Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Are you DI-curious? (Cloth DIapers that is)

That post title was so much funnier in my head! :)  So fair warning, up until now, I haven't focused too much on the "mommy" part of "It Ain't Easy being Cheap, Green, and Mommy", but I'm about to make up for it.  So if you're squeamish, or just really have no interest in hearing about cloth diapers, and all the glory that comes with them, this might be a good post to skip, we will return to regular programming later this week. 

I have two boys, Zach is 3.5 years old, he was formula fed and diapered with Pampers, he was our first.  Having Zach made us become seriously crunchy, when he was little, convenience was king, as he got older, we became more focused on being healthy and green.  

Fast forward 3 years and we have a second baby, Gavin, who is now 4 months old.  Gavin is breastfed and cloth diapered.  So first let me make it clear, I'm not judging anybody for any choice they make with their kiddos, we all do the best that we can,  I'm just trying to highlight how our mentality has changed from first baby to the second.  The decision to cloth diaper was a process.   It was definitely something that had been lingering in my head for a long time. I had seen some friends cloth diaper their kiddos that are Zach's age when they were babies.  I had certainly read about a lot of bloggers doing it.  It seemed like SUCH a commitment though, I wasn't sure I(we) could make the plunge.  Then I read one blog, (I really wish I remembered the name of it, but it was over a year ago now) that said something that seemed like it should have been so obvious.  You don't have to cloth diaper full-time, you can be a part-time cloth diaper user.  This was an incredible revelation for me, the thought that I could cloth diaper part-time and have disposables as a ready back up and even to use when we are out was what it took to push me over the edge.  It suddenly seemed doable.

Mr. G Thang at 10 days old, first time in cloth diapers
Cloth diapers are no longer safety pins and some fabric, they are high-tech!  Most of them look just like disposables and are just as easy to use, I promise! I did tons of research on-line about what kinds of diapers there are, how to wash them, how to put them on, how to travel with them, everything.  I decided I wanted "one-sized" diapers, this means they are adjustable and expand as your child grows, so in theory, you only have to buy them once.  I also decided I wanted "pockets" instead of all-in-ones, so that I could adjust the absorbency easily at night or for long car trips.  And I decided I wanted "snaps" instead of velcro because I thought they would hold up better in the wash. You will have to research and see what you think would work best for you.  So with all this research I settled on BumGenius diapers, it seemed like they would fit what I was looking for the best.  

Now if you're brand new to this cloth diapering thing you should know that full price these puppies run ~$18 a piece.  We all know that there's no WAY I paid full price :).  BumGenius (and other brands) occasionally run sales, buy 5 get 1 free, and I also looked at the Cotton Babies website and was able to find some on clearance for a screaming deal resulting in ~$11 each.  Now, how many do you need? The royal "they" say that you need to determine how often you want to do laundry and purchase based on that.  So, how many diapers does your kiddo go through a day?  I would multiply that times 2, and add 2 or 3 more, then you can do diaper laundry every other day. 

What else do you need?  I would start with a regular 13 gallon step garbage can you can get at Target.  And a liner for it, I use this one.

You need cloth diaper detergent, there are a lot out there.  I use Rockin Green classic rock and I'm pretty happy with it so far.  You can choose based on the type of water you have in your area.   

So now one of the big questions, I know you're thinking it.. "what about the POOP?  *IN* the washing machine??"  First let me say, no matter what kind of diaper you use, disposable or cloth, some poop will get in your washing machine (gasp!).  There are a number of ways to deal with it with cloth diapers, you can do the dump and swish method, where you plop the solids in the potty and swish the diaper around in the water before putting it in your pail.  You can get a diaper sprayer, a doohickey that attaches to your toilet and you use to spray the solids off into the potty.  OR you can be a *smidge* less crunchy like us, and use a biodegradable, flushable diaper liner.  The liner catches the poop, and you dump the liner in the potty.  

How do you wash the diapers?  I would recommend that you follow the instructions for whatever diaper you purchased.  I would also recommend you do something like this next to your washing machine if you are sharing washing duties or if you have a terrible memory like me :).  

It's just a glass frame I put the washing instructions in, we mark off the steps with a dry erase marker so we know at what point in the wash we are.  Our washing technique is pretty straightforward
1) Wash short in cold water with a little bit of detergent
2) Wash long in hot water with a normal amount of detergent and add an extra rince
3) Dry in the dryer (gasp! this is generally not recommended, but we use low heat and have had no problems)
4)  If any stains remain, put the insert or diaper out in the sun for an hour or two.

So that's a super quick primer on cloth diapers, any questions?   There can be a lot more to it, there's wet pails, and stripping, and build-up, and all sorts more to deal with, but all that info can be a bit overwhelming at first.  I say, try it, replace one diaper a day with cloth and see how you like it.  If you decide you want to go all-in, then do more research.  

Here are some websites if you want to learn more:

We also use cloth wipes, but that's a whole separate post, because this one is getting kinda long.  Same goes for being out and about with cloth diapers, it's no big thang at all :)

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