Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So You Want To Try Cloth Diapers?

Welcome to Cloth Tushie Tuesday.  A friend said he was trying to keep up with the blog, but every time he came by it was all about diapers.  Guess what J - come back tomorrow.  Or scroll down to where I had a meltdown this weekend - that's a good read.

Today we're talking about: What would you say to someone considering cloth diapers? The good, the bad and the smelly!

Mommie V

To a mama considering cloth diapering:

1.  Why are you thinking about using cloth diapers?  Answering this question first will help you determine what kind of cloth diapers to look at.  There are A LOT of options in the world of modern cloth diapers, and to help you narrow your search and focus on particular types/brands/styles, it helps to know what you want to get out of cloth diapering.

For example: are you doing it to try to save money?  Then you will probably go the prefolds-and-covers option, since that is usually the cheapest.  You will probably buy "one-size" covers that are adjustable to cover a range of sizes.  You will probably buy alot of gender neutral colors in case you want to use the diapers for other children.  And you should definitely not look at any cute adorable pocket diapers if you want to save money!

Are you interested in being environmentally friendly?  Then you will probably be interested in diapers that are low-maintenance, easy-to-wash (to use less water) and you will probably want to look into cloth diaper detergents that are environmentally friendly.  If you want to be green and save some green too, buy a bunch of flats and fold them in covers.  You can hand-wash flats in a small amount of water and detergent (saving electricity and water), and hang them to dry.

Are you interested in having all-natural fabrics next to your baby's skin?   While I was expecting, I went to a cloth diapering workshop at a store where I used to live (remember that, J?).  A couple that was there was planning to cloth diaper because they only wanted natural and organic fabrics next to their baby's skin.  They were even looking for alternatives to PUL covers, because they did not want to support the "polyester industry".  These folks were hard-core.  You can do it, but it will cost you.  Organic cotton prefolds are more expensive than "regular" cotton prefolds.  Organic bamboo prefolds are even more than organic cotton ones, but also much softer.  For covers, these folks will probably have to stick with wool.  (The store hosting the workshop was "all vegan" in their products, so they did not sell wool since it is an animal product.  They let the workshop presenter bring in one wool cover to show, but she had to specify that the store did not sell wool because of their vegan positioning.  Hard core, folks, hard core.)

Are you planning to be a mama that buys ONLY THE BEST for your baby?  Or you want SUPER CUTE diapers and you have some disposable income to spend?  There are tons of cute diapers that you can buy, so this one is easy!

Unfortunately following these motivations can involve some tradeoffs.  For example, you can save money by cloth diapering, but you will have to invest some dollars if you want to use only organic fabrics.  You can be environmentally friendly, but if you want to hang your diapers to dry, you probably don't want squishy thick fitteds. 

Understanding your reasons for wanting to cloth diaper is your first key step in choosing the types of cloth diapers to try.

2.  Make sure you have what you need.  I started out with only 12 prefolds and 3 AIO's.  I couldn't figure out why cloth diapering was so hard, then I realized that I didn't have enough diapers.  I was switching back-and-forth between cloth and sposies until I got to the point that I had enough diapers, and covers that fit.

3.  Give yourself a break.  I had a ton of guilt in the beginning.  I had bought all these diapers, and covers, and told everyone that I was planning to cloth diaper.  Then I had pre-eclampsia, was on bed rest, had a preemie, still had high blood pressure, and went to live with my mom for three months.  I didn't do the cloth diapering thing for about the first 6 weeks, and I felt horrible about it.  I remember standing in line at the Wal-Mart crying because I was spending money on a big box of Pampers Swaddlers when I had a stack of diapers at home that I had already paid for.  I had a conversation with myself (what, people talk to themselves at Wal-Mart in the checkout all the time) where I said "either use the sposies or use the cloth.  But don't beat the crap out of yourself for it."  I realized I was trying to live up to a standard that wasn't realistic for me at the time.  When it was easier and worked better for us, then we started.  Keep in mind, THEY ARE JUST DIAPERS.

4.  Your wetbag is your friend.  Don't leave home without it.  If it has a zipper, then there will be no smelly.

5.  When it works, stop buying diapers.  (Advice I totally ignored, cuz ... NEW COW PRINT DIAPER!)

And I guess, I would say one more thing: at least give it a try.  You'll be surprised at how easy it is, and you'll be glad you did.  Whatever reason you choose for cloth diapering, it will meet your needs.  And it will be one way you feel like you are doing something good for your child, and yourself.

What would you say to a mama considering cloth diapers?  Link your post:


Funky Mama Bird said...

Woot! The return of the cow print diaper! Excellent. =)

Mommycrat said...

Yes - the cow print diaper is adorable.

Lots of good advice here. The one I like best: it's just diapers, don't be too hard on yourself. Like you, I waited a while before leaping into cloth (about six weeks, I think) until I had some of my other parenting things in hand (ie: I ended up having HUGE breastfeeding issues but was determined to give baby breastmilk - so I ended up being a pumping mommy).

And also - don't be afraid to give it a go - because really, if you find a system that works for you, it's pretty easy to do. Again, it's just diapers. It may seem confusing with all the options, but if you find one that works, everything's good!

First time I'm trying your linky - I think it's a great idea!

MommieV said...

I was heavy into posting on the Diaperswappers discussion board while I was in the hospital on bedrest, as a diversion. Then once she was here, I suffered alot of guilt that I wasn't "doing cloth". Then I realized that I was "being judged" (in my head) by a bunch of women I DIDNT EVEN KNOW. That's when I was able to let it go - mostly.

I think it's something people should try to see if it works for them. My personal opinion is that they'll find that it will. But I also want people to not feel like they're judged by their DIAPERS.

Thanks for joining us, glad to have you!!!

inBetween said...

Thanks so much for this as I am considering cloth diapers. I have a question though, and maybe this is obvious and silly, but how do you go from taking the soiled diaper off of baby's butt to a clean diaper ready to go onto baby? How do you get the poo off? How do you clean them?

MommieV said...

Not a silly question at all - that's the first thing most people wonder about cloth diapers!

The simple answer is: if your baby is exclusively breastfed, the poo is very water soluble and will come out in the first rinse of your wash routine. In that case you just store the diapers in a wet bag before washing.

If your baby is formula-fed or on solids, the poo is different. In that case you want to remove the solids into the toilet before storing your diapers. You can dunk-and-swish (what I do), or you can use a diaper sprayer that helps you to rinse the poo into the toilet.

To launder, start with a cold rinse. That gets the poo residue off the dipes (if you start with a hot wash right away you can set the "stink" in the material). Then you wash on hot. Some mamas do an extra rinse to make sure all the suds are out - this avoids a rash on the bum.

Dry in the dryer or line dry. That's it.

I have two posts on diaper laundry that discuss more details. One was for Cloth Tushie Tuesday a couple of weeks ago: http://mommiev1.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-does-your-laundry-go.html

The other was for the Cloth Diapering 101 series http://mommiev1.blogspot.com/2010/05/cloth-diapering-101-laundry-routine.html

Please let me know what other questions you have about cloth diapering, I'd love to help!

Serifm said...

It wasn't here, but I could swear you once gave me another excellent piece of diapering advice, which was "Every cloth diaper helps." Meaning, if only 2 diapers out of a 10 diaper day are cloth, that's 2 fewer diapers in a landfill. That really helped set me free and not freak me out that I was locked into choosing either sposies or cloth. I can do both, or whatever works best for that day. So I've got my cloth diaper stash, and I've got my sposie stash, and I feel calm.

MommieV said...

I initially had that thought when a mama on Diaperswappers was talking about her daycare not doing cloth. She asked her daycare to put him in a cloth diaper as his last diaper of the day before she picked him up, so at least he could be in cloth for the evening. Another mama said she thought that was kindof a waste, she would rather do cloth all day.

But if that's the only way the mama could do a few cloth diapers here and there, that still makes a difference.

I find it somewhat difficult to switch back and forth between sposies and cloth. I don't know why - I guess you just get into a groove. I do, however, have a pack of Pampers under her bed for diaper cream and other moments.

I think whatever a mama needs to do to not feel The Guilt and to not have bruises from beating herself up and to not feel The Panic, then that's exactly what she needs to do. End of story.