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12.05.2008

Adventures In Cloth Diapering, Part 1


My son is now eight weeks old, and while I have been thinking about this topic for most of the last eight weeks, this is the first time I have actually sat down and written about it. I mean, I have a newborn and a toddler and am working on starting my own business, I'm suprised I have the time to sleep, let alone blog. But, for the sake of posterity, venting, and maybe even to help (hopefully not hinder) any moms out there considering cloth I want to get this done before my son turns 16.



So, to start, I will begin by NOT telling you all about the environmental impact of disposible diapers, or about all the nasty chemicals they are made out of. You can find that easily elsewhere from people more learned in those areas than I am. I will say that the environment was a big reason I made the switch. Well, specifically it was Planet Green, that new cable channel, and even more specifically it was the show "Wasted." Every time I watch that show I make some sort of drastic change in our house, which I guess is a good thing, but I'm suprised my husband hasn't blocked the channel. If I were ever to start using "family cloth" I'm pretty sure he would (for those of you who don't know what that is, don't worry, you're not missing anything.) But I was also interested in saving my family money. We all know the economy is hurting, and most of us are feeling it, so I thought I could save a little money by cloth diapering.



Wrong! Now, before I get flamed by other clothies, I have to say it's all my fault, not the fault of the diapers. There are so many options, so many cute cloth diapers, and I want a little of everything. Plus, thanks to diaperswapper.com, some brands going on clearance to make room for new versions, and some really great Black Friday sales, I keep thinking I'm getting great deals. And in all fairness, my stash is nothing compared to some moms I have seen online, and I was not just mindlessly buying diapers. I started with mostly prefolds (the old school cloth diapers our moms used) with just a few all in ones, and soon both my husband and I decided that we wanted to use strictly all in one's. So, since my little monster's about to move up to mediums anyway, I have been building up a stash of enough all in one diapers (those of you not up with the diaper lingo- an all in one is exactly like a disposable diaper, but made out of fabric and washable- totally user friendly!) to last the two days I go between washing. But I feel like I have spent a fortune on my diapers and all of my diapering supplies. But now, barring any additional purchases, I am set and won't have to buy another diaper until he is around 22 pounds. That's kind of a nice feeling, I guess. And I'm sure if I were to add up what I've spent it wouldn't be quite as much as we would spend on disposibles for that period. At least I hope not.



There have been bumps in the road other than cost, too. First of all, I had to convince my husband that I wasn't insane. I didn't so much feel I had to talk him into cloth. I have always been of the "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission" mindset. I don't feel I have to ask my husband's permission to do anything that's smaller than say, buying a car. Particularly when it comes to our children, since 90% of their care is my responsibility, I feel I have most of the say in decisions like what to put on our children's rears. So, while my husband was out of town for work, I saw the episode of "Wasted," did research for about two days, went to a local store that sells cloth to get some hands on, and purchased a prefold starter kit (in retrospect, by the way, I wouldn't go with that kit!). Then I went home and wrote out a list entitled "why I'm not crazy" for my husband's return. He was suprisingly supportive, if you view "fine, I'm just not changing any diapers" as supportive. However, he has seen the light. The other day he told me he thought that the all in ones were easier to deal with than disposibles.



Bump # 2- hormones! I didn't plan for this one, but I should have known better (kinda like I should have know that child #2 would be over 10lbs). I had like three seconds of hormonalness with my first baby, then I was fine, although an extremely hightened sense of empathy held on for quite a while. My mom and my mother in law both warned me that they got slightly more hormonal with each birth. But I thought I'd be fine. Wrong again. The stress of only having my mom's help for five days, having an active toddler and a newborn, and my husband essentially being gone the first two weeks post partum was not kind to me, so hormonal or not I was not a terribly happy new mom. Thankfully Ollie is a "good" baby (although you never hear anyone say they have a "bad" baby, do you?)- he sleeps well and goes to sleep easily and other than serious spitting up, often the projectile kind, has given me no real problems. But even then, I remember laying in bed on multiple occasions and thinking that I wanted my disposibles back and then hating myself for feeling that way. But I resolved to keep it up until at least January, when hopefully we'll have a little more family income coming in. And as I mentioned before I've invested just a little money in this, which is also a good motivator to keep it going.



Bump #3- sleep! Another thing I hadn't given any thought. The thing with cloth diapers is that they have to, in most cases, be changed more often. This is both a good thing and a bad thing- with disposibles I was a lazy diaper changer. I changed Iz before and after bed/nap and when she was poopy. Other than that, her diaper would have to be pretty saturated before I remembered to change her. And probably not unrelated, she had lots of diaper rashes (although, since I don't want to think that I'm a bad mom, I think there were other factors as well). So using cloth got me a lot more in tune with the diaper and when it needed to come off, so so far Ollie's but has been lovely. However, at night this isn't so helpful. During the day I change him after every feeding, about every two hours. At night this just wasn't working for me. I hate getting up anyway and do not function well on little sleep, and anytime I change his diaper at night it takes him 45 minutes to get back to sleep. I considered disposibles at night, but then decided that would be a last resort. Thanks to the internet cloth diapering is no longer a go it alone kind of thing- there are huge communities of women out there to give each other advice, and hundreds of websites full of products that make cloth diapering easier and more fun. Thanks to these resources I knew that there are fabrics that are far more absorbant that can be used for longer periods. So I went on one of my favorite websites, keenbambino.com, and bought a package of six Loopy Do's, which are hemp/microfiber inserts. For night I put one of those inserts into a Medium Thirsties All in One (it's a size up, so sometimes I have gapping issues if I'm not paying attention) and can usually go most of the night without changing- sometimes, if I'm willing to risk wet sheets, I can go all night!

Now that I have navigated these bumps in the cloth diapering road I am committed to continuing. I no longer have those moments where I long for my disposibles, and I love my diapers to the point where, if my home were threatened by fire I would save them second only to my children. Alright, that probably has more to do with the amount of money I've invested in them, but still... I'm in this for the long haul.

And my recommendation to any mom or mom-to-be considering cloth, or who isn't considering cloth but is reading this- give it a shot! Don't be detured by the amount of money it seems you need to spend. If you're smart (and a little lucky) you can get started for under $100. Look for local cloth diapering communities on meetup, etc. to see if anyone is selling any prefolds and covers (you can look for these on diaperswappers and likely get covers for cheap, but don't buy prefolds there- few people sell regular ones because the shipping isn't worth it). If you are starting when your baby is born don't feel bad if you use disposibles for the first few weeks! But if you're gung-ho cloth start with prefolds. It's a cheap way to test the water, and they say they work better for infants anyway (I wouldn't know, my kids are 3 months old when they're born). At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's worth the little bit of extra work to help make the planet a better place for these kids.

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