Friday, February 03, 2012

More information on cloth diapers than you really needed to know

The handyman came on Wednesday to fix my zapped kitchen light fixture, which had been out for two weeks. Let me tell you, it's not pleasant to cook by the wimpy, grease-encrusted stove light. However, it did mean that I'd been leaving off washing dishes till morning, which was pleasant!

We engaged in small talk, because it's always awkward to have a stranger in your house, chopping away at wires without turning the electricity off first. You want to know something if you have to call the fire department or an ambulance...Somehow, I mentioned that we were expecting and going to cloth diaper. Maybe it was in reference to the new washing machine we're getting, one that will actually follow through on a full wash cycle. It's not important how we got there, only that this made the young handyman really, REALLY excited.

"OH my goodness, you must talk to my wife!" he exclaims, then spiels off into the exorbitant cost and waste of disposable diapers. Apparently, women like me are one in a million in Brazil. Of course, after seeing the cost of cute, Brazilian-made pocket diapers like these at a whopping R$45 apiece, it's not hard to see why Brazilians are slow to jump on this bandwagon. (I did find more economical ones here and here.) It's a hefty upfront cost, and the bulky diapers our mothers put us in, while economical, did have a distinct tendency to leak. And plastic pants might be fine in air conditioned environments, but I think it might permanently damage a child to be boiled like that in 98 degree temperatures.

I want to cloth diaper because I hate unnecessary waste, because it’s more economical, better for the environment and better for the baby. Also, they’re darned cute!

Since I have the benefit of visitors coming soon after the baby arrives, I'm opting to import most of my cloth diapers. We don't have hot water in our washing machine or a dryer, so I've had to guesstimate up on the number of diapers we'll need. Most lists suggest you’ll use 12-14 diapers a day for newborns, and only slightly less for older babies, plus a nighttime solution. Add in a longer drying time and washing every other day, and I’m guessing we’ll need about 3 dozen minimum, in sizes that will grow with baby.

Never a fan of velcro tabs, we opted for snaps whenever possible, and I've chosen a little bit of everything available, as lots of mothers mention that some diapers worked better than others; it all depends on the baby! (I figure I can gift or resell those that don’t work out for us.) At the moment, this is my list (some I have, some I'm contemplating):

All in Ones:

12 Bum Genius 3.0 (I bought these on Ebay for a great price off a mom who apparently didn't like cloth diapering!)


1 Canadian Flag design diaper to encourage husband participation
6 Sunbaby Diapers (3 size 1, 3 size 2) coming from China
1 Fuzzibunz
A couple of Happy Heinies (like the picture) from an expat mum


1 Basic cloth diaper
2 Kiwi Pie or Bumboo one size


1 Flip cover
1 Rumparooz cover
4 Econobum cover
(p.s. While I was researching this post, I discovered that this site is currently selling buy one, get one on Flip covers!)

3-6 doublers
2 dozen prefolds (because they have so MANY uses)
3 Snappis
a roll of flushable liners
cloth wipes for the wipes warmer
Some wet bags for the diaper bag/travel
A big trash can for storing
A bucket for soaking
An extra laundry drying rack
We'll wash with coconut soap, vinegar, baking soda, etc as fancy washing powders just aren't available, so that cost will be minimal.

I figure the total outlay up front will be about US$500 when you add in the extras and the cutsy diapers we will buy purely because they're so dang adorable. Like this one, from an Etsy seller, which is made of the softest material ever.

You just want to rub it against your face (I did this when a friend gave me the tour of her diaper stash!). I'm doing mostly gender-neutral colors/prints, so when we decide to expand the family, we can use these we get to amortize the cost over years and years!

So, veterans of the cloth, am I missing something here? Am I going overboard? And to the rest of you who grimace and make the poop face: We are fully aware that babies poop and that we will have to wash it out. We live in Brazil; if there's no bidet, there's a sprayer next to the toilet, so we don't even have to shake the nastiness off. Spray, baby, spray!


anne said...

cloth diapers are best, all the way around. Used them for my 2 "birth kids", and it was great. Had some covers like the ones you show, for Michael, and at the end of Bethany's diaper time (she had "plastic pants before that, which were "sweaty")... no pins, all good. I don't think you are going overboard at all. Having somewhere to put the diapers (paper) once they are "used", that doesn't waft odors all thru the house isn't always possible, whereas, the dirty cloth diapers, you clean and it's done!

Anonymous said...

yah for cloth diapers!
we bought a few on liquidation, got hand-me-downs diapers). we also got cloth inserts and breathable covers from my husband's family in africa (dirt cheap, plain white cotton squares that you fold yourself. they were not quite as absorbant as the ultra-absorbant, bamboo,micro fleece, etc etc etc fabrics that are available nowadays in north america but worked just fine. when we had the african cotton diaper on, we just had to remember to change them a little more often.

they were less bulky than most north american versions but our baby did have 'bulky bum' with the thicker diapers i.e. a cloth bum that is several times larger than a disposable diaper bum. it is surprising how THIN disposable diapers are in comparison! so we usually looked for baby outfits that were stretchier than average. usually 1-2 sizes larger than our baby's actual bum size in order to pull over the bum easier. i know - it sounds silly (vain?) to mention this, but we did get many gifts of very cute, trendy but non-stretchy material - jeans, cords, etc that were too small or too awkward to use. jeans with lycra are usually fine, but we still needed a slightly bigger size.

we also went through a stage where we worried our kid would learn to walk bowlegged because the diaper makes the leg splay out a little more. haha. but then again, seeing a baby totter towards you with a huge padded megabum is pretty hilarious too. more padding when he falls!

last bit of advice if you are looking for tips that worked for us. because our 'african' diapers were less absorbant than other types, i wanted to buy cloth liner inserts to use with them. but i found them way too expensive!!!! so i sewed my own. it was simple, nothing fancy, just some basic rectangles with one side fleece sewed to one side of absorbant mesh (i actually found a big scrap of mesh at salvation army, which is what gave me the idea). i only needed 1 or 2 metres of each fabric and was able to make tons of individual liners (at least 20-30?) for very cheap. we used these homemade liners for an extra layer of absorbancy + keep bum dry but without adding bulk to the actualy diaper.

the liners were pretty effective at catching the most of the poo as well (sorry). it was very easy to throw a bunch of these liners in a soapy bucket and (sorry again) hand scrub them for literally a few seconds before washing them in the machine. the mesh seemed to repel stains and they dried very very quickly. we even stopped using the flushable liners because the cloth ones worked better. and of course, we reused them over and over again but if they ever did get too stained or too gross we could throw one out sans problemes. these liners definitely made cloth diapers much easier for us. (much easier than repeatedly staining and cleaning the main diaper, no matter how good your cleaning intentions are over a few months). we also found, that for all those 'pseudo' pees, you know, those little tiny pees that barely makes the diaper wet, but enough that you still need to change it if it is cloth, we could often get away with just changing the liner and leaving the same diaper, since the liner completely absorbed that small amount of pee.

i included a random link below just to show you what the basic liners look like.

sorry for the long comment. good luck and have fun with cloth diapers!

Anonymous said...

If you really want to be ecologically minded, soak your used diapers in a pail of water. Then use the "urine water" on your garden. It's a great source of nitrogen. Seriously, you should check out all the posts on the internet.

--jenna said...

So many good ideas! Thanks for the helpful comments...

anne said...

(speaking of soaking cloth diapers...) My mom used to soak them in the toilet, and then holding them w/some sort of "special" tool, flushed the toilet, and the soil was carried away, and then you put diapers in a bucket and carried them to washer, etc...
My brother, not keen to be a sibling, could not figure a way to get rid of me and apparently considered flushing ME down the toilet, but couldn't figure it out, so he flushed my DIAPERS, while they were soaking, and then explained the significance of his actions to my mom, when she discovered the disaster.

He was 2, ....