Sunday, June 19, 2011

One Year In Cloth – The Choice, The Journey

On April 26, 2010 my husband and I were blessed by the arrival of our little boy, Silas. Before he arrived, we talked about a lot of different parenting things, and one thing he said is that he wanted to cloth diaper Silas like his Mom had cloth diapered him. Since we work to be as environmental as possible, I thought, “Why not.” I started doing research on the options (like I do as a researcher), and was overwhelmed. My best friend from graduate school, Alana, had been cloth diapering her son for over a year and sent me a file with her “year worth of accumulated cloth diapering wisdom.” It was a godsend. She helped me understand the options (prefolds? Covers? AIO whats? Is OS really OS?) and gave me suggestions for accessories that were really helpful to her. Her advice gave me a direction to say the least.

When Silas was consistently 8 pounds, I bought my first two diapers from Eden’s Baby in San Antonio. I decided against newborn sized diapers because I didn’t think it was economical to buy a diaper stash for someone who would outgrow that size pretty quickly. So I chose two pocket diapers that I had researched well – a Bum Genius (BG) 3.0 one size (OS) Aplix (Velcro) diaper and a FuzziBunz (FB) OS snap diaper (with the adjustable elastic inside the diaper). I didn’t prep them enough (usually three washings should be sufficient to start using them) and the FB leaked all over him at his pediatrician’s appointment. I think it was also due to the elastic sizing though – I may have had the adjustments on the wrong size. Eventually my husband told me he liked the Velcro better than the snaps, so I sold the FB on eBay and started buying BG OS diapers. Alana had suggested we buy all snaps due to the fact that eventually Silas would be able to remove the Velcro (and the snaps at some point too), but I went with what Mike wanted because I wanted him to be involved in the choices. At four months I found Silas in his crib with no diaper on after he had removed the Velcro, so I started selling off my Velcro diapers and only buying snaps. Mike dealt. Velcro is a lot easier when you’re first trying to diaper baby, but snaps last longer because the Velcro tends to get nasty in the washer after a while. You can replace the Velcro (and Cotton Babies actually sells kits to fix your Aplix) if it gets bad though, so that’s definitely a plus. There are also folks out there who will convert your diapers from Aplix to snaps for a fee (usually about $5 per diaper).

The first thing we realized we wanted as an accessory was a diaper sprayer. We bought the BG Sprayer from Cotton Babies and installed it in three minutes, and I have never been happier with a purchase. It makes clean up of solid diapers 200% easier (especially since we tried the garden hose once). We also got a couple of wet bags to keep the diapers in because grocery bags just weren’t cutting it. My favorite is the Kangacare/Rumparooz wet bag as it holds about a washer-load of diapers. I looked at doing cloth wipes, and tried them for a bit, but I found Mike wouldn’t use them so I switched back to regular wipes.

Once we started diapering and I felt comfortable with what we were doing, I started looking around at other options in terms of styles and companies. I found I really liked trying new things, especially since I found that if we didn’t like them we could always sell them for almost as much as we paid for them. I realized that cloth diapers are a lot like women’s clothing – each company has their own fit and style, and some work for you and some don’t. Some fit your kid’s butt really well, others just don’t. My son has a long torso (or a long rise, which is the measurement from the belly button down around his boy parts to the top of butt/waist). If a diaper has a short rise, then it just won’t fit him. Rumparooz, while super cute, did not fit my son to 35 pounds as they are supposed to for that reason. They fit him to 28 pounds (did I mention he’s also tall and heavy?).

As many parents write, cloth diapering is addictive. It becomes almost like your hobby – collecting diapers for your kid’s butt. Sounds funny, I know. “Most of the time it gets covered up by clothes, so who cares about the print,” you may think. Well, that’s true, but fun prints are so much more fun. Parents post pictures of their “stash” (collection of cloth diapers or CDs) and other parents ooh and ah. They buy/sell/trade and collect different ones on Facebook, eBay, and websites dedicated to cloth diapering sales like DiaperSwappers. They stalk diapers and diaper covers (that go over the non-waterproof diapers like Goodmamas, Thirsties Fab Fitteds, and Kiwi Pies) and post that they are IDSO (in dire search of) a certain print/size. From the outside looking in, it can be pretty funny. Outsiders would think, “Really? You sat on eBay for 3 hours battling another person for a Kissaluvs owl print diaper? Really?” Yes, I did. My son’s room was decorated in owls – I wanted that diaper. Goodmamas (GMs) stock on Fridays with a preview on Facebook on Thursdays. It’s like Christmas – limited quantities for multiple mommas means you get there early and you have your PayPal ready to go so you can check out faster than the other people stalking the same diaper you want. A GM sold for over $400 on Spots Corner. No joke. Some people are, in a word, addicted.

So my kid’s butt has been around the cloth diapering block. We’ve used pocket diapers (BG 3.0 and 4.0, FB OS, FB Perfect Size [sized diapers], Happy Heiny’s, Smartipants, AppleCheeks,Thirsties Duo Diapers, Rumparooz, Blueberry, Swaddlebees, Wahmies, Bububibi, LolliDoos, Coolbaby, and Sunbaby), fitted diapers (Thirsties Fab Fitteds, Sustainablebabyish, GMs, Kiwi Pies, and Kissaluvs), prefolds with a cover (Thirsties, Gen Y, Bummis, Kushies, gDiapers, and Econobum), and All in Ones (AIOs) which have an insert sewn in usually so there’s no need to search for the matching insert (BG AIOs, BG Elementals, Kissaluv’s Marvels OS AIO, The Eli Monster, DryBees, Blissful Booty, Envibum, Tots Bots, Dream-Eze, GroVia, Imse Vimse, and CuteyBaby). Ok that list kind of disturbs me. As you can see though, I’m willing to try anything. I do have to say that my “workhorse” diapers (the ones I use the most) are my BG 3.0s and 4.0s and my FB (size medium currently) though. I think daycare has the easiest time with these too as I’ve seen some of the others come home on him backwards or fastened incorrectly (remember, SmartiPants goes in the BACK, snaps almost always go in the front).

The funny thing is the companies we started out with (BGs and FBs) are the ones that still fit him the best (as of right now). While he’s on the last “size” of the BG OS diapers (because of his long rise), he still fits pretty well in FB size mediums, and I’m thankful for that. If he didn’t, I’m not sure how much longer we could cloth diaper. While the rate of growth slows in the second year, it’s kind of sad that my son has pretty much grown out of almost everything else out there.

So where do you go if you’re a parent (or about to be a parent) and you’re interested in learning how to cloth diaper? A lot of the CDing sites have “How To” pages, and I’ve found that the one at Cotton Babies (home of BG, Flip, and Econobum) is amazingly helpful. There are discussion boards on DiaperSwappers where you can read other people’s questions and post your own, and the parents there (mostly Moms really) are very helpful. Some answers to frequently asked questions: No, washing your diapers doesn’t make your water bill go up by that much; No, washing diapers really doesn’t take that much more time out of your week (with a large enough stash you can wash twice or three times per week); Yes, daycare may have a problem with it initially but you can teach them how to “work” cloth diapers (on July 19 Rockin’ Green cloth diaper detergent will post my guest blog about how to work with your daycare and I’ll post the link here); No, it’s not “grosser” than using disposable diapers – if you’re a person afraid of poop, then I’m not sure that parenting is for you :)

Cloth diapering – try it, you might like it! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or post your question in response to this. I love helping parents with their diapering journey.