Thursday, October 18, 2007

My cloth diaper journey

These days, I am a decidedly crunchy person. Very crunchy. But I didn't really start out that way. Well, a little crunchy. But I was as mushy as gruel in comparison to the modern me. Where did I start my journey to the crunch? With cloth diapers.
I watched my brother wear cloth diapers--of course, that was 1980 and still common practice. But my mom is a huge advocate of cloth diapers and I had that background. So in 1998, when I discovered I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to use cloth. Not just for the environmental reasons, but for cost reasons as well. All I knew of cloth was basic home-made diapers or prefolds, or flats of course. For covers, I knew about the basic plastic pants. And pins.
So I outfitted our changing table with prefolds and flats (the prefolds were from my friend's mom), plastic covers, and a couple of packages of pins. I also bought commercial wet wipes.
M wore disposable diapers for the first couple of months and then switched to those cloth diapers. He did great in them, we figured them out and it worked for us. When he was a little over a year old, I made a life-altering discovery: Mothering Magazine. I had been doing research on mainstream parenting magazines--and not finding very positive things let me tell you!-- when I happened upon this amazing magazine. The first thing I saw on the cover was about co-sleeping. When I opened it up, I found an ad for cloth diapers and covers. Wow! I didn't realize people were still selling them--real cloth diapers I mean. Not the cheap crap Gerber passes off as diapers in variety stores. I immediately went out trying to find a copy of this magazine to buy.
I was thrilled. I also saved enough money of our piddling college student funds to buy a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap and some doublers. I felt very fancy indeed! I still use this wrap on G some 8 years later. They've changed the design ever so slightly (and I have 2 of the new ones) but they are really great wraps. When M was big enough to outgrow the prefolds I had, I bought premium, or toddler size, Chinese DSQ (diaper service quality) prefolds. Those suckers are thick and heavy. It was a dream to switch to those from the old little prefolds. I also got better at hunting for cloth diapers at thrift stores and picked up a few more odds and ends for M until he graduated from cloth.
Fast forward to 2004 and our adoption of G. I had been reading Mothering for 5 years and participating on the online community MDC for nearly as long. I knew lots more about cloth diapers-and other things as well which I'll discuss in later posts. This time around, I made some fitted diapers out of old flannel sheets I bought at the thrift store, and later from flannel I bought on sale at the fabric store. I also had discovered what was then the One Stop Diaper Shop, now called Very Baby. I bought PUL from her as well as Aplix and elastic and pattern to made covers much like the Bummis cover. I love those covers and I like the fitteds a lot. G wore prefolds a lot too. I even experimented with making some pocket diapers. Those were really nice! But best of all, I discovered the Snappi! Now more pins!! All in all, diapering this time was lots easier than the first time around. I was having fun and I was hooked. Yes, I think cloth diapering is fun!
Now, with E, I have expanded my fun. I have posted pictures before in the last month or so, of AIO's I have made. My sister-in-law, J, even cut out and made a few for me, so I would have enough of a stash. I broadened my horizons and bought colored PUL and included these in the AIO's and in a couple of new covers. So, in using my old fitteds and my new prefolds, and even a couple of pockets, I was missing something. Prefolds! So I bought a dozen infant prefolds (the nice tiny ones) and a new Snappi (just because) and they arrived in the mail yesterday. I washed them all up and quickly put one on E. It was so satisfying. I can't explain it. Something about that nice, thick cotton diaper folded just so onto my baby's bum all fastened with a Snappi. It just feels good for some reason.
So yes, I much prefer cloth diapers. No, I don't mind washing them. No, I don't soak them--it's a drowning hazard in house with young children. Yes, my diapers get stained periodically. Do I care? Why would I? It's a diaper for crying in a bucket! Here's how it goes:
Remove wet diaper. If it's poopy, wet a washcloth with nice warm water and use that for a wipe. Set aside and put nice fresh, chemical and perfume free diaper on. Admire look. Place diaper bundle in pail. For older-solid poo, shake in toilet. Otherwise, don't sweat it. When pail is full, dump the entire thing in washing machine. Run through a cold rinse cycle with Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out or Baking Soda. Run a hot, heavy duty cycle with Bi-O-Kleen laundry detergent (not premium kind). Run through a quick rinse cycle or transfer straight to hot dryer until dry. Enjoy a pile of clean, fluffy diapers that I don't have to run to the store to buy, or put up with the smell.
Unless my kids run across a food that causes a problem, or don't get changed often enough, they rarely have a rash problem. I always have diapers on hand. My family thinks I'm crazy, but I use them when traveling too. I just really like them. And I'm not alone. Google cloth diapers. Seriously. You'll faint. When you are a total cloth diaper convert, you can blame me. I'll still love you.

Next up, maybe breastfeeding?

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