May 1, 2013

Thoughts on Cloth


Before Little Smith was born, I actually spent a lot of time researching and worrying about diapering. I had read some insane statistics about how many diapers the average child uses and I hated to think about that volume in a landfill, not to mention all of the materials and resources that go into manufacturing diapers. 


I looked into various types of 'greener' disposable diapers, hybrid diapers, laundering services for cloth inserts, and also wash-your-own cloth diapers. Then Little Smith surprised us by showing up a month early, before we'd had time to finalize our decision. With all of the challenges and delights of adjusting to a newborn, we really didn't have a spare moment to figure out cloth diapers. Instead we went with disposables that were biodegradable (a combination of Earth's Best, Seventh Generation, and 365 Whole Foods brands) and also biodegradable garbage bags so that they could actually break down in that landfill (hopefully).


At the six month mark, we were finally getting a little more sleep and felt like we could revisit the issue. I knew I wanted to do cloth diapers that I would wash myself, but was totally overwhelmed by the options and brands. We were lucky to have the resource of the Diaper Lab. It's a cloth diaper store, but it also has a fantastic program where you get a whole bunch of new diapers to test out for a few weeks, and you only keep what you like. In the end most of my favorite fabrics and designs just didn't work for Little Smith's body type, they either leaked or left marks on his thighs. We ended up going with a combination of FuzziBunz and BumGenius, in a rainbow of colors for a little added fun.


I love using cloth and there are lots of benefits, but I'm always very clear when I'm asked for advice that it is a lot more work. I've heard and read from many cloth diaperers who say that it is easier and only involves an extra load of laundry every few days, but that just hasn't been my experience. We wash the diapers every other day, and then there's the somewhat tedious process of stuffing all of the pads into the liners. It's not difficult and there are moments where I find it a relaxing chore... but it is a chore and for parents who are already spread thin, it's something to consider. Cloth diapering also means a much more up close and personal relationship with the yucky stuff. Again, I've heard from other's who say it's simple, and I wouldn't say it's difficult, but at best you are bringing the diaper into the bathroom to 'roll' the contents into the toilet, and at worst you're spraying or scraping and dunking.

It was this last point that became a deal breaker for me during my very queasy first trimester of this second pregnancy. I just could not handle it, so we stopped using cloth for the most part and went back to disposables. We were already using disposables occasionally, for travel or when we were behind with the washing, so it was a natural transition. It also reaffirmed my suspicions that, at least in our house, cloth diapering does take a significant extra effort. 


In the last few weeks, we've dusted off our cloth and are back to using them regularly. I like giving Little Smith a break from the plastic, I like that our very reluctant potty trainer has a better sense of when he's wet (this kid is seriously going to be a challenge with that potty), I like that we have again reduced our waste and increased our weekly grocery budget (hello ice cream!), and I'm willing to put in the effort for those benefits. There are also those days where I just don't feel like dealing and use disposables instead, and I'm okay with that too.


We will be using cloth, with a dash of disposables, for baby number two as well. If we can convince Little Smith to use the potty before this little girl is big enough to inherit his diapers, it should be a pretty perfect and budget friendly transition. It's been a good balance for us, and if nothing else, it's just so fun to look at that colorful padded tushy, one can't underestimate the value of cuteness!

16 comments:

  1. For what it's worth - I've taken a similar journey with cloth diapers and lucky enough to find a daycare that will let me use them. I use diaper liners to help with the 2 yr. olds mess and find myself washing them about every 2 days. Love the FuzziBunz too!

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    1. That's so great that you were able to find a daycare to work with cloth diapers. We do like the liners too, when they work they're great, but we have a fair number of misfires ;) Fuzzi's are my favorite that we've tried!

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    2. no worries, plenty of misfires on this end too. : ) P.S. Fuzzi's has a lifetime guarantee now too.

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  2. We used Fuzzi Bunz with our first, back in 2006. It's so funny how cloth can become quite the obsession! So many different brands, styles, colors! I wanted to try them all. :) When baby #2 came about, the elastic had gone bad on the Fuzzi Bunz. I tried getting some replaced, but they didn't work the same and leaked. I was sort of happy though, because that meant I could try out some new stuff! I went with Bum Genius and Flip. My first two were girls, then along came my 3rd - a boy. He has the longest rise ever, and happened to be a big big baby - nearly 10 pounds at birth. I had ordered Thirsties Duo Diapers for him :) Sadly, I couldn't find any cloth diapers to work with him, and he's been in Target disposables all along :( Cloth diapering IS more work, but it is so colorful and fun and soft! One of my favorite sites was on laundry-day when I had them all stacked up, stuffed and ready to go :)

    -Melissa
    http://eightystars.wordpress.com/

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    1. Wow, sounds like you guys really tried a lot of options, so funny how different diapers fit different kids well. I'm hoping #2 works with what we've got, but it's a great point that you just never know. Luckily our elastic has held out, but the BunGenius velcro is totally shot and I don't think I'm up to sewing in replacements, so sadly we will have to retire those. Thanks for sharing your insights- and yes, I love a giant pile of fresh clean cloth diapers ready to go!

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  3. I have never used any cloth diapers :-(. Having a bad sleeper and working both full time (and more) it was not an option due to time constraints. You have my respect!

    Good luck with the potty training. My boy was almost nowhere at 3... to our
    disappointment. At 3 yrs and 4 months we could stop putting them on during the day without having accidents anymore. He is still wearing one at night, mostly unused though.
    My girl is doing a lot better, she started using the potty before she turned 2. They say here that girls are earlier for this. No need to worry for little Smith, it will come.

    Natalie

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    1. Thanks Nathalie, we seem to have a real resistance to the whole potty in general here, but I know that it will come with time. Cloth is definately not for everyone, and there's nothing more challenging (and exhausting) than sleep issues so congratulations on juggling everything and surviving that! I'm crossing my fingers that baby #2 is easy on sleep, it makes a world of difference.

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  4. We've gone back and forth from cloth to disposable. I'm guilty of using disposable for it's convenience more than I should have during moves, trips, etc. And btw, Rowan will be 3 next week and is STILL not potty trained. I want to tear my hair out, she's so stubborn :(

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  5. I LOVED cloth diapering! We, like you, started around the six month mark or so. We went with Sunbaby which from what I see is designed a lot like Fuzzibunz. As he got older we went with a Velcro diaper (which I can't remember the name of) to encourage potty training (since it was easier for him to take off on his own). Great post by the way!

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  6. Thanks for sharing this informative post! I've always wanted to cloth diaper my boy but I was constantly working and running about from home to work, so I didn't use it in the end... But your post makes me want to try cloth diapering for my future kids! :))

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  7. I toyed around with the idea right before Lo was born (after receiving a zillion disposables at our baby shower) and then once she arrived I quickly realized I wasn't interested. Some people are good with the extra work but since I work full time at home (too!) I just didn't see the need to stress. I hate the "carbon footprint" but in this day and age our *time* has new meaning... I wish I had more of it!

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  8. Just potty training encouragement - We started our youngest on potty training at 2.5 and it was a bit of a game for him in that he had control over it. We got a little frustrated when we'd sit him on the potty to no avail and then put on underwear and end up almost immediately with a puddle on the floor. We finally set a date and went to all underwear all the time. When we did that, we also let go of the process and let him have control. It was done in a couple of weeks. We actually had more wet morning sheets with diapers overflowing than we did during potty training!

    I know you know this, but he'll do it. He won't go to college in diapers! Thru reading your blog, it sounds like you have an independent boy - he just has to make up his mind to do it. The good news is, when he does make up his mind, he'll likely be all in.

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  9. I just discovered your blog from the spring issue of Seasoned. Very sweet blog! I appreciate this post about cloth. We are using Bumgenius and while I do love it for a handful of reasons, (especially that cute colored tush,) I agree it is more work. As simple as it seems, some days I just can't bare stuffing another diaper so they just lay there, completely unorganized and even more work when it comes to the actual diaper changing:) Still the reasons to cloth far out weigh the reasons not to, at least for our little family. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Thank you for your honesty here. I feel like so many people claim that cloth diapering is just this blissed-out experience, and I just never had that experience. We use disposables and try to go diaper-free (naked-bottom) for many hours during the day. I feel guilty about landfill stuff, but it seems to me that all the washing takes up extra water and that can't be so much better for the environment, right? Maybe?

    They sure are pretty, though! :)

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  11. Completely with you. I did a combination of cloth diapers & biodegradable disposables-- though when my kids were young there weren't the options available today for cloth diapering. No fancy colors, but the plain white seemed to work okay at the time. Ah, memories...

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  12. I did the combo too. We used eco-friendly disposables when the kids were first born and switched to cloth and then back to disposables for daycare. The cloth did indeed involve a lot of washing, but the time passes quickly, so I think it was worth it in the long run. I love the new cloth diaper options now! Kids' stuff changes so quickly.

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