Now that I've had one month of experience with cloth diapering, I've learned a lot that I wanted to share for anyone out there who might be thinking about going this route with their baby.
1. It's not nearly as intimidating as I had imagined and the extra laundry is not as daunting as I had thought. I do about 1-2 extra loads - small/medium sized - per week. That's really nothing compared to the amount of laundry a 5 person family generates. Caring for the cloth diapers is not a big deal either. I've gone the cheapest route (Gpant covers for about $12.00/each and Walmart prefolds for $0.85 each) and it works just fine.
2. Cloth diapers don't leak. We have not had a single leak or blowout since using cloth on Griffin, and he's 20 months old and can generate a lot of waste through the night.
3. Swishing out the solid waste into the toilet is not nearly as gross as I had imagined it would've been. In fact, it's nothing compared to changing a nasty, squishy disposable diaper from a 3-year old. (Note: Schaeffer is now potty-trained!!). And for some reason the poopie diapers don't stink as bad in the cloth dipes.
4. A wet diaper pale contains the smell much better than a dry pale. Note: An exclusively breastfed baby's poop does not stink at all so a dry pale will work just fine for Charlotte in the first year. But for Griffin, I half fill a pale - an 8 gallon garbage can with a pop-up lid and handles that I bought at Walmart - with water and add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar. This keeps the pale from stinking. In fact, for the first 2-3 days the pale has no smell at all unless you hold your head over the open bucket. On the 3rd day I carry the pale to the laundry room, dump all the contents into the washer, do a rinse/spin cycle, and then a wash cycle (thanks, Mom, for the washing advice). Dipes come out clean and fresh.
5. I change diapers about as frequently as I did with disposables. Griffin gets his diaper changed about 4-5 times per day. We have not had to change this schedule since using cloth.
6. It's just as easy to do cloth diaper changes away from home as it is at home. I have a "clean" bag which holds the clean diapers, and a "dirty" bag which holds the, well, you know. When I get home I dump the dirty stuff into the pale. For Charlotte, I purchased a wet bag (hers is pink) that has an outer mesh pocket to hold the clean stuff. I may order one for Griff too since it will eliminate having so many bags to pack into the diaper bag. And then I can get them embroidered with their names - how cute would that be?!
7. The type of laundry detergent you use on the cloth dipes can make a difference if you have a baby with sensitive skin. Griffin's eczema on his backside and hips has completely cleared up, but I noticed he started developing irritation on his "under-carriage." After a little bit of research I learned that some detergents contain enzymes which are added to break down sweat, urine, and other bodily juices. This would normally be a good thing to get clothes cleaner except for sensitive skin babies. The enzymes are not fully rinsed off the diapers and when the baby pee's or poo's, the enzymes attack the waste on the baby's skin causing rash and irritation. All three detergents that I had in my laundry room - Tide Free, Dreft, and Walmart's Great Value Lavendar detergent - list enzymes in their ingredients. And most free & clear detergents contain optical brighteners which also lingers on the diapers causing irritation to sensitive skin. But, alas, I found this nifty website that has rated a bunch of detergent brands for use on cloth diapers. I found a very inexpensive brand, sold at Walmart and grocery stores, that works perfectly and received the highest score of 4 stars: Arm & Hammer Essentials (Mountain Rain scent is very clean smelling).
8. We will save big bucks! I did the math calculating the cost of the disposable diapers we normally had used and we will save about $1400-$1500 per year on diapers for Griffin and Charlotte combined. You can't deny those numbers! My initial investment in the cloth diapers and accessories was around $300 total for Griff's and Charlotte's. We will see an ROI in about 3 months.
9. The cloth diapers are really cute. Bonus! Griff looks super cute running around in his diapered bottom with his bright orange, red or green diaper cover. I bet Charlotte will look sweet wearing her pink ones and a matching crocheted hat (thanks to Aunt Heather).
To summarize, I should've done this sooner starting with Lily when she was a newborn. But, in my defense, with the first baby there are already so many overwhelming changes in the home that adding worries over diapers may have sent me over the edge. Disposables were probably the best choice for this new mom. Now I am much more confident and more relaxed about experimenting with different things. I hope this information helps a new or experienced mom out there somewhere.
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