[This post submitted to Sortacrunchy's "Your Green Resource"]
When we first started doing all our registering and buying for our little-one-to-be, I knew that I wanted to use cloth diapers. Jeff took a little convincing, but once I told him he wouldn't really have to touch any poop (I knew this was a white lie, but I reasoned that he would have to touch poop whether we used cloth or disposable), he was for it. I love when Jeff gets convicted about something, because he loves to spread the righteous word to all his friends and acquaintances. I have heard him on the phone telling his friend Jeremy about how they're cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and better for baby's skin. I believe this is what I mean by "making him think it was his idea." Anyway, I digress.
I won't rehearse all the in-depth reasons for cloth diapering, since mine are largely the same as everyone else's. Basically:
1) Cheaper over time. A little investment, but you can reuse them with multiple children.
2) Better for the environment. Less in the landfill.
3) Baby has soft and cuddly material next to her skin, not weird gel-bead-ultra-absorbent stuff.
4) Water bill is included in the cost of our rent. Disposable diapers aren't.
And a fifth I've added since my obsession with Montessori infant parenting began:
5) Montessori infant training advocates cloth diapering because natural, real fibers are superior to synthetics. I'm not sure that this holds for me, since the micro-fleece and PUL (polyurethane laminate) diapers we use are just as synethic as any disposable. The only difference is you can wash and reuse them.
When I actually starting researching cloth diaper options, I had a minor anxiety attack because I don't do well with a lot of choices. There are literally hundreds of options. Prefolds and covers? All-in-ones? Contoured prefolds? What the hell is a snappi? I asked a few moms I knew were into cloth diapering, and got the recommendation to go with Fuzzibunz. So, mostly for the sake of just making a freaking decision, I registered for them. And Jeremy and Kat (the afore-mentioned friends) got them for us! Here is what we ended up with:
Here's what they look like from the inside and the outside:
What you see above is the outer shell, made from a waterproof material and lined with fleece. They have a pocket between the fleece and the PUL outer fabric:
And the "soaker," or the thick pad that absorbs all the moisture and keeps it away from the baby's skin, looks like this:
It's made of suber-absorbent fleece as well, and it gets stuffed into the pocket I showed you above.
I ordered all "one-size" diapers, which are kind of ingenious. They have an elastic-and-button system where you can adjust the size of the leg holes and waist as your baby grows. I did a couple pictures of how this works:
This part is kind of a pain in the butt, as you have to go back and pull the elastic out of its hidey-hole, wrestle with it for a few moments, and then repeat with all your remaining diapers. But this is also the part that makes it so cost-effective, as they can grow with your baby up to like 35 pounds (or potty-trained, God willing!).
So, back to our story. I ordered these diapers, received them as a gift, got really excited, and then the baby was born. She was so wee, I couldn't make the leg holes small enough! So we had to go with disposables for awhile. And then she got bigger . . . and we still went with disposables because I felt overwhelmed by having a baby and didn't want any more laundry. Finally, I was shaken out of my disposable stupor by reading Montessori from the Start, and busted back out the Fuzzibunz. Baby is about thirteen pounds now, so she fits into them really well.
Our babysitter isn't into cloth, which is totally fine. So we still use some disposables. I just get the Target generic brand. I think they work as well as anything else. Also, I didn't get any fancy special detergent for the cloth diapers. All the cloth diapering websites say this is tantamount to ruining your diapers, but so far the Target brand unscented detergent has done just fine. I think part of my initial panic about the whole cloth diapering process was because there seemed to be all these rules: you have to use a dry/wet pail; you have to use Charlie's soap; etc, etc, etc. In reality, like with everything else about having a baby, you figure out what works for you and that's what you do.
We have eight Fuzzibunz now, and that's about right for laundry every other day with disposables at the sitter and at night. I might get six or so more, just to stretch it a little further. However, I don't want to let the dirty diapers sit too long, or I worry about mildew setting in!
So, my message to you about cloth diapering is: don't be afraid. It is simpler than it sounds. Just pick a system, go with it, and don't be afraid that you're making too many missteps. I really like Fuzzibunz, and no, don't be ridiculous, they have not paid me for an endorsement!