Wednesday, March 26th, 2008...7:03 pm

Frugal Baby Part I: Not your mother’s cloth diapers

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I don’t have a diaper service and I am still cloth diapering our 15 month old. If you are now wondering if I am crazy, read on. Here is the tale of how I came to use cloth diapers:

Let me preface this by saying that we often have to explain things that are outside the norm to people… driving diesel cars, owning not one, but two great danes… You get the point! It all started a long time ago. I always remember my mom talking about using cloth diapers on my sister and me (she did have a service), but the idea always resonated with me. I decide then that I would love to try it when my time came. Almost 10 years ago I remember going with a friend to start her baby registry. This was her first baby and I was fresh out of college and between the two of us we knew nothing about what you needed for a baby. We wandered through the store armed with the price scanner. She talked about wanting to use cloth and she registered for diapers and pins. We have been out of touch and I don’t really know how she faired with cloth diapers, but even in 10 years they have come a long way from cloth and pins.

SnappiWhen I became pregnant I began looking into cloth and discovered there was an endless myriad of choices and styles and most people typically washed their own these days. There are no longer any diaper services in the Boston area, so that was not an option for me. But as I discovered, the new cloth diaper isn’t just diapers and pins, but a collection of different types and styles for different uses. There are still diapers that you need to fold like origami to fit on a baby, but the other choices are both daddy and babysitter friendly! Even the ones that require pins can be used with a Snappi (a nifty ace bandage type clip that replaces the scary diaper pins). My favorite type of diaper now (I don’t have to change them as frequently and with a squirmy toddler) is a pocket diaper (BumGenius and FuzziBunz are my brands of choice) that can be stuffed with as much filling as you need depending on the absorbency needed. These diaper’s are as easy to change as a disposable diaper. The pocket diapers also come in one-size types that can be used for a baby as small as 7 lbs and as big as 35 lbs! There are so many online stores that sell a variety of different diapers. A woman who is gracious enough to offer diaper seminars to the bewildered local Moms, owns a shop based in Massachusetts. She was able to describe all the types and styles to me when I was a novice and help me get off to a great start. Check out her store Zannadu.

One Size DiaperIsn’t it a lot of work and laundry? Well I do a diaper load every two days and you need to stuff the pockets so they are ready to go when you need them, which I can do sitting in front of the TV. If you are using diapers and covers (diaper origami, see reference above) you don’t need to do anything with the clean diapers aside from putting them next to the changing table, which is nice when you are busy with a newborn. I don’t find it takes much longer than all the other loads of laundry I do. I also use a very gentle soap called Allen’s Naturally. Bleach is not recommended and to remove any stains you simply put the diapers out to dry in the sun. You only need to use a small amount to wash the diapers and with a front loader the energy savings offsets a few extra loads of laundry a week. You can find a bunch of diaper cost analysis commentary online. Here are a couple I found in a quick google search. VeryBaby and DiaperDecisions

CoverSo to sum up, we don’t need to run out to the store for diapers. I do have to throw in a load of laundry in a pinch. At this point I have it almost down to a science and can get down to 1 diaper then do the laundry after she is in bed for the night. I believe we spent about $500 on our diaper stash, which includes diapers and covers and pockets for a newborn (6lbs) and should last through potty training. Now that she is eating solids I do also buy flushable liners to help with clean up. From what I have found it costs about $2000 to diaper a child through potty training. Yikes!! With our cloth investment we will be able to diaper a few more children as well!

Where do the dirty diapers go? This is a popular question. When a baby is not eating solids and is breastfed (that will be covered in Frugal Baby II: Cheap feeding options) you can just throw the diapers in a pail and wash when you need to. Once the baby starts to eat solids you need to shake off the solids into the toilet. The liners make this very easy. Then you put the rest in the pail and proceed in the same way. I bet you were not aware Baseball Diaperof this but many cloth diaper folks claim that in the directions for using disposable diapers it tells you to shake the solids into the toilet. I’ve never verified this, but it makes sense.

Plus they are just really cute!

Well I hope you enjoyed my story. If that kind of frugal is not for you stay tuned for the next installment of Frugal Baby.