I've come to realize that I'm pseudo-granola when it comes to caring for Owen. I'm a blend of exclusively breastfeed until 6 months but give a bottle of formula on occasion, make baby food but purchase some of it, cloth diaper but only some of the time. Yep, we cloth diaper... sort of.
Patrick and I first discussed cloth diapers during a car ride a few years ago after I read a blog post by John and Sherry Petersik at Young House Love. You can read their post here. I had never heard of anyone (in this day and age) using cloth. Well, I was intrigued mainly because I like to save my pennies for fun things and disposable diapers just don't fit into that category. I was also impressed with the cloth diapers themselves. I mean, these aren't the cloth diapers that our mommas had to work with. I asked Patrick if he'd ever consider using cloth. I remember being shocked when he very quickly responded that he'd be fine with cloth diapers. First of all, I wasn't even sure I'd be up to the task when the day arrived and second, who was this man?
Fast forward a few years to when we were expecting Owen. I brought up the subject of cloth diapers again. At this point, cloth diapering had become the somewhat "hip" thing to do for your kids' tush. It was no longer uncommon to hear of people using cloth. In fact, we knew of several people that were giving it a go. Some of these people were successful and some weren't. I was still intrigued so I asked Patrick again what he thought. He didn't shoot down the idea, but he didn't jump at it quite as fast this time either. I guess reality had hit!
People can paint the prettiest picture of things on the internet (even if it is about pee and poop). I don't personally know John and Sherry. I began to wonder if they were just blowing sunshine from behind their computer screen. I usually only trust the opinion of people I know. Thanks to some of our friends who used cloth, we now understood the not so fun side of the cloth diaper journey. However, we were still curious. I did my research and we decided to give it a whirl.
I wanted to set us up for success so I registered for 18 bumGenius 4.0 with snap closures. If I remember correctly, we ended up receiving 6 as gifts and then we purchased the rest from Cotton Babies. We bought two wet bags, registered for a diaper sprayer, and even bought some flannel wipes (we are still really bad about using the flannel wipes and have been using disposable ones). I really wondered what in the world we were getting ourselves into but once the items began making their way into our home I realized it was really happening.
I should also add that we do not use cloth at night. By the time we got Owen into his cloth diapers he was sleeping through the night. Plus, we always put ointment on Owen before bed due to the fact that he has sensitive skin and stays in one diaper for almost 12 hours. Ointment is a no-no for cloth diapers as it makes them repel liquid. Our solution was to just use a disposable at night.
We also don't use cloth diapers when traveling out of town. I just can't imagine trying to launder them while we're out and about. We also don't ask people that take care of Owen to use cloth diapers. I mean, they can use them if they'd like but not a single person has taken us up on the offer.
So, you may be wondering if they work. We think so. We really haven't run into any issues that are deal breakers. I do want to write about the reasons I have liked the cloth diapers as well as point out the downside of cloth. Like most things in life, there are pros and there are cons.
Let's start with cons...
Laundry. There is a reason this is listed at the top. It's true, using cloth adds to laundry duty. Cloth diapers are to be laundered every other day. There is no way around it. However, I haven't found the added laundry to be a deal breaker. While we use more water, we did upgrade our washer and dryer to more energy efficient ones. We hang the shells in the hall bath after washing and dry the inserts in the dryer. I've been surprised by how quickly they all get done. Stuffing the diapers does take time but I usually do it at night after Owen has gone to bed. It takes about 10-15 minutes but I'm getting faster at it. I should also add that we had to buy special laundry detergent for the diapers as well. We went with the powdered form of Charlie's Soap and it does well.
Stink. No matter how you cut it, as a parent, we deal with stink. No matter how you diaper, you still have to clean up poop. Does it stink when I open the wet bag to add a dirty cloth diaper? Absolutely. But it also stinks when I open the diaper pail to add a disposable. Either way, I think parents learn how to hold their breath at the right moment. We also follow the manufacturers instructions and use bleach every so often with our diapers and it definitely helps cut the smell when the diapers start taking on an ammonia stench.
Leaks. We used to have the occasional leak happen. We've had more leaks happen in disposables though. Most leaks in his cloth were user error- which is why I said we "used to have". I think it was just part of the learning curve.
Our errors which occurred early on were all related to proper placement of the liner and proper fit. Once, I allowed the insert to slip out the back of the diaper. Those inserts work like a wick so the urine just soaked right up his back. Also, we have to adjust the diaper as Owen grows and changes. I think I set the diaper too loose in the beginning before realizing that his pee could shoot right out the top or through a leg hole if I didn't get it snug.
I haven't experienced a leak in cloth diapers in months. I haven't had a poop blowout ever (now let me go find some wood to knock...).
Let's move on. I have found cloth diapers to come with a few perks. So now we have the pros.
Saving money. Besides the initial purchases made for the diapers themselves and the wet bags, we don't spend a lot of money on diapers. I can still count on one hand the number of times I've bought diapers. Now, I'll admit, we were given quite a few boxes at showers and from my parents so we would have bought more by now if it hadn't been for their generosity. When I do purchase diapers I buy a large box of target brand. I've read that if you exclusively cloth diaper, you save about $2,000. Of course, it will be less for us. I like knowing that we always have a diaper on hand though. We never have to worry about running out.
Cuteness. There is just something about a bum in cloth that I love. Some people complain about the bulkiness of cloth diapers, but I find the extra fluffy tush to be kind of cute. The colors are fun and some even have print.
No diaper rash. Cloth is more breathable than disposables and they don't have the chemicals that disposables have. Owen is a little on the sensitive side when it comes to his skin so I do wonder if using cloth has helped.
Easier to potty train. Apparently, children who wear cloth are easier to potty train because as a toddler, they can feel the wetness and dislike it. Whereas, children in disposables don't feel wet and can be reluctant to give them up. We'll see how that pans out for us later.