 a month on diapers. Although the cost could be higher in those early days when babies use 8-10 diapers a day. Conservative start-up costs for cloth diapers were around $400, we’d earn our money back before the first year was up. Also, the cost of washing wouldn’t add up if we were washing only twice a week, because we’d be doing that much laundry normally. My husband reluctantly agreed.
Yet, when our daughter was born, I had second thoughts. Adjusting to a new baby was harder than I thought. Add in washing her poop and I was reaching for the Zoloft. Cloth diapering seemed like a one way ticket to crazytown. Plus, to keep costs down, I had committed to just one brand of diapers and they didn’t quite fit her newborn bum. But after a month and a half of buying diapers, which cost $150, we were ready. I stashed my disposables for a rainy day and we went all cloth. We love our cloth diapers. They are easy-to-use, economical, no grosser than any normal diaper situation and, no, I’m not doing laundry every day. Here is how we make it work:
1. Commit to a system: It’s easy to spend a lot of money on cloth diapers if you collect them like your grandma collects Precious Moment’s dolls. But do your research and just commit to one system. You don’t need a million newborn diapers and then a million other diapers in 20 different sizes. I chose a diaper system (known in cloth diapering circles as an “all-in-one”) that fits from about 10lbs on up to 30. I chose the Flip diapering system. I liked how you could toss the inserts and keep the outer shell. My sister loves gDiapers. Want to learn more? Dirty Diaper Laundry is one of the best sites for cloth diapering information and they have cloth diaper videos. Find your sweet spot and commit.
2. Get enough for three days: I didn’t want to be chained to the laundry, so when we bought diapers we bought enough to keep us through three days. With a baby you usually end up doing laundry that often any way.
3. Don’t buy the detergent hype: You guys, don’t buy fancy detergent. You don’t need to. We use an unscented, undyed detergent (All free and clear) and have had no issues. Occasionally, I put the diapers through three extra, detergent-free cycles, just to clean them out for maximum absorbency. You can also make your own detergent. It’s easier than it sounds. Also, Borax is cheap. Use that too.
4. Diaper liners, y’all: This is for the “Ew, I can’t wash poop!” people. First of all, if you have a kid, you will be washing poop off something, deal. Second, if you use a diaper liner, you can just toss the poop in the toilet. Easy. No washing. Twice in the two and a half years I’ve been doing this have I had to rinse a diaper in the toilet and in those cases, well, the diaper wasn’t the only poopy thing I was cleaning.
5. Buy things second-hand: Need wet bags? Need more inserts? Buy them second-hand. Check Craigslist or ask the clerk at your local cloth diaper store if they do resales or consignment.
Are cloth diapers all sunshine and unicorns? No. They aren’t as absorbent as disposables. Yes, we have a few more leaks than our disposable-wearing friends. So, at night and for long car rides, we doubled up on the inserts. By the time our daughter turned two, she was filling her diapers pretty quickly so, instead of buying bamboo inserts (more absorbent and more expensive) we potty trained. And yes, carrying around cloth diapers is a little bulky. But I just have a big diaper bag and I keep a few extra in the car. Also, when we travel we use disposables. Mostly because I don’t want to explain to my in-laws, again, why the diapers won’t ruin their washing machine. That’s another downside, the crazy looks you might get at family gatherings. Oh, and are you worried about having to buy special ointment? Don’t be. We use the liners, so we can use normal diaper cream. Boom.
Bottom line:For us, cloth diapering is worth it, easy and cheap.
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