Apr 25, 2013

Green Diapers

Warning: This post covers exactly what the title says - diapers and all that diapers entail, including gross things like baby poop. For the non-parents, squeamish or disinterested - feel free to skip this whole post.

Yes, as I mentioned on Monday, we use cloth diapers on our kid. And no, we aren't crazy.

We've been using green diapers in our house since Oliver grew into them at about 8 weeks old. And honestly? We’re really happy with them. Those first 8 weeks were really expensive and we produced a lot of garbage. We have 18 all-in-one cloth diapers from BumGenius in a variety of fun bright colors. They came highly recommended and we love them. The great thing about these diapers in particular is that they come with several different snap locations (or velcro, though snaps are supposed to last longer) so that the diapers fit from about 2 months old until they are potty trained. There are different inserts for different age absorbency needs. For $324 (the cost of 18 diapers on amazon), that’s a HUGE savings when a box of disposables ranges from $35-$50. And we’ll hopefully be able to reuse them for our next child as well.

We decided to give ourselves a break and start with disposables while we adjusted to parenthood (and let the baby grow into them). It also gave us something to compare the green diapering experience to - and honestly the pros of these cloth diapers far outweigh the cons. We’re really happy with them, so I thought I would share our experience (especially since Earth Day was this week). Green diapers are not everyone’s cup of tea and I don’t want to be preachy, but if you are thinking about it anyways (for financial, environmental, whatever reasons), I hope this helps.

We still use disposables when traveling so we don’t make ourselves crazy. Flexibility is key. And he’s in disposables 2 days a week at daycare so we don’t make anyone else crazy. But we keep our little guy suited up in cloth for the rest of the time. My diaper bag has a special wet bag in it for dirty diapers by Planet Wise (we use the medium size in black). It blocks all odors, never leaks, and gets thrown into the wash with the diapers. In fact we love the wet bag so much, we also use a larger one (the large size in black) in the nursery hanging on a hook next to the changing table. In the bathroom we keep a diaper pail lined with a Planet Wise liner bag for the poopy diapers, which also gets washed every load.

So here’s how it works. The diaper goes on and off like a regular diaper, except you use tabs with snaps (or velcro). If he’s just wet, the diaper goes straight into the wet bag. If he’s pooped, we take the dirty diaper into the bathroom and quickly rinse it off into the toilet with a diaper sprayer that’s attached to the back of our toilet. It’s super easy and takes about 2 seconds (and isn’t nearly as gross as I thought it would be). We bought a sprayer for around $40 on amazon that required 10 minutes and no plumbing experience to install. Before we started solid foods, we were dreading the future diaper content. His newborn poop didn’t smell and it was easy to rinse off... some people don't even bother rinsing. I was scared of what solid food would bring, but it turned out to be even faster and easier to clean than before! So the poop situation gets even easier with food.

When we’re running low on diapers, we put everything in the washing machine and do a cold rinse, then a hot wash load with Charlie’s Soap. Once everything is washed, we have two options - the dryer or the clothesline outside. The clothesline is of course the greener option and has the added bonus of sunshine-bleaching away any remaining stains or smells as if by magic. But the clothesline turned out to be a lot harder and more time consuming than I thought. Since we are trying to make cloth diapers a reasonable lifestyle choice for two working parents, we only use the clothesline occasionally to sun-bleach the diapers - the rest of the time they go in the (efficient) dryer.

Since we have so many diapers, usually we only have to wash them 2-3 times a week. Having so many on hand is key to a reasonable lifestyle choice. On top of his regular laundry, it really doesn’t feel like a lot of extra effort. We spend as much time or maybe even less washing and drying as we would watching sales, clipping coupons and running to the store to buy more diapers all the time. And having a baby means doing a million loads of laundry anyways, so we barely even notice the difference. Plus we get to feel good knowing that we’re not filling up a landfill with thousands of our baby’s diapers over the next few years.

Oliver prefers the cloth diapers as well. He has sensitive skin and is a lot more comfortable in cloth. He’s only had diaper rash from wearing disposables. Mike and I appreciate the fact that we’ve never had a blowout in a cloth diaper - a pro we read about when researching and are so grateful for now. We’ve also heard that cloth helps accelerate potty training - though that’s a long ways off so we’ll have to get back to you on that.

In quick preachy summation, for anyone who’s considering cloth diapers out there, I highly recommend it. The effort is surprisingly minimal, it will save you tons of money, help save the planet and teach your kids valuable lessons about eco-responsibility through example. Win-win-win-win.

1 comment:

  1. Not surprised you use cloth diapers! Great summary - I'm inspired to check them out for future babies down the road...