Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Everything you ever wanted to know about Nolan's sweet cheeks

It's been about 4 months now since we started our adventures with cloth diapering so I thought it was high time that I give my two cents about the very items I swore I would never use. When I first started to think about cloth diapering Nolan, the one pro that came to the top of the list was MONEY! I thought about how much money we had sunk into buying diapers over the past three years with the twins and though I don't have an exact figure, I don't think guesstimating at least $3000 spent on diapers is an overestimate. In fact, I think that is a low-ball guess, as we probably have spent closer to $5000. That my friends, is a crazy amount of money! Oh the fun I could have had at Anthropologie with all that diaper money. But with having twins and already feeling incredibly overwhelmed at feeding two babies all the time, I really didn't think that I had the time or sanity to cloth diaper.

But with Nolan, things changed. I felt more comfortable being a mom. I knew that having one baby surely would be easier than having two. And even though I was still going to have three kids to take care of, I figured that doing an extra load or two of laundry a week wouldn't really be a big deal. And have I mentioned, I was going to save MONEY!!! My evil mind began to spin, and I made a deal with myself. If I could cut it with the cloth diapers then all the money I was saving each month would be my "fun money", you know to buy cute things like this. So the research on cloth diapers began. I have to wonder if this is the step where people decide that cloth diapering isn't for them. Because there is so many types of diapers out there and so many opinions- it's overwhelming to say the least!!! To help me decide on what type and brand of diapers to use I consulted a few moms who were current cloth diaperers, a few first time expecting moms (who you know are very zealous with their research on what is best for their new baby), and threw up a post on Facebook requesting opinions on pocket vs. hybrid diapers. The one diaper system that received the most accolades were the BumGenius pocket diapers.

A little about BumGenius diapers. These diapers are designed to fit baby throughout most of the time baby will be wearing diapers (score!). There are snaps that adjust the length of the diaper to accommodate baby as baby grows.
One diaper, multiple sizes
And they come in either snaps or velcro to adjust the width of the diaper to fit around baby's midsection. And they're called a pocket diaper because you stuff an insert into the "pocket" of the diaper cover and the insert is what absorbs all the pee. When it comes time to wash your diapers you take the insert out and throw the insert and the diaper into the washer. The advantage of a pocket diaper is that you can buy inserts of different absorbencies to adjust depending on the amount of pee your baby produces, and also they dry much fast than diapers that have the insert sewn into the diaper. As for our preferences in inserts and snaps vs. velcro, here is what is currently working for us. I have a few of the BumGenius diapers that snap around the waist but the majority that I have velcro around the waist. I much prefer the velcro because I can get a better fit around the waist compared to the snaps. And the snaps just take a few extra seconds to fasten. But if you are going to be using these diapers for more than one baby, snaps might be a better bet as they tend to last longer than the velcro. For absorbency, we have been using the one-size insert for most of the time that Nolan has been wearing diapers. We fold over and snap the one-size insert onto itself to make it the correct length for the diaper and put the doubled-over part of the insert into the front part of the diaper as that is where most of Nolan's pee goes. And at night I hate to wake Nolan up for a diaper change but have found that we have leaks if we just use the one-size insert. So at night I add in the Thirsties hemp insert along with the one-size insert and that seems to do the trick. 9 hours without a leak.

Now a little bit about what happens after we put the diaper on Nolan. First, to wipe those sweet cheeks we use soft and reusable cloth wipes (more saving money- yeah!). I also make a homemade wipes solution that I have in a spray bottle and each time I change a diaper I just wet the cloth wipe with this solution. The solution has soap, olive oil, and tea tree oil in it so it glides over Nolan's sweet cheeks and the tea tree oil acts as a natural antiseptic.
Cloth wipes and homemade wipe solution
 I found that once I started using cloth diapers it was a real pain to use a disposable wipe because I would have to carry a dirty wipe to the trash can each time I changed a diaper. With cloth wipes I just throw the wipes into a wet bag with the dirty diapers. And you may be wondering what the heck is a wet bag? Wet bags are simply bags that can handle wet diapers being thrown in them and they will contain all the moisture (and they do a pretty good job of holding in the odor too). When it's time to wash diapers you simply throw the bag into the washing machine with the diapers. The bags I use are made by a woman on Etsy and I love them because 1) they are cute, and 2) they have a handle on them so I can hang them over the doorknob.
Wet bag hanging from doorknob
I wash my cloth diapers on the heavy duty setting on my HE washing machine and usually have an extra rinse in the cycle. I use the Planet detergent which is recommended for use with cloth diapers. Every once in a while I will choose the power wash setting on my washer (btw- my washer is the Maytag Maxima) and this really gets the diapers sparkling clean (it should, it takes 2 hours and 36 minutes!). It may sound like all this washing would use a ton of water, negating some of the positive environmental benefits of cloth diapers. I can't quite yet answer this question. In our old house in North Carolina we didn't have an HE washer and after Nolan was born our water bill almost doubled. But, not only was I washing diaper 2-3x/week but my other laundry loads increased. As most moms know, newborn baby = tons of laundry. And I was running the dishwasher more since we didn't find time to hand wash as many dishes. I haven't gotten a water bill yet since we moved to Colorado and began using an HE washer but this post gives us some idea of how much water we actually will use with cloth diapers. I have 21 diapers in my stash and I usually wash diapers every third day.
The cloth diaper stash
Since I do use the one-size insert for Nolan I probably don't change his diaper during the day as much as others might. We don't have issues with diaper rash so he can go longer in a wet diaper which just means that I go through less diapers each day. And when it comes time to dry the diapers, I try to always let them dry outside in the sun. The sun not only bleaches away any stains left on the liners (well, breast milk poo stains- blueberry stains, not so much) but it also reduces any energy we would have used if we put them into the dryer.
Cloth diapers drying in the sun
Now that Nolan is starting to eat some solid food, the stools have changed from the easy to clean up breast milk poos to the more solid and stinky poos. We have installed the BumGenius sprayer on our toilet and when there is a dirty diaper we just spray the poo into the toilet. And while yes, the sprayer is a bit pricey ($45) it also advertises its potential use for feminine hygiene (sorry, can't comment on that )!

Okay, so this post has turned into exactly what I hated to read when I was contemplating cloth diapers. The post is crazy long and makes cloth diapering seem like a daunting task. Believe me, it is quite the opposite. Cloth diapering is just slightly more work than using a disposable diaper but once you get into the groove you'll be diapering like a pro. I was really worried when we started this that my husband was not going to be on board. You see, he is a creature of habit and when he figures out how to do something he is very resistant to changing that. And after having twins, he was really good at changing diapers. So I worried that throwing these new diapers with snaps and velcro and different types of liners at him would throw him into a tailspin. But he has embraced the diapers and even said that they are easier than he thought they would be. Another thing that worried me when considering the cloth route was the upfront expense. The BumGenius diapers run about $18 a piece new and when you need at least 18 diapers to make it through two days, you're looking at $324 for diapers. But remember, these are probably the only diapers you will buy until potty training! And you will spend considerably more on disposable diapers. And for first-time mom's, these are great to put on your registry. Since Nolan wasn't my first (and probably will be my last) I hated to buy all new diapers. I got a few of mine off of Craig's list, a few from ebay, a few from my coworkers :), and I bought 6 myself. All together I have probably spent $300 on diapers, wipes, and wet bags- a drop in the bucket compared to the amount I spent on the twins' sweet cheeks. Add in breast feeding, making my own baby food, and staying home with Nolan- we are seriously saving MONEY!!! Looks like mama needs a new wardrobe!

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