Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Super Long Cloth Diaper Post

I've mentioned cloth diapering a couple of times. I don't know when the idea crept into my head, but I have some how managed to convince husband and myself to brave the waters of cloth diapering. My husband is a really easy going guy and almost never challenges me on household things (unless a hole in the wall is involved) but this he was against, big time. I was surprised his feeling were so strong but eventually I won him over. And as I started getting more into this stuff it eventually took me over. Be warned, cloth diapering is addictive.

There are a lot of 'top ten' lists out there for reasons to cloth diaper. Here's mine:

1. I haven't done the calculations, but it just seems like it has to be better for the environment. I know their are counter arguments, but still, the other option seems to be throwing thousands of plastic, poopy diapers in a landfill and I just don't see how that could be better.

2. It also seems like it would be better for baby... I mean I would prefer cloth underwear to a plastic maxi pad, so I'm just saying.

3. And how about skin to skin time? I'd rather have a baby in a soft cloth diaper against me rather than a crinkly plastic diaper.

4. Smells. We only have 1 trash pick up per week here and I cannot tell you how bad the cat trash smells, and OMG, during the summer when it's warm, it could melt eyeballs. I cannot imagine how horrid a week of diapers would smell. However, washing a couple of loads per week ought to really minimize the smell factor (I think this was a big selling point for DH). Plus, I have volunteered to handle the human poo as long as he continues to handle the cat poo.

5. Cute. Cloth diapers are so cute! Way cuter than any disposable. I have to hold myself back from spending a ton on the cute stuff and have put together a plainer stash, but it's still pretty cute. (But seriously, if I were having a girl, I would have a diaper to match every dress and some ruffly butt diapers!)

That's my list... I ain't got 10 reasons, 5 is enough for me. Not on the list is saving $, because although I know you can do it for less than disposables, I'm not sure that I will, and one can easily spend WAY more on cloth than disposables.

There is a huge learning curve for all the terminology with IF, but somehow it's just as bad for the super complicated world of cloth diapers. How could poop catchers be so complicated? So, forgive me if I don't explain something fully.

So I have a bit of a show and tell here and I will try to explain the stash I have acquired.

When I bought some of my stash I was optimistic that the baby won't be huge. Unless he comes early, he isn't going to be a little 7.5 pounder, so I may not get a ton of use out of some of the smaller sized items.

All in Ones (AIOs) - Everything is together and using one is pretty much like using a disposable. They are easy to use but because the diaper doesn't come apart they can be harder to get clean and take longer to dry.

I have 2 Sposoeasy AIOs. They are cotton on the inside with a PUL (polyurethane laminate) waterproof outer (PUL is soft on the outside and not plasticy in case you were wondering). First, I think these are adorable and they look like could win over any disposable user. The downside, I probably won't get a lot of use out of them because they are newborn sized and for the general weight range of 4-10 lbs). Their design allows to accommodate a larger waist but the rise is pretty short and that's probably what my baby will outgrow quickly. These diapers were an indulgence, I just hope I get a couple weeks out of them.

Pockets - Pocket diapers are usually a PUL outer with a inner (usually a "stay dry" fabric) layer that is left open in the back to form a pocket opening that an insert can be stuffed into. Once the diaper is stuffed it's like an AIO. The can be stuffed with different inserts (mircofiber, hemp, prefolds) for the needed level of absorbency.

There are lots and lots of pocket diapers out there. Two of the most popular are BumGenius and Fuzzibunz. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about which one is best so I decided to buy some of each and figure it out for myself. I bought 6 of each in their "One Size" model. One size diapers are designed to fit children from about 8lbs to 35lbs by adjusting the diapers. So I plan to get a lot of use out of these diapers. I will probably invest in several more of these after I figure out what works best for us.

The BumGenius 3.0 pockets have rise snaps in the front that can be snapped down to adjust the rise of the diaper. The waist is adjusted by fastening the velcro tighter. People say the fit of these diapers is great and the velcro is easy to use. The down side is that the velcro tends to get worn quickly and not work so well and eventually children learn how to pull the velcro off and ditch their diapers. The diapers can be converted to snaps fairly easily with not too much work, so if I end up really getting a lot of use out of these I may end up doing that at some point.

Fuzzibunz diapers are quite different from the BGs. There is adjustable elastic in the leg gussets that can be tightened or loosened. This feature makes them very adjustable and they seem a little more trim to me than the BGs because of this. The elastic in the back at the waist can also be adjusted. And Fuzzibunz will provide replacement elastic for the lifetime of the diaper. Another big difference is the snaps on the front. The snaps allow to help adjust of the waist and leg fit. These diapers seem like they could be adjusted to fit as well if not better than the BGs and the snaps should be harder for an older child to pull off... but that also means they may be harder to put on.

Prefolds (PFs) - PFs are pretty much what most of the world thinks of when they think of cloth diapers. They are old school, but most people that cloth diaper and give PFs a chance swear by them. They don't have any water proof covering so you have to put a cover over them. Their are lots of different folds that can be used and either snappi'ed or pinned on. And another option is to just trifold them and lay them in the cover your using (no snappis or pins required, but I hear the poo is more likely to leak). You can also have a lot of fun with PFs by embellishing them with decorative fabrics or dying them (some people dye PFs, socks and t-shirts and then they have a perfect match).

There are lots of PF makers out there but the important thing is to get a diaper service quality PF. If you are diapering, DON'T buy the Gerber PFs (they are fine for burp cloths, but they aren't very absorbent). I went with the Green Mountain Diaper Cloth-eez PFs. They sell several different sizes of PF so that you don't have to fold down the diaper (which makes them less bulky).

So, in an optimistic mood I bought 2 dozen "orange edge" PF, which are basically the newborn size. Probably a dumb move. It would have been smarter to limit myself to only 1 dozen if I just had to have the newborn size so bad, but I was thinking positively (and newborns poop a lot). I think I'll be lucky if I get an month out of these. However, PFs are very utilitarian. I will still be able to stuff pockets and use them as doublers and spit up rags and baby boy pee shields. And there is an aftermarket for diapers so I could sell them when I get done with them. PFs retain their value pretty well and GMD PFs are like Hondas.

But I was also a realist and got 2 dozen "yellow edge" infant sized PFs too. These should get me a bit further. After he outgrows these I might get some larger PFs, or I might decide that pockets are the way to go, or maybe try flats at that point. I haven't figured that out just yet.

Fitteds - Fitteds are a cloth diaper shaped to fit the baby but have no water proof layer and still need a cover. I was mentioning the cute factor, and the $$ factor earlier... these diapers can end up being the epitome of overpriced, cute poop catchers so I have tried to stay away. But the other day, they got me.

There are a lot of makers of fitteds, especially work at home moms. You can get some of the WAHMs to make custom fitteds for you, or if you are crafty you can make them yourself pretty easily too (especially if you have a serger), hence lots of variety out there. Two more popular fitteds are Muttaqin Baby and Goodmamas. Although the Goodmamas are adorable, they are easier to resist with their $29-40 price tags (and remember, you still need to put a cover over them, or risk your furniture).

I truly had no intention of buying any fitteds, but I couldn't help but window shop the Mutts site (addiction?) and they had one called "Neverland". Now, you all don't know this about me, but I LOVE Peter Pan. I just think it's probably the best children's story ever... although I'm not much into the Disney animated version. So when I saw the Neverland diaper, I knew it must be mine. This is a 3SR (3 Size Rise) which is made to fit babies over a variety of sizes like the One Size pockets.

And since I was getting one of their 3SR diapers I figured that I had to get a newborn Mutt too, because people are crazy about NB Mutts. Unlike my other newborn purchases that the kid will probably either be too big for at birth or grow out of in less than a month, NB Mutts are made to fit up to 15lbs so it should last a while. So since I had a pirate-ish (Neverland) print, I decided to get a Ninja print in the NB. Yes, it's Pirates vs. Ninjas! Cause what's the fun in having a boy if you can't put pirate and ninja diapers on him? That is perfectly logical.

And then I thought I was done with fitteds, but the uber-expensive Goodmama decided to run a 40% off sale around Thanksgiving, so I bought 2. These are "one size", but really bulky on a small baby, so I probably won't try these until he's gets a bit larger. Plus, I'm not super happy with the quaility, the green one was missing a snap so I need to send it back to be fixed (this is apparently a common problem). There customer service seems to be good, but you expect a diaper that retails for this much to arrive in perfect condition.

And my last diapers don't really fit into any of the normal diaper categories: Tie Nappies. I got a 3 pack of Disana tie nappies. They are a cotton knit that can be folded to fit all sizes of babies. I hear they are great for night time diapering and they are really cute too. They needed a doubler of some sort and a cover, but they just look so comfy I had to try them. Some people find the ties too difficult, I think their is an advantage of learning on a newborn before they get too squirmy.

Doublers and Inserts - A doubler or insert is used to add absorbancy to a diaper. The difference (as I understand it) is that a doubler can go against baby's skin, but inserts should have a layer over them (microfiber should never go directly against baby). I have a bunch of inserts for my pocket diapers. The Fuzzibunz come with 2 microfiber inserts each (a small and long). I got adjustable microfiber inserts for my BGs (since they were seconds I had to buy the inserts separately). I also have some hemp inserts and some fleece stay dry liners. I hoping to get a little more hemp (it's trim and very absorbent). A lot of people have trouble with microfiber getting smelly, so we will see how that goes. And of course, a PF can be used as an doubler too.

So there are my diapers for now. I'm hoping that I'm well covered for a couple of months, but I will probably have to get some more pockets or AIOs if I want a day care to cloth diaper him.

All the diapers I listed need covers except for AIOs and Pockets, so I have my cover choices listed below.

Prowraps - I got 2 newborn Prowraps (6-10lbs) because they are cheap and have a notch that's good for avoiding the umbilical stump. I wasn't being optimistic with this purchase but I was more worried about that umbilical stump than anything. Even if I don't get a ton of use out of these I won't be upset because they are really economical.

Thirsties - I got 4 XS Thirsties wraps (6-12 lbs). They are supposedly generously sized so hopefully I get a little use out of these. They have a double gusset around the legs for keeping blowouts contained and are a more popular choice out there. And they have lots of colors to choose from!

Bummis Super Brite Wraps (BSBW) - I got 2 S of these and the are designed for 8-16lbs so I should get some good use here too. They have a double gusset around the legs and look pretty good for conatining the poo. I don't like how scratchy the velcro/aplix is on these, it's the scratchiest of any of the covers or diapers I have.

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap (BSWW) - I only got 1 these (size S, 8.5-15lbs). Some people love them and some people don't. One draw back is that the legs don't have the double gussets, so leaks may be an issue, and the other problem is that the wrap is fabric-like on the inside and doesn't wipe clean like other other PUL wraps. You can usually get several wears out of a wrap before washing (unless poo gets on them) but the fabric inner has given these wraps a reputation for getting stinky quickly. However, you might have noticed how CUTE it is. Yes, victim of the cute here.

Disana Wool Soakers - I got 2 NB (6-13lbs) and 1 S (11-18lbs). I have fallen head over heals for wool. Wool soakers make almost bullet proof covers and, unless they get poopy, they only have to be washed every couple weeks because the lanolin in them actually neutralizes and cleans the cover when it gets wet. It's a natural fiber and totally breathable. And Cute! And wonderfully soft too, no scratchy wool for my baby. They do need to be handwashed and relanolinized every couple of weeks.

Rainbow Waters Wool Longies - These might be my biggest regret. They are really cute, but the waist seems so tiny I wonder if they will fit him at all. I really wanted a pair of longies since I'm due in February and figured if the only lasted through March I wouldn't care but I'm not sure these will work at all. I'd get another pair, but the are pretty expensive and I don't want to sink money into a pair that is too big and won't get any cold weather wear.

So that's my stash. Of course I have lots of accessories too. I have lots of cloth wipes (it took a while to convince me to do those, but I'm there finally), diaper pins, snappis, wet bags, diaper pail and liners, wool wash, lanolin, special laundry detergent, special cloth diaper safe rash creams, flushable liners.... The diapers are overwhelming enough, I'm not even getting into the accessories. And reading about diaper laundering about makes my head explode. But I think the best thing to do is to just decide on a system and stick with and tweak as needed (God bless the internet and quick shipping). And there are websites out there like Diaper Swappers with lots of experienced moms out there to help.

My advice if you want to get into this is to ask someone if you know someone that has done it recently (cause it's a lot different than it was for our moms and grandmas)... but if you are like me and all alone the internet is helpful (perhaps overly so). Start by reading about products at Green Mountain Diapers and you will have the hang of the basics of diapers. Find a cloth diaper blog to subscribe to like All About Cloth Diapers or The Cloth Diaper Whisper. Decide what you want and then price shop. Look for deals and free shipping. Kelly's Closet offers regular discounts and has a rewards system that can save you a little money. For the adventerous, FSOT (For Sale or Trade) on Diaper Swappers is a great place to save money, but buyer beware, you get what you pay for. Hyenacart is the place to go for WAHM and custom stuff. You can buy kits or sampler packs to take some of the work out of building a stash. But the most important thing is to realize what works great for someone won't work for everyone so it is a trial and error process so a little determination is necessary. And there is a time and place for disposables, so if you have to give in every once in a while don't feel guilty, a happy baby and sane mom are more important than cute diapers.


Thomas said...

I'm a mostly-lurker and sometimes-commenter, but I had to comment on this post--we use cloth for our son, and it is great. We use disposables too, because he has to use those at his "school" (4 hours, 2 mornings a week), and if we're traveling, but we've done cloth traveling too, and it's not a problem.

We love our FuzziBunz, and like prefolds and covers (these are the most economical). We tried bumGenius but the leg elastic gave it up without much wear, and the velcro/aplix didn't last very well (and once he figured out how to undo it it was a lost cause anyway lol). We've used other kinds as well--love Blueberry OS--and I can't wait to see what you like best.


Michelle said...

Looks like you have an awesome stash! I did not try cloth with K till he was in trainers for just bedtime. One of my closest friends has switched to cloth for her baby and it is really cute stuff!
I've determined that cloth will be the way we go if we have another because of allergy issues K had with certain brands and the same issue with trash pick up here. We are also pay per bag here so that is pretty much a big deciding factor. The cuteness is the big winover on it though.

missing_one said...

we did cloth with my son. We had a service and did the prefolds with prowraps. I got a lot of flack from my family (some said the bulk would ruin his legs, some said it was unhygenic, etc), but it was really easy and I usually used a disposable if we went out (just for convenience sake)

this time around I am going to try and wash the prefolds myself with prowrap covers, but if it doesn't work out, I'm fully prepared to go back to the service.
I think the gel beads in the disposables are disgusting! The only time my son would get diaper rash was if he was in disposables for the day. And yes, the gel stuff gets over saturated and will explode all over your baby's bottom. ick!
Once you have all the stuff, I calculated that it would cost my family about $2 a month in water and energy to cloth diaper (this is compared to the $40 on disposables per month my friends have averaged (that is buying the diapers at costco). I say if you want to give it a try, do! It's really not that big of a deal

Michelle said...

And for the soft factor you just have to try Bluberry diapers! That's the trainers we had for K. Minky outters and they were soooooo soft. Worked really well too.

Kate said...

Great post! I can't wait to see how they turn out to work for you. We're planning to get a diaper service for our baby, either one that uses a microfiber AIO (I don't think I need to get covers for them?) or one with prefolds that we'll just need to get 2-3 covers for.
I know I'll be too lazy to do the laundering myself, and there's no way DH will do it when I head back to work and he takes over, so the service should be a good compromise. That $60-70 per month for them to have the hassle and do it properly will be worth it to us.
Glad you won your DH over to the idea though - my Mom is vehemently against it, saying she did cloth with me way back when, and I had perma-diaper rash until her pediatrician told her to quit being stubborn and put me in disposables. Oh well, I'm just not going to listen to her. If it doesn't work out well, it's easy enough to switch.

Meghan said...

Thanks for the run-down! We're going cloth when we have a LO, and I'm addicted to reading up on them already. :)

amanda said...

Looks like you've got a great stash! I hope you'll post about what you end up liking and not liking when you get a chance to try them all out.

Sophie A. said...

Wow! Sounds like you're an expert on the topic. I'm impressed. I haven't done that much research on cloth diapering but I'm tempted to look into it more. I'm wondering if it'll be cheaper for us if we have to use public washers. I was worried about that, but there are so many options...

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Celia said...

Thank you so much. We are cloth diapering and I am still so confused. I registered for some of each. I am gonna try and get my husband to read this post too.

The Lynchs said...

I love this post! Although we're still trying to get pregnant - we've already agreed that we both want to do the cloth diapering. There are so many options out there, but you seem so educated on them! I haven't really done too much research yet, but it's good to have a few places to start. I'm definitely writing down your suggestions!