Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Diapering Dilemma

I've told some of you that I have been feverishly researching cloth diapers recently and that I was planning a post. Well, this post will probably be rambing, somewhat incoherent, and maybe too-detailed, who knows? There is a lot of information out there and, unfortunately, I have never been a list-maker or a highly organized person - that is what I married Brett for. Seriously, he's got it down. I seem to coast by in a state of barely controlled chaos and it has suited me through college, law school, and into life, so why change? In any event, here goes....

I am going to cloth diaper. It took a while to get Brett on board, but he understands how important this is to me and then I gave him the cost argument, in which cloth diapering wins by a landslide. As many of you who read my blog are aware, I have been known to be called somewhat "crunchy" or "granola". I am mildly so, I have to admit. I gave up law to be a full time yoga teacher, I am a little bit of a health nut on occasion, and I try to be green when it works for me. I always have. Well, in college, I started out as an environmental science major and, though I really suck at science, I stuck it out for a year and half...fighting against my natural instincts to run for the hills everytime we approached a science class or lab. However, after about a year, the fatality of the environmental science classes started depressing me and I vowed to try my best individually but to give up and go for my real love, English Lit. However, some things from those classes stuck with me. One of them was a class that revolved around the scourge that is disposable diapers. For those of you that don't know...they are not biodegradable. Basically, when we are gone from this earth, our diapers will remain. Now, I don't mind that others use is a preference and I am very much not here to preach at all...I am just explaining my preference. I know the hospital will use them and I know they are convenient, but I'm committed to going ahead with cloth diapering.

First of all, the benefits of cloth diapering are: 1. Cost (even if you buy the most expensive cloth diaper "system" out there, it will save you thousands of dollars by the time you are done with diapers for one child). My cost estimate is $20 a week for disposables, $20 a week for the diaper service, which comes to $1040 a year. The most expensive cloth diapering system I am researching costs $309 for 20 pocket diapers, then about $7.95 for extra inserts, and then you have to factor in some laundry costs (obviously). But, this system alone saves me almost $600 a year. 2.Allergies - this one is high on my list. Some children get rashes from disposable diapers. I did as a child so my mom had to go to cloth (much to her annoyance, I am sure). Cloth diapers are gentler because they are more natural and you almost never hear of rashes resulting from their use. 3. Potty training is easier later - Modern day disposable diapers are very much like modern day maxi pads- you know, the ones that wick away any moisture so you can feel "fresh" even when you have a heavy flow? Well, that is great for us...however, for potty training, it makes diapers very comfy for little kids. They pee and don't necessarily feel the wetness. In cloth diapers- they feel it, and when they reach the age when it is time for them to change to going on the potty, they know they are wet and don't like the transition goes smoother (at least this seems logical and is what my research suggests).

The Drawbacks of Cloth Diapers- 1. Daddies don't like them. Yes, they are a little more "hands on" than disposables and that makes daddies, who already try to avoid diaper duty, like them that much less, 2. Convenience - They are more work, create more laundry, and are harder to use than disposables. 3. Initial start-up is more expensive. Instead of buying one bag of diapers and going from there, the initial start up requires testing different ways to go and shelling out money at the start so that you have enough of them at home to start this process.

My research has taken me down several roads:
1. Local diapering service
2. Prefolds with diaper covers that need to be changed based on size (similar to the diaper service model but we wash them at home)
3. One Size Pocket Diapers (which I am leaning towards, particularly the Bum Genius ones that seem to be so highly rated in reviews and easy to use that even daddies don't mind doing it).
4. gDiapers- not exactly cloth - but a very good alternative to disposables since they are biodegradable and flushable in your toilet, so no laundry! We have a bunch of these right now even though they are expensive, to be used in the Diaper bag and when out and about.

1. The local diapering service- I was super gung ho about this one solely b/c I was fascinated that my area actually has a diapering service! I knew big cities had them and I knew more eclectic cities had city is neither, yet we have one! So, I went ahead and filled out some paperwork and we were well on our way to doing the service...and then I hit cost. Okay, the local cost is $20 a week. I get enough prefolds for 2 weeks, 7 diaper covers, 1 large hanging wetbag, and 2 diaper snappis (take the place of pins). The benefit is that I don't have to do laundry. However, the dirty diapers have to sit in that wetbag for a week in my house...and every time I unzip that bag, I will be reminded that it has been 3 days, 4 days, 5 days, etc. The costs is equivalent to disposables, I get the less convenient prefold system, and I have 6 day old dirty diapers in a bag in my house. I'm starting to get over the excitement of the diaper service. Seriously. So, that led me to research other options...

2. Prefolds and covers. Here, I've been lucky. A good friend gave me a huge bag of prefolds and 5 covers in a size M. For now, I'd have to invest in a few more covers in size S or XS to start but at a cost of about $11 a piece, that isn't going to break the bank. Of the diaper covers, I've looked into Bummis ones and Thirsties...and so far, Thirsties are winning by a mile. I'd also have to buy a few of the snappis ($7.95 for 3). Some people swear by these regular cloth diapers. I am not entirely sold. It is, by far, the most economical method. Though, I think Brett will balk a little (as he would with the diaper service). However, I do like that I can wash them as needed so no 7 days of dirty diapers in a stinky bag here...I can do them every day, every other day or every 3 days to keep it down to a minimum. The drawback is that prefolds with covers are bulky, they are definitely more work in that you need to put the fold in, clip it on with the snappi, put a cover on, and hope you did it all perfectly so that nothing comes out the little leg will be an experiment. These are probably the closest thing to what my mom used on me and she said they were simple once you got used to it...and I had no more diaper rashes/irritation at all, and I was a super fast potty trainer!

3. One- Sized pocket diapers- of which I am leaning towards the Bum Genius 3.0 ones. I actually ordered one of these yesterday to help me get an idea for why they are praised up and down the internet. People LOVE these. First of all, an investment of about $309 gets you 20 of them, including newborn inserts. They are sized to grow with your baby and average 2 years of that is $309 for 2 years! They are already put together so daddies love them - it is almost like a disposable in that you take them off, pull off the insert, if there is poo, scrape it in the toilet, put it in the wetbag, clean your baby's tush, and then simply slap another diaper folding, working with pins, etc. They go in the wash and have been rumored to be very sturdy. I'm really liking the sound of this. Some reviewers actually say that they have used these for kid after kid they have stayed good so long. Imagine the savings? So, this is the front runner. Some of the complaints have to do with a smell from the microfiber cloth used for absorbency but the company has come out with a natural spray that is supposed to help with that (and this was only about 3 reviews out of probably 50 that I've read). They also get the highest rating for no leaks (they say they are better than disposables) and ease of use.

4. gDiapers- This was initially our first choice. I mean, Brett didn't want cloth and I didn't want disposables so a biodegradable, flushable thing sounded perfect. However, they are pretty expensive $52 for 128 of them at, you still need to buy the covers. $17 a piece at, and they are VERY hard to find locally. We bought a bunch when they were carrying them at Babies R Us near here. They have since stopped carrying them and we'd have to order these, inconveniently, through the Internet. The reviews are also mixed. They are convenient but often leak until you really figure out how to use them properly, they often get stuck in the toilet and cause plumbing problems, and of course, expensive. We have a few of them for use in the diaper bag and for convenience when traveling or out of the house, but other than that, we are pretty much putting these out of our consciousness.

So, there you have it. Not the most comprehensive guide to cloth diapering...but you see where my head is. I am kind of excited about this and have been obsessing over it for days. I know some people think I am nuts for not using disposables. I just can't bring myself to do it. I've known since that class back in 1992 (eek), in my freshman year at college, that if I ever had a baby, it would be cloth diapers. Poor Brett is sucked into my craziness again.


miriam said...

This is my first ever comment. Thank you for doing some research for me! I am also debating what to use for my baby coming in July. It's good to hear an honest non-biased opinion and it looks like you've done a lot of research. Thank you! I want to do some kind of cloth diapering and have disposables on hand for babysitters/busy days etc.

siiillly said...

Hi. This is also my first ever comment :)

So, my husband and I both had a debate about cloth diapers. He thinks it is not as cost efficient as you are saying because the cost of electricity and water adds up. So the total bill for doing laundry and stuff is going to be pretty high. I noticed in your post you mention something about wet bag? What does it mean? How often are you planning on doing laundry or will you be washing them by hand?

Finally, our baby is due in about 111 days, yours is much sooner. I wonder if you would be so kind to make a post after you have a first hand that too much to ask?

I personally think it is a GREAT idea! My mom told me I was toilet trained before I turned 1 year( HELLO!!!) SO i am very excited to use cloth diapers as well...

Thank you!

Linda said...

I was like you, doing research on diapers before the baby is born. This is what we did. We used eco-friendly disposable diapers such as Tushies, Nature Babycare, and Seventh Generation in the beginning. Disposables were more convenient at the hospital and the first few weeks. Now, we're using organic cloth diapers such as Swaddlebees and Little Beetle. For the Swaddlebees, we chose the One-Size Organic Velour Fitted Cloth diaper. And for the Little Beetle we chose the Little-To-Big Beetle Organic Velour cloth diaper and the Little Beetle Hemp diaper. All of the cloth diapers that we use require a diaper cover. I didn't buy any with PUL. Anyway, I'm with you on cloth diapering and it isn't as inconvenient as one would think! BTW, we're potty training already (elimination communication method) and it's working! He's only 2 months old and hasn't soiled his diapers for a little while now. :)

MMC said...

I can't thank you enough for summarizing all these options. I'm also trying to figure this out, and getting so much conflicting advice, I don't know what I'll do! So far, I've been debating between disposable vs a cloth diaper service. Both are convenient and comparable in price. But I really haven't decided.

Your review definitely gives me some other ideas. I'm going to find out more about those Bum Genius diapers, for sure!

Sue said...

siiiilly- if you check back on your comment, I wanted to respond to you. My husband actually works for the utility company and we did discuss the cost of how much water/electricity will add to the cost, and it is not small, but definitely still will not reach anywhere near the savings of cloth over disposables. He is now seriously all for cloth b/c of how much we will save...its hysterical. Talk about a huge change! I will also definitely post my thoughts on it probably a month or two after she is born.

Thanks for reading and posting you guys!!!!

Jo said...

I think it's awesome that you're planning to use cloth. I'm at the point where I'm trying to decide between cloth and disposable. The only thing I can't get over on the cloth, is the clean up. We'll see how it goes. But kudos to you!! And all the research you did was awesome! I may use some of it for our decision!

Shannon said...

I'm not sure if I've commented before but I thought I would put my knowledge in the pot. :)

My son is 2 yr 3 mo old and I've been using the Bum Genius on him and I absolutely love them! My husband doesn't even mind them. They hardly ever leak, which wasn't the case with disposables (used on my daughter). I wish I had known about these when my daughter was in diapers! There's nothing negative I can say about them, they are great!

Not Your Aunt B said...

I agree with all of your points for cloth minus the earlier potty training. I am lucky to have a wide circle of friends who have used cloth diapers and some kids were trained before 2 (Miss A was at 18 months initially), some later, some took awhile (i.e. had accidents weekly compared to being accident free after the initial potty training period or did well for a few months then went back to diapers due to daily numerous accidents). You will be able to know when your child is going to the bathroom as most develop a pretty regular schedule or you will pick up on clues, but I really have not found it to make potty training easier or earlier consistently. I know as a new parent how it felt about having certain expectations and then things being a little different, so that's the only reason I am even commenting on it.

Having said that, the most popular have been the bum genius. I used a combination of disposable and cloth diapers. We inherited a ton of old school diapers, which I thought were pretty easy to use, old school pins and all (the jelly roll folding is my fave). Especially before they start solid foods which change their elimination schedules as you introduce new foods, old school cloth diapers were a breeze. We also bought online some very cheap Pro-Wraps? I think- it has been a few years now-that are the diapers the diapering services use. They are the leftovers or slightly irregular (in stitching, color, etc. not in absorbency), and I liked those too. We also had some bum genius and they were the easiest for my husband. We did use disposables too (Pampers Swaddlers) as I had thin/long babies that the other diapers didn't fit well and the pee/poop would leak like crazy in them.

I really love Charlie's Soap to wash diapers and it is safe for cloth diapers (and environmentally friendly too!). Once you get to solids, I recommend drying the diapers in the sun to let the sun bleach out any yucky stains (beets and spinach were always interesting poops, especially with home made baby food).

You can also do cloth wipes!

siiillly said...

Wow, I am so happy I found this blog! So many good ideas - wonderful.

After a long research last night, my hubby and I decided to go with bum Genius 3.0 One-Size Cloth Diaper (what do you Ladies think about this choice?).

I called the customer service and was told that probably should buy 24 of them (Sue, you said 20, I wonder why?) So the total is 406.80! Not bad, well I have to include shipping (my husband and I recently moved to Austria...different topic, sorry).

Anyways, the lady on the phone said that if the baby is born smaller that 7 lbs, she (in our case it is a she) might need to use something else before she gains enough weight. Any suggestions?

Sue, thank you so much for your awesome blog and the research that you did!! You have no idea how easier you made our live. BEST!!!

Jill M. said...

Sue, thank you so much for your review!!! Please post an update review after you start using these cloth diapering systems, that will be very interesting!

meinsideout said...

Wow amazing research! I would love to as well - but with two at one time, I have to say, I am looking for less laundry and more convenience - I may look into the flushable ones!

DonnaPetit said...

It's no wonder that you did so well in law school, you research everything! When I had my babies, about 100 years ago, I used the diaper service for about a month just cuz it was so convenient. Back in the day there was a diaper pail and it really didn't smell bad even toward the end of the week. Plus, those cloth diapers make wonderful burp clothes. I guess that using the service for a short time after the baby girl is born is my recommendation, after that you're on your own!

Amber said...

Sue, you are the queen of researching things!!! Wow!

You know what would be great? If babies were born with the ability to use the toilet, because that doesn't cost ANYTHING!!! lol

Anonymous said...

I looked into g-diapers and decided against it b/c we have an older home and I've read that the older plumbing systems can't handle them. I like your $309 option best. I do think you should consider how you'll feel about washing, say, 4 cloth diapers in a full washing machine every day. The cost is one thing, but the environmental strain is also an issue. Just pointing it out. Of all the options, though the 309 one sounds best to me, given your needs.

Me said...

Another pg IVF'er was asking about cloth diapering so I referred her to this post!

PJ said...

Um, that would be ME that "me" has referred your post to!

Anyway, what a great post! I like the bum genious diapers, and might order one to see what they are like.

Thanks for sharing your research!