The talk of all things baby starts as soon as you find out you're pregnant. What do babies need? Where do they sleep? Let's paint the nursery! Aww and all the cute outfits. OMG I have to push a what out my what? They give us a baby when we leave the hospital? And sorry, they pee how many times a day? The constant stream of thoughts surrounding having a baby is never ending, and as I have recently found out, when they are here, it just increases tenfold.
Before Iola was here, one of the baby topics Marty and I talked about and agreed on right away was wanting to try our hand at cloth diapering. And everyone knows the reasons for doing this are of course to save money, but for me even more importantly, it was to *try* not to add to the landfill piles of the world. Something like 18 billion diapers are thrown out every year and they take 500 years to break down and honestly it makes me sad thinking that my daughter's sh*t could literally outlive her.
The most difficult part of cloth diapering before you start is that it is FRICKEN OVERWHELMING. It's like picking out toothpaste when pregnant. I cried. Why are there so many choices for a product that does the exact same thing? I scoured the internet for hours; watched YouTube videos, read reviews, and visited all the websites.
This is what I gathered before I started:
1) to clarify, we call the outer cutesie colourful diaper portion the cage (we made this up), and the absorbent pads are actually called the inserts (there's a whole other type of diaper called a prefold which I won't get into because we decided they weren't for us at all - Google it!)
2) certain brands and sizes work better than others depending on your baby and you won't know what works until you try them
3) using a few different brands at once may benefit your baby, as spots where they may rub or chafe will vary, decreasing rashes, irritation, etc.
4) some diapers are called one-size (intended to fit from birth or a little after to potty training - they come with so many sets of snaps to change size), some diapers come in different sizes (NB, S, M, etc. or size 1, size 2, etc.), some diapers are pocket diapers (they have a pocket where the insert fits into), some diapers are all-in-ones (as in they don't have a separate insert, the pad portion is sewn right in)
5) generally all the inserts can be interchanged between all the brands and you can layer inserts for more absorbancy
6) inserts are made of all different types of material; cotton, polyester, bamboo - we have some of each
7) you don't actually want to have TOO many diapers, because the more you have the less motivated you are to do laundry, and you really don't want diapers sitting for too long
8) all your diaper components should be washed multiple times before using them or apparently they won't be absorbent - I threw mine in with all our regular laundry a total of 6 times a few weeks before we needed them
9) the cages need to be hung to dry to preserve their elasticity
10) you cannot use bum cream that contains zinc oxide because it decreases the absorbancy of the diaper as well as over time the diapers will start to retain an acrid smell (you know when you leave towels in the washer for like 2 hours and then dry them and then you use them? yeah. that smell.)
So where did we start?
I found a Canadian distributor Cozy Bums Diapers and based on the above research ordered 11 diapers. We ordered all one-sizes thinking we could use them right away and into the future. We got six Funky Fluff, one Thirsties, one Imagine, one Sweet Pea, and one Easy Peasies on a Black Friday sale and the total was $239.94. According to my math that's roughly 8 boxes of disposable diapers worth. Most companies/distributors have an Earth Day sale also!
Shortly after receiving our order, an old work friend of mine had posted on Facebook that she was selling all her baby stuff at a community garage sale. Marty and I hit it up and bought all her gDiapers for a ridiculously great price, and I love them because they were already used 100s of times (this is the whole point!). gDiapers come in different sizes and we got six smalls, seven mediums. Towards the end of my pregnancy when I really had my nest on I bought two more smaller size 1 AppleCheeks. I wasn't sure what we were going to need and wanted to be prepared.
We started when Iola was 10 days old. We needed a few days to adjust to our little person and new life and disposables exist because they are so dang easy, and we aren't perfect by any means. We started using the six small gDiapers and the two pairs of size 1 AppleCheeks and that's all we have been using up until now (she's 7 weeks old) plus we have 17 inserts. The 11 one-sizes pictured in the basket above were too big and actually still are, but we know that soon enough she'll fit into them, which is both sad and amazing. Child rearing is the ultimate juxtaposition.
So how do we like cloth diapering?
Our experience thus far has been AWESOME. We change the gDiaper cage every few pees, and of course the insert every time. The entire AppleCheeks diaper get changed every time. We haven't had a sh*t-tastrophe blow-out that wasn't properly contained. (TIP: We use the open side of a hard plastic Enfamil bottle to scrap off the crap in the sink. Works like a charm.) A few times pee has leaked out but I think it was because of how we put the insert in, or didn't double up the insert, or didn't have the diaper tight enough. (You just gotta do it to learn it.) You absolutely have to be committed to doing laundry every day or two but I think I'd be doing that anyway between the spit-up, breast milk and other bodily fluids that seems to get on EVERYTHING. We have been using Dimpleskins Bum Bum Balm and Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Baby Bum Balm and love the naturalness of each product. Also note that so far we've used disposables when we go out (again, not perfect/convenience) but I do plan on completely dedicating to to cloth. That's where a wet bag comes in. Also also note that Iola cries immediately when she's wet a disposable and doesn't do this with a cloth!
The one downfall so far; last week I noticed the inserts started taking on that acrid towels-left-in-the-washer smell when they got wet AKA peed on and I can't seem to get it completely out. After I figured out it was the diaper that smelled and not Iola's pee (after I freaked out and bawled and called my mom) I washed them on a super cycle. The smell improved but there's still a whiff, but it's a whiff we can live with. Apparently I can soak them in vinegar but haven't tried that yet. If any one has any advice surrounding anything cloth diaper I am all ears! I'd love it you left a comment below. Or if you have any questions I'd love to help as much as I can! I'll also do a post in a few months when we dive into all the other brands we have.
I hope you know I am not trying to shame any one who uses disposables, nor am I trying to say that I am a perfect environmentalist. I take long showers, throw away Starbucks cups, heat my rather large home and use shampoo that probably throws off the whole ecosystem (but dead batteries always go to the Eco-station!) and I'm sure the extra laundering isn't that great either and who knows about the footprint the manufacturing of the diapers leaves. All I am trying to say is that in every choice I can make in the right direction for the planet has *hopefully* got to help a little bit. I think about the future more than I ever have before (remember that constant stream of thoughts thing?) and how what we are doing now will impact my grandchildren. I'm not even close to perfect, but one diaper at a time I hope I am contributing to a future where Iola is able to build a home on a little piece of green, not on top of a covered pile of garbage.
A few weeks into our new life I asked Marty if this is what he thought it was all going to be and his response was, "I didn't think there would be this many diapers to change." Oh buddy, wait until they have real people sized craps. :D
Trying my best,
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