We are not hippies. Or hipsters. We're not even purists. A lot of our friends think we're extreme, but the simple truth is this: we just like to do things the good ol' fashioned way sometimes. It all goes back to our "less = full" philosophy (see blog post here). Recycle, garden, cook out of garden, bike whenever possible, no tv, and spend less. Oh, and cloth diapers. Most people follow along until no TV, but "cloth diapers" is the one that really makes people cringe. Cloth diapers had never even occurred to me until my friend, Sarah, sent me a link for discounted cloth diapers while I was in Argentina.
Hold the phone - cloth diapers? Those white squares of cloth with safety pins my mom used? Ewww. Gross. And what a lot of work! But these are no ordinary cloth diapers. These are cloth diapers revolutionized. Firstly and most importantly, the were cute. I might prize efficiency and occasionally frugality, but aesthetics are still numero uno. If the more attractive counterpart costs more when doing a side by side product comparison, I will always spend more on the one that looks nicer. These were no exception. You mean I could cover my baby's bum with adorable colors and prints and save the planet and our pocketbook? Deal.
So I started doing my research. For $700 we could buy:
24 bumgenius Freestyle Cloth Diapers (they have snaps that adjust as baby grows)
3 packs of Thirsties reusable wipes (6 per pack)
1 diaper pail
2 diaper pail liners
1 wet/dry bag
1 32 lb bucket of Charlie's Soap (that's 1,000 loads - in case you were wondering - which will last for a couple of years, and I can use it for our other clothes)
1 diaper wipe warmer
1 bottle of tea tree oil (for diaper wipes)
Or, we could spend the same amount and only have one-year of disposable diapers. Not even including the wipes. Or trash bags. One year! The cloth diapers and accouterments will cover us until she's potty-trained and we can use them on the second baby. Sure you have to have the money up front, but it's so worth it. Depending on how many babies we have, we will save thousands.
I'm a stay at home mom, so washing diapers every few days is easy. If Alice were in daycare, we might not have gone this route, so obviously you have to decide what is best for your family. For us, this was not only the most economical, but it's also the most environmentally-friendly, not to mention best for Alice. Cloth diapers are soft. Her bum and skin are not absorbing all the chemicals put in disposable diapers. Also, although we haven't started this yet, she will hopefully potty train quicker because she can feel when her diaper is wet. Disposable diapers today wick moisture away so fast, which is nice because you don't have to change as frequently as cloth diapers (we average 8-10 a day), but they don't feel when they are wet.
When it comes to cleaning, cloth diapers are easy. I mean it - I had my trepidations at first, but after I did my first load, it was like "oh, that wasn't bad at all!" Disclosure - if poop makes you uncomfortable you should stop reading about here - but honestly, what were you expecting? See title: "Cloth Diapers." Now that her poops are more solid, I can just fling them into the toilet like a little cow pie, flush, and done. But sometimes they are more involved than that. It does require holding your breath and/or breathing through the mouth, but it's doable. For those diapers that are not-so-solid, I have a plastic spoon (that's really all you need) to scrape it into the toilet and then wash the spoon after using it. It's that easy. Once I'm down to 2 or 3 available diapers, I wash a load.
Washing them requires extra water, but it is still by far the more economical and environmental option. I grab the outside of the diaper by the crotch and gently shake it so the two flaps are out and exposed (for best cleanliness possible) and then do a full cold cycle sans soap. Once that is done, I do a hot wash with detergent, and then an extra rinse. Next, either line dry or throw in the dryer. Done. If there is a light stain on a flap, all you have to do is dry it in the sun and the sun will bleach them.
*We bought everything from Baby Junk in Omaha, which also offers a cloth diaper service if you live in the city - so they pick up dirty ones, drop off clean ones. They have a lot of discounts and help with everything! I highly recommend them.
If you're intimidated by cloth diapers, I get it. We did plastic on Alice for the first 2 months because our cloth diapers were still too big (they make newborn ones if you want to go that route) but I was scared to start them when it came time. I'm a visual learner so just having instructions was difficult for me, but then common sense kicked in and I just did it and it was fine. I would have felt a lot better about it if I could have watched someone wash a load, but I figured it out. If anyone is seriously considering cloth but not sure how to do it, come over and I'll show you, and we'll take the mystery out of it.