Ok. So I've definitely been slacking on this blog, aside from the occasional recipe post or craft post, and I do apologize. It has been a whirlwind of a month so far: 4 birthdays - with parties of course - the Super Bowl, doctor's appointments, a wedding at Disney, my husband working extra long and late hours all last week (he sells sports memorabilia, and his company manufactures the Super Bowl flip coin, so the week before and after the Super Bowl was kinda huge for them), and Valentine's Day is today. All of this happening in the last 2 weeks, plus all the "regular" craziness that happens around here with my 2yr old and 3 yr old, while striving to maintain a livable and enjoyable home! Oh, and I have managed to contract a cold in the midst of it all. So, needless to say, spending time blogging hasn't been my top priority lately. It didn't even make the list.
But, I'm back! And I wanted to write about cloth. Yes, cloth. Since I am often asked "Why on earth would you use cloth diapers?", I will answer the question with a question - Why not use cloth? - And I will explain my story.
I was never an advocate for "green" living - not that I was against it - it just wasn't something I really cared about in the past. The "convenience" of disposable everything meant more to me than the condition of the environment. However, what I didn't realize is that being more "green" could also mean saving more money! The thought just never occurred to me.
That is, until about a year ago. Both my son and daughter were in diapers. My daughter was in the middle of potty training and we used a lot of pull-up disposables with her - I still consider those diapers. Expensive diapers at that! And it seemed like we had to keep buying these expensive poop and pee holders every time I turned around to change one. I hadn't worked in a few years at that point, and my husband was running the physical labor part and customer service part of our pool business, while I maintained the billing end of it. The thing about owning a traditional business is that you don't have a boss anymore. No, you have multiple bosses (customers) running your life for you instead. Which is good and bad. You can choose who your customers are, but you can't really control who pays and who doesn't pay. So, while you "control" your income, you really don't. And that was what was happening to us. We had enough customers to have a nice and smoothly running business - when our customers decided that they would go ahead and pay that month.
The economy seemed to hit everyone pretty hard that particular year, and our customers just weren't paying up. We had to drop some of them and replace them. And this went on and on until we ended up recently selling the business. No big deal - it's just part of life and how business works.
I say all that to make the point that we needed to cut back on some things. There were things we were already doing that were helping - making home cooked meals instead of eating out, cutting back on cable tv, controlling the a/c better, hanging clothes outside on the line instead of using the dryer, etc....but one thing we couldn't stop spending money on was the diapers! They were a necessity. I ended up being able to potty train my daughter Riley fairly quickly (once I actually started training "for real" and being persistent and consistent), so we eliminated diapers from one child. That was a huge help for sure. But when you get to the point where you have to choose to either buy diapers or buy food or buy medicine for your sick child, and not buy all three, something else needs to change.
And so I began my research. I looked into using cloth diapers for Noah. He was 13 months old at the time, and I had no idea where to even begin. The idea of cloth diapering sounded gross and exhausting to me. I didn't understand how it all worked. Until then, the cost of buying disposables was worth the "hassle" and nastiness of dealing with cloth diapers. But when the money just isn't there anymore, the "hassle" starts becoming more valuable and worth looking into.
The only cloth diapering system I had ever heard of, but didn't know anything about, was the gDiaper system. I loved the idea of using a liner. I loved the fact that they offered a flushable insert. I loved the idea that the outer component was waterproof. And I loved how cute they were. But I sure as heck did not like the price point on these babies. Almost $20/diaper, which did not include any extra inserts or liners, etc. I understood that they will be used over and over again, and I have heard wonderful things about that diapering system, but when you are struggling financially, spending $20 on one diaper just isn't going to happen.
So I researched some more. After a ton of Amazon searches, mom forums, baby forums, international cloth diaper brands, homemade cloth diapers, etc. I discovered an overload of info. It was so confusing to me and there was so much information out there, and terms that I had no idea what they meant (i.e. prefolds, flatfolds, AIO's, pockets, covers, doublers, sized, one-size, diaper sprayers, and the list goes on and on). It felt like my brain was about one second away from explosion. There were just so many options and I didn't know what to properly invest our money into.
I finally decided that I would start out basic. Nothing fancy. I wanted a prefold and a cover. I came across Real Nappies. It was exactly what I was looking for. Basic, white, waterproof covers, that I could wipe and use multiple times before washing. Amazon had them on sale - I could get 6 for $36, plus free shipping since I signed up for a free 6 months of Amazon Mom. Seemed very reasonable to me. Then I found prefolds, also on Amazon, 60 cotton flannel contoured prefolds for $30 (but sadly these are not available any longer - maybe ebay?). (Later on, I found another great basic diaper system, Econobum, which comes with a waterproof cover and a prefold for about $10, plus other starter kit options. And while I have tried and currently use many different brands, these offer some of the most basic, affordable options I have come across.) After a couple of months of saving up money for the Real Nappies and cotton flannel prefolds, I made my purchase.
My whole world was changed. An entirely new way of thinking and living opened up for me. Cloth became my obsession, if you will. And so did other green, money saving, healthy, and environmentally friendly options. I started using reusable sandwich and snack bags, microfiber towels to clean the kitchen instead of paper towels, at times reusable grocery totes, many times cloth napkins for meals, eating more whole foods instead of processed, and have even switched over to using "mama cloth" - a whole new adventure that I experienced while doing my cloth research. I love cloth, and I never thought that I would be a person who does.
Cloth diapering works for me and my family. It helped us save money while we were going though a short financial struggle. It is just as convenient (if not more convenient) to use cloth as it is to use disposables. I will never run out of diapers or wipes - yes, we use cloth wipes too. (One of my pet peeves was having to go to the store for diapers and/or wipes - we always seemed to run out of them at the worst times.) They wash and hold up extremely well. They are easy to travel with. The "poop factor" isn't a big deal if you diaper properly - I suggest using fleece or flushable liners if you can, the mess just slides right off into the toilet. As gross as that may sound, it really isn't a big deal. It's not like you are picking the mess up out of the diaper and dropping it into the toilet using your hands. That would be gross. And very unsanitary. I haven't had one single blowout (whereas, with disposables we had a blowout at least once a week). I honestly don't have any cons about cloth, except that it may seem like an expense during the first few purchases. But when you start using it, and you realize you haven't had to buy diapers for a year, that "expense" turned out to be a wise investment. And I have to say, most cloth diapers are super duper cute!
Granted, I am not a hippy, tree-hugging, organic food garden growing (although I would love to have a garden someday), "crunchy" mama just yet (though I respect anyone who lives that way). Noah still uses disposables with certain babysitters and family members, we still buy paper towels (for the husband mostly), we still buy toilet paper (haven't convinced the husband into using "family cloth", and probably never will haha), we still eat fast food occasionally, I now use the dryer more often than I use the clothes line outside, we have a large SUV that eats up gasoline and is horrible for the environment. I could keep going, but I think I have made my point in saying that we are regular people and enjoy the many conveniences of life, good or not so good for the environment. And although I am passionate about cloth diapering (passionate enough to start sewing them myself and selling them), I do not look down on anyone or judge anyone who chooses not to use cloth. Everyone is different and I respect whatever system works for you and your family.
So, while I ultimately did it for the money, cloth diapering has been a wonderful experience for me and my family, and I hope that if you are on the fence about it, that you will go for it! You won't go back and will be happy you made the change :)
Over and out.
~ Lovely Fluffy Mama