Friday, January 21, 2011

Cloth Diapers! Why You'll Love Them...

Alrighty, friends! It's that time you've all been waiting for! It's the start of my posts on cloth diapering and attachment parenting! (Ok, well maybe not all of you are interested. But I *know* many of you are, as you've asked me to write about these things.)

** I need to include a disclaimer on this (and probably all future) parenting-related posts. This is my opinion, and it's what works for me and my family. I do not think badly of anyone who decides that something different works for them. I value the opinions of others as well and like to consider myself open-minded. Every good parent wants what's best for their children, and that will look different from person to person. I do not think I'm better than anyone else for any reason, nor do I think I'm an expert or a know-it-all. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I reserve the right to change my mind as I grow as a mother and gain wisdom. That said, I have really enjoyed my experience as a parent so far, and I'd really like to share about things I do and products I use that I happen to think are awesome. I hope that these posts might help or inform someone else out there about options. So all that to say....let's not judge each other - I promise there's no judgment from this end!**

We'll start with cloth diapers!

I've wanted to cloth diaper since... well truth be told, I never actually considered doing anything else. I always have known that cloth diapers existed - I was cloth diapered for a period of time as my parents used a diaper service. My initial reason years ago was environmental. I've always been somewhat of a hippie, and knowing that using disposables creates tons of waste was troubling to me. Things I've learned since then are that diapers do not decompose. Really, they don't. Not at all (unless you buy ones that are designed to, like Seventh Generation ones). On top of that, not only is waste created with the disposal of them, but the manufacturing process to create disposables in the first place is incredibly detrimental to the environment and natural resources. You would not believe the ingredients in these diapers... not only are tons of trees used, but chemicals are also included. I knew that disposable diapers would not be worth their convenience to me. I value the earth more. Call me whatever you want - crunchy, hippie....(crazy?), but regardless I also believe that we are called as Christians to responsibly steward the land we've been given. (Gosh I really am nervous about writing all this - is that normal? I'm not calling you a sinner if you use disposables. Just to be clear. Well, that's not why we're sinners.)

So that's where this adventure began! But listen to all this other wonderful stuff!

So, all those chemicals I mentioned before? They're put into disposables primarily for absorbency, and it's true - disposables can hold several times their weight in pee and poo. However, if you're like me (which arguably most people aren't), you want to avoid chemicals on your baby whenever possible. All those chemicals are literally touching your baby's skin almost 24 hours a day, every day, for several years. Yuck! Also, because disposables are so absorbent, the baby's diaper is not changed as often as a cloth one would be. To most, I guess this would be desired - convenience is why they developed the diapers in the first place. I don't want to leave a baby in a wet or soiled diaper for hours on end - I wouldn't want to sit in my own filth for any length of time, even if my undies did happen to absorb most of it. Anyway, with cloth, you do have to change diapers more often (every 2-3 hours, or even more for a newborn), but to me that's much better than chemicals against my baby's skin.

Next up....saving money! We're not talking a few bucks of savings - we're talking thousands. And you can use cloth diapers for all of your children, so that ends up being a savings of up to $3,000-4,000 per child. That even takes into account the extra money in electricity and water for laundering. This perk is what sold Clark on the notion (but he has always been supportive - I didn't really have to convince him in the first place). You can cloth diaper your baby from birth through potty training for as little as $100 (lifetime total) using a system known as "prefolds with covers". I don't use this system, though, because I prefer benefits of some other, more modern systems. By using coupons, winning some giveaways, and asking for diapers as gifts, I have built a great stash with all the accessories I need by only spending about $350. I've got everything I need until Lily Mae will be out of diapers.

Yeah, yeah, what about the poo? Let me tell ya - the laundry is NOT that bad (I'm extra weird and actually enjoy it). A good-sized stash of about 24 diapers makes only about 2 extra loads of laundry a week, and you really don't even have to do anything. Diaper comes off the baby, and you toss it in the pail (you may have to remove an insert first). When you start running low on diapers (or 3/4 days, whatever comes first), you just pull out the pail liner and dump everything into the wash. Get a good diaper-safe detergent and let your washer do the work! I'll go into all of this soon, but I just want you to know that it's seriously not that gross,and it's not much extra work. And if it is gross, there are solutions for that, too. Sure, I'm a stay at home mom, but I know that many, many cloth diapering moms work outside of the home and are able to keep up with the extra laundry. You can, too! (And no, a little bit of poo in your washer isn't going to make any of your other clothes nasty. Washers were meant to get dirty things clean!)

And lastly, have you seen modern cloth diapers??? They're easy! They're fun! They're CUTE! There are endless options when it comes to cloth diaper styles nowadays. Gone are the days of folding cloth, pinning, and rubber pants! Modern cloth can be as simple as a disposable to use - all one piece with velcro. Or you could use snaps. Or use stuffable inserts for customizable absorption. Or use hybrid inserts. I'll explain what all that means soon, but the point is that seriously - cloth diapering is easy, easy, easy to do. Sure there are complicated ones out there that would probably take some time and skills to master, but I promise that there is a cloth diaper in existence that would be a good fit for you. While I haven't used every type out there, I have researched the heck out of them for almost 2 years and I believe I have a thorough understanding of what's available. So if you'd like any help trying to find a system for you, please email me at "jess (at) lilyofthepalms (dot) com" and I will be SO happy to help you! (forgive the funky email address format - it's to avoid should consider doing likewise when writing your email address in comments and such).

I have SO many ideas for posts to come on diapers, and though I'll probably write about more things than this, I'm going to list upcoming posts. As I write them I will update this entry to include links to the posts when they're up!
  • The Basics of Cloth Diapering: Types, Options, and Terminology
  • The Basics of Cloth Diapering: The Accessories
  • The Basics of Cloth Diapering: Laundry and Storage
  • Diaper Reviews (intro post will contain links to all cloth diaper and accessory reviews)
  • Cloth Diapering 102: Got Stink? Troubleshooting Smelling & Repelling
  • Cloth Diapering 102: Traveling with Cloth
  • Cloth Diapering 102: Daycares, Grandfolks, & Sitters
  • Cloth Diapering 102: Preemies and Newborns
  • Cloth Diapering 102: Nighttime Solutions
So you see I've got my work cut out for me, and also that I've been planning this posting "series" for quite a while and putting a lot of thought into it! If these topics are of interest to you, use your favorite blog reader and subscribe so you'll know when I post something you want to read! Also, if you want me to write about another cloth diapering topic, just let me know what you're interested in. :)

Again, I just want to say that I think cloth diapering is awesome and that I kinda wish everyone would do it. But I still think you're awesome even if you don't do it, what works for me might not work for you, and you're no lesser of a parent because of it. Love you guys, and stay tuned for more cloth diapering fun!

My sweet little Lily Mae at 6 months old in a Fuzzibunz One-Size cloth diaper


Christy said...

I've been waiting for this post!

Christiana said...

Though parenthood is a long way off for us, I'm excited to learn more about cloth diapering. I've seen a few different brands/systems and gbums seem to be very popular too (though I guess they recently just changed their rewards program). Can't wait to see more!

ps. It's kind of a shame that the "mommy wars" can get so vicious you feel like you have to add a disclaimer. Mommy blogging is tough!