Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Adventures in Cloth

This whole post is about cloth diapers - just fair warning.

Last Friday our cloth diaper trial from Jillian's Drawers arrived.
Wait, what?  You didn't know I was a hippie tree-hugging crazy?  Actually, I'm not.  Turns out cloth diapers have come a long way since the last time you probably heard anything about them.  Now they are super cute and very easy to use.  I honestly never would have even thought about cloth diapers until I read about them (on a blog by people I otherwise consider normal) while pregnant that made me curious.  Then of course I started researching things and discovered that it might be a viable option for our family.  Pro-cloth diapering websites make all kinds of claims about how wonderful they are.  Some of these things are true, some are a little exaggerated.  But for me, the real pros outweighed the cons enough to at least give them a try.

Here are some things I read about cloth diapers before using them, along with how I really feel:

1. Cloth diapers are just as easy as disposables
Let's be honest.  What could be easier than just throwing away a dirty diaper?  However, I do think that cloth diapers are probably easier than you think.  Cloth diapers are now designed just like disposables (stretch tabs, elastic around the legs and back, velcro or snap closures, etc) so they are just as easy to change.  But there is a *little* extra work involved because you do have to wash them.  But so far that hasn't been discouraging - just another load of laundry every few days.

2. Cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars
Thousands, really?  It sounded like a lot to me too.  I didn't expect to ever spend thousands on diapers, so I didn't know I could save thousands.  If you buy diapers at a regular price at the grocery store, then you are crazy.  They are so expensive.  But I think that most moms are smart and use coupons, shop at Costco or use Amazon Mom.  You can find significant savings there. But you'll still save a lot of money using cloth diapers instead.  Using disposables (from amazon or Costco), I figure the average baby's diapers would cost about $40 a month.  That's $480 a year and $1,200 for 2.5 years (hopeful potty-training age!).  If it takes your kid a little longer to catch on to using the bathroom you could be talking about more than $1400.  And that's just for one baby.  You want 3-4 kids, you're talking about $5,000+ just for diapers.  And that doesn't include wipes, rash cream or any special bags for whatever fancy diaper pail you are using.  Cloth diapers run the gamut - there are super economical choices and super high-end choices.  But honestly, you can cloth diaper a baby from 10 lbs to potty training for anywhere between $150 (for the more economical options) and $450 (for the nicer high end fancy diapers).  And lots of diapers will last for more than one child.  Of course, you will use a little more water and electricity washing and drying them 2-3 times a week, but I still don't think your costs in those areas will add up enough to NOT save you money.  When I realized all of this, it became my main motivation for exploring cloth diapers.  Not that we can't afford to use disposables, but why throw our money away?  If we ended up liking cloth diapers, it could be a great way to save a little more money for our kids to go to college or have a fun family trip or buy something cool for the house.

3. Cloth diapers are better for the environment
Blah, blah, blah.  It depends on what you read and who you talk to.  Disposables fill the landfills, cloth uses more water.  In the end, this has very little to do with my reasons and I am not an environmental expert so I can't really tell you which has a more adverse effect.

4. Cloth diapers are more gentle on your baby's skin
Oh my goodness!  These diapers are seriously so soft and cushy.  Love.  One of the funny things I read while researching things was, "think about it - would you rather have cloth underwear or paper underwear?"  It made me laugh.  But seriously, these diapers are so soft.  Also, while I was pregnant a huge news story came out about Pampers Dry Max diapers giving babies chemical burns.  Yikes!  That said, Clara has used a lot of Pampers for the first 12 weeks and never had more than a tiny bit of redness. I do like the idea of putting soft cloth against my baby rather than strange gel-beading chemicals.

There are lots of other claims that I don't have enough experience with to form an opinion, but if we stick with cloth for good I hope they are true!  Here are a few: Cloth diapers leak less than disposables, cloth diapers minimize diaper rash, cloth diapered babies potty train sooner.

Ok, so lots of good things about cloth diapers, right?  I was pretty excited when we got our trial pack (they send you one each of the most popular brands - brand new - you use them for 21 days like they are your own (including washing and drying them) and then send them back.  It costs $10).  There are so many fun colors and patterns and the interior fabrics are so super soft.  The verdict?  I really like them so far.  Cleaning them is not much of a sacrifice - I already do laundry all the time - and I think they are super cute.
The only thing I don't love about them right now is the extra bulk.  I'm told this gets better as babies get bigger.  I'm sure when it's summer time and Clara's running around in nothing but a diaper, she'll have the cutest little fluffy bum on the block.  But with onesies, pants, or rompers on right now, she's definitely got some less than flattering extra bulk going on.  But really, she's a baby.  Who cares, right?

Ok, seriously.  That was much longer than I thought it would be.  If you want to know more, I've researched this topic to death.  I'm sure I could answer your questions.


Heather Richardson said...

Very interesting post - love that you are the mother of my niece! Can't wait to hear about your experiment with the cloth. Working on Aussie posts today - coming soon!

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