Guest Post: My Journey to Cloth Diapers
Guest Post by Andrea from Spoon and Shovel
Cloth diapers? Get real. Next you’ll
be telling me to install a butter churn in my kitchen. I hear you. But
you wouldn’t be on this website if you didn’t have a little voice
in your head that urges you to at least look into any viable money-saving
possibility there is.
While I can’t speak for butter churns, I can
tell you my diaper story. I made the switch to cloth, and it has been
First off, as money-conscious, optimistic
expectant parents, my husband and I decided we’d do it. Seeing the
cost of a large pack of diapers at Sam’s Club made us start calculating
the tremendous output we were facing. I mean, we were already tearing
paper towels in half and reusing plastic baggies; cloth diapers just
I was thrilled to hear about the “Cloth
Diaper Seminar” offered at my local Babies “R” Us, complete with
free food. So I went and sat in the glider rocker section with about
fifteen other women who were also great with child.
The woman conducting
the seminar began her speech by admitting to the room that she had no
clue how to pin a diaper. In fact, she had called her friend earlier
to get the scoop on pinning. This was disconcerting. To me, pinning
was the hard part. If she couldn’t explain that, what good was she?
She proceeded with her sketchy explanation of traditional, pre-fold
diapers—the one’s I thought of when I thought of cloth diapers at
all. It was glaringly obvious that she had no experience whatsoever
in this arena. On top of that, Babies “R” Us sold nothing to accommodate
those opting for this method—except the pins. Pre-fold diapers, apparently,
have become burp rags. I didn’t know that. And diapers snap, not pin,
But then the keynote diaper seminar
speaker really got going as she moved into territory that was
her forte. Ladies, cloth is cool. I mean, your kid can wear diapers
that look more like sweaters than anything else, you can get diapers
with dinosaurs on them, you can get diapers with flushable liners, the
possibilities go on and on.
So, I was intrigued. But the price
of getting started was prohibitive in my mind. The sweater variety,
she told us, would set you back about $80–for one diaper! Okay,
I realize you can eat up $80 in a hurry on disposables, but let’s
just face it, one diaper is not going to cut it. We’re talking at
least two. And that’s if you want to wash it three times a day. Which
you can’t because the sweater kind takes three days to dry.
As the time got closer, I started really meditating on everything that
was about to change. I meekly asked my husband if we could use the disposables
from the baby shower exclusively until I got used to the whole baby
idea. Then we could think about cloth. He was, as always, very understanding.
Besides, I was working. I worked part
time until Paul was 4 months old. He was in a great day care on the
campus of the university I worked for in a building next door to mine,
but cloth diapers were not welcome. No surprising!
So, four months passed, during
which time we used up all the diapers from the baby shower (and from
the grandmothers) and had to put up our own funds for, I think, something
like three packs of diapers. We weren’t really seeing the budget crunch
yet, but we knew it was coming.
Then I went to Ashlyn’s house for
someone else’s shower. See, Ashlyn uses cloth. That’s what did me
in. I decided I could do it when I saw a real person’s diapers and
talked with her about how she cleans them and where she buys them. That’s
why I’m writing this. Perhaps knowing a real story will encourage
you to take the plunge yourself. Thanks, Ashlyn.
Here’s what I found out from Ashlyn
along with some of what I’ve learned in the last ten or so months:
Where do you get them? Bella Bottoms. I haven’t looked at every single site
out there, but of the ones I’ve perused, her prices are the best.
What did you buy?
I started with 12 terrycloth diapers, 6 covers, 2 all-in-one diapers,
and a few doublers. She threw in some wipes with that order.
when the baby outgrew the covers, I ordered 8 more larger all-in-ones
because I realized that (with Bella Bottoms anyway) an all-in-one is
a cover with a pouch. So I use the all-in-ones without the inserts as
covers and with the inserts as diapers. The terrycloth diapers are one-size,
so he’ll wear those until he’s trained. 12 is all I need (since
I’ve got the all-in-one option to fall back on) because, regardless
of how many you’ve got, 2 or 3 days between washes is their limit.
What do they cost? It was about
a $200 initial investment for us. The next order (of all-in-ones) was
more like $90.
How do you store them until washing?
Ashlyn puts them straight into her washer filled with water (after emptying
them). When she gets enough for a load, she’ll start it. I use a trash
can with a springy pop-up lid (again, after emptying them). No water
in the trash can. Just wet and dirty diapers.
How do you wash them? Lots of water. That’s a drawback, but I’ve got to do it this way
to keep them smelling fresh. I do a hot wash/cold rinse with nothing
else. Then a hot wash/cold rinse with a tiny bit (2 tablespoons?) of
detergent and ¼ cup of baking soda. Then a hot wash/cold rinse with
½ cup of vinegar. I dry them all on low heat, remove the vinyl covers
from the dryer, and finish drying the diapers on high heat. No fabric
softener, of course.
Do they work? Yes. Even at
night (with a doubler) once Paul stopped nursing in the middle of the
Are they gross? Well, yes.
Do they stink up your house?
No. Not even the room with the pail.
What about wipes?
You know how baby washcloths wear out really fast? I cut old ones in
half (so as to distinguish them from the non-wipe washcloths mostly)
and stack a bunch next to the diaper station. I’ve got a squirt-top
bottle (a spray bottle works too) filled with water and a smidge of
baby shampoo/soap. I wet them down on the spot and wipe. Think about
it. Where would you put a disposable wipe if you’re using a cloth
diaper? I actually prefer the cloth wipes straight up over disposables.
Can your kid wear them out in public?
Yes. Just pack a grocery bag in your diaper bag. Hand sanitizer is nice
too. (To date, I’ve never changed a dirty cloth diaper away from my
house. Odds are, it’s coming though.)
But I have so much fun getting
free diapers at CVS! Never fear. You’ll still need diapers. I
buy about one pack a month. I think the church nursery workers appreciate
my not springing cloth on them.
Will they really save me money?
Depends on how many of your diapers are free, I guess. Besides the cost
of the diapers, you do need to consider the water output. I wash about
2½ times a week. Here’s how we look at it. I think we will
come out ahead on Paul. However, chances are, Paul’s not the youngest,
and the cloth diapers are still going strong.
There you have it. If you know anything
about butter churns, I’d love you hear your story.
Andrea desires to bring honor to her Savior as a wife to her wonderful
husband Jon and mother to their 14-month-old son, Paul. She am thankful to
be able to stay at home full-time. She and her family live in South Carolina and minister their local church while seeking God’s direction concerning missionary
service in Latin America. She blogs at Spoon and Shovel.
From Crystal: If you would like to learn more about cloth diapering, Tammy has written extensively on her blog about how she does it. Check out her posts here, here, and here. Also, I found The Cloth Diaper Handbook to be extremely helpful and informative.
I used Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers almost exclusively with my first child and loved those, though I know everyone has their own preferences. My advice, if you’re new to the idea of cloth diapering, is that you do lots of research. Ask around and see if any of your friends use cloth diapers and get their take on what works for them. Secondly, give yourself a few months to adjust to being a mommy of a newborn before attempting cloth diapering–especially if you are a first-time mommy. Lastly, don’t invest hundreds of dollars without first trying cloth diapers out on a small scale and determining what works for you.
I’d love to hear from other moms out there who have cloth diapered. What are your favorite brands of cloth diapers? What advice would you have for someone who is considering switching to cloth? Also, if you’ve blogged on the subject of cloth diapering, please do leave the link to your post in the comments section. I know many moms would appreciate that!
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