Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cloth Diapering as a First Time Mom

Whether to cloth diaper or to use disposables is just one of the important decisions we have had to make as new parents. Early on in my pregnancy we decided that cloth diapering was something that was worth trying out. I felt urged to find out for myself if cloth diapering was/is right for our family.

A few major facts that caught my attention:
1. It takes a disposable diaper 550 years to decompose!
2. At 6 diapers per day for 2.5 years (the average age a baby will potty train using disposables) is 5,475. That’s about $1,500 vs. $600 to buy a set of 24 quality cloth diapers plus the accessories. So that’s $900 worth of saving, plus they can be used again for subsequent children.
3. Disposable diapers are full of mysterious chemicals that are harmful to the environment as well as baby’s skin and body.
4. Cloth diapered children tend to potty train sooner, since they can feel that they are wet.
5. Cloth diapering is not what it used to be, thanks to advancements in the textile industry, they are easy to use and function well.

Sources:
http://www.thegreenmama.com/analyzing-environmental-life-cycle-costs-diapers
http://behealthyandrelax.com/2007/11/how-long-does-it-take-to-decompose/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7rNYzSH-BA (plastic island)

I started my search online, looking to find out where I could buy them. I was overwhelmed! There are so many companies making cloth diapers and so many different styles, fabrics, and colours to choose from.

Watching people’s reviews on YouTube was helpful place to start, since I did not understand the cloth diapering jargon on review sites or blogs. It was a learning curve, but I found that some web stores had some really helpful pages dedicated to helping out newbies like me understand what cloth diapering is all about. I didn’t know the difference between a prefold or an all in one. Now I do.

  • Flats – diapers are a single large layer of cloth that must be folded into the correct size to fit a baby under a separate waterproof cover.


  • Prefolds – diapers are a simple rectangle of layered absorbent cloth folded into thirds and fastened under a separate waterproof cover.


  • Fitteds – diapers are made of a few layers of absorbent cloth material sewn to resemble and fit the same as a disposable. They are fastened shut by pins, snaps, or hook and loop tape (velcro). They also need a separate waterproof cover.


  • Pocket diapers – diapers include a waterproof outer layer and a moisture-wicking inner layer that is sewn together to create a stuff-able pocket. The pocket is stuffed with absorbent material called an “insert” and can usually accommodate extra layers of fabric called “boosters”.


  • All-in-one diapers (AIO) – diapers have a waterproof outer layer, sewn together with a moisture absorbing inner layer(s).


  • All-in-two diapers (AI2) – diapers can function as an all-in-one diaper or as a diaper cover. An all-in-two diaper has an insert that can be removed. With the insert removed the diaper can be used as a cover over a “prefold” or “fitted” cloth diaper.


After understanding what the different types of diapers were and the abbreviations used, some blogs were helpful with reviews on certain brands and comparing different brands to each other. I wanted to find something that was made in North America, trim, cost effective and above all functional. I found a brand called Apple Cheeks that I liked the looks of and read blog reviews favoring this brand because of their diaper’s low rise (as not to rub little umbilical cord stumps) and trimness as a two size All-In-2. I liked that the insert would come out of the cover because I hoped to be able replace the inserts after they were soiled and use the cover for more than one change. The inserts coming out would also mean they would dry faster too. Plus, they are made in Canada!   

At this time, my little wee one was still a dweller of the tummy. I was almost completely sure that I wanted to go with this Apple Cheeks system. When you are cloth diapering you want to have enough for 24 changes. I almost ordered 24 changes right off the bat, but I thought I shouldn’t be too hasty. I was nervous about its performance and fit when the little wee actually came. I ordered a mini test kit and washed it in preparation.



When our first born arrived, life was kind of crazy, as expected. What wasn’t expected however, was how long it would take for me to recover! (It was a long delivery) I thought maybe a few days but it was more like a week before I could even do stairs comfortably. My midwives strongly urged me to stay with my mom so she could take care of me. The last thing on my mind at that point was my little mini test kit since I wasn’t even the one changing his diapers. 



our first born in his Apple Cheeks Diaper


At about 2 weeks old we tried the cloth diaper. I was instantly glad that I didn’t commit to the whole system because the leg snaps were already at their loosest setting! our first born was still under 10 lbs and the diaper is estimated to fit babies from 7-20 lbs. I understand that this weight guide is not exact... but he is long and skinny. I would expect the diaper to be ill fitting on a chubby thighed baby, not him. The cover also would get dirty nearly every time he soiled (newborn poop is liquid not solid) it; defeating the purpose of using the cover for more than one change. Occasionally we forgot to point his little pee pee down, or maybe it managed to move while the diaper was on him, we found that his pee would wick up to the top front and then on his clothes. I didn’t have a problem at the time with the bulkiness of the diapers, I expected some bulk with cloth. I was suprised that Jesse, my husband, did however have a probem with the way the bulk looked. In short, these were not working.

I emailed Green Ninja, and let them know about my experience. I told them that we wanted to find a cloth diaper that was as trim as possible. Green Ninja’s site I found especially helpful with information, tips and suggestions. Their response to my e-mail was quick, detailed and personal.

I visited a couple local shops that carried cloth diapers to see and compare how they felt and what they looked like in real life. I wish this was the first thing I did. I understood so much faster what I liked and did not like from just doing this. For example, I hate the feeling of micro-fibre/fleece! It gives me the heebie geebies! Now, this is totally my personal preference because there really isn’t anything wrong with micro-fibre/fleece but how was I to know this unless I felt it and saw it in person? I went ahead and ordered a BumGenius Elemental to try out right away after seeing it in the local store and Green Ninja’s suggesting it in the previously mentioned e-mail.   


our first born in his first Elemental Diaper




We tried the Elemental diaper as soon as we could and were very impressed by its design. It was trim enough to go under our first born’s jeans even. Its absorbent layers were of organic cotton, not micro fleece and we did not have leaking or fit problems. He will hopefully fit these diapers for a while still since he is still on the second tightest setting in the legs and waist and on the tightest setting for the rise. The only drawback we have found with these so far is that they are higher in price and they take about 2 hours to dry on low in the dryer. Hopefully the weather will get nicer so that we can hang them outside. 



part of our cloth diaper collection

We now have 12 bumGenius Elementals and 2 Flip covers with 6 inserts. I decided to get some Flip diapers because they are so versatile. Our first born isn’t peeing too much at night now, but I there is an option to double up on the inserts with the Flip diaper (or any pocket diaper) when he gets a bit older. They also are great because they dry fast and have an organic cotton insert option, the same material that we loved about the Elementals.

Some pleasant surprises I’ve learned about cloth diapering:
1. There is a huge supportive and very friendly community of parents who cloth diaper.
2. Its been a lot easier than I thought it would be! I’m only doing one more extra load every other day.
3. Its fun and almost addictive! I want to find out how other people are doing cloth diapers and what they use, their experiences, what they wash them with, how they store them etc.
4. I really like the way they look and feel on our baby. The cloth diaper gives you something to grab onto when you are holding him and they are super cute!
5. I feel really good about making this decision for our family every time we put a diaper on our baby.  

My Favorite Cloth Diaper Links so far:
Diaper Pin - unbiased reviews on different products and brands
Green Ninja - helpful “diaper training” for a newbie like me

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