My friend and fellow blogger Heather over at BoLOGna Samwiches is going to share her experience with deciding to cloth diaper. She has scoured the hills of....no I'm just kidding no hill scouring yet but she has scoured the streets of Columbus looking for cloth dipes (more on that later.)
Everybooty Poops cloth diapering has come a loooong way baby. There is way more detailed information about the cloth experience than I could ever conceivably squeeze into this one post, but I'll do my bestest to break it down for you...
Why would you?
As to the ongoing debate over which has more environmental impact: landfill waste vs. water usage, I choose to side with the landfill camp. For me, knowing that my kid's dirty diaper bomb will outlive my kid's kid is scary. Not to mention, by choosing cloth it's one less petroleum product i'm using. And not buying a product that was trucked a million miles to me, saves a little on gas too.
You'll save money (assuming you don't fall prey to the lure of high end boutique cloth diapers-good luck with that!)
And if you take care of your diapers, you can use them for multiple kids, potentially saving oodles of cash. Presumably it costs between $2K and $3K to diaper a kid till age three in disposables. You'll really be saving, considering you can get a pretty righteous cloth stash for around $300-500.
Lastly, squishy cloth butts are so freaking cute! See!
How hard is it?
I did tons of online research before jumping into the world of cloth. Lots of mom bloggers swore it was just as easy as disposables, not a lot of work etc. ummmm, yeah right. First off, just the trial and error of figuring out what works for you takes some time (maybe it won't be the same for you, but part of my "fun" is trying new fluff!) So once you go through finding what you like and building your supply, you're now left with taking care of it. not to dissuade any potential cloth'ers, but storing the dirties, washing/drying and stain removal are more work than just tossing it in the trash. absolutely doable but it will take more steps; mostly just more loads of laundry, something you're doing already!
What kind do i get?
In order of complexity or simplicity depending on perspective: pockets, all in one's/two's, fitteds, contours, tie-nappies, prefolds, preflats and flats. fabrics can be bleached or unbleached cottons, bamboo terry (french and loop) bamboo velour, bamboo fleece, or hemp. covers can be wool, fleece, polyurethane laminate a.k.a. PUL and you can get just about any non synthetic material in an organic version. there are probably a few i'm missing-there are tons of types! For more detailed info just do a little research.
What else do i need?
Snappis or pins if you're using diapers without snaps or velcro closures (unless you plan to just lay a prefold in a cover.) A bigger diaper bag because cloth butts are BIG. Wet bags for storing the dirties-unlike how your mom probably did, you don't soak diapers in pails anymore. They are stored in PUL lined bags and tossed in the wash on wash day. Cloth wipes (or not.) Safe diaper creams because some fabric types left coated by diaper creams lose absorbency. Safe laundry detergents, important if you use wicking pocket styles or have a sensitive skinned babe-worth reading up on. Stash storage, diaper scrapers or sprayers for when they start solids; it's no less messy than cleaning it off your babes behiney.
Where do i shop for all this stuff?
WAHM's on etsy or hyena cart are a great place. Used (yes you can-i have-you "strip" them-google that too) on Diaperswappers.com or craigslist. you can buy new pretty much anywhere-TONS online or avoid shipping (which can get pricey) and go local. My two favorites in Columbus are The Parent Shoppe selling their own Clover designs and Sprout Soup.
How do i choose from all that's out there?
Test drive by using sample packs, diaper services, or borrow from friends! also, read great reviews at places like diaperpin.com. If you end up not liking a certain style, no worries, some mama out there somewhere is going to buy it off of you. I promise! Just don't try and sell to me, I'm officially 'on the wagon!' at least until the season changes...then maybe...
So what do i use and why?
A little bit of everything. mostly prefolds made of bamboo terry-Panda Tushies shout out! that I love love love. Far superior soaking abilities than my unbleached indian prefolds. And unlike hemp, which also absorbs more than cotton, bamboo doesn't retain odors, is naturally antimicrobial and is great for the environment in many ways (go google it yourself.) I'm not even going to attempt to explain all the different folds you can do-diaper origami! But two of my favorites are called the "diva" and the "ooey" and i prefer snappis. I also have a few fitteds and a hybrid prefitted. prefitteds are prefolds that have been converted to a fitted minus any closures, thus requiring a snappi or pins. These are great for making changes more quickly and the bonus of leg elastic holds messes in better. I even have a tie nappy though its not very absorbent so doesn't get used much. My cover of choice is wool. I have a few in the short soaker style; they work great under clothes or 'as is' in warmer weather. I have a couple of longies or pants style, one that I 'upcycled' from an old wool sweater. I also have some fleece covers that are just pants I bought on clearance at old navy. Fleece is a lot like wool in terms of breatheabilty, just slightly less absorbent. I have pockets (which is how I started my cloth journey) that I use for outings and times when baby is really fussy or I'm in a hurry or feeling lazy etc. Most have velcro closure and a few with snaps. So far I don't have a preference there, but some folks do (velcro can scratch chubby baby muffin tops.) I own two big wet bags that I alternate as I do laundry (which i usually do every other day) and two small wet bags for short outings. I have three snappis and a bottle of wool wash. I use additive free sun detergent that's only $3 a bottle at Big Lots. I use a regular old drying rack for sunning out stains-sun will bleach anything! And I use california baby diaper cream whenever a rash happens. My only complaint is that my stash is oddly stored on the back of my couch due to space constraints and one very naughty diaper eatin' dog. Here it is in all its fluffy glory!
I built my stash mostly through diaperswappers and craigslist at considerable savings since they were mostly used (read more at my blog regarding the time i replied to a "free" posting on craigslist-gag.) I bought a lot initially but after trial/error I've resold what didn't work for me and I estimate my current stash at around $380 give or take. A lot of money up front, but well worth the investment for our one income, blue collar family. And when I'm done, I can even resell it-can't say that about disposables!! I'm glad I chose to go cloth and hopefully someone somewhere found this post useful and is busy researching their own cloth journey.