we use cloth diapers (part 1/6)


July 30, 2013 by Ellen V

This is the first part in a series of posts describing our varied experience with cloth diapering.

Our friends are having babies left and right lately. We were with (expecting) friends this weekend and together we counted a dozen babies born or about to be born in Eric’s educational department within a year of each other. Something is in the water. It’s crazy.

After 19 months, we’re all of the sudden the people being asked parenting advice rather than asking it. Weird, right? But because we’ve been advocates for it, and because many of our friends have similar interests, the number one most frequent topic we get asked about is cloth diapering.
So, at Eric’s urging, I’ll take you through our 19 months of experience in a series of 6 posts on cloth diapering, including reviews of the brands we’ve tried. I hope we can point friends here and maybe it’ll help a few others trying to make some decisions, too. Sorry if you were hoping for more pictures of Jane. You might have to wait a week or two!

Why We Chose to Cloth Diaper

I explain this in detail here, but a short summary is that we chose cloth over disposables for 1) price, 2) environment, and 3) some side benefits, which include happy baby skin and (fingers crossed) an easier time potty training. Now that we’ve been doing it for so long, it’s hard for us to imagine a scenario in which we wouldn’t cloth diaper, but we know there are a few, like if a child’s main day time caregiver (like her daycare) didn’t allow it.
While we have had to make some adjustments to our routine here and there, we have never, ever been disappointed we cloth diaper. Even Eric talks about Jane’s diapers with serious positivity. We’re not really that crunchy, even if I’d have you believe we were the most granola people out there from the looks of this blog. We just decided that this was one area where the little extra work involved would be worth it in the long run.

The Basics

If you are expecting or have a little one at home and you’re considering switching to cloth I advise a few basic things: setting yourself up for success (get enough diapers for a full day of cloth, borrowing some or all if you can), committing to it for two weeks (this allows you to develop a laundry routine and become aware of any potential bumps in the road), and trying a few different brands or styles from the get-go.

Maybe more important, though, is that you need to have conversations with anyone who will consistently be changing your little one’s diapers. This may seem obvious, but a I know a few folks who gave up quickly because their spouse wouldn’t help with the laundry or their own parents thought it was a little too out there for them. We knew from early on that we were both interested in cloth diapering, and we made it clear to our care providers that this was something we hoped they would be able to do with us, too. Side note: if my 19-year-old summer nanny can cloth diaper, you can, too.

We allowed ourselves about two weeks in disposables before we switched to cloth. We used up the disposables from the hospital and gave ourselves some time to adjust to having a baby without major additional laundry. After that, we promised each other that we would cloth diaper exclusively, even outside the house, for at least two weeks. By the time that two weeks was over (honestly, probably after two days), we had gotten used to it.

Full disclosure: we have always used, and continue to use, disposables overnight. Jane has pretty much always slept through the night, and that one diaper doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think having her in a disposable at night helped me a lot with sleep training, since I knew Jane wasn’t upset about her diaper being wet or dirty. I know the real hard-core cloth diaper users would be scandalized, and I think Eric continues to be annoyed, but it is where I am at right now. I have a feeling that when my work schedule picks up this fall and Eric begins putting Jane to bed more often, there might be a change in this department.

The Options

One real, though somewhat less obvious, reason that many people don’t cloth diaper is that the options are absolutely overwhelming. We did not do a whole lot of research in this department. We knew from early on that Jane would have a variety of caregivers, so we quickly narrowed down the vast multitude of choices to the three types of diapers we thought would be most manageable: all-in-ones, pockets, and hybrids. For a more comprehensive list of the choices that are out there and basic descriptions, check out this really helpful link.

All-in-one (AIO) diapers are typically the most expensive, but they are incredibly simple. They are basically a full, one piece cloth diaper that you use just like a disposable (with the exception of having to remove solid waste). These are the most day-care friendly version. Some brands come in several sizes, and some brands have one-size versions.

Pocket diapers look a lot like AIOs but have a removable insert/stuffer. The insert has the benefit of being made from a different (more absorbent) material, and you can often double or fold the inserts for heavy wetters or different (boy vs. girl) wetting patterns.

Finally, hybrids take the best of the worlds of cloth and disposable diapers to give parents options. They work similarly to the options described above but have the option of a disposable insert.

Our first choice for cloth diapering was a hybrid brand called gDiaper. We liked the idea of have options, and it was one of the only kinds of diapers we had seen used on kids we knew. We have kind of a love/hate relationship with them, but more on that in Part 2!

5 thoughts on “we use cloth diapers (part 1/6)

  1. […] ← we use cloth diapers (part 1/6) […]

  2. […] to Part 3 of a series of posts on cloth diapering. Interested? Read Parts 1 and […]

  3. […] to Part 4 of a series of posts on cloth diapering. Sound interesting? Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part […]

  4. […] to Part 5 of a series of posts on cloth diapering. Interested? Read Parts 1, 2, 3, and […]

  5. […] to the final post in a series on cloth diapers. Catch up with Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and […]

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