If you are at all considering the use of cloth diapers (and please do!), you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, or, if your pregnant, whatever sipping drink you like to indulge in, and get comfortable. This reads more like an article in a pregnancy magazine than it does a blog post, but I feel that the information is important enough to give it careful consideration.
When I start thinking about important options for baby- to- be, one could say that I tend to obsess a little. Okay, I obsess a lot, it’s just a part of my process. I have been obsessing for YEARS over travel systems, travel systems that include jogging strollers, the type of wheels on said strollers, the weight and size of said strollers. Just thinking about the options for bottles that transition easily from the breast makes my skirt fly up and I can’t seem to focus on anything else. Get the point? I even got a part-time job at Babies R Us at one point which helped to fuel my obsessions. Clearly, I have issues.
When it comes to diapers, you can only imagine the level of obsessing that has been going on in my head. I have come to this conclusion, and it was an easy one: we will be using cloth diapers. I do not judge the use of disposables. I get the convenience factor and I believe that diapering choices should be based upon each family’s lifestyle, budget, and environmental concerns. I feel that we need to give cloth diapers a fair shake. According to The New Parents Guide, “It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually.” I am not okay with my babies’ waste contributing to the untreated waste and all of that plastic in the landfills. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
So now we need to talk options. Baby, there are many. There are “prefolds” (rectangular) diapers, there are all-in-one fitted diapers, there are snap and velcro closures and there are MANY choices for cloth diaper covers as well. Oh, let’s not forget the option of the the hybrid diaper that has a biodegradable and flushable insert. You also have a choice whether you’ll wash the diapers yourself or use a diaper service. Again, this is a choice that should be made based upon the same criteria I mentioned above. Good thing I’ve been REALLY obsessing thinking about all of this for you. Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered. Pun intended.
First, let’s discuss the diaper itself.
You will need to first choose the type of diaper you will use and then you will need to choose the cover(s) that best work for you. All of my research has suggested that the use of prefolds is the best way to go. According to Diaperco, “Prefolds are sometimes referred to as old-fashioned diapers, white rectangles of cotton, but today’s prefolds are quite different than what your mom or grandmother will remember. You’ll want to be sure to purchase Diaper Service Quality prefolds (DSQ), the best ones being the Chinese Prefolds (CPFs) or Indian Prefolds. These have 3 panels of varying absorbency, with the thickest part in the center. When you see them marked as 4x8x4, that means the two side panels are 4 layers thick, and the center is 8 layers thick. You fold them yourself and fasten them with pins, a “Snappi,” or simply lay them in a snap or Velcro cover and close it. They are your most economical diapering choice.”
Next, let’s talk laundry.
You certainly have the option of laundering the diapers yourself. I have thought about it and I have discussed it at length with my mom, sister-in-law, grandmother, next-door neighbor, and husband. I have come to the conclusion that I will be using a diaper service. Baby’s Choice Diaper Service, is a family-owned business based in my city. I would venture to guess that most of you could find a similar service available where you live.
When using a service, you do not have the initial expense of purchasing the diapers, which can get pretty hefty, depending upon how much laundry you feel like doing after you’ve been up all night with a fussy baby. Let’s face it, your laundry is going to increase exponentially when you add a newborn to the mix, without even considering cloth diapers. When you use a service, they deliver the clean diapers to your door and pick up the soiled ones each week, at the same time. If you’re not going to be home, you can place them outside. I e-mailed the owner of Baby’s Choice, and he responded promptly. They have 4 sizes of diapers available and he recommends the use of velcro diaper covers to eliminate the use of pins. The cost for a newborn (80 diapers) is $16.95 per week. The service is cheaper as your baby grows and you need less diapers. My mom also pointed out, “You can also use the diapers as burp cloths and then just throw them in with the soiled ones!” Good point, I like it. I’ve considered the cost of laundering at home vs. the cost of the service and I have come to the conclusion that it would only be only a few dollars per week difference. It’s absolutely worth it, if you ask me. And, it’s more environmentally friendly. But feel free to research that yourself if you’d like.
Time to choose a cover!
I went on Baby’s Choice’s community forum to see what real moms who are using prefolds have to say. Then, I went to the sites where you can actually purchase the covers that people are talking about to read the customer reviews. Here’s what I’ve come up with, according to the moms who are in the trenches (read: elbow deep in poop).
Bumpkins seem to be a great option.
Pros: They are relatively inexpensive and have a nice “trim” (not bulky) fit. They are easy to use and have a velcro closures. They are really cute.
Cons: Some users report that the vent in the back can leak over night, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem for everyone. Stick to the bright patterns, as the white tends to stain easily.
Besides the fact that this sleeping baby is killing me, Thirsties seem to be a great option as well.
Pros: People love these covers. It seems that they are great for naps and overnights, as very few people have experienced leaks with them. One mom claims, “I’ve never had a blowout!” I am thinking that this is a good thing.
Cons: Some people love the snap closure system, and others complain that it doesn’t keep the diaper in place. Again, stay away from the white, as they stain more easily.
I originally discounted this hybrid diaper cover, as I didn’t want the additional expense of the flushable inserts. However, check out what this mom from the Baby’s Choice forum has to say, “I use gDiaper covers. They are cute colors, breathable cotton, and are very versatile. I use the cloth diapers as inserts home, and their biodegradable/flushable inserts when I’m traveling.” This woman is brilliant! I am pretty sure that I would have never thought of that! I was originally thinking that I might use disposables when I am away from home, but now I won’t have to. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website, disposable diapers take 450 years to decompose as marine debris. And, it seems that in a landfill, they might NEVER decompose. GDiaper covers have given us a new option for when we are away from home! I love this idea! They are absolutely adorable, I might add.
So, there you have it. There are certainly other options to explore and I would love to hear from those of you who have experience with cloth diapers as well as those of you who have questions or comments on this important issue. Now that I have spent the past week or so obsessing over the options for cloth diapering, I need to choose the next topic upon which to fixate. Any ideas?