There are a plethora of resources available to anyone interested in cloth diapering from books to websites to blogs. I honestly love the Cotton Babies blog and their retail store, Cottonbabies.com* (in fact, I recently ordered a few clearance diapers, and not only was the shipping free, but I had them in TWO DAYS!). There are a surprisingly large number of mommies out there blogging about their real-life cloth diapering experiences. I found many helpful sites and blogs while researching cloth diapering, however, one thing I was disappointed by was the lack of real-life accounts of working mommies who cloth diaper. Everything I came across was written by stay-at-home moms or work-at-home moms, which had me wondering if cloth diapering would be possible as a working mommy. In fact, Mr. H. repeatedly told me that my cloth diapering expectations were unrealistic and that I wouldn't be able to cloth diaper 24/7. There was daycare to consider, after all. Well phooey to him, because it is possible, and I am happy to say we have been cloth diapering for four months now (minus the first couple of weeks when Sweet A still had her cord).
In the beginning I was concerned about daycare, especially after listening to Mr. H. I looked into my state's daycare guidelines and when I didn't find any restrictions against cloth diapering at daycare (some states require a doctor's note), I became more encouraged. We knew from the start that our first daycare solution was going to be temporary since we would be moving within a month of me returning to work. Fortunately I was able to find a woman who was willing to watch Sweet A for the first month. I was thrilled because she was also a cloth diapering mommy (it was around this time that I discovered a secret, cloth diapering underworld of local mommies).
Once we knew where we were moving to, I began searching for a new daycare provider. The woman that I decided to go with had never done cloth diapering at her daycare before. She admitted that the only time she ever had to deal with cloth diapers was back when she lived in India and didn't have the money for luxuries like disposables. I'm going to be honest with you, I was a bit taken aback by this. Disposable diapers are a luxury? Well yeah, they are. You spend a lot of money on something you're going to use once and then throw away. And you keep doing it over and over again. At any rate, our new daycare provider agreed to try cloth diapering, with the understanding that if they found it wasn't working for them, we would switch to disposables for daycare only. Well, we've been at the new daycare for a month now and we're still using cloth diapers. Granted, daycare has "leaking" issues, but I think this is because they either 1) don't fasten them tight enough or 2) don't change Sweet A often enough, but hey, I'll take it!
If I were solely a stay-at-home mom, I think I would exclusively use prefolds and covers. I love my prefolds. I use Osocozy Indian prefolds with Flip covers and Snappi fasteners. I occasionally use a GroVia Single Shell or a Tweedlebugs One Size cover, but Flips are my go-to. At nighttime I either beef up my prefolds with a Kissaluvs Super-Soakers insert or use a BabyKicks Hemparoo Fleece prefold. We never have leaks at night. In fact, the only time Sweet A wakes up super soaked is when "wicking" occurs, meaning a piece of her clothing has made it's way under the cover and thus soaks up her urine from the diaper.
Unfortunately, I'm only a stay-at-home mom four out of seven days a week, so for the other three days, I have to have a daycare friendly cloth diapering solution. Enter the pocket diaper. I know there are even more user friendly options out there that don't require stuffing, but for some reason, through all my research, I decided the pocket diaper was the way to go. I often come across a seemingly more convenient diaper that I would like to try, but because I've already invested my money in my pockets, and because they work, I resist the temptation. We currently use the One Size bumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers. I like them. I don't however, like having to stuff them. The stuffing step is super easy, especially when done straight out of the laundry, but I cannot stand the feel of the microfiber insert, especially now that it's winter time and my hands are drier. I know there are probably better and easier set-ups (in fact, bumGenius now makes the Freetime AIO) but since this set-up is pretty easy, and it works, we continue to use it. Side Note: I prefer the snaps, but for the sake of making cloth diapering as easy as possible for daycare, I have a number of Aplix closure diapers.
So let's move on to the nitty gritty. Laundry. I hated doing laundry before I had a baby, and I still hate doing laundry. As a working mommy, I was so afraid all of my free time would be spent washing our cloth diapers. I had visions of clothes lines strung throughout the house and heaps of stinky poo diapers. Truth be told, cloth diapering doesn't make my laundry routine any more difficult, which is awesome since I always end up needing to wash them during my work week. I wash our diapers every 2-3 days (I recently beefed up our stash during some holiday sales so after my new diapers are prepped, I expect to do laundry every three days). I don't use any fancy, expensive laundry detergent; I use Tide Powder HE because we have a high efficiency washer, which I hate. I first run my diapers through a soak/no-spin cycle, than a hot towels/sheet cycle with two or three cold rinses. And everything but the covers go into the dryer. Done. Easy peasey. Yes, staining can be an issue, especially if you breastfeed and your babe produces the neon green poops that my babe does. There's a secret to stain removal, though, that is pure magic. Sunlight. I kid you not. I was skeptical at first too, but after laying some pretty heavily stained diapers out in the sun for a few hours, I was seriously amazed and convinced. Now if only it were so easy to get spit-up stains out of Mr. H's good shirts.
So how much has all this cost me? Well, I once read somewhere that it costs an estimated $2,500! to diaper one child in disposables until potty training. Cloth diapering costs a small fraction of that. I would estimate that I have spent around $400 on my cloth diaper stash (including cloth wipes and other accessories like wet bags). That's a $2,100 savings! Can it be done for less? Yes, but with daycare to consider, I had to splurge a little for pockets. You can also buy used diapers, but honestly, I'm too lazy to hunt them down. If I were exclusively diapering in prefolds, I probably would have spent about $200. And let's not forget the fact that you can reuse your diapers for the next child, with some supplementation here and there.
In conclusion, I am so glad I chose to cloth diaper because it is totally doable as a working mommy. Especially if you can find a daycare provider who will use them too, then the money you save is well worth it. I haven't bought a single disposable diaper since Sweet A was born. Not one. Of course, we did receive some packages at my baby shower, which we've used from time to time as the need arises (mainly when we moved and I went on laundry strike for a few days), but I'm very proud of the fact that I've never actually had to purchase any. I would never switch to disposables, and when we do have to resort to them, I hate every minute of it.
I love a good list, so let me leave you with this:
Reasons Why I Love Cloth Diapering
- No Blowouts. Seriously. None. I recall, on more than one occasion, my mom and sister having to rush my nephew to the tub in order to clean him up after a blowout. The only time I've ever had a blowout with Sweet A was when we had to put her in a disposable. In fact, I recently overheard Mr. H. bragging to another dad about how cloth diapers never blowout.
- No Diaper Rash. Sweet A has never had a diaper rash and only rarely suffers from chaffing.
- The Cost. Hello! $400 opposed to $2,500? And I can use them for future kids? No brainer.
- No Stinkies. Disposable diapers stink! I never realized how stinky they were until I used cloth. They smell after pee and they reek after poops. Cloth diapers are superb at containing smells.
- I Know What Is Touching Sweet A's Butt. Hemp? Organic Cotton? Not only can I pronounce these things, but I feel good about them touching my baby's butt. I don't know what disposables are made of, but I know that cloth diapers don't leave little pellets behind.
- No Extra Trash. I'm appalled on trash day to see how some of our neighbors' bins are overflowing. I don't know what they have in there, but I'm always proud when our neat, contained, closed trash can sits on the curb next to their engorged bins. If we were using disposables, I'm sure our bin would be just as stuffed.
- They're Super Cute. Yeah, disposables have Elmo and other cartoon characters, but they don't come anywhere close to being as cute as cloth diapers, what with all the colors and patterns to choose from.
Things I Dis-Like About Cloth Diapering
- It Can Be Addicting. There's always some sale or some special or some fancy new diaper or cute new pattern. If you don't reign yourself in, it's possible to spend mucho moola on cloth diapers because oh-my-god-my-baby's-butt-would-look-so-cute-in-that.
- People's Reactions. When I tell people I cloth diaper, I always get the same look/reaction; a slightly grossed-out, taken aback, ick face. But then I explain the benefits and the ick face goes away and all is well again.
- Shopping for Baby Clothes. Cloth diapering adds bulk to your baby's bum. Some designs are trimmer than others, but I have yet to find one as trim as a disposable. Baby girl clothes are not designed with cloth diapering in mind. Somewhere along the line it was decided that girls' pants must be skinny and, in my opinion, more legging like than pant like. Because of this, I find myself purchasing boys' pants for my daughter. It's not really an issue for me, but it's aggravating when we receive oh-so-adorable outfits from family and we can't wear the pants because retailers seem to think a four month old cares about how skinny her legs look.
Now here's the fun part... If I win the above mentioned contest, not only do I win 12 bumGenius One Size diapers, but one lucky reader does too! All you have to do is leave a comment (only one entry per person) on this post. Done! If I win, I will randomly select a winner. So go ahead, comment away. You know you want to (even if you don't plan on using the diapers, think about all the pregnant ladies out there who might want to and would love to receive 12 diapers to get them going!).