Friday, June 25, 2010

A Journey from Disposable to Cloth Diapering

When I was in 7th grade, I remember my science teacher teaching a lesson that had to do with the amount of waste associated with different convenience products.  And while I don't remember specifics... I do remember her telling us how the amount of disposable diapers used in just one year could be stacked one on top of the other and stretch from the Earth to the moon and back again 9 times!!  I remember thinking, "I'll never use disposable diapers.  That's such a waste."  And when I had my first child, I remembered that science lesson... but my fears of being a new parent and listening to what other people told me about their experiences with disposable vs. reusable diapers took over and as much as I hate to say it... I used disposable diapers.  Ugh.  Now, I'm not usually the type of person to say that I wish I could turn back the hands of time... but when it comes to how I diapered my children...THAT... I wish I could change.
 SO... since I can't change what I did... I can only tell people how much I wish I would've done differently:  for the environment and for the money that we threw away to the landfill.  

SO... on that note... meet my sister-in-law Lindsay.  This is her story:

"When I became pregnant with my first child there were suddenly a lot of decisions to make.  Should we find out the sex of the baby or let it be a surprise?  Formula feed or breastfeed?  Pacifier or no pacifier?  A biggie for me was disposable diapers or cloth diapers?  The answers to most of these questions came surprisingly easy to me as I navigated my way through the early days of parenting.  Upon my husband's wish we knew we were having a girl, were committed to giving breastfeeding a determined try and did not use a pacifier.  Actually our daughter decided this last one herself...she prefers to suck two fingers of her right hand.  :)

As for the diapering question I thought about the things I had heard my mom say about cloth diapering my older brother and myself.  The folding, laundering, and safety pins not to mention the mess and smell.  I knew cloth diapering would be better for my baby's skin and the environment so I did some research online.  I decided a cloth diapering service was the way to go.  After all, we just used the diapers and they came weekly and picked up the soiled diapers and left a new batch for the coming week.  Kind of like trash service.  The way I saw it it was the best of both worlds...until I found out that there was only 1 company in all of St. Louis that does this service...and they didn't service my area as of yet and didn't know when they would be. :(  After this disappointment I pretty much resigned to the fact that we were going to be using disposable diapers after all and we received many packs of disposables at our showers.

For 11 months we used disposable diapers on our daughter and then one day in December I was looking through a parenting magazine when a cloth diapering system caught my eye.  I instantly went online to find out more about it and from there began researching all the different forms of cloth diapering that are out there.  Why didn't I do this over a year before when I was expecting you might ask?  Well, to be completely honest I'm not sure.  I think maybe I lacked the confidence that I could do it when I was only an expectant mother and already feeling the normal jitters of becoming a parent for the first time.  By the time my daughter was approaching her first birthday I had gone through the hazing that is the newborn period, first fever, teething, crawling and even walking and inevitably falling.  In essence, the task of cloth diapering wasn't as daunting as I thought and as I read about the cloth diapering systems out there I thought to myself, "why didn't anyone tell me they had cloth diapers like this nowadays?" and "hey I can do this!"

So with that mantra in the back of my mind, I located a wonderful cloth diapering store located only 10 miles from my house!  They offered a cloth diapering 101 class that would show the many different ways to cloth diaper your baby, let you get your hands on samples and asks as many questions as you have. While taking a class like this is unnecessary, it certainly helped boost my confidence.  The staff there takes phone calls and are very helpful.  One system gets you from birth to potty training for under $100!  Gone goes the myth that it is more expensive.  Did you know that on average it costs anywhere from $1600-$3000 to use disposable diapers from birth to potty training?  Cloth diapers pay for themselves within the first six months.  After that you only pay a minimal amount to launder them i.e. water, electric & detergent.  We found this expense to be so minimal we didn't even see an increase in our electric or water bills.  Plus we never have to make a midnight run to the store to get more diapers.  The worst thing that we might have to do is a load of laundry...and really when aren't you doing laundry anyway?

I bought a few second hand diapers that night so I could just "try it for a day" and see how I liked it.  Guess what?  I LOVED it!  It was every bit as easy as disposable diapers and my heart was finally content knowing that I was doing something that went along with my morals and views.  It just felt RIGHT.  The following day I bought a dozen brand new diapers off of Craigslist.  BumGenius 3.0 All-In-One diapers are very popular so it was easy to find someone who had gotten them as a gift and didn't want to use them.  This saved me $5 a diaper.  SCORE!  After a few months of cloth diapering I knew this was what I wanted to do from the very beginning with our next baby so I patiently perused Craigslist once again and within a few weeks found another dozen at a great price.  Double SCORE!  Now I have enough diapers for two days with a newborn (24-28) or three days with my toddler.  This has made laundering the diapers a synch.

As for the laundering...we use super soft liners to catch any poo and that gets flushed down the toilet so there's no poo in our diaper pail.  Every two or three days we do a cold wash cycle and then a hot wash cycle with an extra rinse.  As for drying them we often hang them over laundry baskets to dry over night or if we're in a hurry I dry the liners in the dryer.  The covers air dry very quickly on their own.  My favorite way to dry them however is outside on a clothes line.  I do this at least once a month because the sun acts as a natural bleach and restores the diapers and inserts to their pristine whiteness.  Plus they are deodorized by the air which is a scent that really you just can't bottle hard as some companies might try. :)

What could be cuter that a bunch of colorful diapers hanging from a clothesline?  

On that note, what could be cuter on your baby's bum than cloth diapers?  

All you need is some guidance and practice and the results and satisfaction in knowing you are giving your baby the very best will come."