Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How We Became Hippie Parents, Part 2b

I did mean to get back to this a little earlier, but, well, the whole parenting thing.

So, round two: more on cloth diapers.  Evidently I have become the spokesman among my friends and acquaintances (and even my family's friends and acquaintances, on occasion) for cloth diapers.  I keep thinking that I have a post to point them to on my blog, but never seem to be able to find it when I'm looking for it.  (Now I look for it and find it, but we've changed a few things, so I'll just leave what I wrote and you'll have to re-read or skip or give me snarky comments.)

When my husband and I first started looking at using cloth diapers, we considered a few things:

  • cost
  • ease of use
  • environment
Cloth diapers seemed to win in all those categories except, well, the dealing-with-poo part, which wasn't going to exactly be avoided with diaper-changing of whatever sort.

We were fortunate enough to be able to go to a brick-and-mortar cloth diaper store in our area (which is now online-only, but still a good resource) and have a knowledgeable person to ask questions of, and to look at the physical diapers themselves.  We decided to get 24 BumGenius one-size pocket diapers, which then were only available with aplix (like velcro) closures (eight each of blue, green, and white).  We were blessed to have been given a large amount of money at the baby shower, but it was still a large outlay.

I didn't want to get the diapers with snaps because I wasn't sure that they would give me enough flexibility in sizing, but that turned out to be silly.  The aplix ended up wearing out after the first kid, so in my online wishing that we'd gone with snaps in the first place, I found that others wished the same, and there were plenty of conversion tutorials online.  We bought a few snap-installing supplies ($52.05 including shipping for pliers (with cosmetic defect), and way more snaps, caps and sockets, than we need (still), but they come in bunches of 100) and I ripped off the aplix patches (woo seamripper fun!) and my husband installed the snaps per the instructions online.  (Just Google: convert cloth diaper and look for something you can follow, or pay someone to do it for you.  Or, radical idea, just buy the ones with the snaps in the first place.)

The elastic in the legs had also worn out by the time the second kid was about due, and that wasn't someplace we could afford to have openings!  I found more tutorials online, and ripped out the old elastic and replacing it ($2.60 from Joanne's for thread and elastic, and lots of time).  I hadn't done any sewing project since I was six and in a sewing class, so all I needed were basic sewing supplies, including a thimble (which was a gift from Reve) that I'd never had occasion to use before, but was exceedingly grateful for.  It was easier than I had hoped, as the elastic is only affixed at each end, not throughout the length of the leg hole.

Another thing we bought when first getting the diapers was a cloth diaper-pail liner.  And then we got another one, because when you're doing laundry, the baby is still using up those diapers and you'll need a place to put them.  The great thing about the cloth diaper-pail liner is that you can stuff all of the laundry into the washing machine including the bag.

The best purchase, though, has to be the diaper sprayer.  If you're doing cloth diapers, and your toilet has a flexible connection to the wall plumbing, just get one.  It's easy to install (especially if your husband does it for you; he says it's easy to install).  All the solids go into the toilet quite easily.  My mother's and sister's houses do not have the flexible connection, so when I visit them, I am scrubbing away in the toilet and my children just don't seem as charming as usual for those moments.  (And unless you have a low place to sit, your knees and shoulders hurt after a surprisingly short while.)

We had been gifted with some disposable diapers and wipes, but gave away the diapers, keeping the wipes for a while.  Soon, though, it dawned on us that we had to walk to a trash can to throw those away, separate from disposing of the diapery things into the diaper pail.  My brilliant engineer husband just went and bought 24 washcloths, and we just wet those and use them, rinsing and washing them with the rest of the diapers.

I don't think we've figured out the best diaper pail situation yet.  We bought a metal step-to-open trash can from Target, but that rusted after a while and was hard to clean.  After the move, we got a too-small click-top plastic trash can, but that doesn't seem to suit the size of diaper-pail liners and the click-top is horrible, as is the smell.  It's what we're using for now though.  My husband thinks we should get some sort of laundry basket with holes in it, as keeping the smell in seems to lend it strength; I remain unconvinced on airing out the diapers in the larger area of the bathroom (with my nose and no fan, and, currently, a non-opening window).  If you have any excellent solutions, please comment.

My sister, whose nose is much more refined than mine, kept me and the children at her house for five weeks.  She insisted that I wash the diapers every day, and her way of doing laundry included using Borax, which I found to greatly improve the smell of the diapers overall.

To prolong the life of the elastic, I started using a drying rack for the diaper covers.  When trying to be extra frugal, I was using it for all our clothes, especially during the summer, to reduce the amount of heat (and electricity) from the dryer.  Also, it takes a long while for the dense inserts to air-dry.  When using a drying rack for the inserts, I try to line things up so I'm putting the laundry on the rack around bedtime so they're dry in the morning and I'm not waiting for diapers.

We were very fortunate to be able to get a high-efficiency front-loading washing machine with a "sanitize" cycle.  It takes about two hours to wash the diapers with that cycle, but it does spin well enough so that in a pinch I can use a diaper cover straight out of there.  (The diapers come with a large insert and a small insert. If you're not using the small inserts daily, you can stick them in there, or any other absorbent cloth, in a pinch.)  We wash diapers about every other day, more with a newborn and less with an older child, depending on how many diapers are left available and whether we'll be out of the house during that time.

For the diaper bag, I never really found the travel cloth diaper wet-bags all that useful.  I use regular grocery bags, folded into triangles so I can find them by feel.

My mother was initially horrified by the high price (compared to the old-fashioned ones she had used on me, with the pins and the plastic pants), but after seeing me use them at her house, asked me to tell a few of her friends (with upcoming grandchildren) all about them.  My sister remains unconvinced entirely, but her youngest is seven-and-a-half, and I (thankfully, even when pregnant) am not as affected by smells as she is.

Preparing for using these same diapers with a third child, I'm looking into fixing one or two snaps (having fixed about six so far over the past 20 months, out of 24 snaps on each of 24 diapers is not so bad), replacing the elastic on two or three diapers' legs, and looking at the elastic on the backs of the diapers, too, which I have not yet replaced.  The fabric is starting to wear a little bit, but is still containing everything it needs to.  I don't know how things will go as far as having a newborn and an older child both using the diapers; right now we have things sized as large as they will go, but I guess snapping one or two snaps each time I change a diaper won't kill me if I don't let it.

Sorry for the repetition with Part 2, but I honestly didn't remember writing that one and was almost done with this one, and by gum, I'm gonna post it.  If I get on the ball, I might also post about the baby nose vacuum, using a mattress early rather than a crib, and using a cup early rather than a bottle or sippy cup.  But people keep asking me about cloth diapers (three in the past month), so it's been on my mind, especially considering I'll be Full Term on Thursday, and therefore eligible to have the baby within the next five weeks.  (Please pray that it's not during a liturgical service!  Our altar feast is January 7, and I think a bishop is coming.)

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