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July 27, 2012

We have been cloth diapering Alban from day one, and it is going well. Because we don’t have a washer in our apartment, and there is no way in hell I was going to launder diapers at the laundromat every three days, we decided to use a diaper service. Diaperkind serves Manhattan, and they have been wonderful. They pick up our dirties once a week, leaving clean ones in their place. It’s like magic. We never have to do laundry, and they even bring them right up to our door. The overall cost is higher than home laundering and conventional disposables, but lower than other diapering options when you account for the fact that cloth diapered babies tend to potty train faster than babies in disposables. (*fingers crossed*) I think even if we move to an apartment with laundry, we will probably still keep the service. Because, magic, people! Plus, using the service also leaves the smallest eco-footprint because they use commercial, high-efficiency machines and can wash several sets of diapers at once. Economy of scale and all that, plus plant-derived detergent and super-hot water for pH balance and sanitization.

Why did we go with cloth? I just couldn’t stand the idea of putting all that plastic in the landfill. Plus, disposables have all kinds of wacky stuff in them. You often get a gross gel residue from the stuff that makes them so absorbent. And just because they feel dry doesn’t mean they are clean. But mainly because I felt guilty about creating so much trash when there was a perfectly good alternative.

Sure, it means you have to carry a wet bag with you and tote around the dirties. And diaper rash can be a problem. But I like the feel of cloth better. They are sturdy and soft. And they also seem to contain the poo much better than the plastic. Sometimes it leaks into the cover, but it almost never makes it past the gusset. Diaper rash can be mitigated by frequent changes and coconut oil, the most delicious smelling diaper rash solution available.

We use prefolds inside PUL fabric covers. You can get covers in many different styles and prints. My mom has been making Alban’s. The prefold fabric is fastened with a little stretchy plastic gizmo called a Snappi, which replaces the old diaper pins – no more pin pricks! There are several different methods of folding the diapers, but we use the jelly roll, which creates a nice containment barrier around the legs.

Now, the two exceptions are nights and vacations. We have switched to nighttime disposables because they are so much more absorbent than the cloth. If he sleeps well and doesn’t get fed a bunch of times, cloth works just fine. Absolutely it can handle a 12-hour shift. But he doesn’t sleep that well consistently yet. What goes in must come out, which means we get mad leaks in the morning. See above issue with the laundromat. So, we have started using disposables at night. This way, I don’t have to re-diaper a squirming baby in the middle of the night, which only wakes him up more, and I also don’t have three times the amount of laundry than normal every week.

Vacation is also a time for disposables. I sort of feel that these are the times that disposables are made for. They are quick and convenient, and we don’t have to cart a bundle of dirty diapers with us. Although, this past week we took a five-day trip and brought the diaper pail and pile of diapers with us because we had room in the vehicle. We diapered as normal, and were back in time for the weekly pick-up.

We also use cloth wipes, which are more convenient than disposables when you’re already cloth diapering. You just throw them into the wet bag or diaper pail with the dirty diapers. We pay the diaper service $5 extra each week to wash the wipes with our diapers. And, as I  mentioned, magic. I made a ton of them from an old set of flannel sheets we never used (hello Manhattan furnaces). I made them approximately 8″x8″, which seem to be a perfect size, especially for poo duty. I rarely need more than one per change. For a wipe solution, I use a mix of water, castille soap, and olive oil. It smells good, feels clean, and is easy and cheap. I mix up a new batch about once a week, and just squirt it on the wipes as I need it.

It remains to be seen whether the faster potty training actually happens, but this system is working for us. I suppose you like what you are used to, and we like this. We don’t mind the extra “hassle” of bringing our dirties home, or remembering to put out the pail. Alban doesn’t seem to mind either way, so we’re sticking with it for now. And did I mention how cute the covers are?

One Comment leave one →
  1. brookelcollinsBrooke permalink
    July 27, 2012 11:15 am

    TEAM CLOTH!!! (I think I have Olympics on the brain.) And I’m not so convinced that diaper services are more expensive than home laundering when the home launderer happens to have a designer cloth addiction (guilty as charged) and no mother to handmake adorable covers. Plus, don’t forget that time is money, she says as she is about to fetch a bundle of sopping diapers from the washer and individually arrange them over patio furniture to dry, before removing them in time to beat the storm and reassembling inserts into shells and putting everything away . . . only to do it all over again on Monday.

    We are still doing disposable inserts in cloth covers for vacations. Totally feasible because you only have to cart home a few dirty covers. But, you either have to get the inserts shipped to your destination or bring them along – impractical if you are staying at a hotel or need to travel light. Disposable inserts are unfortunately not stocked in local drug stores YET. But I am convinced that cloth is the way of the future (and past, duh).

    (Oh, and about overnights: I bet you could find a way to increase absorbancy. Maybe play around with tri-folding a second prefold under the first. Of course, this would be hugely bulky and might lead to leaks if it creates gaps in the cover. You might also experiment with tucking a wipe inside. Since your wipes are flannel, they will also help to keep Baby feeling dry and ward of rashes. I use a hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton doubler at night – they are very trim and absorbent. However, I don’t know if your service would accept them and you probably wouldn’t want to wash them with your normal laundry because that could mess with absorbancy.)

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