Monday, January 13, 2014

Cloth Diapering. Say what?!

It has come to my attention over the past few weeks that the thought of me cloth diapering is pretty stinking shocking and funny to those closest to me. I get it I really do. I'm the girl who has never been camping. My theory has always been why PAY money and cause myself more work when I could spend the same amount and get an cozy hotel room and have someone else clean up after me. (I will say I am actually open to camping now especially as the kids get older I know they would enjoy it). When I first shared with my Mom I was considering cloth diapering she spoke words of support, but I could also hear a bit of amusement in her voice. Apparently when she got off the phone with me she told my Dad "you better be sitting down for this one. Your daughter says she is going to cloth diaper Luke". Dad said "I give it 3 weeks tops". Haha Dad it's been more than 3 weeks now. Like I said, part of me understands the amusement, but my friends and family also know I am a rather "thrifty" person. 

I briefly considered cloth diapering with Claire, but several things stopped me. One, between the boxes of diapers I stocked up on while pregnant with Claire and the very generous amount we were given I literally bought one box of diapers before she potty trained. Two, she was fully potty trained except at night by 18 months. Three, I had tried to research cloth diapers and knew ahead of time they were not the cloth diapers my Momma used, but the options and terminology completely overwhelmed me and Eric was not at all on board.

Again when we had Luke were blessed with an abundance of diapers. Although I was not able to purchase many ahead of time as I did with Claire. With Claire I was working full time and had a little extra cash flow to buy those sorts of things. With Luke we still had an amazing gift of not having to buy diapers his entire first year! As I started counting how many diapers and days I had left before needing to consider buying diapers the thought of cloth diapering came in my head again. This time with a little reading I understood about 75% of which diapers and types worked which ways. No one in my local circle of friends and family cloth diaper. My Mom cloth diapered my brother and I and I assumed that was the norm of the early 80's. I later found out it was not the norm and Mom did it to save money so she could stay home with us. I mentioned my thoughts to Eric again and this time he didn't say "no" he just said said with a smirk "you can do what you want, but I'm not changing anymore diapers if you do". About 5 minutes later he was actually encouraging me to cloth diaper just so he could be exempt from changing diapers. Ha, not so fast buddy! One of the first things out of his mouth like a lot of people was, "isn't it nasty to put POOP in our washing machine where we wash our clothes"? Yes, honey I think I'll throw whole turds in the wash just for fun. No! I explained at Luke's age 4/5 poopy diapers are solid and I will just "plop" the solids in the toilet! It's no different than when potty training Claire and cleaning up her accidents. I think after you have potty trained one cleaning up your children's bodily waste and knowing how to isn't so intimidating. 

I only knew one or two people who do cloth diaper present day so I reached out to a friend hoping she could share which she uses and what works for her. I knew using a prefold diaper (those are the ones like my mom used on us with the diaper pins and plastic covers) was not what I wanted. Even though you don't use pins anymore and the covers aren't plastic I knew the more steps involved in changing a diaper the less likely I would get anyone other than me to change it. After speaking with a friend I found out pocket diapers were what she used and one of the simpler ones to learn to use. Price was freaking me out. When I searched Babies R Us or Target for cloth diapers they were $17-$25 each! Knowing I typically change about 6 diapers a day and I wanted to be able not wash every day I needed a minimum of 18 diapers. You do the math, but that's a lot more than I could afford to purchase especially knowing that Luke is the last child. If we were planning on additional children then I might say that amount of $ would be justified, but I just couldn't. Thankfully my friend educated me on some brands that come direct from China (in case you are wondering those expensive brands you buy at Babies R us are also made in China). Not saying every diaper is created equal, but the ones you find at name brand stores are not made in the US. 

I ended up ordering 20 diapers from Their prints are adorable and each diaper with 1 insert averaged a little over $5 each! Oh yeah finding cute prints is quite addicting. I mean who doesn't like making their baby's hiney look cute? I was expecting it to take 2-3 weeks to receive my order. I ordered around the holidays and even though I qualified for free "express" shipping I figured I was in for a long wait. To my surprise I ordered on a Tuesday night and they showed up Friday afternoon!! Expecting a long wait and knowing I ideally wanted more than 20 diapers so I could a. Have the option to wait longer between washes and b. Have more diapers to rotate to keep them from wearing out quickly (oh that's another perk, used cloth diapers can be resold! And typically for about 75% of what you paid for them if you take good care of them).  Anyway I started looking on my local craigslist to see if anyone had a good price on diapers. I found a lady who had just potty trained her son and was starting to sell off her stash of 60+ diapers (at first I thought holy cow that's. A lot of diapers, but now I understand how addicting buying cute diapers is). She was selling another affordable (direct from China) brand I was considering called Sunbaby. What I liked about Sunbaby is they were created by a stay at home mom who like me was looking for an affordable way to diaper her child. They have a small factory with fair labor practices. I like the idea of supporting a fellow mom. Anyway I was able to buy 19 Sunbaby diapers with 2 inserts per diaper and half of those inserts were a bamboo blend (more expensive) as well as a name brand pail liner for $100. Yes I know that still breaks down to about $5 per diaper which is what I paid new however the extra inserts made it a sweet deal. If you have a heavy wetter or for night or nap time you want to double up on inserts for extra absorbency. Plus the pail liner alone retails for $18. The diapers were only about 6 months old and rotated in her huge stash so they were in great shape. I followed used diaper prepping instructions and voila I know have a stash of 39 diapers. Which means I can nearly go an entire week without HAVING to wash diapers. With that said I wash at the end of every 3rd day. For one the diaper pail (a kitchen trashcan) gets full and two lets face it a pail full of dirty diapers doesn't always smell very pleasant after it has been sitting awhile. I throw the diapers in the wash before I go to bed which doesn't interfere with my daily laundry and then hang (yes I said hang) them out to dry the next day. For one hanging them out saves energy and for two it helps keep the leg elastic from wearing out too quickly. At first I hung them over my dining room chairs to dry, but finally convinced Eric to buy me a $14 retractable clothesline so I could hang them outside to dry. The sun is also good for bleaching out any stains that may occur. I will say cloth diaper fabric is really stain repellent though.

Other than rinsing off the occasional sticky poop the most tedious part of the process is stuffing the pockets when everything is clean I dry. I like to have my diapers stuffed and ready to wear. My little guy is far to wiggly and I am always running late so there is no time to stuff on the changing table. I know I was really curious what "stuffing" a diaper looked like so I tried to demonstrate through pictures.

This is the outside of the diaper unbuttoned. Isn't it adorable? The minky fabrics (like this one) are my absolute favorites! I wish I could buy all minky, it is sooo soft. 

The inside of the diapers are either suede cloth (Alvas) or micro fleece (Sunbaby). I have a slight preference for suede cloth only because micro fleece tends to "pile" more with washing. These materials are really good about quickly wicking the moisture away from the baby's skin and down into the inner "pocket". Inside the diaper is a lining of PUL which is what keeps the diaper waterproof and from leaking onto the baby's clothes. Here you can see the pocket.

Depending on how much absorbancy you need depends on how many inserts you "stuff" into the diaper. The Alva diapers all came standard with microfiber inserts. These work well for my average on year old wetter. Obviously the more inserts your put into the diaper the bulkier it will be. There are inserts made of other materials like the bamboo blend ones I bought. Bamboo is more absorbancy than microfiber and also trimmer ( which is why it also costs more). For us one insert works great for going on average 3 hours between changing during the day and 2 inserts work well for 11-12 hours at night. I've only had one leak overnight and that is because he surprised me with a poop in with all that pee. This is the insert laying next to the inside of the diaper. The insert goes into the pocket as shown above. 

Here is a shot of most of my daytime "stash". A few that were in my diaper bag, one was on the baby and one was dirty. (My little helper was helping show off his cute prints).

In a separate drawer I keep the double stuffed night time diapers. I designated my "ugly" or holiday prints as the night time diapers. I keep 7-8 in rotation so like the daytime diapers they are all worn on average only once a week. I also keep the extra inserts in the night time drawer. Keeping them separate keeps Eric less confused haha. 

At first I was a little concerned the extra bulk of a cloth diaper would bother little man. I had heard some people say that cloth diaper wearing babies sometimes roll over later or meet physical milestones later due to the bulk of the diaper. I quickly learned this is not true as Luke took his first steps while wearing a double stuffed nighttime diaper. 

For dirty diapers I use a "diaper pail". When using disposables I really liked my diaper genie. It was a quick way to dispose of dirty diapers without having to run them out to the garbage. I knew I would want something similar with cloth. Some people use a hanging wet bag with a drawstring. I liked the idea of a step can and use the pail liner with also has a layer of PUL to keep the diapers from leaking into the trashcan.
Another cool thing? The trashcan can be reused as a trashcan once we are out of diapers. No money wasted there. Also let's face it. I didn't have the extra cash just laying around to start cloth diapering. While it will definitely save is $40-$50 a month in buying disposables and will quickly pay for itself it does take some initial upfront cost (there are much cheaper ways to start cloth diapering then how I did, but using pockets make the most sense for us). I ended up going through the kids clothes and toys and posting them on eBay and on buy/sell/trade pages. Within a week I had sold enough to cover all the cloth diaper start up expenses. Tada! practically no extra expense. I wash the diapers in Tide Free and Clear so I can use the same detergent throughout all our laundry. Ironically enough out water bill was $5 less the first month I cloth diapered so I haven't noticed an increase there.

 The only thing that isn't so fun is rinsing poop. Thankfully most diapers can be plopped into the toilet, but there are a few that require some rinsing before going into the diaper pail. I was so nervous when I saw him making his first poop in his cloth. Small panick set in. After discovering how easy it cleans up I'm no longer scared. I won't lie it's my least favorite part, but it's not bad. I'm trying to convince Eric to attach a sprayer to the toilet' seater line, but he says he isn't going to be a weirdo with a hose on his toilet. I told him it's just like having a bidet, but he isn't buying it. So for now the ones that require a little extra rinsing I walk out the backdoor and use the water hose. Mom says she just swished the dirty diaper around in the toilet, but I can't bring myself to do that. I may go buy a sprayer and hook it up myself. He won't remove it once it's hooked up. Forgiveness is easier to ask than permission right? Oh, and the guy who says he would never touch a diaper again if I switched to cloth has come around to the idea. At first he would take the cloth off and grab and extra disposable and put that on. The he got to where he would put a cloth on, but wouldn't mess with the diaper pail. Then he would only do pee diapers. Now he will handle both kinds of dirty diapers if I'm not home. However it is hit or miss if he leaves the poopy one for me to dump :-/ Claire has always been a big helper handing me diaper changing supplies, but now that there are cute colors and prints to choose from, her favorite job is choosing which diaper he should wear next. 

His first time trying a cloth diaper

Rocking his Christmas diaper 

So far I love cloth diapering. It's cute, not too hard, and saves $$$!!

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