Friday, June 26, 2009

Mardy bums and cloth diapers

As I've mentioned before, we mainly use cloth diapers on North and only use disposables on him when we're away from home for more than a few hours.  A few people I know are interested, (and with upcoming babies on the way!) so I wanted to share a brief glimpse into our chosen system for absorbing our child's waste material.

While pregnant, I studied all the different types of cloth diapering and saturated myself in the cloth diapering world. Eww.  But I don't say 'world' lightly.  There is a lot of information out there and it can all be quite intimidating for sure.  Each time I learned about a different cloth diapering system, I would start spamming Dave with links announcing each to be the perfect solution for us!  

But the system that ended up working for us turned out to be the old standard prefold---well a diaper service quality, unbleached indian prefold, if you want to get specific. I bought these after I found out how small North was in utero and realized he wouldn't fit into the Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers or the Bumgenius one-size diapers I found for him gently used on craigslist.  (To anyone that is grossed out by the thought of used diapers, I want you to know they were not crusted in other baby feces.  They were not rank with the hundreds of layers of previous poop that came before we enveloped them around our kid's bottom, thanks.) But seriously, nothing about cloth diapering is what you've heard it is.  Either that, or I'm chugging my own kool-aid over here.

It is not my intention to get into all of the different types of cloth diapers out there.  I've linked to this guide several times now and I'm becoming worried they think I want sponsorship or something at this point.  But it is a good site that can get you quickly well-versed.  I'm no encyclopedia, but I'd like to list a brief explanation of why I chose each style.  This may get pretty boring, but I'll try to use the word poop a lot to keep it fun.

Fuzzi Bunz Pocket Diaper---I snagged a good deal on craigslist for 12 small pocket diapers that fit 7-18 pounds early on in my search.  The train print on a few of them caught my eye.  They sell new for $15 - $20 per diaper, but I got mine for $10 each.  Pocket diapers require a bit more work in the laundry department because you have to stuff the absorbent insert into the pocket of the waterproof shell before putting it on your baby.  But once that's done, it's much like changing a disposable diaper.  They have adjustable snaps to help fit your baby as it grows. And they help wick the moisture away from your baby's skin and therefore help to prevent diaper rash too. But you have to buy a bigger size as your baby grows. (Edited to add, Fuzzi Bunz now makes one-size diapers like the Bumgenius ones discussed below.)

Bumgenius One-Size Pocket Diaper---As the one-size implies, this is a diaper that will supposedly fit your baby from 7 to 35 lbs.  In theory, it should be the only diaper you should ever need to buy and maybe that is true for some babies.  They sell new for $17 - $25ish per diaper depending on your organic needs. Again, I found mine on craigslist for $12 per diaper and they were still in the packaging.  Used diapers of the Bumgenius variety sell for roughly about 75% of their retail value depending on wear and tear.  But even that can add up to quite a chunk of change when you need about 20-30 diapers.  There is also the option of reselling them down the road too.  Although expensive, for a one-time purchase, this system can provide significant savings over time.

I also bought some all-in-one diapers that are the most like disposables of all the different cloth diapering methods.  The absorbent insert is sewn right into the diaper and no prep work stuffing is needed.  They take longer to dry because they are one big cushy piece.  Currently, they work great for an overnight diaper for Sir Peesalot.

And finally, our favorite current method: prefolds and waterproof covers.  They are only an average of $1.75 to $2.50 per diaper, whereas the covers are about $11-13 each.  We use a $2 - $3 snappi to hold the diaper in place and the covers have velcro closures.  This site has some packages that come with your choice of 6 or 12 prefolds, 2 covers and 1 snappi, plus free shipping (Click prefold diapers, then click diaper packages)  They work well for daytime use.  The prefold diapers get washed every time they are soiled obviously, but the covers can be swapped out at each diaper change until your next laundry day. 

We keep our cleaned-up but old stainless steel garbage can by the diaper changing station lined with a pail liner.  Each prefold is thrown poop and all (currently anyway) into the dry diaper pail.  Once his poops become more formidable opponents, we will have to address elimination methods for them before the diaper goes in the washer.  When it's time to wash, we just gather up the full waterproof pail liner and carry it to the washer.  Since we have to wash the diapers, I decided to use cloth wipes too.  I made mine out of flannel and terry cloth a few weeks before North arrived.  You can easily buy them online too.

Currently, we do diapers and light clothes laundry about 2-3 times a week.  The washing is not nearly as involved as I was afraid it would be.  In fact, I actually enjoy the process of cleaning North's diapers.  First, I throw the wet bag filled with diapers into my front loader washing machine and sprinkle with 1/4-1/2 cup of Borax.  I run them through a quick rinse cycle.  Once the poop and pee has gone through the initial rinse, I add other laundry to the load.  Then I add cloth diaper friendly soap (All Small and Mighty) and 1/4 cup of vinegar (no fabric softener!) to the load.  I add an extra rinse cycle at the end too.

Since it is summertime, I gather up all the freshly washed  cloth diapers and sun them outside for a few hours.  Once they are sunned and dry, I add them to the other laundry patiently waiting in the dryer.  This softens up the cloth diapers and helps to quickly dry the other wet laundry in a more green manner.

No system is a perfect system though and we've had leaks and poop explosions (hi this morning!) with cloth diapers.  That has more to do with us not putting them on properly and the awesome power of my child's butt than any failure of the diaper though.  As long as I don't have to fork over countless bucks every month to support my kid's pooping habit, I'll gladly do a little laundry.  Plus, I like that we're keeping some crap out of the landfills too.  

To all the naysayers I spoke to about cloth diapers while still pregnant that uhh...naysaid, "yeah, you say you'll use cloth diapers now...just wait until that kid gets here."  

Hi.  I'm still cloth diapering my kiddo.  Dave and I actually enjoy it.  But I appreciate your support about what we let North defecate upon nonetheless.  


Jeff9 said...

The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review:

Sonya said...

Thanks for your links Jeff, I appreciate it. I knew about a sprayer that could be used for his solid poops down the road (for now he still has peanut butter poops because of the breast milk.) But I didn't know there was a sprayer that could be used as a bidet too. I REALLY like the idea of eliminating expensive toilet paper from our life for sure!

Jeff9 said...

Hi Sonya, actually that is what they were originally intended for, here in Thailand, and the primary marketing focus for our website. Using them on the diapers is sort of a sideline. it's funny really how many people use them for their diapers but think the idea of using it on themselves seems strange. I couldn't live without mine now anymore than I could live without a shower, and I'm from the US.

Anonymous said...

(From Crystal)

Bidets rule!

Sonya, here's a technical question for you: does your washing machine drain into a sink basin or does the water just go somewhere without you seeing it? I never had a set up like the one we have now, in which the dirty washing machine water drains out of a tube (that we attach mesh filters to in order to catch lint, pet hair, etc.) into a sink and down the drain. It's already a bit stinky, and I worry what this might do. Not looking for excuses; just trying to keep sanitary. Sanitation was our biggest concern really.

Sonya said...

Crystal, our washer drains directly into the sewer, so I haven't had to consider a set up like yours. I grew up with a system like your referring to and I don't think it would bother me personally to have my cloth diaper water drain into the sink first. Especially considering my washing method (borax rinse, regular hot wash cycle with vinegar followed by extra rinse) I would think all the rinses would help to keep things pretty clean and the vinegar should help with any smell.

Mind you, right now North's breast milk poop is easily rinsed off and doesn't have much of a smell per say. Maybe I'll feel different when things become solid? But even then, you would need to scrape most of the solid matter into a toilet first or use a diaper sprayer like the one Jeff linked to above. In which case, most of the nasty stinkies should be mostly gone by the time the diaper hits your washer anyway.

Alternatively, my husband recommends possibly talking to a plumber to have them relocate your drain pipe directly into the sewer line.

Anonymous said...

(From Crystal) Thanks for the cloth diaper links. I'll definitely be looking into that. Also, thank you for the turtle penis photos. Mighty impressive.

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