On our drive home from the hospital (admittedly after I had taken a small dose of oxy just to manage sitting in a wheelchair and getting into the car), I looked at Andrew from the backseat next to our new 2 day old baby and said “Let’s wait on cloth diapering for a bit”.
Almost 8 weeks later and we’re still mostly on disposables (or “sposies” as the cloth diapering peeps call them). I laugh a bit at my pre-baby self with her “WE WILL DO CLOTH FROM THE BEGINNING” mantra. Silly me. Instead immediate my goals were “I WILL POOP TODAY” and “I WILL DRESS MYSELF INDEPENDENTLY” and “ÉVELYNE WILL GAIN SOME GD WEIGHT!!!”. (all accomplished, you will be happy to know).
Pre-baby, I did a LOT of research on cloth diapering. A few years back on EcoYogini blogspot, I did a post on cloth diapering. What I remember from my research was that cloth diapering was complicated and overwhelming. (true and not true….) I’m not going to get into the different kinds or styles of cloth here, there are many better posts, like this one.
So why do it? Diapering choice fits into the category of what other people have annoying opinions now that you will become a parent- either they judge your slow process to cloth OR the fact that you want to cloth diaper your child at all.
Various accounts differ, but overall there are mainly three reasons why people choose to cloth diaper their child:
- Money. Yep, you’d think it would be “For the planet” but nope, often parents choose to cloth diaper their child cuz disposables are so friggin expensive… and babies poop A LOT. No really, after almost 2 months of mostly disposables I can say it’s true. We must go through between 12-24 diapers a DAY (initially it was closer to the one diaper an hour…). Although each cloth diaper is kinda pricey brand new (although you can buy them second hand!), overall it’s something like 300-400$ for cloth vs 1200-1500$ for disposables over the lifespan of your child. The extra energy needed to wash your diapers (you’ll need hot water and a whole extra rinse cycle) also doesn’t account for an extra 1000$. Cloth diapering your child will save you money in the long run.
- The Environment. This is the big one for us, and surprised the crap outta me (haha no pun intended) when I saw online that it wasn’t the number 1 reason for most parents. (see above). The AMOUNT of disposable diaper garbage just blew my mind. We went from a one-two kitchen sized garbage bag every two weeks family to a kitchen sized bag every TWO DAYS. Although there has been some question as to whether cloth diapering really is better for the environment when you factor energy/water usage, after some reading of the research/arguments on both sides here are my conclusions on why cloth is better:
- Many people buy cloth diapers second hand. Not only is it cheaper, but also all the prep washing has been done. Also, cloth diapers are often very resellable, so even if you do buy new you can sell them once you’re done, decreasing their eco-impact.
- The best way to dry cloth diapers is line drying in the sun. Most research/arguments use the energy from the dryer as part of their “cloth is worse” narrative. Any cloth diapering forum/group will tell you that the fastest way to ruin cloth diapers is to put them in the dryer. Even on bad weather days, most people just hang up their cloth diapers inside on a dry rack.
- The end number of diapers that will end up in the landfill is still smaller for “end of life” cloth diapers vs disposables. Think hundreds of disposables vs 24-30 cloth per family.
- They look cute. No really, I think many parents choose to cloth diaper their child cuz of the fashion statement (which I also believe this is why many of these families give up). And yes, fluffy bums (serious
ly, that is the slang… ridiculous, I know) are pretty darn cute. And yes, you can get seriously cute patterns, but it’s fairly obvious that if this is your main motivation, perhaps cloth isn’t the best option for you.
Although I am slightly disappointed that we didn’t start cloth diapering right away, I am actually happy with our planand process so far.
Since we were cloth diapering mostly for the environment and bonus on saving money, I really wanted to focus on getting the right fit for our daughter instead of buying the cheapest diapers around. A full ‘stash’ is usually 24-30 diapers, enough to last two days and the time it takes to wash and dry (so diapers to wear while the others are in the wash and on the line). That’s a lot all at once. After hours of research and suffering through mommy blogs (Ack! to which I now qualify!!) and facebook groups, I discovered that not every brand will fit every baby. The biggest complaint- skinny legs.
That and the fact that we knew we’d likely have a small baby (she was 5lbs 11oz at birth, and dipped down to 5lbs 1 oz, and has just now reached close to 9lbs after 2 months), I didn’t want to buy 24-30 of one brand or style and have none of them fit her.
So, we bought a small variety with the plan to test out while also using disposables- five Tots Bots (teeny fit, one second hand), one newborn Bumgenius all in one, prefolds with covers, two Applecheeks size 1 and two Fuzzibunz (on sale). My plan- use mostly prefolds since they are adjustable and the Tots Bots teeny fit.
PREFOLDS: Well, after a few failed attempts with prefolds in our sleep deprived, colicky baby state and that plan went totally out the window. Prefolds just aren’t for us.
TOTS BOTS: We attempted the Tots Bots teeny fit at 4 weeks, 5 weeks and 7 weeks. Technically, going by her weight they should fit. Except, surprise! Her legs are too skinny. Even with adjustments, rolling in the elastics (all suggested from the Facebook group) she still has a gap along her legs and if she rolls to the side and pees, there is a definite risk of leakage. Oh, we’re still using them, but carefully. It’s super disappointing cuz, sigh, the patterns are so darn CUTE. That and I had bought so many of them. Ah well, they will resell easily for 80% of what I paid, which is good.
BUMGENIUS: This one fit, but it’s small enough that it won’t be long and she’ll outgrow it… doesn’t seem worth the investment. But it was second hand so I feel good about this diaper.
FUZZIBUNZ: Although a snap diaper, they’re just still too big for her skinny legs. I can see them fitting her later as she grows. Just not yet.
APPLECHEEKS: Just last week, Évelyne finally fit into the Applecheeks size 1. And wow- these suckers fit THE BEST. She peed with NO LEAKS. The snaps make adjusting so much better around her skinny minny legs. Yesterday I even took her out in public wearing them with no leaks or accidents! I even CHANGED her into our second Applecheeks! SUCCESS!
Ok- so final verdict: Applecheeks size 1 is the winner. This weekend we went out and bought two more. I’m keeping my eye out on the cloth diaper buy-sell on Facebook for Applecheeks (since the wash routine and prep is a bit intense, I can’t use our new ones until they’ve been washed at least 3 times. We tried, and it leaked all over Andrew…hah!).
A few of my take away starting up cloth diapering tips:
- Test out one or two of several different styles and brands before committing to a full stash. You’ll save money and your sanity. Even though you’ll have to problem solve and make decisions (and then go out and purchase) in the baby sleep deprived state, it’s worth it to get the best stash and making your life easier in the long run. (not to mention saving you a ton of money).
- Join a local cloth diapering Facebook group- typically there’s loads of buying and selling here and you’ll (hopefully) find some second hand to try. It’s also helpful when problem solving.
- Taking the time to research brands, read mommy blogs and ask questions will pay off in the end. As geeky as it sounds, Andrew and I also even took a cloth diapering workshop at a local eco-business (Nurtured) and it was very helpful.
- Take the time to research proper washing and prepping routines. More on this in a follow-up post.
- Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed! It really isn’t as scary, complicated or difficult as you think. This coming from a 7.5 week post partum mama 🙂