You may recall that three months ago I was the lucky recipient of a huge box of cloth diapers from Freecycle. When I appeared in the Chicago Tribune this weekend buying disposable diapers, some readers correctly pointed out that I'd save more money by using cloth. So I wanted to let new and old readers know how the transition to a disposable/cloth hybrid routine has gone chez Shoplifting.
My first fear with using cloth diapers was always that it would be difficult. This has not really turned out to be true. There are of course no pins. The kind of diapers I got are the mid-range kind -- they are made of cotton and have sewn-in velcro tabs and snap-in doublers. So they go on much like a disposable diaper does, and then you put a vinyl diaper cover over that in the same fashion. Because there are two parts, putting them on should take about twice as long as putting on a disposable. Since I have been changing diapers every day for 4.5 years now, this probably takes me less than a minute.
When they're dirty, that's where cloth IS undeniably more of a hassle than disposable. Wet is no biggie -- just drop in the dry diaper pail. But a poopy needs to be emptied into the toilet. How icky that process is depends entireley on your baby's digestive system. Lucky for me, many days my 2-year-old produces a nice solid turd that plops right into the toilet and leaves barely a skid mark on the cloth. HOWEVER, there are those days when the poop is a mess that clings to the fabric, and I am only able to shake some of it into the toilet. Some people scrape this stuff off or soak/rinse right in the toilet, but I am only a mortal woman. I shake off what I can and hope my washer will be able to digest the rest. So far, so good.
That aspect of cloth diapering has introduced a bit of the spirit of Las Vegas (or perhaps the spirit of dingy Indian casino) to our lives. If we have a hunch that a poop is coming, we'll put on a disposable. This hunch might come because she just had a messy one and they often come in clusters. Or because of the time of day -- i.e., if she hasn't gone all day, the naptime diaper may well come up 777.
That covers the adults' experience with the cloth diapers. Then there's Pebbles' experience. Well, she isn't crazy about them, I must admit. After the first day or so, we figured out that we should avoid putting her in cloth for naps or bedtime because they don't keep the wetness away from her skin, and she'd end up with all kinds of diaper rash. Also, the diapers I got are made of cotton, not fleece like the fancy fleece all-in-ones I bought at Diapers.com, and they are somewhat bulky for her. At first she cried when she saw me reaching for one at the changing table, and this of course made me feel terrible.
We use a lot of diaper balm or Aquaphor every single time we diaper now.
Then there are the other aspects: the storage of dirties and the washing. We are using a medium sized garbage can in her room, lined with a plastic bag. Because we don't use ONLY cloth, it takes us awhile to build up a fullish bag, and during that time the diaper smell can get quite strong. There are times when I walk into the girls room and it smells like a urinal, and I don't like that. I tried sprinkling in baking soda, which helped -- until Nutmeg got ahold of the baking soda container and sprinled it all over the bedroom and on her face, pretending it was makeup.