Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Cloth Diaper Lessons Learned

I keep saying I’m going to post more about cloth diapering. Here is my two cents. If this is your first – there is no reason in the world NOT to do this… seriously, I want to just kick myself for not doing this when it was just my first. Yes in my opinion it is that easy. OK, not “easy” but it does become routine and just something I do – should we go back to “no pain, no gain”….
Admittedly with two it is a little harder (let alone two actually using the diapers, which is thankfully not my situation). Still, it is doable and rewarding. I fold fluffy diapers while we play on the floor and my older loves to pick out the color that my younger will be rolling around in. They are cute (yea, a bit bulkier – but cute), soft, made/designed lovingly by family run business (mostly women). It is also addicting. Yes, you heard me – I can’t stop reading about them, wanting to try the next new diaper, searching for the best deals, reviewing them, chatting about them…. It can be a BAD addiction if you let it.

It isn’t even just about saving money (see note about addiction above). Though I believe we have seen some money savings. There is of course the environmental savings which is probably what drove me to look at it in the first place. I like knowing I’m reusing something rather than throwing it away – I think back to the huge garbage cans we set to the curb with our first and almost cry.

Oh, I recognize there is still debate about both kinds of “savings” surrounding cloth diapers. Still, the point of this blog is to tell you the choices my family is making and not start a debate. We believe we see obvious financial savings, even using more expensive pocket cloth diapers. We do use a bit more water and energy (1 short and 1 long load with an extra rinse in a HE washer every other day) which is harder to factor into the savings but I believe still adds up to savings.

It hasn’t all been a cake walk. We have had some recent mildew issues that haven’t been fun to deal with. I have had some used purchases not work out so great. But then there is the lack of diaper rash – nearly zero! Yes, that’s right, no chemicals and creams rarely needed, hardly any rash ever. So for whatever its worth – here are some of my lessons learned in my 6 months of using cloth.
  • Used vs. New – In the beginning I tried both and if I thought we were going to have more kids I think I would have purchased more of my cloth new. But lately I have purchased nearly all my cloth used. This is risky - we have had at least three bad diapers so far - but since we will not be having another child I felt better about buying used knowing these diapers can really last. My advice would probably be to buy a few used and try them to see if you like them, then if you want a whole stash buy new so you can return them if you have problems months down the road.
  • Snaps vs. Velcro – We discovered that Velcro was REALLY LOUD in the middle of the night and not for us. But, Velcro is quick and easier to adjust.
  • Prefolds and Covers vs. Pockets or All-in-One diapers - Prefolds and covers will save you money for sure, but for me they seemed more complex (heck they are probably even better for the environment if you get organic unbleached and use only a few covers). I’m not sure I gave them enough time… ok, I admit it I went for convenience and got pockets. However, pockets are harder for daddies hand to stuff.
  • Services vs. Do-it-yourself – I couldn’t see having a week’s worth of diapers sitting around so I prefer to do the laundry myself. Still, this may have made me love prefolds even more and probably would have stuck with them longer.

I found lots of great tips at The Cloth Diaper Whisperer and on other mommy blogs, through friends and local diaper stores like Milogras.

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