I started cloth diapering a little over a year ago and I wanted to share my adventure.
On my trip to Haiti, I met an awesome friend from Georgia who not only cloth diapered her own kiddos, but also her foster kiddos. I probably looked at her like a space alien because I can’t say I had ever heard of anyone using cloth diapers. Damien and I were just thinking about getting pregnant so I had some time to ponder her outlandish suggestion, but just a few months later we actually were pregnant.
I’ve come to realize that my version of nesting is more like crazed Internet research. I have read articles on just about every baby related topic and come to realize that you really can read whatever you want in the internet. My friend mentioned how cheap cloth diapering was and so the research started!
At first, it all seemed way too overwhelming. They were cute, but how many types are there? How on earth was I going to figure out where to start? Thankfully, pregnancy is pretty long and the cheapskate in me really wanted to figure this out. Not to mention that I had pretty much been converted by all the cuteness I was seeing.
The greatest resource I found was Kelly’s Closet. They have some great getting started articles, they sell almost all of the well known brands, and their Facebook page is a goldmine of women ready to help you with absolutely anything you could ever need. The other great thing about them is that they always have a coupon of some sort. There are some straight dollar off ones, but hands down, the best value are the free diaper coupons. I have taken advantage of the those free diapers in order to earn about 30% off my total diaper cost!
Even after I committed by buying my first diapers, I was nervous. Would I really do this? Would it just be too gross or too much work, or too hard? Thankfully, Damien was a pretty easy sell. As long as it saved us money – on average cloth diapering can save you $1500-$3000 per kid depending on how long they are in diapers and whether you buy the fancy ones or not – he was up for it. We only bought a few covers and prefolds and 3 all in ones for the newborn stage. I didn’t want to spend too much money on something that may not fit for long or that I might give up on. Thankfully, our little boogie was pretty little so they fit for awhile.
We started cloth diapering at 1 month. I’ll admit, I was terrified. I’m not sure why, but it was so intimidating. After the first day, things were going pretty smoothly. We only had a few so I had to wash them every day, but it was just so easy. Even Damien wasn’t phased by them. We both were a little shocked by how we hadn’t really changed anything except we didn’t have to go spend money every few days.
As Boogie got older and bigger, we slowly invested in the one size diapers that would fit him for the rest of his diapering days. It was so fun adding bright colors and cool patterns. Now the issue was that I hated putting clothes on him because it would cover up his diaper!
As we neared 6 months we had another scare. Breastfed poop is water soluble. No rinsing off – just straight in the diaper pail and then in the laundry. It’s basically like water anyway. If you’re a parent, it’s not even gross. However; solid food poop is another story. It has to be disposed of in the toilet and the diaper rinsed off before you wash it. Damien and I were definitely worried this would be a deal breaker for us. I had intentionally been conservative about how many diapers we were buying so that we wouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. I figured that even if we quit on the day he turned 6 months we would break even. With that in mind we kept going.
The 6 month mark came and went. Sure, it’s not pleasant, but we have a diaper sprayer (basically a handheld bidet that attaches to your toilet) which is a cloth diapering necessity. I don’t know how parents go without one. You can, but dunking in the toilet water which will then be poopy is not an option for me! The sprayer makes it super easy, dump off what you can, rinse a little, and put it in the bucket. Some parents also have need for a diaper spatula which seems handy, but we don’t need one.
Since 6 months there has really been no change. I haven’t bought a diaper for little man since October of 2011. My total cost for all diapers is a little under $600 and I would say I’m a medium spender. I have some fancy diapers, some super basic ones, and a bunch in the middle. The best part of that $600 is that Boogie’s little brother will cost nothing! We don’t have to spend another dime and we have all the diapers we need. It’s possible we’ll add a few more (there are some cute ones calling my name), but we don’t need to.
The only other thing worth mentioning is washing. You have to make sure that your detergent doesn’t leave buildup that would cause them to stop absorbing. We have SUPER hard water so I use Rockin’ Green Hard Rock and I haven’t had any issues. Every once in awhile, they still get a little ammonia build up from being peed on, but an extra hot cycle with no soap after the normal wash works pretty well. The only thing I’ve had to change is I recently bought Calgon water softener. It’s just a laundry additive and I put it in with my soap or in the no soap hot wash. I’ve noticed that it really does help everything wash out better. If you don’t use a soap formulated for hard water or the Calgon, the soap spends all its time fighting the minerals in the water instead of cleaning your diapers. Figuring out what type of water you have is probably one of the most important things to do before you start.
I wanted a place that makes figuring out all the crazy types of cloth diapers a little easier, so I actually added a page for cloth that will always be accessible and won’t get lost in the stream of posts.
My hope is that everyone would consider cloth at least for the financial benefit. There are obviously tons of green reasons, but to me cost is always the strongest motivator.