A bum deal

Today marks the end of our first official day of all-cloth diapering. I've always wanted to cloth diaper, but this was really my first opportunity. With our first baby, I said I wanted to use cloth but my husband put his foot down and said NO WAY. If my memory serves me correctly, I think he was grossed out by the idea that I would be putting dirty diapers into the same washer and dryer that the rest of our clothes went into. Even with hot water cycles and detergents and bleach, it was just the ick factor for him. Now, after three babies, I think he is resigned to the fact that even with disposables, blowouts happen, vomit happens, leaks happen, and all those soiled things end up...yep...in the wash! (Even if my memory is totally faulty and that wasn't his issue I'm rolling with it anyway. Hi honey!)

But why did I want to cloth diaper in the first place? A few reasons. One, it's generally cheaper, especially if you launder at home. Two, I think cloth diapers are easier on baby's skin and on the environment. Last, but not least, they are puffy and bulky enough that I'm pretty sure I could use them as an impromptu life-vest if my car ever falls off a bridge into a lake or something (see previous post about being prepared for anything).

"Tell me the truth- does this diaper make my butt look big?"
Eowyn certainly made the first day a memorable day! She decided to break in the new diapers with not one, but TWO nice juicy fun diapers, right off the bat.

"I'm about to blow my cover!!"
Fun times, fun times.

I gotta admit, though, cloth diapers have come a LONG way from what they used to be. When my first was born, a little more than fourteen years ago, if you wanted to cloth diaper I'm pretty sure your only option was prefolds (your basic rectangle cloth diaper, for the uninitiated), pins and plastic pants. Now, there is a dizzying array of cloth diaper systems, each with its own pros and cons. After a lot, and I do mean a lot, of rather tedious research, I decided on prefolds and snappable covers. All you do is lay the diaper into the cover and snap it on. Pretty easy! I got my diapers from Babies Bottoms and More. Elisa, the owner, was amazing at answering all my questions and helping me out. Plus I'm just a soft touch when it comes to small, local, home-based businesses.

For anyone who might be considering cloth diapers, there are some general pros and cons I can share.

1. Cost savings. Disposable diapers cost upward of $50 per month, at least at my house. From birth to two years, that's $1200 alone, and that's assuming you'll never need more diapers in any given month and that your child will potty train by age two exactly. Cloth diapers will cost anywhere from $200-500 upfront depending on which system you use. Don't forget to factor in utilities though. I calculated the amount of electricity and water we would use if we washed a load of diapers every other day, and the overall net increase in our electric/water bill would be no more than $10 per month, and that's if we do a LOT of washing. So I'm saving $40 a month right off the bat. Awesome!
2. No chemicals. Disposable diapers are made with various chemicals to bleach them white and increase absorbency. These chemicals often irritate baby skin and are also linked to other health issues. In addition, they are often not very environmentally friendly or very biodegradable. Cotton, on the other hand, is just...cotton.
3. Re-usable and re-sellable. If I have more children, I can re-use the diapers. Even if I have to buy new covers (they do wear out), the cotton inserts will last for a long long time. And surprisingly enough, there is a market for used cloth diapers/covers/systems. So I could even recoup some of my costs that way, if I chose.
4. Cute cute covers. Ok this is kind of superficial of me, but the diaper covers come in the neatest colors. I'm not a big fan of patterns, I prefer the solid colors, but there are so many to choose from. I just enjoy having more options than...white only!

1. More work. Not gonna lie, it's going to add to my laundry. I don't mind laundry so it's not a big deal to me, but for someone else, it may be a dealbreaker. You can always go with a diaper service if you want, but they are more expensive and usually only come once a week, so by the time they come to pick up the old diapers and drop off the new, the oldest diapers have been marinating for a week. I don't care how awesome your diaper pail or diaper bag is, that's just gonna stink no matter what.
2. They are bulkier. Baby clothes nowadays are designed with the slimmer profile of a disposable diaper in mind. It's just something you have to keep in mind when shopping for baby.
3. Poopy diapers. Not so much fun, we'll just put it that way. You can either swish the poop off the diaper into the toilet, get a diaper sprayer and spray it into the toilet, scrape it off into the toilet (I'm kind of noticing a trend here...) or use a diaper liner which just peels off the cloth and either goes into the toilet or into the trash. The liners add more to the cost. And there is going to be just a little more of an ick factor as opposed to disposables where the whole mess is contained within the throwaway diaper.
4. Inconvenient. This is mostly an issue when on the road or out and about. I have a waterproof bag to put wet diapers in until I get home, but it's definitely not as easy as just pitching a disposable into the trash.
5. Day Care. Some places won't accomodate cloth diapers, so it's definitely something to consider.

I'll be the first to say this isn't for everyone. If you're on the fence and don't know if you want to do it or not, definitely do not shell out tons of money upfront just to find out you won't stick with it! You can buy one or two diapers and try it out "part time, and some places even do diaper rentals so you can try out different kinds of cloth diaper systems and see what you like best, or if you like cloth diapering at all!

Bottoms up!

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