Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easing into cloth diapering

Jake in his cloth diaper.
Days into new motherhood, I felt chaotic, stressed, sleep deprived, and emotionally wrecked from putting so much pressure on myself to make breastfeeding work out the way I’d intended.

I was sort of having a breakdown when my eyes wandered to elaborate stash of cloth diapers we’d purchased while I was still pregnant, bright-eyed, and in love with the idea of saving money/helping the environment/adorning baby’s bottom with cute prints. And I thought daggers at my ambitious crazy former preggo self.

Cloth diapers?!?!? What in the world was I thinking? What made me feel like I could pull of such a thing? Clueless fool!

So I took a step back, took some deep breaths, and acted on some great advice from a friend who suggested we use disposables for the first month of Jake’s life. I planned for us to revisit cloth diapering in a hopefully much saner future (though while in the midst of the baby’s hazing period I was skeptical that even existed).

Giving ourselves that month or so to adjust made all the difference in the world! We started using our cloth diapers about five weeks ago, and amazingly we love them so far.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the stinky on our experience so far with using cloth diapers:

  • We bought used CDs to save money. If you’re not grossed out by the thought, this is definitely the way to go. We bought a stash of 18 used bumGenuis one-size pocked diapers from a friend of a friend for about half the cost. There’s a cloth diaper group in DFW that does a diaper swap and would be a great place to seek out folks looking to sell. Even if you don’t buy used, you’re still saving money compared to buying disposables. An article on (a finance management site) estimates the cost savings are about 27 percent for the child’s first year and 60 percent for the second year!
  • We love our one-size pocket diapers. I struggle with prefolds (the old-school CDs most people use as burp cloths nowadays). Almost every time I try to use a prefold I end up with a leak. I love the pocket diapers because you can stuff them with double inserts for extra absorbency. Plus they’re super easy to use – you put them on just like disposables. Even his daycare providers have adapted well to using them.
  • We take precautions to manage the smell. Dirty and soiled CDs get tossed in a pail liner (a special bag used for storing) that sits in a trashcan with a lid next to Jake’s changing table. The pail liners we purchase have a small fabric tab on the inside where you can apply drops of lovely-smelling essential oils like rose absolute blended with jojoba oil to combat the smell. We joke that Jake’s poop literally smells like roses. It’s no Diaper Genie (though I hear from my husband that those can reek to high heaven as well) so we really have to stay on top of washing them every other day or you’ll start to notice. Which leads me to…
  • We accepted that laundry is a pain. But it’s really not as bad as I thought it would be. Since Jake is fed breast milk exclusively, we can toss dirty diapers (poop and all) right in the washer. We run them through a cold rinse followed by a hot wash and an extra rinse with added water. Using detergent with no additives helps keep the diapers absorbent and in good shape. Once Jake starts eating solids and other things, though, we’ll have to change our process to rinse out the dirty diapers before throwing them in the washer. I’m not sure how well I’ll do with that yet.
So I'm really glad we made the leap of faith, because it's working well for us. And I do feel saner by now. Kind of.

Do you use cloth diapers or have you considered making the switch?

Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist, Stepmom, and New Mom to a two-month-old whose bottom is adorned with cute prints.

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