Friday, October 21, 2011

Cloth Diapers Again??

Every time I have had to buy diapers lately, I’ve set off on a huge rant.  The rapidly rising cost has got me thinking… is it time to consider going back to cloth?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did all kinds of reading about how to choose between cloth and disposable.  I know, I know, but I have warned you all before that I am a nerd!  Plus, I had tons more time then, and the decision seemed so important.  We chose cloth, despite taking a lot of teasing about it and hearing lots of predictions of our future failure at it.

My mom sewed me several sets in different sizes.  They look just like disposable ones, except they have velcro at the waist.  I found great breathable diaper covers and a really cool “diaper pail” bag.  Instead of a big pail, there are these neat bags in various sizes.  You literally just dump the whole thing into the washer and toss the bag in too.  I loved it. 

You know, I really liked cloth diapers.  I packed them with us and took them when we went on trips.  I used the flushable liners to make clean up easier.  I used small baby cloths to wash instead of wipes.  I hung them on our clothes line and enjoyed the look of them in the breeze while the sun naturally bleached out all the stains.

I eventually topped up the pile my mom had made me with some store bought ones.  When our second child was born, I decided to use disposables through the new born period.  We then switched to cloth, and continued with cloth diapers for both kids.  But then, we started going out and about more often.  Workers in the playroom during church or play groups didn’t really know how to deal with them, or really want to change cloth.  It became easier to put them in disposables if we were leaving the house.  When I was having trouble with my kids waking up a lot at night, another cloth diapering friend of mine was surprised that I was using cloth through the night.  She used disposables at night, she said, because then they weren’t being woken up by a cold wet diaper.

Then, my oldest was mostly potty trained and we were home so little.  Our daughter might only use three or four cloth ones over two days.  You couldn’t leave the diapers longer than that, and we had to run a full laundry cycle for just those few diapers.  The conviction that cloth was better softened and before we knew it, we were using disposables exclusively.

With our third child, we never even got them out of the bin.  I have to be honest, I didn’t plan to use them now with our fourth either, I just left the bin in the storage room.  But rising cost has got me thinking about this again.  A year ago, the regular cost of a box of 140 sz4 huggies (our fav brand) was $29.  They were $32 when the store pumped up the prices for a busy check weekend, however there were sales on a regular basis where you could snag a limit of four boxes at $20 each.  I would just wait patiently for a sale and stock up.  In the last few months, the price has risen steadily and the sales are no more.  Regular price is now $39, and today was the first time I have seen them marked down in about six months.  I was O-U-T of diapers and had to buy them no matter what they cost. $32 is the sale price now.

I did muse about going back to cloth a few months ago and Shawn just laughed.  He can’t see going back to the extra washing and the small changes in planning for outings etc.  However, my disgust at the cost of a box of diapers, as well as what I see was highway robbery for a box of wipes makes me want to consider it.

Here is what I personally see as the pros and cons of each.

Cloth Pros:

Better for the environment.

   It just is.  No manufacturing, no untreated waste in the landfill. 

Free… almost.
  I already own them, so now there is no real cost.  Washing a load of diapers might add up to about 70 cents in cost, which is less than buying three diapers.  As long as I am washing more than that, it’s cheaper.

Can never really be out of diapers.
No realizing that you are out of diapers and the stores close in ten minutes.  You always have them there.

Some say it helps potty train earlier
.  First, let me say, this was not the case for me at all!  But some say that the feeling of being wet will encourage kids to train earlier.  It also helps with the recognition that poop belongs in the potty as they will see you emptying it out of their diaper and into the toilet.

Disposable Pros:

EASY.  Change bum, throw out diaper, forget about it.  Easy to take in diaper bag, easier to dispose of while out and about.  Others that may care for your child are comfortable with them. 

Everyone else has them too. If you run out while at a friend’s house, they probably have one you can borrow.  For a long time, a lot of our friends all had kids wearing the same size diaper, it was like an awesome safety net, someone always had a size 4!


Cloth Cons:

Can be more work.  You do have to wash them, which is adding another thing to the to do list. Changing #2 diapers can be more work to clean out before you toss the diaper in the wash pail. 

Not always easy to use in public places.  You can’t just chuck them in the nearest garbage pail, so you need a plan for changing in public spaces, like a bag within your diaper bag.  Others who care for your child, in the church nursery or at a play group for example, may not want to deal with cloth diapers. 

Baby feels wet. Even if baby only has a little tinkle, they are going to feel the wet against themselves and will need to be changed sooner.  If you use disposables, you can delay changing baby until they have filled the diaper more.  This, however, could also be a pro as older children may want to potty train sooner.

Clothes don’t fit. Ok, it’s silly, but it is something to consider.  Because cloth diapers are bulkier, not all clothes fit your baby as well.  I did have to search out clothes that were cut wider to fit my little man, who was quite a moose even without diapers!

Disposable Cons:

Expensive.  You are literally throwing away money each time you change your baby.

Can be used up.  Last night was not the first time we were running around the house saying “ check the diaper bag, there must be two or three in there!!”.  I find it easy to forget that I have opened the last clip in a box and be completely out of diapers at the worst times.  But don’t worry, I always have those cloth ones I can grab in an emergency!

I know that there are many more things that could be added to this list, but I think this gives a pretty balanced idea of what is in my head.  While I am not quite ready to go back full time to cloth, I’m not certain I won’t either.   Paying $26 for a box of wipes that last us around a month is the most galling to me right now.  I may have to make a point of using the little baby cloths and warm water when we are at home. In the mean time, I will just continue to rant and rave about the cost of disposables !

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