April 28, 2010
Here at casa SuperMommy, we use cloth diapers. We subscribe to a service, which I will explain in a minute. Just know to start- a diaper service is amazing. And affordable.
We put a lot of thought into whether or not to do this, as it seemed like a pretty big deal. After all, disposables are easy. Very, very easy. However, they are wasteful and expensive and we were going to be using a lot of them.
After all, the average newborn uses about 80 a week, and we were having twins.
In the end, we settled on cloth for a few reasons. The first was that I really care a great deal about the amount of garbage we create- it's amazing how much you throw away! The second was that I had no idea how much cheaper it would actually be. Best of all, there are a few really big perks to cloth diapering.
Cloth diapers are pieces of folded cloth. And you have no idea how useful it is to just have a cloth around. To wipe up baby's butt, her nose, her vomit... Yeah, rags are good. And the service doesn't care what you use them for. Just so long as you don't destroy or lose them.
Cloth diapered babies get fewer rashes. This is for a few reasons, they let you know sooner when they're wet, so they don't get as irritated. Also, you can leave the cover off if a rash is forming, allowing the skin to breathe very well, and letting it heal faster. You don't get that kind of option with a disposable.
Biggest perk perhaps of all? Cloth diapered kids toilet train faster. They are constantly more aware of their bodily functions, and as a result learn to control them sooner. We're not there yet, but I'm looking forward to it!
Cloth diapering is not carbon neutral. Nor is it particularly great for the environment. After all, you're using soap to clean the diapers, you're using bleach to sterilize them, and you're using water to rinse them. All of that creates waste, and most of it uses electricity. This is one of the reasons I like the service so much. The volume of diapers cleaned at once reduced the impact of each individual diaper. Yes, that's slightly offset by the delivery driver shuffling diapers from place to place, but the route is well organized and essentially works out to one big loop each day. Far less than the trip to the laundrymat for each participating family, or even the added volume of a vast number of washers and dryers running constantly.
We pay significantly less than a dollar a diaper. Most of the investment in cloth diapering is in the covers- known by our parents as "plastic pants." Plastic pants they are not, they're much more breathable and comfortable than the versions from the '70s, but they do tend to get pricey. You'll need as many as three a day, so when considering how many to buy you should decide how often you do baby laundry. We do it about every other day, so we like to have at least 10 covers for the two girls.
There are a lot of varieties, and they all have perks. There are covers that are more flexible, that are more waterproof, that adjust to fit more sizes... you can get all-in-one diapers that you can also use as covers, and then when you go on vacation use as whole diapers. There are covers that withstand multiple washings admirably, and there are some you have to wash very carefully. There are really plain covers, and there are really cute ones. You can spend anywhere from $10-$20 on a cover, but it's worth it. Each cover will last the baby more than 3 months, like a VERY flexible article of clothing. And of course, if you have another baby you don't need to buy additional covers- you're already got it... well... covered.
We LOVE our service! They come by on Sunday, pick up our soiled diapers, and drop off fresh ones. We get more than we need, because our personal laundry loads can go down. If we use service diapers for wiping up big baby messes, our personal load goes down, and we're still saving a ton of money. Our diapers run us about twenty cents apiece, so if we use an extra ten or twenty, we really hardly care. That's an extra load of laundry we're not doing at home, and anything that makes our lives easier generally makes us better parents.
If you let your friends and family know, they can order your service for you as a shower gift, or for baby's birthday, or any old reason.
Disposable diapers still have their place. We keep them in the diaper bag for when we're out of the house. It's much easier to be able to toss them on the go than to cart a bag of poop and wet cloth everywhere in the car. But going on a long vacation, you can bring cloth diapers with and clean them at a laundrymat. It's still cheaper than disposables, and so much better for the environment.
We also use disposables at night, for the time being. It keeps the babies asleep a little better, because they feel dry longer. Once in a while we let them stay in cloth for the night, but these days our sleep is too precious to give up that daily disposable.
Our service is called Bottoms Up, and it covers the entire Chicagoland area as well as southeast Wisconsin. I can't recommend them highly enough.