Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The Bees Knees: Cloth Diapers
It all started with one cloth diaper...the heart one on the bottom. I had never used cloth diapers before, and when my sister and niece were using them a few years ago, I thought- no thanks! I don't need any more laundry, and definitely don't want to be messing with poop any more than I need to! But for some reason, I was curious about it this time around. During late night feedings, I would look up cloth diaper sites, and be overwhelmed at how many choices there are for cloth diapering your baby, and how complicated it all seemed. I was drawn to it for reasons I'm still not sure about.
There were several reasons floating around in my head for wanting to try cloth. Of course, there is the economic factor- over the course of your baby's diaper wearing years, there is a savings of thousands of dollars (really!), more if you use cloth wipes (or make your own disposable) instead of buying them. And then there is the cute factor- diapers now are nothing like your grandma's or mother's cloth diapers. They come in an amazing array of cute patterns and vibrant colors. Lastly for me, there was the thought that no chemicals, pesticides, perfumes, and who-knows what else would be next to that chubby little bottom.
I went back and forth about trying them out for at least a week. And if I did use them, what kind would I use?! There really are that many choices- and not just the KIND of diaper, but also the material that you can use, the style of covers that you want (snap or Velcro closure). There are flats (like the kind granny used), prefolds (thicker flats) with covers, fitted diapers (also used with covers), all in ones (like a cloth disposable), one size diapers (fit birth through toddler, adjust by snaps)...and different kinds of "soaker" pads you can use to make the diaper even more absorbent. It really is a world of its own, complete with its own lingo and abbreviations. I was overwhelmed with choices!
I finally decided to find a few used diapers- ok, maybe I should pause at that statement! It sounds disgusting, but selling your diapers after your baby is done with them is actually a huge business. If you are a seller, you can make a lot of your money back if you take good care of your diapers, and if you are a buyer looking to try different kinds until you know what works for your baby and you, it's an economical, no commitment way to do it. I found a local lady selling one cloth diaper (an all in one). I still was skeptical about whether or not I wanted to commit to this whole process, but she was so helpful!! Her new baby was a few weeks younger than ours, and she had cloth diapered with her first. She gave me a look at the different kinds of diapers she used, what she liked, and a company that she ordered from. These tips were invaluable, and I ended up loving the company (Green Mountain Diapers). I ordered some prefolds, Snapppis (better than pins to close the diapers), and a wet bag (functions like a diaper pale- but super pretty and reusable-think wet swimsuits) from them. I actually scored a stash of covers from a garage sale, and my sister sent me a few different kinds to try, so for the first 6 months or so I will have spent very little compared to the price for the mountains of disposables she would have gone through in that same amount of time. I was surprised to hear my son saying he was glad we were using cloth diapers (he is a diaper changing champ- and doesn't even run from the poopie ones!). He said he was happy to not be throwing away so many diapers, and he thought it was good for the baby. Amazing- he thought of all this on his own, as I had not discussed my reasons with him! I am really glad that we are cloth diapering...check back with me in 3 months when we start eating solids!
Now, a word about laundry...it seems that, like everything else with cloth diapering, the choices you have for cleaning them are many, and just like the diapers, you just have to try it, and find what works for you. We have been making our own laundry soap- which, as it turns out, works really well for the diapers. I'm already doing laundry all the time anyways, so the diapers haven't really made that much of a difference. Homemade laundry soap is great if you or someone in your family has skin sensitivities. It does save money, and it isn't hard to make...
1 bar of soap (we use Ivory, others use Fels Naptha)
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of A&H Washing Soda (DIFFERENT than baking soda!)
Grate the bar of soap into a large container, add the Borax and Soda. Crush any big clumps of Borax with a spoon and stir together. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area! That's it- stick a lid on it and your done.
We use 1/4 cup of the powder for an extra-large load. You can play with the amounts, but you really don't need much to get a clean load of laundry. I always run hot water first and quickly dissolve the soap in the machine, especially if I'm running a cold load. You can also make a liquid out of this recipe, but I like the convenient storage of the powder form.
If you try the soap, let me know how you like it!