The final plunge (back) into cloth

Julie / August 11, 2010

I keep intending to write a serious entry, but then finding myself worn to the point of total exhaustion out by the end of the day when I finally sit down to write.  And so I occupy myself with more triteness, because I”˜m determined at this point to discipline myself into writing at least once a day, until it’s a kind of habit.

So, here’s the “big” news of today: I’ve just ordered the diapers I’ll need to cloth-diaper E and R at the same time.  I’m hoping E will be potty-trained soon (c/d’ing should help that along too), but then L should use more diapers than E would ever go through, so it’s not like they’ll go to waste.  At any rate, I’m committed to sticking with cloth for both girls now.  (Previously I had ordered not-quite-enough diapers for R, which when I tried to use the stash for both R and E left me doing laundry much faster than I wanted.)

I wasn’t really planning to put E back in cloth.  It’s not really cost-effective at this point (except that L will use the same diapers) because disposables don’t really cost much for a toddler.  But when I started using them with R–and I just feel all the money it’s saving us stacking up and up–I realized that it really is quite a small pain to do one child in cloth and one in disposables.  You have to have two diaper pails to empty, an issue of both space and time; two things of wipes/wipe solution, both in easy reach of the changing table; and the worst thing–a ten-month old in cloth diapers doesn’t go through them quite fast enough to create a full load before they get stinky/yucky enough to wash, which meant I was doing a half-load at a time, and still worrying about the time they were spending in the pail and whether the stains were permanently setting in.

I did settle on microfleece liners, in lieu of no liner or flushable liners.  I was never very happy with the flushables–they’re so thin they really only keep the really solid solids away from the diaper, and don’t do much to help reduce potential staining, not to mention the fact they cost 1/3 or so what an entire disposable diaper would cost.  And while no liner is fine for breastfed poop, I found it kind of gross and difficult to deal with on an older baby.  At any rate, I bought some microfleece blankets and cut them up, which was both easier and cheaper than finding it at a fabric store or ordering it online.

I also ordered snaps on the latest pocket diapers.  I love the hook-and-loop fasteners, but everyone from the manufacturer to friends to complete strangers are telling me that they won’t last more than a few months.  I’m hopeful that my washing routine (I don’t dry them) will hold that off longer–the velcro on my old covers never showed any sign of wear–but there seems to be absolutely no doubt that the snaps will last longer.

I have still not found satisfactory wipes.  I like terry, but I haven’t found the “perfect” source for those yet.  I like my old wipes, but I can’t find them still for sale anywhere.  This is a small wrinkle in the plan, however.

Much more significantly, I seem to have misplaced my “alternate” wetbag!  I’m sure it’s down in the basement somewhere, but I think when I packed it away, I hadn’t really planned on ever getting it back out again.  So, knowing me, I probably put it in an unlabeled opaque container tucked into a corner somewhere.  I apparently put my wedding dress in one such, and it was MIA for six years before showing up a month or so ago!

One day I shall learn to be organized.  Hopefully that day will come before heaven (not that I’d put off heaven to learn organization first)!


Cloth, after disposables

So, to my great surprise, after two years or so of disposable-diapering, I find myself regarding cloth diapers very differently than I did way back in 2008.

First–I’m surprised to discover that they really are more work.  I know this is probably like “no duh” to 99% of the world, but when I started out, I’d never in my life used a disposable and was determined that no artificial, bleached, chemical diaper would ever touch my wee babe’s butt.  I never knew anything else, and I figured the whole prefold+cover thing was, at worst, like putting on two disposables at once.  And I was very confused by how disposables work–operating those semi-velcro tabs is like learning how to drive a car… easy, obvious, and second-nature–unless you’ve never done it before.  I was convinced the Snappi was superior.

Now, of course, I know better.  Those precious minutes spent stuffing all those diapers yesterday?  Minutes I wouldn’t have had to spend if I’d stuck with disposables.

Second–I’m amazed, and thoroughly appreciate, how much less trash we’re generating.  Not even in a save-the-environment sense, but in a wow-the-trash-doesn’t-need-to-go-out-yet sense.  Huzzah.  I am seriously contemplating buying even more diapers and putting my oldest back in cloth (and then using those when the new baby arrives and I’m still cloth-diapering two little ones), just to get rid of the diaper pail.  I seriously think cloth diapers, jammed into a trash can with no deodorizer, vinegar, or tea tree oil, still smell less than the disposables jammed into a real live diaper pail.  I’m sure it helps that they get washed more often than the trash goes out.  And I’ve never minded diaper laundry, so no big on that score.

Third–I can’t believe how much they can hold.  I think this is probably an advantage of pocket/AIO diapers over prefolds, because if the front part of a prefold gets completely saturated, it inevitably finds its way through the legholes to seep out onto clothing.  Definitely not the case with pocket diapers; between the PUL on the outside and the quick-wicking fleece on the inside, there really isn’t any perpetually wet fabric anywhere near clothing–the wet is all hidden away inside, so the diaper doesn’t seem to leak, unless maybe it’s completely full.  I haven’t managed to get a completely full diaper, which I think is probably a good thing!  What I haven’t figured out yet is how often baby needs changed in cloth, but just the fact that the diaper clearly holds more liquid than a disposable without leaking blows me away.

Lastly, one major advantage of prefolds over pockets is cleaning.  This, to me, is the biggest trade-off; I think the convenience of not assembling the prefold+cover is amply balanced by the inconvenience of having the part of the diaper with poop permanently sewn to the part of the diaper everyone sees.  I never really worried about stains before, because they’d always be on the prefold and I’d just fold the poopy prefold up inside itself and wash it separately from the cover, if need be.  No can do, with pockets.  This is pushing me strongly in the direction of using liners, although I haven’t settled on a good solution yet.  (Disposable liners are too expensive; cotton liners stay too wet and irritate the skin.  Presently I’m trying fleece liners–to move to microfleece liners if I’m happy with the general way it goes–but I haven’t finished my little experiment yet.  I will say, since fleece doesn’t ravel, it’s crazy how much companies get away with charging for microfleece liners.  Buy some fleece and cut it up.)

That said, I do think I’ll stick with pocket diapers, and I really am seriously contemplating ordering enough to use with E, too (or R and L simultaneously).  They definitely fit better and more reliably than prefolds, and clearly leak a lot less, even than disposables.  I’ve been really trying to put them though the paces the past two days, and I’m pleased with the results.  There’s been at least one poopy diaper that I know would have been an explosive disaster with prefolds/covers, and the pocket contained it most admirably.  I also really like that they are fleece inside–you can really tell the difference in baby’s level of skin irritation after being in a pretty wet diaper.  We never got rashes while using prefolds, but you could tell if the diaper had been wet because the skin got all red and blotchy.  That’s not happening with the pockets.

So far, pretty happy.  I think I’ll continue being pretty happy, as long as they hold up well in washing over the months and I figure out a solution to the liner issue.

And, oh yes, I found myself desperately short of cloth wipes and hurriedly ordered some from Etsy.  I used them before, but apparently newborns require many fewer wipes than a ten-month-old, because my stash is clearly not up to the task!


The Revenge of the Cloth Diapers

We used cloth diapers with E until she was getting pretty mobile and I felt bad for the poor child who seemed to have her mobility severely hindered by the bulky prefolds and covers.  So I missed out, the first time ’round, on the astounding expense of diapering a newborn.  When R was born, I was subsequently ignorant and thought diapering a newborn would cost about what diapering my toddler cost–maybe $30 a month.  Maybe less.  Not a small amount, admittedly, but have you seen newborn poop?  As in, the sheer quantity thereof?  Anyway, you can imagine my shock when I found myself shelling out $40-$50 every week. 8-o

Now, a smart momma would have gone down in her basement, dug out ye olde prefolds, and continued diapering for free before finishing off the very first package.  But in a massive lack of logic, I simply thought, okay, not going to do this again, clearly a mistake, but I’m not mentally prepared for cloth.

Yeah.  I don’t know what kind of “mental preparation” cloth diapering requires–despite my abandoning the practice, I’ve still cheerfully advocated it to others–but this was my excuse.

Fast-forward to pregnancy #3.  I’m determined to cloth-diaper this time around, but didn’t really fathom doing anything besides digging out the old reliable diapers I used with #1.  Then a dear friend shows up at my house with these astoundingly cheap pocket diapers, and well, let’s just say my pile of prefolds is looking pretty unattractive.  It’s not too difficult a purchase to justify–any cloth diapers will pretty much pay for themselves in the first few months of a baby’s life, and pocket diapers hold the promise of continued mobility, instead of prefold-induced waddling, which means I’m much more likely to use them for a longer period of time.

The only catch is, if I order them now, then I want to use them now, with R.  No good reason not to, and I want to give them a good working-out before L actually arrives, and before the guarantee expires.  So, after much trepidation and thought, I ordered them.  And they arrived two days later!  Today!  My laundry room is strewn with damp pocket covers, and the inserts are happily warming themselves in the dryer.

Tomorrow: goodbye disposables!  At least, I hope so.