Thursday, September 25, 2008

Too Late For Cloth Diapers? LemonCadet Guest Posts!

Well, I could not be more excited. I threw a random challenge at one of my favorite Etsy crafters a little while ago (What? You don't fall in love with the people who make your kids' clothes? And then pepper them with questions? Maybe you should be shopping on etsy!).

LemonCadet? I asked, should I bother to switch my almost-two-year-old-boy to cloth diapers? I figure lots of folks out there already do the comparisons (like I did) back when they are pregnant, but who's out there doing the math for us late bloomers (heh, heh)? I won't bore you with our tale of switching from a diaper service to the 7th Generation whole wheat diapers and now on to the theoretically compostable Nature BabyCare diapers (for the moment). If there's anyone out there on the fence like me on the cloth scene, check out the LemonCadet wisdom on the washable nappies. And if you live in DC, you've got to check out her a-dorable stuff at the CraftyBastards fair in Adams Morgan on Sunday, Sept. 28th. See you there!

LemonCadet: "Since I have recently become absolutely obsessed with cloth diapers, MamaBird here asked me if it was too late to start using cloth on her 21-month old son. Always up for a challenge, I got started on the research --and the math.

There are many reasons to use cloth. Many mamas use cloth because of the environmental impact (I've read that one baby's disposables take up as much space in a landfill as a car!). Others choose cloth because their children are allergic to the chemicals in the "sposies." One of the most common reasons to use cloth is that it's just plain cheaper (well, it can be). MamaBird will spend almost $500 on disposable diapers for the few months left until potty training using only 3 - 4 diapers per day (the average age of potty training for boys is 31 months, longer for kids not in day care). It will be devastating for her if we add up just how much she has spent on sposies so far so we'll leave it up to the imagination while remembering that newborns go through at least 12 diapers a day for the first few weeks. My 5-month old is still using about 8 - 9 dipes a day. And how many times have you put on a clean diaper only to have the kid pee on it before you get the tabs closed?

I personally use cloth because I hate throwing stuff away. We recycle, we compost, we use dishtowels to dry our hands and hankies to blow our noses. It only made sense to use cloth diapers. We have a washer/dryer in our basement and a clothesline in the yard. Hanging up the wet diapers on a sunny day has become a routine that I look forward to. I enjoy stuffing my clean pocket dipes in the evening after the baby's in bed. It's one of the few mindless things I get to do.

At the bare minimum, I would suggest that MamaBird buy about 15 pocket diapers and at least 20 inserts. This is an easy combination allowing for fewer trips to the washing machine and little to no dryer use. Pocket diapers (the most popular brands are bumGenius for their one-size diaper and FuzziBunz for their sized diapers) have an inner layer of a polyester fabric that wicks wetness away from the baby. The outer shell is PUL, a waterproof material that keeps the clothes from getting wet. Inside the pocket there's room to stuff an insert.

I prefer FuzziBunz because they have snaps that are harder for babies to remove than velcro. They also dry really fast --and that's the key in this experiment. Inserts take longer to dry; that's why I recommend having more of those on hand. Most people get by with one microfiber insert, heavy wetters may need two. Plain microfiber doesn't take too long to dry but hemp and bamboo do take a while. Many mamas opt for an insert that combines layers of microfiber and hemp for maximum absorbency without a lot of bulk.

Sadly, I recommend that she stick with sposies at night because I have yet to find a good nighttime option that I feel comfortable sharing. This may soon change.

The goods: I found seconds at the FuzziBunz site for only $12 each! Several websites sell packs of inserts at a discount so 20 microfiber inserts would run about $50 (you would need more of these because of drying times). That's a total of $230; a whole lot less than will be spent on sposies. And just think about the value if you plan to use them on more than one kid. If not, you can always give them away, donate them, or resell them. Another option is to buy used. I have bought FuzziBunz with inserts in excellent condition for only $15 each.

Of course there are hidden costs. I read on my favorite cloth diapering forum, The Diaper Pin, that it costs about $5 a week to wash and dry cloth. That's even less if you line dry. You can put a drying rack in your tub or hang the diapers with hangers from your shower curtain bar if you don't have easy access to a clothesline. If you want to go out for the day, you need a wetbag to haul your diapers home with you ($15) although you could reuse plastic shopping bags. We use a washable pail liner and a laundry hamper to store our dirty diapers at home. These cost $15 - $20 but you could always repurpose a plastic bucket with a lid. You could buy some cloth wipes or cut up your own from old t-shirts and towels. You could buy wipe solution or make your own.

So let's add about $45 to this to be generous for a revised total of $275 --still almost 50% less than what would be spent on disposables. And this is just what I recommend. Everyone has their own favorite brands. This is just a suggestion that I think will work for someone who doesn't have the best access to her washing machine.

On the other hand, you could spend hundreds and hundreds on fancy organic diapers and matching covers but cloth can be done easily and cheaply. Either way, you will get addicted."

Thank you, LemonCadet! What more could I need, personal researcher?! You rock and I can't wait to see your new yetis on Sunday! My little guy already sleeps with two "monnies" (that's monster to you and me) so I have a feeling a little more furry love may be in our future.

P.S. The gorgeous pictures are all from LemonCadet: of the beautiful cloth diapers and wipes she sewed, as well as her darling baby girl, Zadie! Check out Zadie's beautiful nursery (the Flickr set is amazing) if you dig LemonCadet's artistic vision as much as

I do. The room is lovely without being sappy. Kind of like LC.


lolasmom said...

Congrats on switching to cloth! You'll love it! Thanks for introducing me to a new Etsy seller.

Green Me said...

Night time we do the Bum Genius with 3 hemp inserts...the hemp inserts are thinner, so they don't make a huge diaper. Our son (15 months) is a big wetter, so we had to start using cloth at night...only way to contain him! I'll try to find the store I bought the liners at to share the link...its been a while...

I love Bum Genius and find the AIO easier to use than the pockets (Fuzzi Bunz or Bum Genius) but in DC with your humidity they may never dry outside the dryer. Here I need a good 3+ hours of sun and a dry day...

Green Me said...

The inserts we use in our Bum Genius at night are very similar to this...might be the same as I bought them through this store:

Ivory Soap said...

Thank you for posting this! I have wanted to switch to cloth but we're about to hit the potty training stage and I was staring at a LOT of pull-ups in the future. I would even know that decent cloth training pants existed if I hadn't followed your links.

Anonymous said...

I've read about switching to cloth for potty training.

Premise being that FEELING the wetness (especially with 'active' boys who don't want to stop playing) helps to establish a connection between the action and result...

We use unbleached cotton w/ covers daytime and dreameze at night.

But we get our goods here


LemonCadet said...

I've been thinking that there are much cheaper ways to do this. You could buy a stack of prefolds for less than $30 and some cheap covers like Thirsties (you'd probably need 4). I personally was over prefolds at 6 weeks (since of snappis, sick of folding, all that). Plus they take much longer to dry...

For nights we are now stuffing one hemp with one microfiber and it does well for our 5-month old for her 12 hours. I just can't imagine this working for her when she gets bigger and pees even more than she does now. But we're going to keep using cloth at night until we get leaks.