I know what you must be thinking….”HUH?” maybe mixed with a little “GROSS!” and a touch of “You’re becoming a hippie!” Alas, it is true. Our sweet little boy is now wearing cloth diapers most of the day.
My decision to jump in to this new hobby…I mean chore…was not a sudden one. I had considered it long before Caleb was born, but was quickly talked out of it by my wonderful husband, who was equal parts grossed out and looking out for my time and best interest.
But something about taking that huge smelly garbage bag of poo out to the trash every week made me reconsider. And the more I read about it, the more convinced I was that it was 1. something I could do, and 2. something I SHOULD do.
Now, let me be clear…I have not begun a quest to save the earth one poopy diaper at a time. We still use disposables at night and plan to while we travel. But after a significant amount of research (yes, lots of hours curled up on the couch with Google…) we (I?) decided to give it a try. Lots of people have asked me why, so I thought I would share my thought process 🙂
As with all things baby related, the “research” is polarized. There are people who love cloth diapers. Worship them actually. Spend insane amounts of time workin’ on their stash. There are just as many people who gave this whole cloth diaper thing a go to save money, only to realize that it doesn’t really save that much money. Thus, very different viewpoints, depending on whose blog you happen to end up reading. To save future cloth diaper-ers some time (and to explain my crazy self) here is a summary of what I have learned in the last few weeks.
1. Save the Planet
So apparently diapers are going to destroy the earth. Zillions upon zillions of tons of poo are filling the landfills, contaminating our drinking water, and so on. Sadly, to an extent, this is true. The first disposable diaper ever made is still sitting in a landfill somewhere, because those suckers never go away. Now, to be quite honest, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what goes into the trashcan and therefore into the dump, but seeing that about half the trash leaving our house was diapers really made me think a little.
2. The EWW factor
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that you are actually not supposed to dispose of a diaper without emptying the solid contents into the toilet? Yeah, me either. All those diapers that end up in the dump? They are full of diseases and nastiness that doesn’t belong there. Sewage needs to be treated in a sewage treatment facility, and if it ends up in the landfill it can’t be treated, leading to contaminated soil and water. But still…nobody does this. I had never heard of such a thing. I didn’t believe it at first, but sure enough there it is, in a warning label right on the box.
Now, this leaves me with quite a conundrum. You see, integrity is important…and once I know something is wrong, it is hard for me to continue doing it. Nick and I used to joke about things being “morally gray”. However we decided that really, that is just code for, “this is wrong, but we want to do it anyway”. Trust me, no judgment here if you don’t….this is a personal “problem”. To be fair, I have searched and searched and cannot find any conclusive source stating that this is actually a law…hello loophole!..(morally off-white perhaps?)…but, the premise that it is better to flush it remains….more info here.
Sigh. I guess if I am going to have to deal with the poo anyway, I may as well save money at the same time.
3. They Don’t Really Save (that much) Money
This is the unfortunate truth. At least if you are only going to use the diapers for one child, and use ones that don’t require a degree in diaper folding.
Most estimates you can find online say that cloth diapering will save you $1000 a year. Eh. Wrong. I don’t know where these people are buying disposable diapers, but ours don’t really cost that much. We order bulk size boxes of Luvs on Amazon and pay about $40 per month.
Depending on which cloth diapers you choose, you could easily spend $1000 on your stash. You don’t HAVE to spend this much (we spent about $500), but many people do, especially when you factor in accessories and extras.
So if using disposables only costs about $1200 for 30 months, you aren’t really saving anywhere close to as much as the average predictions.
I will spare you the details of my thorough Diaper Cost Analysis that I wrote up in an effort to convince Nick that yes, indeed, we would save SOME money, but when all is said and done, we will save about $250 for Caleb (if we had started at birth this number would be a bit higher), and about $800 on each baby after that. This assumes no further purchase of any diapers…meaning with 3 kids they would have to last roughly 6 years, being washed every other day. It is highly unlikely that the diapers I purchased this month will last that long without needing to be replaced, but I guess we will see!
In reality, most people who cloth diaper walk dangerously on the line of addiction. Many, if not most, are involved in a constant cycle of buying new diapers and selling used ones. It becomes an obsessive hobby, one which can become very expensive!
The large initial investment almost scared me out of doing this, but after looking at it further, I discovered that if I bought diapers that have a higher resale value, we would reach our “break even” point around 7 months from now. If it turns out I absolutely hate the hassle, I can sell the stash and come out paying only what we would have spent on disposables at that time. 7 months is a lot less intimidating than 27 months…and knowing that I had an “out” made it easier to jump in. And to be honest, while $250 isn’t quite the same as $2500, it is still a nice chunk of change that I would prefer to not throw into the trash can.
4. No More Blow-Outs!
Depending on who you talk to, you will either hear one of two things. Either, “Cloth diapers always leak!” or “Cloth diapers never leak!”. We had our fair share of spontaneous wardrobe changes, usually at the most inopportune times (like in the middle of a hike), so the thought of no more blow-outs is very appealing. From what I read, leaks with cloth are usually a result of improper washing or operator error, both of which I have control over.
So, all that being said, something in my gut told me I should give it a try. I still haven’t really pinpointed what it is that pushed me over the edge… maybe the cost savings, maybe that I want to live my life a little more conscious of the environmental impact my decisions have, maybe it was how adorable they are…
We have an awesome store in Cary that specializes in cloth diapers and all things natural for baby. I can’t even tell you how many times I was in this store over the last few weeks. They offer a diaper trial program, so I was able to pick out a few and test them out, then return them for 90% store credit if I didn’t like them, or 85% cash if I really hated it. I figured this was a fairly safe way to figure out what I wanted. Turns out, I was right! The diapers that I was planning to buy really didn’t work out. Fortunately I was able to figure this out by buying one of them, not 10, and I was able to take them back.
Deciding which diapers, and how many of each, was probably the most difficult part of this adventure. There are MANY different types. You can read this if you are interested in the details.
Here’s what I ended up with:
- 9 Rumparooz Pocket Diapers – These work just like a disposable. They are pocket diapers, which means I have to stuff inserts inside the diaper part when I do laundry, but I actually like this feature because I can change the level of absorbency. Right now we use the newborn insert, which cuts down on bulk and is plenty absorbent for day time. They have extra elastic everywhere to catch explosive poo, which is honestly the most important thing to me. These are expensive, or I would have bought 20 of them and called it a day.
- 6 Sustainablebabyish Flats, size small – These work like a prefold. I can wrap them around him right now, and when he outgrows them (and the breastfeeding poop stage) I can lay them inside a cover as an insert. They are super soft and absorbent, and I love them! They are less than half the price of the pocket diapers, so I was able to stretch our budget by getting these. Even though they are a cheaper option, they are high end for prefolds, so the resale value is still very high. Because these do not have a waterproof layer, they must be used with a cover.
- 1 Flip Cover – I love this one! It has a small flap at the front and back that holds in the insert, keeping it from moving. I have found these work the best with the flats. I can just fold them in half, lay them in the cover, and put it on like a disposable diaper.
- 2 Rumparooz Covers – Honestly, I don’t love these covers. They are a little bulky, and they don’t hold an insert quite as well as the other covers I have tried. I may actually sell these and buy another Flip cover.
- 1 Babee Greens Wool Cover – Wool is supposed to be the best for allowing baby’s butt to get some air and prevent diaper rash. I only have one of these because they are super expensive, but I like it so far!
I have a few other odds and ends that I ended up with through the trial stage, but these are the ones I use on a regular basis.
So, there it is. We have been using almost all cloth for about 2 weeks now, and I don’t even notice the increase in laundry. I do love that I have NO poop explosions, and only a couple leaks, which I am pretty sure were my fault for not putting the diaper on tight enough. Is this going to be a new obsession? Nope. But, for now at least, they are working well, keeping my little one happy, and as my friend Shannon put it, it makes changing diapers a little bit more fun 🙂