Friday, December 10, 2010

Cloth Diaper Dilemma

I'm having a dilemma.  I'm really torn about cloth diapers, and I'd totally appreciate any feedback.

I grew up in cloth diapers, and I remember helping to change my brothers' cloth diapers (and since my youngest brother just turned 26, you know I'm not talking about the new fancy cloth diapers--oh no!  These are the old school rectangular pieces that you have to fold and pin...and I vividly can remember learning how to rinse them out in the toilet...oh what fond memories).  I think I want to use cloth diapers, and I did some research on them while I was pregnant (wow--they sure have evolved since my childhood!).  At the time, I had a discussion with my husband about how I wanted to invest in cloth diapers.  He didn't like my use of the word "invest"--arguing that he wouldn't be getting a return on something that his precious Baby Girl would be pooping in.  Have I mentioned lately how much he freaks out about her poop?  He gets really grossed out at any sort of mention about bodily functions, so the best that I could get from his was an agreement that I could register for a couple and try them out once she arrived.

Well, she's been here with us for 10 weeks now...but I admit that we haven't made the leap into cloth diapering quite yet.  Although she is tall, Ella is pretty lean--and she just seemed so tiny when she was born (she was 7 lbs, 6 she wasn't that tiny...she just seemed so tiny to us!).  We received two pairs of cloth diapers--two one-size-fits-all Bum Genius, and two medium-sized FuzziBunz.  It's definitely not anywhere near the stash that we would need to make the move to exclusively using cloth diapers--it wouldn't even get us through one day!  But it's a start to seeing what we think of them.  A couple of weeks ago, I tried out one of the one-size-fits-all...but apparently Ella doesn't fit into the "all" population.  We had a major blow-out, so I chalked it up to her little butt and hips being too small and put the diaper back up on the shelf in her closet (washed, of course) until she grew a little bit more.  Since we're home all day today, I figured that I'd try it out again, so she's in it now...and so far, so good.  (Update:  By the time I finished this post, she had dirtied a diaper...but it was all contained, so perhaps she does finally fit them!).

I realize that the fitted might fit better...but that would mean multiple "investments" (to use the word against my husband's wishes) in multiple sizes.  I admit that while I do want to be good to the environment, that's not my main motivation behind cloth diapers.  I'm cheap, and I want to save money.  A standard estimate is that parents would spend $2,000 on disposable diapers, but only $500 on cloth diapers (the new fancy ones, that is--not the old school rectangular pieces like my brothers and I wore).  So I'm really only considering the one-size-fits-all styles (assuming that Ella can indeed finally fit into them now that she has a little more fat on her bones).  So Question #1:  What brands and styles do you like?  And do you use the disposable liners as well?

Now let me add some more kinks to my dilemma.  For starters, the day care center that I think I finally like won't accommodate cloth diapers--and I don't blame them!  They are no where near as convenient as disposables; and when it comes down to it, I'd rather them be playing with Ella than cleaning up her dirty diapers.  But that argument also could be made at home as well.  I'd also rather be playing with Ella than cleaning up her dirty diapers (and it goes without saying that my husband is out of the equation when it comes to poopy diapers--it's enough of a challenge to get him to consider changing a dirty disposable one!).  If it's true that "time is money", then I need to consider if it's really worth it--cost wise--to spend even those few extra minutes cleaning up the mess.  Granted, I first started grappling with this question after that first attempt at the cloth diaper when she had a blow-out and was still rather "needy".  In those weeks since she has physically grown into the one-size-fits-all, she has also developmentally grown and is now a pretty happy baby who can easily entertain least long enough for me to clean up after her.  Perhaps I just need a "system".  So Question #2:  What is your "system" for cleaning cloth diapers?  Do you do them one-by-one after each changing, or throw them in a pail and clean them all at once?

But the whole cleaning question brings up yet another issue.  I live in the desert, where water usage is a big deal.  To be environmentally conscious means not just considering the landfills, but considering the amount of water we use as well.  When I brought this up to my husband previously (partly as my own internal excuse when I was trying to balance the "time is money" argument to myself), he tried to assure me that we're really good about recycling and composting almost everything else that we possibly can, as if to say we're being "good enough" to the environment while still using disposables (but then again, this is the man who is squeamish at just the mention of poop).  Ultimately, I don't want to be wasteful by doing multiple laundry loads with just a handful of cloth diapers.  I don't want to trade one environmental concern for another.  So Question #3:  How do I balance these conflicting concerns about the environment?

Given that she will be in disposables while at day care (let's say that's 10 hours--including the commute), do you think it's still worth it for me to use cloth diapers in the evenings and weekends when she is home with us?  And like I just said, I want to be careful about water usage--I'd rather do one full load per week of dirty diapers, rather than multiple little loads.  And like I said earlier, I want to maximize the amount of time that I have to spend with her.  So, Question #4:  Is it possible to efficiently wash cloth diapers once a week?  If so, how many diapers would we need to get through a week of evenings and weekends (with using disposables during the work week hours)?

When I see friends posting on their blogs or facebook about using cloth diapers, I am oddly jealous and proud of them...and ashamed and disappointed in myself--all at the same time.  I want to get there...I just don't know if it's going to be the right thing for us.  So please--I would welcome any thoughts, reactions, or suggestions.

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to go for a nice walk with my husband and Ella and have a good chat.  He had Army Reserve Drill last weekend, and will have it again this weekend to make up for the weekend that he missed when Ella was born.  So it was really nice to have that quality time with him and Ella.


  1. I didn't do cloth, although I think its a good way to go. We might try it with the next one. But, like most daycares, ours doesn't do cloth diapers either. So, all that to say, I can't really answer your questions. Its a little worrisome to me not knowing which brand of cloth would work and making the big investment in them - I will admit I haven't done my full research on cloth diapers. But I also know we haven't spent nearly the U.S. home average on diapers. Why? First of all, we buy Costco brand to keep the cost down. They work great (for us). Occasionally the Huggies drop cheaper at Costco, but not too often. But my big find in the last few months is Rite-Aid and coupons. Seriously, I have bought so many packages of Huggies at a steal of a price. So keep that in mind if you stick with disposables.

    And perhaps with Baby #2 I can ask for your expertise on cloth diapers. :)

  2. My greatest help was my friend Shanda - she has cloth diapered both her boys (one while recovering from a c-section) and her husband is not much help either. She explained everything to me (pluses and minuses of each type) and convinced me that once you are into it, they really aren't a larger time commitment at all. And the her point about water usage was that before she switched, she was doing extra blowout laundry with 'sposies that equaled the amount of cloth diaper laundry, but with the added hassle of stain removal. She has never had a blowout in cloth, and her first was VERY tall and thin. If you want, I could give you her email or you could friend her on Facebook - she is seriously an invaluable resource that will help you make good purchasing decisions for Ella.

    And tell your husband they ARE as big as investment as any other baby item (besides 'sposies) - you can resell all of your diapers for a good chunk of what you paid, especially if you buy used in the first place!

    We are getting a diaper sprayer for the toilet so once Noah moves to solids, Jason or I can just rinse his diapers off into the toilet with little mess and then add to the pail for washing later. When they are EBF, they don't even need rinsing
    because breastfed poop is water soluble!

    In the end, you have to do what works best for your family (even if it means sticking to disposables)! But if you do decide cloth, even a few cloth diapers a week will make an environmental difference. Maybe just cloth at night or JUST weekends? has an article about part-time cloth diapering!

  3. Have you looked into G Diapers? You can use the same set of covers for cloth or disposable liners. The disposable liners are actually also flushable, but I doubt the daycare center would be open to that idea. I worked in a center that would have allowed cloth diapers, but it was popular back in 2000 so none of the parent's did. I used cloth part time with my 2 older kids and I am considering the G Diapers for our new addition. I think these would allow you the most flexibility with your situation. I have also seen the covers on ebay that look very gently used, so you could get a return on your investment.

  4. I'd love to use cloth diapers, but I have so many excuses. Daycare and laundry are #1 and #2. I can't keep up with the regular laundry. Daycare will not do cloth diapers. I just can't do it. It makes me feel defeated.

  5. My friend uses them and loves them. Here's a link to some info she has on her blog.

  6. Yay questions about cloth diapers AND the environment!! I've used cloth diapers on Addy since she was 4 days old. We started off with pre-folds (old school folded triangles) & used them until she fit better in the AIO's @ about 10 weeks. I'll try to answer per question & apologize if this is too long.

    1-I use Gro-Via Hybrid AIO's. They are great & I can't say enough good things about them. Unless Addy has a blowout (which is bound to happen once in a while) I can re-use the cover multiple times. I do not use disposable liners as they are rather useless while EBFing. They will come in handy when you move to solids however (as will a toilet sprayer). Gro-Via are kind of expensive (I registered for them) but I have a friend who uses the Flip System by Cotton Babies & loves them & also heard G-Diapers are good. All of these have disposable liner options too.

    2-We clean Addy's diapers every 2 days. We have 12 shells w/18 snap in liners & 10 stay dry boosters (for night). We also have liners (not flushable) for when we use diaper cream so it doesn't get on the diaper. We do not rinse them first, but put them in the pail & line dry them even if it's cold. I imagine line drying them would be much easier for you in AZ! The sun does an amazing job taking out stains! We put them on a short pre-wash than a normal wash.

    3-I understand your concern about water, but if you needed to determine which was worse, doing a small load every 2-3 days or disposing of thousands of diapers, the diapers are a much bigger issue. Because diapers are mostly plastic they can take up to 450 yrs to break down!!!

    4-I believe it is totally possible to only wash diapers once a week. This is actually how diaper services work. However, you would just need to have enough. All you would need to do is look at how many disposables you use now during non-working hours & times it by 5 than add the weekends. Using something like I do where you can reuse the shells & only have to pay for the snap ins can also save you financially. If you do this though you may want to use a wetpail (where the diapers soak during the wait).

    I know that cloth diapering seems daunting but I do not feel like it has taking any time away from being with Addy. It is a learning process @ first but it will be just as easy as disposables before you know it. I hope this helps & feel free to e-mail me if ya have any questions. I think no matter what you decide it will be the right thing for you & your family. Good luck!!

  7. I wish I had a link for you but I have actually heard/seen two news stories lately which claim that in terms of the environment there is really no clear winner between cloth and disposable. Yes, you throw away disposable but with cloth it's not just water, it's also electricity and adding soaps and other cleaning chemicals to the environment. Also, these sources claimed it took more energy to make cloth diapers. I really don't know because this is hotly debated. I know cloths are winners in terms of cost though. I don't do it because of convenience and the laundry aspect. Good luck if you try it! Bottom line it's not as clear cut as some people think.

    Just found a link (its kinda old though):

  8. We don't use cloth diapers, but I do use seventh generation disposables. They are chlorine free so I feel like they're a little better for baby's skin. The wipes are chlorine free too, but they take a little getting used to because they're smaller/thinner than others.

    If you decide to do disposable, check out Amazon Mom. They ship diapers each month FREE and you get 15-30% off regular prices. Our diapers and wipes come this way, and you can change your subscription anytime if size/amount/etc. changes.

    I admire people who use cloth diapers! Our daycare does take them (it's in Oro Valley -- are you in this area?), but they don't wash them out so I imagine the bag that comes home for the parents is...pretty intense. :)

    It's so great that you are thinking of this for Ella. Check out She switched to cloth and has some good posts about her experience and the cost.

  9. Hi Laura,

    Our babycare class pushed for cloth diapering and the lady who ran our class is actually the owner of a store in Davis who sells cloth diapers. It is called Mother and Baby Source. She is really knowledgeable about them and if you look up their website you could give her a call. She told us to call her anytime with questions. I want to use cloth too, and I think we will use what she called the dry pail method where we put them in a dry pail and then wash once or twice a week. She said there are laundering services that can come and wash them too if we were squeamish about washing. I don't know if our daycare will allow cloth, but by then we could possibly switch back. who knows?? Everything changes once the little ones are actually here.

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