Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of yoga pants and nursing tanks

I hate buying new clothes. I've been overweight for so long that it usually ends up as an exercise in self-loathing. Plus, I hate spending a lot of money on myself and it just feels like an extravagance that I rarely feel like I really need.

BUT. Then I had a baby.

I've been wearing my maternity clothes a lot since the Snush arrived, because I haven't yet dropped the extra weight and so not much of my pre-pregnancy clothing fits. But my maternity jeans keep sliding down because there's no giant belly to hold the band up anymore. So I've been subsisting in yoga pants and maternity shirts that aren't designed for nursing, so I only wear them when I go out. On top of this, my only "real" bra (ie, not a sports bra or a sleeping bra) that I can nurse in is horribly uncomfortable because the underwire digs in really badly. I have dark spots on my sides from where it's been chafing me. So again, I hardly ever wear it. At home it's usually just a sports bra. Since I work from home, some days I don't even bother changing out of my pajamas.

While it can be nice to stay in your PJs all day every now and then, doing it constantly can really start to bring you down-- I was beginning to feel like (and I suspect resemble) an amorphous mom-blob. So I said enough.

I went with a mom-friend to the outlet mall on Friday with one goal in mind: get a new pair of jeans. Ones that actually fit. She, however, is an enabler (or I just persuade easily), so I went home that day with a pair of jeans and about six new shirts, all tank tops with a stretchy bust and straps so that I could easily drop one shoulder to whip out a boob to nurse. Plus she had filled my head with tales of her comfy underwire-less nursing bra from Target and the intriguing possibility of nursing tanks.

So yesterday was off to Target, where I indeed acquired two new nursing bras, both without underwire, and two nursing tanks, one of which I'm wearing now. And oh my god it's so comfortable I could cry.

I got up this morning and showered before work and got dressed just like a real person! And I feel incredible. And I have wonderful, comfortable new clothes that I can actually nurse in.

Lesson learned: when your body has been through the wringer that is pregnancy and childbirth, it's okay to indulge it with comfortable clothes that fit well. Really, it's okay. You don't have to keep cramming yourself into clothes that weren't designed for your post-partum, nursing body.

My yoga pants are still my best friends, though.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Laundry & Music

Today is Friday, ladies and germs! Which means it's my day off. On today's agenda: laundry!

Because I am a colossal dork, I inevitably make up goofy little songs as I go about my day. The first one this morning arose as I was unpacking my new fluff from Geffen Baby and tossing it in the washer:

Time to wash my fluff
Time to wash my fluff!
I love my fluff oh yes I do
It's time to wash my fluff

(Tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Once it gets moved to the dryer I'll be putting in the dirty diapers that the Snush has gone through in the last couple of days. Which will mean another song, mostly likely to the "Samsung" song. See, I have a Samsung HE front-loading washer and dryer, both of which play happy little songs when they're done:

This little ditty's possiblities for making up new lyrics is staggering.

Musical proclivities aside, though, I oddly love laundry day. There's just something immensely satisfying about throwing dirty things into a machine and having them come out all clean and fresh.

Of course, when you're talking about dirty cloth diapers, laundry can get a little more involved than your usual loads of clothes and towels. For one thing, cloth diapers should generally be washed with a cloth diaper safe detergent. There's a lot of argument about whether this means a detergent formulated specifically for diapers, or whether you can use a standard detergent as long as it's free of the Big Nasties: dyes, perfumes, bleach, brighteners, softeners, enzymes... You get the idea.

Then there's HE vs. regular washer (generally, you use less detergent with HE) and hard water vs. soft (you may need to use more detergent with hard), plus a ton of debate on how much rinsing to do and whether to use hot or warm or cold water for the pre-rinse and... Seriously.

I'm the first to admit that I'm still a novice at this whole laundry routine thing. I'm currently using bumGenius cloth diaper detergent, with a bit of washing soda to try to make up for our ridiculously hard water. I do a cold pre-rinse, since unfortunately my machine won't let me opt for a different temperature pre-rinse, then the "normal" cycle on Hot/Cold, then an extra rinse, which I assume is also cold. It seems to work pretty well for me.

I've gone back and forth on how much detergent to use, since I have both an HE machine and hard water. For now I'm using the amount recommended on the detergent box, which is one rounded scoop. That plus the washing soda seem to do the trick, but I may have to experiment if I start to get the dreaded diaper stink.

What's your laundry routine? What works for you? Most importantly, do you sing while you wash?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Stash

Let's talk about the one thing just about any cloth diapering mama seems most eager to discuss: the stash. Well, okay, the truth is that we seem eager to discuss just about anything about cloth, but bear with me here. The stash is our pride and joy. You have no idea how fervently I wish that any of my other new mama friends were using cloth-- just so we could compare our stashes. For real.

Building up a stash of cloth diapers was, at least for me, not really done intentionally. I didn't place a massive order of diapers all at once and declare my stash complete. Instead, I started out by doing one of those newborn cloth diaper trials-- and keeping the diapers instead of sending them back for a refund. Then I bought a few AIOS-- before realizing that I really prefer AI2s. Then a couple of Best Bottoms, then a few pockets, then... oh, I don't even know where I went from there.

My eagerness to try out all the different styles and brands does drive my husband a little crazy, I'm afraid. He  is on board with using them, but he doesn't really get my obsession with cloth, nor understand why I don't just pick a brand I like and stick with it. I can't really tell him why myself.

It's true that buying my stash one or two diapers at a time probably cost me more money than if I had just bought all one brand all at once, since many retailers offer discount on bulk purchases, but I feel like it saved me more money in another way: what if I had bought 20 diapers of one kind-- and then discovered that they didn't fit the Snush quite right? Or that I hated how they were put together? Or, worst of all, if I ended up hating the colors?! Such a tragedy doesn't bear thinking about. But it would have meant I'd need to just end up buying more diapers of a different brand, still with no guarantee that these diapers would work perfectly for me.

So, here's my very mix-and-match stash:

I also have about 20 generic unbleached cotton prefolds, infant size, that I actually bought mostly to use as burp cloths, before I had any idea how many burp cloths I would need, as well as maybe 20 more prefolds in a slightly larger size that were a hand-me-down from my one and only friend who used cloth with her kids (who are now out of diapers).

Plus, I may have two more packages on the way...

Everything in my stash, except for the prefolds and the Thirsties covers, are one-size-- meaning that they're adjustable to fit the Snush as he grows, so I won't have to buy more to fit him as he grows out of smaller diapers. Some parents feel that one-size just doesn't fit as well as sized diapers, but I've been very happy with them so far.

Also, everything except the Thirsties covers and the bumGenius 4.0 pocket, has snap closures instead of hook and loop. Snaps vs. hook and loop (aka aplix, or Velcro, but that's a brand name so it's usually called H&L) seems to be one of the great dividing lines in the cloth diapering world, but I am very firmly on the side of the almighty snap.

I've also opted as yet not to experiment with wool. This is partly due to a slight turnoff at how much more expensive wool covers seem to be, and partly because I live in freaking Texas. I'm worried if I ever put wool on the Snush, he would immediately burst into flames. I might give it a try at some point though-- maybe, if I ever pick up my crochet hook again, I might try my hand at crocheting him one, just to test. Don't count on it, though.

Then, let's talk color: if you look back at the colors I mentioned, you'll see that a whopping 7 of the 25 diapers are various shades of blue. That's not a surprise; blue is my favorite color, after all, not to mention that the Snush is a boy, so I guess blue is expected. What did surprise me was that another 6 are green-- I'm not really into green. But the Snush just looks so adorable in green, I seem to keep reaching for them. Oh, let's be real, the Snush is adorable in everything. But boom, half my stash is either blue or green. The other odd thing was that I only have 2 black diapers and 2 red ones, which are colors that I love and personally think both my husband and son look amazing in. Guess I'll have to correct that imbalance. More diapers? Oh, darn...

I realized the other day that this is way more diapers than I really need for the Snush-- I'm not even getting close to using them all up between washings. Which I suppose is a good thing, since I'd hate to be completely out and need to wrap him in a towel or something until the laundry's done. Still, I can't shake this lingering guilty feeling at having acquired so many.

Until, that is, I browse some of the other cloth diaper sites out there and see other mamas talking about having 50+ diapers in their stash. Suddenly having 25 (counting up all the PUL only) doesn't seem so crazy. Whew!

So, since we've determined that I'M not crazy at least, how about you? Does your stash make you look crazy? Does it expose you as a hook & loop partisan, or a devotee of sized diapers? Obsessed with a color you didn't expect? What does your stash say about you?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why Cloth Diapers? Part Three: Health

The third main reason that parents tend to choose cloth is one that wasn't really a consideration for me, so I didn't know quite as much cold hard data about the subject until I began researching this post. Regardless, there are parents out there who swear up and down that the first reason they considered cloth was out of sheer necessity for their baby's health.

3. Health

It may not have ever occurred to you (as it really didn't to me) that health considerations could be a factor in choosing cloth or disposables, but it seems to be true. Parents of babies with extra-sensitive skin report reduced diaper rash with cloth in mild cases, and in some cases-- such as the founder of Dearest Diapers-- the baby might have serious skin conditions, like eczema or dermatitis, that nothing will help until the switch is made to cloth.

Why is this? Well, let's stop for a moment to consider the materials we're talking about. Cloth diapers typically have a layer of cotton, bamboo, or hemp (or blends thereof) up against baby's skin. Disposables may have paper or a layer of cotton so thin that it feels papery-- not terribly soft, if you ask me.

On top of that, disposables are often touted as being more absorbent than cloth-- and while this may be true, it's not necessarily an advantage. Because the diaper is more disposable, parents tend to wait longer in between changes, which means that baby is sitting in a diaper containing urine for longer. Even though the diaper absorbs the moisture, the ammonia remains on baby's skin and is another factor that can cause diaper rash or exacerbate other skin conditions, as are the bacteria that begins to form as soon as baby wets or soils the diaper. If left long enough, these can compromise the skin enough to risk serious infection.

So we have to consider chemical exposure-- not something you want to have to worry about for your baby! The majority of disposable diapers involve a number of chemicals in their manufacture. This includes the bleaching of paper pulp, which in turn produces dioxins, which are considered an environmental pollutant by the WHO:
Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. [...] Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. 
 Are the levels of dioxins in disposable diapers enough to cause these problems in babies? It's hard to know for sure, though I personally don't care to risk it. It's true that there are unbleached disposable diapers out there, such as Seventh Generation, but they tend to be more expensive than their bleached counterparts, and of course, both are more expensive than cloth diapers in the long run.

Consider, too, exactly why those disposables are so absorbent: a little something called sodium polyacrylate. This is the absorbent, granular polymer found inside disposables, that is capable of absorbing as much as 200-300 times its mass in liquid. You can often see the little gel "crystals" on a baby's skin when changing him out of a wet disposable. The problem here is that sodium polyacrylate can have an overly drying effect on baby's skin, leading to further diaper rash. It's also worth nothing that sodium polyacrylate was once included in tampons, but was removed from them in 1985 following links to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). No cases of TSS have been reported stemming from babies wearing disposable diapers (most likely due to the fact that the diapers are worn externally, while tampons are used internally) but again, it's still not something I'd really like to have against my baby's skin.

In addition, disposable diapers often incorporate dyes, fragrances, and plastics-- none of which I really want on my baby's most sensitive area. At least one study even links these things to an increased risk of asthma.

In the interest of fairness, let's look at the other side of the health question: do cloth diapers have any of these health concerns, or other ones? From the materials standpoint, the only concern I can think of would be the possibility of pesticides in non-organic cotton. However, the processing of cotton into fabric removes any pesticide residues.

It's true that poorly laundered cloth diapers can have a build-up of bacteria and ammonia which can lead to skin irritations for baby; it's also true that leaving a baby too long in a cloth diaper (just like with disposables) can lead to diaper rash. The bottom line is, if you change your baby as often as you should, and know how to wash your diapers, the incidence of skin irritations for cloth-diapered babies should be much lower.

So what's the takeaway? There are those who say that disposables are not worse for a baby's skin and health than cloth-- that the dioxin levels are negligible, that sodium polyacrylate has been proven non-irritating and safe, and so on. In my personal opinion, as with any case of a product with added chemicals vs a product without them, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Especially when it concerns my only son!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I got fluffy mail!

I got two of the three packages of diapers that I was expecting yesterday. It was like Christmas!

Here's the haul:

1 Diaper Rite one-size pocket diaper in "Nessie" (green)
1 Diaper Rite bamboo one-size pocket diaper in "Timberwolf" (gray)
1 Mother-ease one-size diaper
1 Rumparooz one-size diaper cover in powder blue
1 Go Green! Champ 3.0 one-size pocket diaper in "Toady Loady" (green again)
1 Imagine one-size fitted diaper in indigo
1 Imagine one-size diaper cover in indigo
1 Imagine "SmartFit" bamboo pre-fold, size medium

I also got a travel-size Planet Wise wet/dry bag, the Changing Diapers book and a small stick of CJ's BUTTer. I picked the Bamboo & Lotus Blossom scent and it smells amazing! The Snush had a poopy diaper right before bedtime so I got to try it out on him.

As a bonus, I also got my package from Baby Ink, a ridiculously awesome baby clothing store that specializes in punk/tattoo/rockabilly styles. My husband had been begging me to buy the Snush this Misfits shirt I had found, so I picked up that and a pair of board shorts to go with it.

Like Christmas, I tell you.

As you can see, I'm still in the 'experimenting with lots of different brands' phase. My stash consists of one or two items from a bunch of different brands. In fact, the other day I was drying a load of diapers and I had all the PUL hanging on my indoor drying rack, and I realized that every single diaper on it was a different brand.  Oy.

But I'm excited to get all this new fluffy goodness washed and prepped so I can start using it on the Snush!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back to work, and other madness

Whew! It was a busy weekend, and a busy start of the week too. First, I had to prepare for and then go compete in Geeks Who Drink's 3rd Annual Harry Potter Trivia Quiz, which was great fun. Even more fun? Being able to confidently leave the Snush home with my husband and not worry one bit. Anyway, our team tied for ninth, out of (I think) 76 teams. Not bad!

The very next day, Sunday, was my first day back at work from maternity leave. I'm currently working full time, but from home, for a technology giant, which definitely has its perks. Working Sundays? Actually not as bad as you might think. It means that my weekend is Friday and Saturday, for one thing, and having a day off during the week is invaluable.

Things have been a little hectic, though-- mostly technical difficulties. Who knew that being gone for twelve weeks would mean so many roadblocks to coming back? I spent Sunday and Monday mostly twiddling my thumbs and waiting for my trouble tickets to be resolved. That, and wading through approximately 800 emails...

In other news, I've read and signed the "Support With Integrity" pledge-- a pledge to support mamas who choose to breastfeed without judgement. Being a breastfeeding mama myself, this isn't exactly hard for me to get behind. Behold, the beautiful pink badge:

Support with Integrity

Shiny, no?

I'd strongly encourage you to read and sign the pledge yourself, if you're supportive of those who choose to breastfeed. It's important to note that the pledge specifically states that there is no implication of condemnation for those who chose not to or cannot breastfeed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why Cloth Diapers? Part Two: The Environment

Yesterday I rambled on rather impressively about the cost advantage of cloth vs. disposable diapers. And while it’s a substantial part of why lots of mamas go for the cloth, it’s not the only reason. Today, I’ll talk about the second of the three major reasons for considering cloth—something I like to call greeniness.

2. The Environment

Many, though not all, cloth diapering mamas seem to tend to be a little bit crunchy, or at least eco-conscious, so this is a big plus. There is of course plenty of debate on how much better for the environment cloth actually is, because there are a lot of factors to consider:

Impact of manufacture: This includes where the materials come from and how they are produced, as well as the actual manufacturing process. For cloth diapers, this could mean cotton, hemp, or bamboo farming, or  the manufacture of polyester; for disposables, this could mean the manufacture of plastics, wood pulp, and paper. Some disposable diapers, such as Huggies Pure & Natural, also utilize cotton.

So which is worse? It’s true that cotton in particular is a generally environmentally unfriendly crop. But there seems to be a certain amount of evidence that even so, the production of disposables is more damaging. From Wikipedia:
In one cradle-to-grave study sponsored by the National Association of Diaper Services (NADS) and conducted by Carl Lehrburger and colleagues, results found that disposable diapers produce […] three times more waste in the manufacturing process. In addition, effluents from the plastic, pulp, and paper industries are far more hazardous than those from the cotton-growing and -manufacturing processes.
In addition, virtually all disposable diapers are factory produced, but many cloth diapers are hand-made by work-at-home-moms (WAHMs) or by the end user parent. 
Slight win for cloth diapers.
Impact of use: Unless you want to get into a breakdown of the environmental costs of transporting the diapers from the manufacturer to you, the only impact I can think of here is the water, energy, and detergents needed to wash and/or dry the cloth diapers. There are ways to lessen this, such as using HE washers, line-drying, and "green" detergents, but regardless, cloth diapers need to be washed; disposables do not.
Winner in this category, disposables.
Impact of disposal: This is where cloth diapers really shine. I read one estimate that if 80% of American mamas use disposable diapers, that comes up to about 18 billion diapers per year. Wikipedia claims that the number is more like 27.4 billion. Yes, billion with a 'b'. No, I'm not kidding. Disposable diapers can take a very, very long time to decompose, again depending on what materials are used in their manufacture; but needless to say, disposables are a solid contributor to our landfills. Worse, they are a potentially toxic one: human waste is not meant to be simply thrown away. Human feces, especially feces of infants that have been vaccinated, is full of bacteria and viruses that could potentially leach into our water supply. Blech. It's true that as of yet there has not been a significant impact on public health that can be traced back to infant feces in landfills, but it's possible that it may yet happen. 

Cloth diapers, on the other hand, can be reused again and again, including on additional children, and for some types, repurposed for other household uses. Prefolds and flats, for example, make excellent dustrags.
Winner: cloth diapers.
So what's the takeaway on the environmental front? Some say that it's a wash; that there is no clear evidence that cloth diapers are actually more environmentally responsible than disposables.

An October 2008 study from the UK Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs states that in their baseline scenario, the difference in overall greenhouse emissions between cloth and disposables is negligible, but that much lower results for cloth diapers can be achieved by taking some of the steps that I’ve already discussed here, namely line-drying rather than using the dryer, using more efficient appliances, and reusing the diapers on additional children. They also suggest washing fuller loads of diapers and not using water heated to above 140 °F (60 °C).

There you have it: cloth diapers, if washed responsibly, are generally a win for the environment. Bonus for us tree-hugging types!

Up next, I’ll discuss how using cloth diapers can be a plus on the issue of your child’s health.

Real Diaper Association Survey

While working on my next post, I came across a survey on cloth diapering by the Real Diaper Association, a charity involved in cloth diaper education. If by any chance you're a currently cloth diapering parent, head over to their Facebook page to fill it out! It won't take long-- even if you're trying to type with a sleeping baby in one arm, like me-- and you'll be helping out a great organization.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sushi with friends, ala Paleo

My husband and I are doing a 30-day Paleo diet challenge called the Whole30. For those who've never heard of Paleo, it's a nutrition plan that eliminates grains, legumes, and dairy (and a few other things, but those are the main ones). In theory the rationale is that it's an approximation of the diet that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten. The real rationale has a lot more to do with in depth studies of how nutrition affects our bodies. To be honest, I haven't done all that much research on it myself-- my husband is far more the Paleo/Primal diet enthusiast-- and I don't necessarily buy the hunter-gatherer rationale. But I'm willing to give it a try.

So this 30-day challenge is to eat a strict Paleo diet for 30 days. No grains, legumes, dairy, added sweetener of any kind, alcohol, soda, MSG, soy, peanuts... like I said, it's strict. Here's what we can eat: meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, certain oils, and eggs. And clarified butter, for some reason.

No lie, it's not easy sticking to this strict of a diet. But I've already noticed a change in how I feel. Mostly, I feel hungry more often! Which I guess is a good thing-- maybe my metabolism is starting to kick in a bit more.

We started this challenge on September 1, so we're only a few days in at this point. We managed to survive a Labor Day lunch with my family. Fortunately, they smoked a brisket, which was fine as long as we didn't add any sauce, and we made creamed spinach and mashed cauliflower (yum). The creamed spinach had coconut milk in it to make it creamy, instead of regular milk.

Tonight, as we often do, we headed to one of our favorite sushi restaurants to meet up with some friends. The Snush (our favorite nickname for our 2-month-old son) is already a pro at hanging out here, and the waitresses all know his name and coo over him. Funny story-- since I couldn't have any raw sushi while I was pregnant, we didn't come here very often, especially later in my pregnancy. The first time we came here with the Snush after he was born, our favorite waitress just about freaked out. Apparently she hadn't realized I was even pregnant!

Luckily, eating Paleo at a sushi restaurant is quite easy. We both had a baked avocado appetizer, which had... some kind of seafood in it, I don't remember what. We had them hold the crunchy bits and the spicy mayo that normally would have gone on top, though. Then we each got some sashimi and hand rolls without the rice. A hand roll is basically a little cone made of seaweed with the contents of your roll inside. I ordered a California hand roll (crab, cucumber, and avocado) and an Alaska hand roll (salmon, cucumber, and avocado), both without rice, plus two pieces of salmon sashimi and two pieces of escolar sashimi (a tasty white fish with... an interesting side effect).

I actually filled up quite quickly and let my husband have my Alaska roll. But now I think I'm hungry again. I think there's some leftover brisket in the fridge that's calling my name.

Note: in the interest of full honesty, I am not being 100% faithful to the Whole30 rules, in one regard. I still start my day with a small bowl of oatmeal. Why? Well, I'm breastfeeding the Snush, and have had some milk supply issues that I've been laboring to correct, and oats are known to help enhance milk supply. If that means I don't get the full benefits of the Whole30, so be it. I top my oatmeal with almonds, ground flaxseed, and brewer's yeast. It's actually very tasty!

Why Cloth Diapers? Part One: Cost

As the first mama in my circle of new mamas to be using cloth, I get a lot of questions about it. Number one: WHY?

Lots of people don't understand the drive to use cloth diapers. My own mom doesn't really, and she cloth-diapered my older sister! Not me, though. Apparently she didn't care for it. I've tried to explain to her that cloth diapers 30 years ago are not the same as cloth diapers today. She hasn't had a chance to see what I mean for herself yet.

But I digress. There are generally three main reasons why I, and many, many other mamas out there, choose to use cloth diapers:

1. Cost
2. Environment
3. Health

This post would be of staggering proportions if I tried to go over all three reasons in one go. So for today, I'll cover number one: cost.

It's no secret that, over the long run, using cloth diapers will cost a family far less than using disposables. Unless, of course, you're one of those mad efficient extreme couponing moms that can get cases of disposables for pennies. I am in awe of your kind. For us mere mortals, however, here's a basic breakdown, with a more in-depth cost comparison further below:
  • Cost of a complete stash of cloth diapers: $200-800 or so, depending on what type and how many you prefer to have. Trust me, it's easy to get addicted to buying cloth. Of course, there are some additional costs, including accessories and the cost to wash them, which should be taken into consideration too.
  • Cost of using disposables from birth to potty training: $2000-3000, though your mileage may vary depending on what brand of disposables you use and what age your child potty trains.
Plus, cloth diapers can often be reused on a second child, or resold for an impressive portion of their original price.

Interested in the full breakdown? So glad you asked. I'll be comparing three different cloth diaper scenarios with a very basic disposable diaper scenario. Note: I'm not going to describe in depth the different types of cloth diapers, and their pros and cons, here-- that would need a whole separate post!

Note: All prices in this post are taken from Nicki's Diapers.


Basic assumptions:

  1. That you choose to wash your dirty diapers every other day.
  2. That you use a conventional washer and dryer (as opposed to an HE washer and a clothesline).
  3. That your water is of no more than average hardness.
  4. That you use a highly rated cloth diaper detergent, such as Rockin' Green, for $14.95 for 45 loads (90 in an HE washer), or $0.33 per load, not counting shipping costs. 
  5. If you wash every other day, that comes to 183 loads per year.
  6. A baby in the first year of life will go through anywhere from 6-12 diapers per day (this obviously will vary by the baby). For our purposes, let's say an average of 10 diapers per day. 
  7. This means that if you wash every other day, you should have at least 20 diapers on hand to last between washes. To give us a bit of breathing room, let's pad that out to 25 diapers. 
  8. Water and energy costs: We're going to assume an average energy cost of $0.36 per washer load and $0.40 per dryer load, and an average water cost of $0.11 per washer load. These numbers are taken from The Simple Dollar, one of my favorite personal finance blogs. If you're really interested, you can also plug your own numbers into this calculator to find out costs for your specific situation.
  9. We're going to use The Simple Dollar's average costs for the wear and tear on your washer and dryer as well, though obviously this can vary widely depending on initial cost for your washer and dryer and how many loads you wash/dry on average. This comes to $0.20 for the washer and $0.15 for the dryer, per load.
  10. Based on these average costs for water, energy, and detergent, as well as equipment wear and tear, you're looking at a per-year cost of $283.65 to wash your cloth diapers.

Cloth Scenario A: If cost is the most important factor for you, you simply can't beat using prefolds or flats, with waterproof covers. For this scenario, we're going to use a couple of different popular brands of covers and prefolds to achieve our stash of at least 25 usable diapers:

This scenario gives you a total of 30 prefolds and 12 covers, which should be plenty to last between every-other-day washes, plus a wetbag and three diaper fasteners, for a total of $250.39, not including any shipping or sales taxes. I'll discuss additional accessories in a separate post; these are the very basics. Granted, you may have to buy additional prefolds if/when your child outgrows a particular size, so there may yet be additional costs on down the road. 

Cloth Scenario B: If you still need to consider carefully the cost of your initial investment, but hate the inconvenience of using prefolds and covers, come sit by me! This is pretty much the boat I find myself in. Prefolds are just about my least favorite cloth diapering solution, and I believe it is where many who try cloth give up in disgust-- it most closely resembles the system your grandmother most likely used back in the days of yore. So our second option is going to look at some of the newer, more user-friendly options, namely All-In-Two diapers and pocket diapers, but still keeping an eye to cost:
In this case, you would have a total of 5 All-In-Two covers, 13 All-In-Two inserts, 9 pocket diapers, and 19 pocket inserts (I'm not counting the newborn/small inserts in that total). This would, again, be more than enough to last between laundry loads. Our grand total for this scenario is $307.86. In this case there might be less expense on down the road for replacements, since all of the actual diapers involved here are "one size", meaning that they're adjustable to fit your baby as he grows.

Cloth Scenario C: If you absolutely cannot stand the extra work involved in assembling and putting on cloth diapers, even to the extent of stuffing an insert in a pocket, there is a solution for you: All-In-One diapers. Having a stash comprised solely of All-In-Ones is definitely the most convenient, but most expensive, option.
Having no inserts to count up, this is a straightforward scenario: 25 All-In-One diapers for a grand total of $529.00.

My estimates above went a little higher than our most expensive scenario here; this is to allow for the fact that there are additional accessories that you may want to go for, and many families like to have more than the bare minimum number of diapers on hand, in case of a few extremely busy days all in a row that would preclude sticking to your normal laundry schedule.


I'm only going to go into one scenario for disposable diapers here. Financially conscious mamas who choose to use disposable diapers can always find ways to reduce costs-- coupons and such-- but that's really beyond my scope here. So here's a basic breakdown:
  1. Your child is in disposable diapers from birth to potty training. Age of potty training of course varies widely; for our purposes, let's assume an average age of 3 years.
  2. We'll use the same figure for number of diapers per day as with cloth: an average of 10. This will be higher in the newborn period, and lower as the child ages, so this is a very generic average.
  3. Let's say that you choose to use Huggies Little Snugglers and Huggies Snug and Dry, and that you buy them all from
  4. The different sizes of diapers vary in cost, but if you buy the economy size packs, they average out to about $0.24 per diaper.
  5. With these numbers, your cost to use disposable diapers from birth to potty training at age 3 is $2628
To compare, the cost of using cloth diapers-- even if you go with our most expensive scenario-- over the same time period, would be $1379.95.

That's pretty substantial savings, even before you consider reusing cloth diapers on additional babies or reselling them.

Next, we'll discuss the environmental impact of cloth vs. disposables.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Whee, baby!

A friend and I were talking today and she was asking me some questions about cloth diapers. Our boys are only 2 days apart in age, and are still technically newborns, though her son is bigger than some babies months older than he is. He's the most adorable Hulk baby you could imagine. You wouldn't like him when he's angry, though.


I was telling her about how much research I've been doing about different types and brands of cloth diapers and how it all works and what I've been finding has been working better for me and so on. She suggested that I start a blog about cloth diapering, since I'm getting so into it. I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. At the very least it'll give me a place to write out my impressions of the different ones I use to help me keep it all straight and compare.

I'll probably also post about my various other endeavors at green/natural parenting, and probably some about my husband's and my Paleo adventure. We both have a good bit of weight we'd like to lose, so we decided to try a 30-day Paleo challenge. It's very strict, but I feel good that we can do it if we stick to it together.

At any rate, it will be nice to have an outlet to write about some of the things I'm spending a lot of time on these days.

Stick around, kids. We've only just begun!