Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Cloth Diapering Story: Part 1

*I started out writing this post as a review of the cloth diapers we use, but as I started to write I realized that it might be helpful for someone out there to here about my reasoning and process in choosing cloth diapers.

Before Cyrus was born, Jason and I talked at length about whether to use disposable or cloth diapers. Throwing away all those disposable diapers just didn't sit well with us, not to mention the chemicals that are in most of the resonably-priced disposables. When I was doing research, I had a hard time finding good information on cloth diapering options and costs, so I'm providing my account for anyone else who might be interested.

So initially, we decided to use a diaper service. When we got to Portland, I looked into Tidee Didee, the only diaper service in the Portland area, as far as I could tell. Well, as environmentally concious as I'd like to be, I will admit that my wallet talks first, and the diaper service was going to cost close to $1,000 for one year! Yikes!

However, we were still really committed to using cloth diapers, so I started exploring other options - mainly, buying a stash of cloth diapers and laundering them myself. But I was worried about the extra work load, the mess and the excess water I would have to use to wash them, not to mention to cost of purchasing all those diapers. So, as is my nature, I dove into researching cloth diapers. I stumbled across a mail-order store located here in Portland that specializes in cloth diapers called Babyworks. Their catalog had tons of information and their salespeople were extremely helpful over the phone, spending over 20 minutes answering my questions before I had even decided to purchase from them. Not only that, but their return policy is amazing - 30 day returns, even if you've used and washed the diapers! They figure you can't tell if they work for you unless you try them. Impressive!

I discovered that there are many options - prefolds with covers, all-in ones, pocket diapers, one-size pocket daipers (and I'm sure I'm leaving a few out). As far as I could tell, the big downfalls with most of the diapering systems were 1) you had to buy them in multiple sizes as your child grew, adding cost and 2) you had to soak them in a big pail, which could get messy.

Enter the one-size pocket diaper. The idea is that the diapers are adjustable through a system of elastic and buttons or velcro and snaps, depending on the brand, and can therefore be used for babies 7lbs to 35 lbs - basically the whole diapering life of an average sized child. This means buying one set to get you through 2+ years of diapering! There are two brands of one size pocket diapers - Fuzzibunz and Bum Genius. Bum Genius uses velcro and snaps, while Fuzzibunz uses elastic and buttons to adjust the size. The Fuzzibunz product is slightly newer on the market.

Well, after some careful math, I realized that purchasing 24 pocket one-size diapers would be cheaper than buying the varying sizes of any of the other diapering systems. After additional research, I decided on the Fuzzibunz over the Bum Genius because it seemed that the Velcro closures on the Bum Genius would likely wear out faster than the snap closures on the Fuzzibunz.

My other issue was the mess. Babyworks recommended a toilet sprayer, a handy little sprayer that attaches to the back of your toilet, allowing you to clean off your dirty diapers before putting them in the hamper without getting your hands dirty. (Let me just add here that the thing works like a power-washer! Even when we've left poopy diapers until the end of the day, they spray off almost completely clean.) And, Fuzzibunz doesn't want you to soak the diapers in a pail, so there went that issue!

Once we had decided to go with cloth diapers, I realized that we would need some other supplies as well. We decided to use reusable wipes (basically just really plush washclothes) instead of disposable wipes, mainly because of cost, so we bought 32 of them. We also bought the diaper sprayer, some flushable diaper liners for when we're out and about, a "dirty duds bag" for the same reason, a washable diaper hamper, and a bottle of diaper detergent that will last us at least 2 years. Now, are you ready for the total cost of all of these supplies, including the 24 diapers?

We spent just under $600 for all of our diapering supplies, which will likely last us until Cy is out of diapers. Now, compared to the $1,000 a year for a diaper service, which doesn't even include some of the things we would have bought anyway, that's at least a $1,400 savings - more if he's in diapers for longer! And, there is a good chance that we can reuse the diapers and some of the other supplies with subsequent children. This might sound good in theory, but does it all work in reality? In Part 2 I'll give you my review of Fuzzibunz diapers and the whole cloth diapering process, as it's gone so far.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh I can't wait for part two! Are you able to estimate the water and energy cost for the extra loads of diaper laundry too? That's always been one of my hang-ups with cloth diapers is that the cost and environmental impact start to seem equal to disposables when ALL the factors are considered. Plus there is the time, and my time is a "cost" almost as important as money. I would love to hear more about it though. The toilet sprayer seems like a cool idea, and some other things you mention pique my interest as well.


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