Dear Cloth Diapering Newbie On A Budget,

Budget Friendly CD

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about my preferences for cloth diapering, which caused me to go through my entire stash and add up my total cloth diapering costs. Looking at my expenses in cloth diapering really made me consider things I would change with the knowledge I’ve gained in the last year and a half, as well as cheaper ways to create a complete stash for my two kids. Certainly, I have spent a fair amount of money on some very fancy diapers that, actually, were totally unnecessary, but all that searching has given me a lot of valuable information on what does work.

These are the adjustments that I would make now. (I am including the price of a new diaper as well as gently used prices which I list in italics, if a major retailer sells the item in that condition.)

Daytime Cloth Diapering Stash

  • 24 small Cloth-eez prefolds [$29 per dozen]
  • 12 large Cloth-eez prefolds [$40 per dozen]
  • 4 size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [$12.75/$10.25 ea]
  • 6 size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [12.75/10.25 ea]
  • 1 size 1 Snappi [$3.95]
  • 8-10 Kawaii One Size pocket diapers (to use outside the home) [$9.95/$8.50]

Nighttime Diapering Stash

  • 3 large Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$10.95 ea]
  • 3 medium Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$9.50 ea]
  • 5 Thirsties Duo hemp/cotton prefolds [$7.95 ea]
  • 3-5 medium fleece soakers [$7 ea]
  • 3-5 large fleece soakers [$9 ea]
  • 3-5 extra large fleece soakers [$10.50 ea]
  • 3 Green Mountain Diapers night stay-dry doubler [$8.50 ea]
  • 5 Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetter pocket diapers for toddler overnight/naptime diapering [$7.75 ea]

I averaged my actual stash cost at about $750, but with these adjustments I could be cloth diapering two children for just under $500. That may seem like quite a large number up front, but you can spread out the cost over several months, making it a manageable sum. If you don’t have to work hard at convincing loved ones of your cloth diapering intention, you may receive quite a few of these items as gifts as well. And, if you’re cloth diapering one child, you won’t even need all of those items for the first year. So, $400 in the first year. Max.

Buy yourself a well deserved margarita for saving so much. Unless you’re pregnant, in which case, go buy some chocolate.

If you are willing to bargain hunt, the price can drop even lower. Here are some of my suggestions for cloth diapering as cheaply as possible with quality items:

  1. Join a local Buy/Sell/Trade Cloth Diapering Group on Facebook. I like local because you can touch, feel, check and smell diapers before purchasing.
  2. Visit or call local baby consignment stores to see if they have any CDs in stock.
  3. Buy fleece soakers, rather than wool on Etsy. If you’re handy, and you’re looking for something to do before baby arrives, make your own. These can be thrown in with your regular wash, making them a super easy alternative to wool. Even if your child wears disposables, particularly at night, a fleece cover will help control leakage. (Because everything leaks.)
  4. Visit major websites frequently for sales. Items may be marked down tremendously following the release of new and updated versions of diapers. In fact, I’ve purchased all of my pocket diapers during transitions like this for about 10% off the regular price.
  5. Several major websites with trial programs also sell Gently Used versions of all the trial diapers. These typically remain in excellent condition and are, in all actuality, only slightly used. Plus, most of these companies have a return policy if you’re not satisfied.
  6. Find friends who are ready to de-stash and make an offer on the lot. They’ll be so grateful to have the entire thing off their hands.
  7. Sell or consign your diapers when you are done to keep costs down in the long run.

The Cloth Diapering Journey (So Far)

I started my commitment to cloth diapering when Carl was about a year and half old. Before that, the choices available (how can there possibly be so many options for a poop catcher, I ask),  as well as the thought of  incorporating a new major change completely overwhelmed me. I did not want any of my precious baby bonding time to disappear with this change. And I didn’t really know anyone with a new baby, much less a cloth diapering family of whom I could ask all my questions.

Then, at Carl’s 15 month mark, I became at SAHM. With super-huge, terrifying life changes that included moving across Texas, a second pregnancy, and changing my identity as an income earner, I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone by jumping in to cloth diapering immediately. But I knew I wanted to cloth diaper, and, with a second baby on the way, I decided to make it work.

I first purchased ten FuzziBunz name brand pocket diapers to try out, just having read a few online reviews. You’re smarter than that, right? You’re going to talk to all your CD’ing friends, and you’ll read my blog, and you’ll email me questions, right? Because, those diapers almost broke this whole thing before it got off the ground. Carl is a big kid; he pees a lot. Those diapers leaked like crazy. We couldn’t go anywhere without the car seat getting soaked, or Brandon’s sportscoats, or suits getting saturated. Everything smelled like pee.

There are worse things, I suppose. (Like now, when everything smells like poop. Oh, potty training.)

But, with a dry cleaning bill adding up, and a frustrated and soggy spouse down on cloth, I spent more time on the internet and found a trial program through Jillian’s Drawers. They sent us several types of diapers for a 21 day trial, and we sent back what we didn’t want, keeping the best. I haven’t looked back since, but here’s what I learned:

1.Prefold. Prefold. Prefold.

I don’t think it matters whether they are bleached, unbleached, or purple. (Ok, purple might be a problem.) Prefolds adjust with age; endure folding in every possible way;  dry super fast; and, most importantly, they are cheap (you can find a dozen newborn prefolds for around $25.00). And when your kid grows up, you can use them to dust. You’ll need a Snappi, (and you can get away with just one, unless you have twins. Then you need two.) to hold them together. Safety pins are so last century, and honestly, once your baby starts crawling, that’s a moving target that you have to hit just right. Twice. A Snappi works, well, in a snap. I’m now a pro at attaching a diaper with a Snappi backwards.

2. If you aren’t in to folding, or the Snappi scares the stuffing out of you, there’s a lovely solution called a fitted diaper. These are a little bit pricier (ranging from $7.00 on up, depending on the material make up and brand), plus you have to buy several different sizes as baby grows. But, they are shaped like a diaper, and Green Mountain Diapers makes them with snaps. No Snappi. No problem. Good for grandparents, sidetracked spouses, and babysitters. Good for you. (You’ll want a few of these for nighttime cloth diapering anyway, but more on that later.)

3. Get the good diaper cover.

I love Thirsties duo wrap. I like the snaps for older kids. I like the velcro (called Aplix hook and loop) for babies that need to be adjusted daily because they grow like the hole in the ozone. Duo wraps have a double gusset. You know what that does? It keeps the poop in the diaper, instead of on you or that adorable, expensive, 100% organic linen onesie. And that means fewer outfit changes for everyone. Which means less laundry. Which means, more snuggle time.

I’m not saying that Thirsties are the alpha and omega of cloth diaper covers, I’m just saying, I didn’t look around after I found them.

That’s it.

Unless you think that putting two separate pieces of a diaper on a squalling baby might send you over the edge, in which case…. a pocket diaper might answer your needs.

  1. For cheap, but effective, the Kawaii One Size Pocket Diaper worked really well for us. We didn’t buy them, because I don’t like to mix my microfiber wash with my cotton wash. But, if I hadn’t heard such amazing recommendations and loved the versatility of a prefold and cover, I would have gone with a set of Kawaii, and….
  2. A set of BumGenius 4.0 (because they hadn’t released the 5.0 at that time). These diapers receive rave reviews online, as well as from friends. Our trial experience also left me loving the BG more than any other pocket diaper or All In One (AIO) we tried.

I think that out of 10 days in each diaper, Carl leaked once in the Kawaii, and none in the BumGenius. So, my BG love is a relatively slight preference.

I suggest pocket diapers like these because the absorbency can be adjusted as baby gets bigger. Pocket diapers typically come with a microfiber insert, which your kid eventually outgrows. The pocket lets you add in things like hemp/cotton prefolds under the microfiber, making the pocket workable for all ages. But, get a good pocket, with good leg gussets. I am not kidding because poop. 

A final note about those very first FuzziBunz  name brand diapers that I mentioned: I hate spending money on a diaper and not using it. So, I have started using these on Jack, and they’ve been fine. Mostly I use them for school, babysitters, and family.  I have also started using the large Perfect Size Fuzzibunz on Carl at night, with a hemp/cotton prefold under the microfiber and a wool cover over everything. This seems to do ok, but it’s super bulky and not something I would have used back in the days when we were new and experimenting. I just think that, as the boys grow, the One Size Fits All label might not be accurate. Infants hold a lot less urine than toddlers, so the double gusset and absorbency is less of an issue when they’re little. But, 18 month old Jack will be a totally different ball game when it comes to pocket diapers.

I’ve found that my prefolds and covers hold everything in, regardless of age and size (I mean, Carl was 18 months when we started with prefolds, and those suckers managed to contain tons of urine beautifully). Which brings me back to one of the most important points with cloth diapering, you have to be flexible. Admittedly, this true of all diapering. You have to be willing to problem solve. You have to be willing to use duct tape, or plastic sheets, or fleece pajamas. You have to stay cool, calm, and collected.

Until they go to bed, and then you should drink wine and cry. Call me, I’ll join you.

For specific ideas about how much and what you’ll need, here’s my list.

My Actual “Stash” Looks Like This:

Daytime Cloth Diapering Stash

  • 2 Newborn Cloth-eez prefolds (We used disposable diapers that were gifted to us until Jack was about 3 months old, and we have BIG babies, so Jack outgrew this size immediately.) [$2 ea]
  • 14 small Cloth-eez prefolds [$29]
  • 6 Toddler OsoCozy prefolds [$19]
  • 12 large Cloth-eez prefolds [$40]
  • 3 size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [$12.75 ea]
  • 4 size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [12.75 ea]
  • 4 size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in snap [$12.75]
  • 1 size 1 Snappi [$3.95]
  • 5 large Fuzzibunz One Size pocket diapers (for daycare) [$19.95]

Nighttime Diapering Stash

  • 1 large Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$10.95]
  • 1 medium Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$9.50]
  • 1 large Kissaluvs fitted diaper [$10 – sale]
  • 1 Sustainablebabyish Overnight Bamboo Fitted (OBF) [$28]
  • 4 Thirsties Duo hemp/cotton prefolds [$7.95 ea]
  • 1 medium Woollybottoms hybrid soaker [$25]
  • 1 large Woollybottoms hybrid soaker [$25]
  • 2 Green Mountain Diapers night stay-dry doubler [$8.50 ea]
  • 5 large Fuzzibunz Perfect Size pocket diapers (toddler overnight diapering) [$17.95 ea]
  • 12 Alva bamboo fibre inserts ($30)

Additional Fluff 

  • Diaper sprayer (only a necessity for pockets or AIOs. (I went super fancy for $80)
  • Pail liner ($17)
  • Wet Bag x 2 ($15 ea)

This stash managed to diaper both a toddler and infant simultaneously for 8 months, with wash days happening every two to three days.

Let me just say that, in total, the cloth diapering of two children from infancy to potty training has cost us $745 to date. For two kids. Obviously, cloth diapers wear out, so you may have to replace some of your items. And, we supplemented all of this with disposable diapers, particularly when Carl went through his defiant “I can remove my poopy diapers without you” phase, so we’ve certainly spent more money on diapers than what I’ve calculated. HOWEVER, in a typical month, disposable diapers cost around $62.50 per child. If your child isn’t potty trained until they are three years old, you’re looking at a cost of $2,250. Multiply that number by however many kids you have, or plan to have, and voila. You’re broke.

THAT’S RIDICULOUS.

If you are a bargain shopper with coupons in your blood stream, then disposable diapers may end up being less expensive than what I’ve listed. But, if you’ve got the time to coupon, you damn well have the time to cloth diaper.

OH MY GOD, I NEED A MARGARITA NOW.

It’s not like we’re saving for their college funds with all the money we aren’t spending on disposable diapers. But we could be.

We could be.

*These opinions are 100% my own, based on my own experiences. I did not receive any donations, financial gains, or other recognition for this article.

 

Dear Cloth Diapering Commitment Phobe,

April 4.2 037 5 May (3)

Right now, I just have one child in diapers all the time, but in my not so distant past there were two boys in cloth diapers. And it was okay. In fact, I really loved it.

But, I get it. You think that cloth diapers are gross. You worry about your washing machine and yet another time suck that keeps you from your baby. You think cloth diapers cost too much, or won’t be effective. You’re freaked out about poop.

Poop, y’all. It ain’t pretty. But it happens a lot in my house. As a friend so aptly said, there comes a point when poop becomes the fifth element: earth, fire, wind, water, poop. It’s just a way of life after baby arrives, whether your diapers are cotton or plastic; whether your child is potty trained or you’re just discovering meconium. And, actually, I’ve discovered that the amount of poop getting on me, and baby, and flooring, and crib, and sheets, is greatly reduced in a cloth diaper.

Here’s the scoop:

  1. If cloth diapering interests you, give it a try. The hardest thing about cloth is committing. Once you decide to cloth diaper, the battle is fairly well won. Then, wake up every day and remind yourself of why you cloth diaper to begin with, be it financial, environmental, health, or reducing the dreaded poop-splosion that sends onesies to the dark side. Every. Damn. Time.
  2. There are several trial programs to help you determine which cloth diaper belongs in your home. Try one. Ask your supportive family member to help you try one out as a baby gift. Trust me, you will come away feeling smart about your choice. We went with Jillian’s Drawers Changing Diapers Changing Minds program when Carl was about 18 months old, and I felt well versed in cloth diapers by the time our 21 days were up.
  3. I found that having the support of just one person made all the difference. One person who loves that you cloth diaper, and asks how it’s going. One person to  trouble shoot, or just listen to you wax on about how much you love cloth. Find that person. Let me be that person if you don’t have one in your family or friend group. You can often find people like this on social media, or you can join a Facebook cloth diapering group. Sometimes, when you start talking about the cloth diaper life, people come out of the woodwork to share their experiences with you.
  4. The internet makes cloth diapering easier. Once you know what works for you, you can find myriad resources online about the best care and troubleshooting for your brand. I love Green Mountain Diapers as a resource for washing, reviews, and photographs of how to use my prefolds as my boys grow. I also found a blog that shows all the different ways to fold a diaper and it blew my mind.
  5. Know that your cloth diapering plans can change, and be flexible. Somedays, when I don’t get the prefolds on the line, or in the dryer in time, we use disposables. (In fact, I keep a small stash of disposables tucked away for days like this.) Life happens. Just keep moving forward.
  6. You don’t always need all the jazz. No really. We bought a diaper sprayer, but I soon realized that I actually prefer a good pair of gloves and the “swirl and flush” method. The diaper sprayer works wonders on our AIO diapers, but I only pull those out for the babysitter, so…I don’t know that it was worth it. I bought a huge wet bag for the diapers, and a fancy trash can. But it turns out that I like this tiny metal, lidless, breathable office trash can for my dirties so they can dry out (reducing smells). It also forces me to wash more often, because I run out of room more quickly.
  7. Cloth diapering may not be for you. If you have a weak stomach, think carefully about whether you can overcome that obstacle. If your spouse/co-parent claims confusion over the different folds and snaps, then maybe you should avoid the prefold with a cover and look at an all in one, or all in two. If you can’t begin to imagine using wool, and adding another layer to your wash routine, then a disposable at night might be the right answer. A disposable with your potty training toddler who poops four times in one hour before falling asleep at night might be the right answer. I am not joking. Adjust for your life.
  8. Smells are solvable. Smells can be managed. Smells don’t have to ruin your life.
  9. These things are so damn cute. Buy a couple just for pictures, and then take a million pictures of your kid in their adorable underwear.
  10. Skinny jeans may not work for your cloth diapered kid. In fact, you might consider the oddly shaped, fuzzy butt when purchasing clothes. Size up. Or look for brands that make bigger bottoms in their clothes. Or forget pants (if the weather is warm) and let your baby strut that adorableness all over town. Invest in leg warmers, which make diaper changing easier regardless of what the diaper consists of. You only get to torture that baby with “soo cute” rainbow striped legwarmers for a little while

.10 October (6)

Love cloth diapering? Thinking about joining the cloth diaper movement? Tell me about it.

PPM

 

 

Laundry Day

Today I strung up a clothesline in my back yard. I stretched it taut to hang my cloth diapers, and the bed linens I’ve stashed away for the past two years while we searched for our place to settle. Rooted somewhere in my long-term memory, the smell of clean, wet sheets snapping in the wind sends me in to a momentary daze. I remember sheets as tents, as hide and seek havens, as comfort, and home, and a place of dreams.

The process of hanging things with clothespins on a line also takes me to a less distant past of college days. October days where I rose early enough to catch the dew in the Georgia grass, and walked our front campus through slight fog. Often I was in shabby overalls, carting huge boxes filled with t-shirts designed by students, faculty, and staff. Survivors. Advocates. People who understood that the clothesline we hung every October gave voice to people with some amount of violence in their past or present. Domestic violence. Rape. Sexual assault. Molestation. My strong arms strung up the clothesline to pin those shirts on. My strong voice traveled to the nation’s capital to protest those things that mattered to me.

Ten years ago, my mission was to save the world. To start my own women’s shelter. To be the voice for those who had lost theirs. Ten years ago, I was a powerhouse of energy, headed to graduate school after co-founding a women’s resource center on our campus. After starting a local chapter of The Clothesline Project. After graduating Magna Cum Laude. After spending countless  200+ hours volunteering at shelters.

After.

Hanging laundry on the line brings me back to the present. Where my two boys play in my yard, and I am no longer the Wonder Woman of ten years ago. The decade has changed me; taking my identity and molding it into things I never thought I could or would be. Somehow I have become a different Wonder Woman with eight arms at once, capable of the physical strength required to bounce, carry, hold, rock, bathe, burp, and breastfeed. The one that does not gag at poop, or puke, or diarrhea. The one who sleeps five intermittent hours and arises to start all over again.

I have spent a great deal of time questioning who I am. Whether I can still be a feminist if I stay home with my children. Whether I have value if I don’t receive a pay check. And, if I do, what is that value? I have spent ages wondering what I am doing with myself, and whether the me of ten years ago still means something.

Now, I know.

I am saving the world. But on a micro-scale. I am saving the world for two boys. For the countless men, and women, and children those boys will encounter in their lives.I am tasked with teaching those boys the world, and keeping their hearts soft. I am meant to show them bystander intervention, bravery, advocacy, strength in community, and the power of the individual. I am meant to teach them love.

Laundry day.

There are tiny souls to grow, and diapers to hang. Let us begin.

PPM