Monday, March 11, 2013

Cloth Diapering with Baby

We brought our little Raygan home from the hospital six weeks ago and my how they've flown by! The first few weeks were definitely an adjustment for everyone, but now we're in a groove as a family and loving our little monkey to pieces. So, hopefully, I can find time to get back to blogging on a regular basis during some of his nap times.

We were committed to cloth diapering and going diaper free (sometimes, when it works for us) well before we even found out we were pregnant. The cost and environmental benefits were huge to us, especially knowing that we hoped to have more than one child and that the cloth diapers could be used with the next baby. The health benefits to him are an added bonus.

Most of the cloth diapers we purchased were Charlie Banana ones, mostly because they were available at Target through our registry. We were given two that are velcro closure style, one from my friend who makes them for her (Etsy store. These are easy to leave in the diaper bag for those times when we need to leave him with someone who's not as comfortable with cloth diapering since they're styled more like the disposable kind in terms of closures. We discovered that people were hesitant to buy cloth diapers, I guess because they either weren't sure we were committed to the idea or because they wanted to buy something cute like clothes or books. So we ended up pooling our gift cards and buying them ourselves, which worked just as well. My school faculty also wanted to throw us a diaper shower, so we ended up getting about 12 cloth diapers that way also. We've found that the 30 cloth diapers we currently have is enough to get us through about two days of cloth diapering, allowing for what's in the laundry. Since Raygan is still so little, he's eating frequently, which means frequent diaper changes.

Washing is a cinch with these. We keep a diaper pail beside his changing station, so we just toss the dirty diapers, liners, and cloth wipes we use in there at each change and wash them when the pail is full and we're down to about six clean diapers. We love the design of the Charlie Banana diapers since the pocket is in the front, it means its less messy to get the liner out, and they're really adjustable with the elastic in the legs and the snaps in the front. We wash them on warm with a phosphate free detergent and either line dry them or toss them in the dryer on low heat. Stuffing them is easy; we can do it while we watch an episode of White Collar on Netflix and it takes no time; it's really easy to do with him in the Moby Wrap too.
All told, we figure we "spent" about $300 with gift cards to get the cloth diapers for him and we had a few given to us as shower gifts. Since we're cloth diapering exclusively now (he was a little small for them at first), we're not having to buy any disposables, which is saving us probably $20 a week right now. Rough estimates from various sources figure we'll save between $1000 and $2000 on diapering costs alone with him, and that doesn't include the cloth wipes we're using instead of disposables (they're flannel ones a friend made and thin washcloths). This savings is huge, since it's helping us cut costs so that Benny can stay home with him when I go back to work in August.

And then there's the environmental benefit of not filling the landfill with all those disposable things. Of course, there are folks who would argue that it's a toss up since we're washing with warm water, which uses more energy, but hopefully our new water saving washer will help to offset that somewhat. And we wait to wash until we've got a full load of diapers, which means we're saving some energy there too. Being able to line dry them in the summer will be great, and it'll help sun bleach out the poop stains. By using cloth diapers, we're also able to cut down on our chemical consumption as a family, since there are far fewer chemicals used in these than in the disposables (all those super absorbent polymers, etc.).

Plus there are health benefits for Raygan to using cloth diapers. Since he can feel it more in cloth diapers when he's wet or dirty, we change him more frequently than we might in disposable diapers. This means there's less diaper rash and less of a risk of yeast infections for him. It also means that potty training will be far easier, because he won't have lost that feeling of what it's like when he "goes", which means hopefully we'll be out of diapers sooner than if he were in disposables. Friends who cloth diaper also report that they've seen fewer accidents with their kids who were in cloth diapers exclusively, probably because they're more aware of the signs of needing to go and so they don't wait until it's urgent. And, we're exposing him to fewer chemicals by cloth diapering, which makes us feel better, since many of these chemicals haven't been researched in terms of long term effects.

So, all in all, we're thrilled with our decision to cloth diaper. Some might say it's more work; we just see it as a different kind of work (more laundry vs. more trips to the dump). We love that it allows us to save some significant money, and it allows us to save a huge amount of landfill space. Do you cloth diaper? Thinking about it? I'd love to hear from you! Here's to living green and saving green bringing up baby.

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