Friday, January 8, 2010

Understanding Flats and Prefolds

The cheapest cloth diapers around are probably flats and prefolds. Prefolds are diapers that have 3 rectangle panels, with the panel in the middle having more layers of cloth than the two on the outside. Flats have the same number of layers throughout. I honestly do not know anyone who uses flats by themselves. I do know a couple of people who swear by prefolds. Prefolds can run anywhere from less than $10 for a 12 pack to over $40 for a 12 pack. Cathy Cagle has an excellent article on prefolds at the Diaperpin website. I am trying to get the link on here for you, but I am having some trouble! If you don't find the link to click on, you can copy and paste this:

Basically, prefolds are what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers. These are the diapers that you fold and pin onto the baby. Here is a picture of Alaina (my daughter) in a prefold. I don't have any good ones, so this is your basic Gerber Birdseye that I received from family and used as burp cloths.
There is a new product out on the market that takes the place of pins. They are called Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners.
They look crazy, but I have heard only good things about them!
With prefolds, you have to have a diaper cover. Diaper covers can cost anywhere from about $2-$15 a piece, so they are a bit pricier than the diaper itself. Here are 2 pictures of Alaina in her prefold, this time with the diaper cover.

I personally love the Thirsties brand of diaper covers, but I haven't tried too many out, so I am not a good judge of what is best for your money: As for prefolds, I don't use them unless I need them as an extra insert to help with absorbency. The main reason I don't use them is because, if I did, my husband probably wouldn't change a single diaper. Love ya babe!

Prefolds and flats can also be used as inserts or doublers. Inserts are cloth that provide extra absorbency in the middle of another diaper. For example, as I got bigger as a baby, my mother used to lay a folded prefold into another prefold for extra leak protection. A doubler is basically just a double insert, used especially for night time protection.

Best of all, prefolds are the best rags ever after baby is potty trained! I actually use some that I received and never really used as cloth paper towels for spills and the like. It saves me from throwing away a paper towel, and they are way more absorbent.

That is the quick low down on a very affordable, versatile, no-thrills diaper. Post me any questions you may have! Up next...the low down on fitted diapers!

Financial Clarification

I received a comment that I want to post here just to clarify some things. Here is the abridged version on the comment:

"I use a mix of Luvs diapers and Pampers diapers for night time use. The cost of diapers for Luvs is around $17, not including coupon savings or specials at Kroger/Target (I got them for $14.50 this week at Kroger!). The count of diapers varies from over 200 diapers for newborn sizes down to 80 diapers for size 5. Pampers is typically $19, again not including coupons (which are in the Sunday paper once/month for $2 off) and specials ($16.50 at Kroger this week!). So let’s average at $17/ 100 diapers over the lifetime of the child, which is conservatively expensive. At 2920 diapers per year, it is $496.40. Assuming you use a Diaper Genie, the cost for refills and the Diaper Genie for those diapers is about $84 (the first year, subtract $40 cost for the Genie itself on subsequent years). Over 3 years you spend total $1737.

Let’s look at the cloth diapers. recommends 6 dozen diapers over the child’s lifetime. At a cost of ~$20 each, you will spend $1440. Of course you need to launder these diapers, which I calculated for my Kenmore High Efficiency models assuming doing a load every 3 days, you would spend ~ $168/yr. It would be more if you used a standard washer/dryer of course. The grand total: $1945. Uhhh, where’s my savings? You mean it costs me MORE to get cloth? AND I have to clean them?"

Thank you for these comments! I want to clarify a couple of things. First off, the recommendation to buy 6 dozen diapers over the child's lifetime most likely refers to flats and prefolds, which I will be discussing the cost of these in that post. They are nowhere near $20 each. I personally have about 30 diapers total, none flats or prefolds, and I never run out of diapers when I launder them every other day. I also did not spend $20 each on my diapers. Many of my diapers I bought used from, and many I bought new for way less than that. My brand new expensive ones (that I must admit I love!!) are $24.95. In total, I have spent about $500-$600 total on my diapers, and I will not be buying more unless I buy some potty training ones or occasionally try a new one here and there. And granted, since some of my diapers are used, the elastic may go out on them, so I might need to replace those. So, add on an extra 100 bucks just for the fun of it, and I have still saved around a $1000. But even if I had 30 of my expensive ones, the cost would still be $750. Still saving...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Passion and My Intentions For This Blog

We all have reasons for what we do. Being in the counseling field, I have found that most of our actions stem from our passions. Furthermore, most of our passions are a result of our relationships with others. If you look at the things you are passionate about, what are they? Think for right now about material possessions, things of monetary value, and hobbies and interests. Let’s use an example. I know many people are passionate about cooking, I included. What is the reason a lot of us are passionate about cooking? It could be the taste; it could be to save money. I know for me, it is the satisfaction of knowing that I made something of value and of worth. More importantly, I made something for my family. Cooking is one of the ways I show I love my husband and others close to me.

What is my point? My point is, that chances are if you look deep down at the reasons for your passions, they will eventually point to a relationship in your life, past or present or future. Are you passionate about art? Why? Art is an expression of emotions, ideas, influences. Art is shaped by your personality, and your personality is shaped by relationships.

Another passion of mine is cloth diapers. Two reasons I am passionate about cloth are it saves me money, and I am not throwing something away after using it. Saving money helps me to care for my family. As for the throwing something away, yes, I feel I have a relationship with the environment. That may sound like a fad or a little too “crunchy,” but God gave us a responsibility to take care of the His creation. I cannot take care of something I don’t love, so yes, I love this beautiful earth we live in. I have another reason for this passion. I am good at it. I am not good at much, so when I find something that I can do well and help others do, I run with it. Yes, I may be selfish, but I try to be honest.

I realize now that my passion has offended others. Please know that I in no way think I am better than any other parent that uses disposables. I am only writing what I am passionate about. Therefore, I want to remind all of my readers that this is what I believe. I am in no way judging you or your own beliefs. I thank God that we have parents who do feel offended because that means they are passionate about being a parent. We need more of these kinds of people around, don’t you think?

My post, “Why Use Cloth Diapers?” may be skewed. It may be biased, and it may be internet propaganda. Personally, I believe that most research is flawed in some way because of variables that cannot be controlled, but this, again, is my opinion only. If you believe in something, you will usually find evidence to support your beliefs. However, I will change this article to include research on the other side of the coin. I am in no way a scientist. I am not good with numbers, statistics or anything that requires a scientific theory. In fact, there isn’t much, if anything, out there that someone can’t do better than me. So, from now on, I will stick with explaining to you what I do and what I know, and I will leave the research to those that are passionate about research. My intentions for this blog are to be a tool for those who are interested in learning more about types of diapers.

We all have reasons for what we do. What are yours?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Yes, But Is It REALLY Worth It?

So, if you've read my previous article, you know there are some good reasons to use cloth. If you aren't convinced, you may be asking, "Is all of this really worth it?" From conversations I have had with many parents, new and old, along with comments I have heard from nay-sayers, I will attempt to address a few issues.

1. It is a system that can be overwhelming.
My short answer is yes, it is a system and it can be overwhelming!!! There is sooo much information out there that it can be too much to grasp. This is the whole reason for my blog. I hope to better inform you and keep things simple. Please ask me any question at any time, and I will try to answer you within 24 hours. Bottom line, cloth diapering is difficult to get started when the alternative disposables are so much more advertised. I have created a simple, my opinion only, graph of the effort it takes to start up a cloth system vs. a disposable system. I think it takes more effort and cash up front, and less effort as time goes on because of the lack of purchases you have to make!
Professional chart, right? :-) As my mom says, humor me, dear.

2. Only stay at home moms have the time to do this.
I am a working mother. Personally, I like using cloth diapers better while working because it contributes to the amount of time I get to stay at home vs. out and about running errands because I ran out of diapers or wipes, or what have you...I have gotten into a routine, which in my opinion is a must for anybody that has to work and have kids! I wash my diapers every other day. Right after I put my daughter to bed, I put the diapers on a cold rinse cycle. Right before I go to bed, I wash the diapers. Then, when I wake up in the morning, I throw the diapers in the dryer. This also helps the drying time because the diapers have been sitting overnight drying a little. Ok, I will admit, I am not a morning person, so half of the time I remember to throw the diapers in the dryer when I get home from work.

3. My daycare won't do that!
I had a lot of difficulties finding a daycare facility due to my price range, what I needed, and my daughter's extreme separation anxiety at the time (glad that stage is over!). I did NOT have a problem with cloth! Every daycare facility/babysitter I tried out agreed to use cloth. I brought a sample in, and they were all amazed at how easy it was. The facility my daughter is currently at has a policy where they wrap the diaper in their gloves (standard for all dipes), then into the wetbag it goes. They store the wetbag in a plastic storage container. They told me that they are seeing a nationwide trend with cloth diapers becoming more popular. Yay!!

4. The Poopy Problem-Gross!
Poop. We all do it. No matter if you are using disposable, cloth, or nothing at all (elimination communication, baby!), you will get baby poop on you at some point, and more than once. The only problem I see with using cloth is that you have to smell it an extra minute or so to drop the poop into the toilet. There is nothing else that is different. You still wipe the booty, throw the diaper in the pail, etc...And my diaper pail is no more stinky than others using disposables.

5. I'm already doing disposables, so it is too late.
Is it too late to start recycling those plastic bottles? Neither is it to go cloth! I say start the transition slowly. Don't start buying all at once and end up with something you don't like. Along with this, don't buy all of the same diaper, either. You may not like the fit or leak coverage. Try during the times you are at home. There are also cloth training pants out there for those nearing the potty training stage. I will say, you have to be committed, but it feels so good to know you are doing something to save your pocketbook and the environment.

Again, I would love to hear your comments and questions!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why Use Cloth Diapers?

If you are a friend of mine, whether on facebook or in real life or both, you may know that I am sort of a fanatic about cloth diapers. You may also have known me before I had my beautiful daughter and my thoughts on this subject. Before getting pregnant, I was all about going green, saving the world one plastic bottle at a time. I love to recycle, reuse, and shop in the organic aisle. With all of this in mind, I was known to say on more than one occasion, "If there is something I won't do, its use cloth diapers. That is disgusting!" So how did I go from never to always in a short nine months? Here are a few reasons I would like to share with you:

1. Financial
If you have kids, you know disposable diapers are expensive. I am not a math whiz, but I calculate that if my child uses diapers from birth to age 2, I will spend roughly $1700 overall for diapers. Remember, this is one child, and this does not include wipes, a diaper pail and diaper pail refills. Now, I like some of the pricier cloth diapers, so I have spent a little more than I could have on cloth, so I would estimate that I have so far spent roughly $500-$600 on diapers alone. I also use cloth wipes and make my own wipe solution (an article will come on this subject!), and this was only about $20 total. I use a trash can and 2 wet bags (to be explained later if you don't know what a wet bag is), and this cost me about $45 total. As you can see, the cost is not even comparable. On top of this, I don't have to spend this much on future children because I already have the supplies I need, and the diapers I already have can be reused.

2. Environmental
Most of my research on environmental concerns and disposable diapers comes from Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest single product waste behind newspapers and beverage containers. Urine and feces enter landfills untreated, which can seep into the ground causing polluted water. Did you know that if you looked at the instructions by the manufacturers of disposable diapers, they say to empty a soiled diaper in the toilet before disposing in the trash? I was skeptical, so I checked on the Pampers website, and sure enough, it was there! Seriously, do you know anyone that does this?! There is a reason the companies say to do this! Also, the manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 more water wasted than cloth. Another environmental concern is that a diaper is estimated to take 250-500 years to decompose. That's long after your great, great grandchildren are gone!

REBUTTAL STATEMENTA study conducted by the U.K. Environment Agency acknowledges the contribution of disposable nappies to total solid waste in the order of 0.1-0.2%. The LCA study, however, confirms that the impact on waste management is not significant. Disposable diapers are compatible with prevailing forms of waste management, some of which may be waste to energy solutions, and the industry is encouraged by Central and Local Government's efforts to broaden their views on waste treatment options beyond landfills.

3. Better for Your Baby
I found a lot of the same information about toxins in diapers from many websites, but actually gave sources for this information, so check this website out if you are interested in the research and studies gone into this subject. Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, a toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process. This is the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. Disposables also contain Tributyl-tin, a toxic substance that used to be in tampons that caused Toxic Shock Syndrome. This pollutant has been known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. The age of children, specifically girls, that going through puberty now-a-days has significantly decreased, so hormonal problems is of major concern to me.

REBUTTAL STATEMENT: Greenpeace issued a retraction in July 7, 2000 stating they were in error in finding TBT in any Procter & Gamble diapers. P&G denies ever having used this compound in their diapers, nor is there any reason to do so. In addition, the 1994 study regarding dioxin states it causes cancer if dioxin is INGESTED.

4. Possibly Better for Potty Training!
No research has been found on this subject, but some experts and many parents I have spoken with believe that cloth diapers helps with the potty training process. Some think it may be because children can feel the wetness more with cloth. Others think that parents are more motivated to train because they don't want to wash diapers anymore, but I would think most parents are motivated, no matter what kind they use. :-)

If I think of any other reasons off the top of my head, I will post them. Also, if you have any other reasons, feel free to post too! I would love to hear comments of any kind! My next article will be titled, "Yes, but is it REALLY Worth It?"