August 1, 2013 by Ellen V
Welcome to Part 2 of a series of posts on cloth diapering. You can read Part 1 here!
After a little (admittedly, not a lot) research on cloth diapers, we set ourselves up to cloth diaper using gDiapers for Jane before she was even born. gDiapers come in several sizes, and we chose to forgo the newborn size due to the high likelihood of a giant baby (I was over 10 pounds). Because gDiapers don’t require a change for the whole diaper every time, just the insert, we figured could get by with six covers, eighteen cloth inserts, and a package of disposable inserts for the first “size set” until she bumped up to a medium and we could reevaluate.
Jane grew quickly, and she was in a size medium at about ten weeks old. While she was in both mediums and larges, we had eight cloth covers, six extra plastic pouches, and 24 cloth inserts.
As I mentioned in Part 1, we had a love-hate relationship with gDiapers. We truly have loved them, and we used them for almost eighteen months. We loved them because:
- We felt like the company had a mission in line with our values, especially concerning environmental awareness. The materials the company uses are eco-friendly, we love their employment policies, and the disposable inserts are biodegradable.
- They are seriously cute diapers. There wasn’t much more bulk than a disposable diaper would add, and they come in super adorable colors. The covers are cloth, rather than a wicking fabric or something more water proof, and somehow it just makes the diapers so adorable.
- They had a disposable option. We didn’t end up using it much, but as tentative waders into the murky waters of cloth diapering, we liked this fall-back option.
- They have great reviews and you feel like you belong to some awesome club when you use them.
But we haven’t been as satisfied as we felt like we should be. In fact, with more and more people asking us advice about cloth diapering, we didn’t even feel like we could recommend gDiapers to friends, even after a year and a half of using them. What made us finally switch?
- The disposable option that so attracted us to the brand in the first place was a flop for us. We felt the disposables were leaky and a pain. While they are definitely a better environmental solution than stick-around-for-50-years disposables, when push came to shove, we would just use a disposable if our cloth inserts weren’t an option. Plus, they were more expensive than regular disposables and hard to find locally. Double flop.
- They didn’t wash well. The pouches stained very easily, even when Jane was only drinking breast milk or formula and not on solids yet, and I had to strip the cloth inserts every month or so from detergent build up (even when we switched to a super cloth diaper friendly detergent).
- They didn’t hold up well. Our mediums (used for about 8-9 months) and larges (used about 7-8 months) did not stand the test of time. The snaps frayed, the pouches were shot after five or six months, and the covers faded. When I contacted the company about the fraying pouches, which was especially bothersome to me, I was told that they were really only made to last 6-12 months, and they should be replaced. That was disheartening. The whole reason we wanted to cloth diaper was so we wouldn’t have to replace things like that! And we worked hard to take care of the diapers, so when they still didn’t hold up well, we really felt like they were failing us.
- There are a lots of pieces. Covers, pouches, liners, you get the picture. It made it pretty hard for the diaper-changer and the laundry-doer.
- Velcro. Velcro is not made to last, people. Avoid it in general. With gDiapers, there isn’t another option.
- Expense. When we did the math, gDiapers were definitely more expensive than most other cloth diapering options, even when you work hard at waiting for sales and finding discounts. You’re looking at paying $17.99 most of the time for a cover, plus the extra and necessary expense of inserts, which will run you at least $24.99 for a set of six. On top of that, there are different sizes to work in as your baby grows and it was made clear to us that certain parts of the diaper would undoubtedly need to be replaced for this one child, not to mention any future children that might wear them (if they would last long enough!). Plus, the gDiaper system requires you to pretty much go 100% gDiaper. There are very few cheaper alternatives to gDiaper brand that work among the gDiapers (with the exception of some cloth liners), so it’s hard to add to our stash without continuing to commit to only the gDiaper brand.
The cons definitely outweighed the pros for us, and about two months ago we finally decided to make a change. Check out the rest of the series for more of our discoveries.
Other Mistakes and Mishaps
It seems like this is a good place to talk about some of the other mistakes we’ve made along the way.
First, the laundry routine is a trouble spot. Things can get pretty stinky in a hurry. We learned a few things quickly: use a dry bucket, get a lid for your diaper pail, and diapers really should be washed every two-three days. I would recommend using a cloth diaper friendly detergent or, better yet, making your own. This is by far the best homemade recipe we’ve found, and we’ve used it for over fifteen months now. I’ve also found that a little baking soda, or (less messy) a baking soda disc will help battle odor. As for drying, if you have a way to dry your cloth diapers in the sun, it really reduces stains. We don’t have a clothesline and our Wisconsin winters don’t really encourage it for half the year, so we don’t get a chance to line dry very often, but we do it when we can.
Second, even careful laundering causes build up. Diaper rash cream, laundry detergent, and just minerals from your water will cause build up. We’ve found that the easiest and best way in our house to strip a diaper is to run the hottest load possible with a little Dawn and no other detergent. Every house and it’s water is different, though, so you have to figure out what works for you and your diapers. With our gDiapers we were stripping about every six weeks, but I’d imagine we’ll only need to strip our current diapers every two-three months. Be warned: the stripping method I just described is probably not the one recommended by your cloth diaper company. Always feel free to call your brand’s customer service line to see what they recommend.
Finally, and this is a big lesson learned, it’s more important for a diaper to fit around the legs than it is for it to fit around the waist. Both are good, of course, but a too-tight waist is uncomfortable for the little one and doesn’t really prevent leaks. Check out those chunky little thighs, though, and make sure the diapers fit snuggly (but not too tight!) around the leg to create a little seal for any liquid trying to make an escape.
Yep, we’ve seen it all at the V House. This spring, after feeling discouraged with our gDiapers, we decided to order a sampling of three new brands of diapers to try. Read about our findings soon!