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Cloth diapering while travelling

I think this is one thing that intimidated me the most when I first started cloth diapering. We were facing a 4+ hour family trip with all 3 kids in my Toyota Camry. Normally it’s quite a roomy vehicle, but once you cram two car seats in the back, and a 10 y.o. between them, it can feel VERY small. We had two full-size suitcases in the trunk, and packed all the diapers into a smaller suitcase. It did feel a bit ridiculous, I mean, really? A suitcase of diapers? It was sooooo worth it, though!

We made the first two hours of the trip with no problem, stopped for lunch, to stretch, and for our first diaper change. I had brought along two wetbags for the diaper bag, and my large pail liner for using in the hotel room. I wound up putting the dirty diaper in the pail liner and tossing it in the trunk before getting on our way. The next two days were filled with lots of amusement park fun, and cloth-diapering while out and about on vacation didn’t feel any different than cloth-diapering while being at home. I DID make sure to book a hotel room with laundry facilities, because I did not have enough diapers to last me the week without washing (and that would probably have gotten rather stinky!). The biggest drawback was feeling anxiety around leaving the laundry room while washing the diapers… I was so paranoid someone would steal them! I have no clue why, as I never even saw another person in there, but I was SURE some other horrible cloth diaper addict was going to come in, see my pretty diapers tumbling around, and take off with them. So I took a book, and spent a few hours reading while my diapers washed. The last wash day before heading home I finally felt comfortable enough to leave them unattended, and felt ridiculous for not doing it sooner!

Another trip we actually used flats and handwashing like the challenge we did last year. This time we were spending 3 days camping with the kids. This time I kept it MUCH simpler, as 24 flats, and a few covers don’t require NEARLY as much space as a suitcase of pockets and fitteds. I also made a camp-style washer (video tut here). As the diapers got dirty, I’d rinse, then soak them in the washer bucket. I washed them once a day, usually during the baby’s naptime, and then line-dried them. I did choose to fold and snappi the flats on, instead of pad-folding them, to avoid getting the covers dirty. It worked marvelously! I’m still very impressed at how easy flats handwash, and at how fast they dry. There’s definitely something to be said about keeping it simple!

After those two trips, nothing really scared me about cloth-diapering while on vacation. I think the hardest part is figuring out a plan that’ll work well, and then finding space to pack the pocket diapers if you aren’t using flats/covers. We have never flown with cloth diapers, and I imagine having a suitcase just for diapers would be rather frustrating with the extra baggage fees, especially if your baby is young enough to fly in your lap and not need their own ticket!

All about Flats

Flat diapers… I affectionately call them “Grandma’s diapers”. They’re probably what you imagine when you think of Grandma pinning a fancy-folded diaper on your parents. They’re scary. They’re intimidating… But only if you don’t know how to use them!

Benefits of flats: They’re one of the cheapest options out there. I’ve even used an old flannel receiving blanket as a flat, and I’ve heard of parents super strapped for cash using cut-up t-shirts as flats! They’re easy to clean since they only have one layer of fabric for dirties to get stuck in. They can be folded in different ways to customize the needs of your baby (for example more absorbency in the front for a boy). When using organic cotton, or bamboo flats with a wool cover, you can totally avoid any synthetic fibers or chemicals! They dry super fast… again because they’re only one layer of fabric.

Drawbacks of flats: They must be used in a 2-part system for effective diapering… meaning they need a cover over them to be waterproof. Depending on how you fold them, they most likely need to be pinned or snappi’d in place to keep them on your baby. Folding and pinning/snappi’ing takes more time than changing a disposable or even a pocket diaper… but it’s just a tiny bit more time when you get the hang of it!

Some folds and instructions on each:

“Neat Nappy” fold

“Pad” fold is perfect for just laying inside a cover

“Angel” fold is great for containing messes

“Kite” fold <— I used this one with my receiving blankets

“Origami” fold <— another one of my fav’s. Looks complicated, but it’s so worth it!

Fastening with a snappi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2cgzRbPKro so easy a kid can do it!

Fastening with a diaper pin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYCizHFCwwU

What am I really saving by using cloth?

Well, that’s hard to tell exactly because I don’t know how much you spent on your cloth stash, or what brand of disposables you would have bought… Here’s a copy of a sheet I put together for my Cloth-Consultation customers…

Price Comparison

Using Cloth Diapers can save you from 44-68% over the cost of disposable diapers. You can end up saving even more if you save your cloth diapers for use on a second or third child.

First let’s look at just how many diapers you use in a period of 2½ years. Keep in mind some children take longer to potty train, stretching the diaper years into 3 or even 4.

– An average of 70 diapers a week; baby is changed every 2-3 hours and toddler is changed every 3-4 hours.

– A diapering period of 2½ years or 130 weeks.

= Total of 9,100 diapers changes.

The Cost of Disposable Diapers

Disposable diaper costs an average of $0.24 per change.

$0.24 per change X 70 changes per week = $16.80 per week

$16.80 per week X 130 weeks per diapering period =Total Cost of Disposable Diapers $2,184.00

Home Laundering Expenses

Detergent & Additive Expense

-$0.42/Arm & Hammer Fabric Care = Total Detergent & Additive Expense of $0.42 (per load)

Electricity Expense

-National average per wash cycle is $0.19 X 3 complete wash cycles = Total wash expense = $0.57

-National average per dry cycle is $0.40

Wash expense = $0.57 + drying expense= $0.40 =Total Electricity Expense of $0.97

Water Expense

-Water cost is $0.20 for 140 gallons =Total Estimated Water Expense of $0.10

Loads per Diapering Period

Wash every 3 days = 2 loads per week

2 loads per week X 130 weeks (diapering period) =260 Loads per Diapering Period

Total Laundering Expense:

Total Detergent & Additive Expense of $0.42 + Total Electricity Expense of $0.97 + Total Water Expense of $0.10 X 260 Loads per Diapering Period = Total Laundering Expense of $387.40

Bottom Line

Wow. Even when you factor in laundering your cloth diapers at home, you still save over $1700 using cloth diapers on a single child for a period of two years. Just imagine how much money you can save by re-using those same cloth diapers on other children.

The Cost of Buying Cloth Diapers

This can really vary. You can outfit your baby with 24 of our most expensive diapers, spend around $700, and still save money over disposables – saving even more if you plan on having more children to pass those same diapers down to. On the other end of the spectrum, the tried-and-true basics like flat folds and prefolds can cost under $100.

Cloth 101

So you’re interested in cloth! Wonderful! But you’re confused, you have lots of questions, and you’re not sure where to begin… What’s a fitted? How many diapers do I need? How do I convince my husband to use cloth? What’s PUL? Or an AIO?

First off, take a deeeeeeeep breath… it’s all going to be ok! Cloth diapers ARE just diapers, afterall. Yes, there is a learning curve to using cloth since our parents most likely used disposables on us (if you were born after the mid to late 70’s), so we were never taught how. Let’s start with the basics… A “Cloth Diapering 101” class if you will.

What are the point of diapers, anyway? Well, I think we’d all agree that a diaper needs to contain liquid waste and solid waste. How it’s done is not really important at this point. Let’s go with the REALLY BASIC basics… To prevent tons of icky messes in really inconvenient places, babies need something that 1) absorbs urine, 2) contains (sometimes explosive) fecal matter, and 3) has some sort of fastener to keep the diaper on the baby. Disposables do this… They have chemicals (SAP) that absorb urine, chemical perfumes to mask the smell of poop, elastic-y plastic stuff around the legs and across the back in attempt to contain the more explosive poops, and a plastic waterproof layer with some sort of sticky tabs to hold the whole thing together. With Cloth diapers it’s the same thing… a natural fiber or synthetic fiber layer (most common are cotton, bamboo, hemp, and microfiber), a waterproof outer-layer normally made of PUL,(Wool and fleece are other options) and elastic around the legs and back to contain the messiest of messes, and either snaps or some form of aplix (velcro) closure to fasten it around the baby. See how they aren’t so different?? The difference is in the materials that make up the diapers, not how they work!

So why should you choose cloth? I can’t really answer that question… cloth is not for everyone, just like a vegetarian diet isn’t for everyone! As parents, we weigh the benefits vs. the drawbacks. So I’ll list those here for you to decide:

Drawbacks first:

– Cloth diapers do need to be changed more often than disposable diapers. Usually every 2 hours… but there’s a hidden benefit here, since it’s been shown babies in cloth get less diaper rashes since they’re not sitting in their own waste for hours on end.

– Babies feel wet when they pee, which sometimes makes them cry… eh, crying isn’t great, but on the plus side, you’re alerted that they’re uncomfortable, and they’ll learn the correlation between peeing/pooping and feeling uncomfortable, and actually potty-train earlier.

– Cloth diapers will require doing more laundry, unless using a diaper service of course. Oh! But another hidden benefit here… Cloth diapers actually contain poopy leaks better, so you’ll be washing less dirty outfits!

– Cloth diapers are a bigger initial investment. Yep, this is true… you can buy a pack of 30+ diapers for around $15-$20, which is about the average price of a single cloth diaper… We’ll address cost later though.

– Sometimes it’s hard to find child care willing to use cloth diapers.

– Sometimes Dad’s/grandparents/family members refuse to use cloth diapers

– You can’t throw away poop! Well, that’s actually against the law anyway, you’ll just have to put it where it belongs and flush it.

– Cloth diapers are bulkier than disposables, so sometimes clothes (especially jeans) don’t fit properly

Benefits:

– Less Diaper Rashes – If any at all!

– No exposure to chemicals/perfumes

– Earlier Potty training

– Less waste in landfills (an estimated 2,000 lbs per child using disposables!)

-More money in your pocket! You can cloth diaper from birth to potty-training for under $200, there is NO WAY that’s possible with disposables! It’s estimated that a baby uses over $2,000 worth of disposables from birth to potty-training around 2 years old… if they potty-train by 2!

– Less leaks & ruined clothes

– No need to run to the corner store at 3 am when you realize you’re out of disposables

– Cloth diapers come in tons of fun prints and are super cute!

Only you can decide if the benefits out-weigh the drawbacks!

Over the next few days I’m going to write in-depth posts on the different types of cloth diapers, and I will link them here:

Flats

Prefolds

Fitteds

Covers

Pocket Diapers

Hybrid Diapers

All-In-One Diapers

Meet Hailey!

Our next feature mom is Hailey! Hailey lives in Visalia, with her fiancé, 6-year-old son Ethan, and 1.5-year old son Colin. She is a VERY busy mom who runs her photography business (HaileyRayPhotography) while juggling doctor appointments for Colin, who has Spina Bifida, and still managing to keep Ethan in extra-curricular activities! (Oh AND planning her wedding! Yikes!) This Mama has a whole lot on her plate, and she still has enough time to cloth-diaper full-time, on trips, and even through Colin’s hospital stays! That’s commitment if I’ve ever seen it.

Hailey originally became interested in cloth for all it’s perks… the cost-savings, how much better they are for sensitive skin, and for the cute-ness factor. They started cd’ing when Colin was a little over 2 months, and Hailey showed her fiancé that the initial cost would turn into major long-term savings, along with telling him “I would do the laundry!”. He was completely on board, and now even helps out on wash days. I asked Hailey how much she has spent on cloth diapers and she said, “I have managed to keep cost under $300.00 by buying and selling – if I wanted a new one I had to sell an old one, first, that was my rule. When I wanted a 6-pack of the new BG brights, I sold 4 older diapers. My total to date is still $291.25.” I also asked her what she learned in the first few months, and as most “newbies” to cloth, it had to do with her wash routine!: “Don’t be afraid to use too much detergent.” she advised, “and I learned right away air-drying my diapers made them last longer, and is a good perk when re-selling them.” Image

Colin at just a few months, excited about his diaper stash!!

“Keeping up with the laundry when you’re having a busy week” is what Hailey feels is the hardest part about cloth diapering, but quickly counterbalances that by saying, “Not having to run out for diapers and paying ridiculous prices for ‘trash’. ” is the best! She has found that BumGenius pockets work best for Colin, and has tried a few WAHM brands, along with making a few of her own. When it comes to accessories, she is another wetbag lover, “they really come in handy when you have food in the diaper bad and don’t want to put dirty diapers with it.” The wetbags also play right into her funny cloth-diapering moment (something I think we’ve all done at some point): “Well, we have found a very VERY old dirty diaper in a wetbag in the bottom of the diaperbag more than once… that is NOT fun! Always count your diapers as you stuff them!”.

On a more serious note, cloth-diapering actually HELPED Colin! One day while doing diaper laundry, Hailey noticed that there were some weird stains on all the diapers, even though Colin hadn’t pooped in them. After investigating, and a doctor’s appointment, it was discovered that he had a urinary tract infection! The stains were from the proteins, and the infection was caught so early (thanks to cloth!) that Colin hadn’t started showing other symptoms yet.

Image

Isn’t he just adorable??!!

Hailey found EverythingBirth.com, CottonBabies.com and a consultation with “yours truly” helpful while researching and purchasing cloth diapers. She continues to recommend cloth-diapering to many of her friends. She knows that once someone sees how easy it is, they also “would never go back to trash!”.

Check out Hailey’s photography website!!: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hailey-Rae-Photography/180049598745368

Meet our next REAL MOM: Hannah!

Hannah is a 27 year old mom of a 2 year old, and a 3 year old. She originally looked into cloth diapers because her daughter was getting staph infections and constantly had a rash while using disposable diapers. She knew she needed to get her daughter’s delicate skin away from all the chemicals!  Even though she knew that getting away from the harsh chemicals in disposables was very important, she was still nervous about making the switch to cloth. “I was very scared, I knew nothing about using cloth other than my parents used it on us. Google and YouTube became my friends very fast” she states. During her research she also found Green Mountain Diapers great for honest pics and reviews of diapers, and found that Kim from DirtyDiaperLaundry has amazing video reviews!

After getting her husband on board with cloth when her girls were 3 months & 1 year old, they made the switch to using 100% organic cotton pre-folds (and a USA made brand at that!), with wool covers. She admits that this wasn’t the cheapest way to go, saying “I was a little crazy buying only organic and made in the USA, which can be very expensive, plus I had a ton of custom made wool both knit/crocheted/up-cycled”,  so she estimates that she spent around $1,300 on her stash… but quickly clarifies that it “was enough for TWO kids, and enough to only have to wash every three days.”  When disposable-users are estimated to spend around $2,000 on ONE child from birth to potty-training, even going a more expensive route with the wool and organic option, Hannah still saved an estimated $2,700 by cd’ing her two kids!!

I asked her to share some things she thought would help someone looking into cloth: “Try some of everything! Gee I was soo stubborn and I could have made it a lot easier on me and my family, if I just tried things! Get some pockets, some AIOs, some pre-folds and some fitteds! Mix your PUL/Wool (unless there is an allergy)/fleece to suit your needs! All in all, and the last thing to remember after doing hours upon hours of research, in the end, its just a diaper… so go for it!” Hannah feels that the hardest thing about cloth-diapering for her, was trying to find a wash routine. Her suggestion? “Use the full amount of detergent and then rinse,rinse,rinse!”  When asked what the best thing about cd’ing was, “Everything! Knowing that only cotton was against my childrens private areas, no chemicals, nothing to worry about. Just plain, clean, simple cotton.”

Of course, every parent has a funny diapering story, Hannah recalls,  “We went to a farm expo (three hour car ride) and hubby was getting the kids ready while I packed the car. Well, I laid out the diapers for them and told him which covers to put on and such, two hours later when we stopped for lunch I picked my little one up out of the car seat to find her soaking wet! Ahh! He forgot about the cover and just put her in a prefold with her pants on! hahhaah Thank goodness I had a backup change of clothing!”  Hannah’s favorite diapering combo to avoid inconvenient accidents like this was using Little Fancy Pants fitted diapers (where she also mentions she ordered wonderful customs and Leah -the owner- is really sweet and helpful!) with up-cycled wool longies over them.  When using prefolds, she actually preferred using pins instead of snappi’s and “always used doublers!”

Hannah is also a fellow DiaperParties Consultant, and is available for consultations and/or parties in the Half Moon Bay area, along with Hilmar, Turlock, and Modesto. She can be reached be e-mail here: Hannah@DiaperParties.com  Other than our parent company Everything Birth, these are some other websites she recommends checking out:  hyenacart.com, etsy.comhttp://www.etsy.com/shop/chickadeeandmehttp://www.dunknfluff.com/http://www.swaddlebees.com/  as they are all companies that she has bought from, used, and loved!

Thank you Hannah for being a REAL MOM!
**If you’d like to be considered for a REAL MOM feature, please contact me at JocelynC@DiaperParties.com**

Don’t just take it from me…

Hear other REAL mom’s experience with cloth diapering! Each week I’ll be featuring one REAL MOM on this blog. Find out what their reasons are behind using cloth, and what types of diapers work (or don’t work!) for them.

Our first REAL MOM is Erin Andersen! I had the honor of doing a consultation with Erin when her family was researching cloth diapers, and she is a super sweet, down-to-earth mama.

Erin, hubby Aaron, and almost-9-month-old son Oliver live in Visalia, and they have been using cloth diapers full-time for the past 7 months, using some newborn diapers part-time before that. Believe it or not, is was Aaron’s idea to look into cloth diapers in the first place, since they were planning on him being the one to stay home with Oliver! (I know many of us had to convince our husbands to use cloth, so Erin is a very lucky lady!) She was sold on the idea of cloth-diapering when she realized how eco & wallet-friendly they are. She says, “Disposable diapers seem so wasteful to me, and now that I know how easy cloth diapering can be, I know it’s the right thing to do.  And I won’t lie…saving all that money is AWESOME!!”

When I asked Erin what hesitations she had before starting to use cloth she responded, “The poop.  How the heck do you handle a diaper full of poop?  I had no idea how I was going to get it from the diaper to the toilet.  When we were nursing, there were some lovely diapers we had to wash out by hand.  But now, most everything literally just “falls off” into the toilet.  And now we’re using these thin little flushable liners, which make clean-up a breeze.  In fact, because we flush the solids, use zippered wet bags, and wash every 1-2 days, we have NEVER had an issue with odors.”

Erin estimates that they’ve spent approximately$225 on Oliver’s stash of diapers, and spends around $15 per month on diaper-friendly cream, disposable wipes, flushable liners, and cloth-friendly detergent.  Her favorite diapers include Fuzzibunz, or Flip covers with a variety of inserts and a fleece liner for daytime, and BumGenius pockets stuffed with both inserts for nighttime. Her favorite diapering accessories are her wet-bags, “I love wet bags.  The zippers completely contain odors.  In fact, I keep our wet bag right inside Oliver’s closet.  There’s never an odor and that way I don’t have to have the bag hanging out in his room.  They hold up great in the wash, too!”

Erin says the hardest thing about cloth diapering (which she went on to clarify that it’s not really a “problem”) is the fact that most clothes aren’t made with fluffy-bums in mind, and therefore, Oliver’s clothing can be a little on the snug side.  She loves it when someone notices Oliver isn’t wearing a disposable diaper and asks what it is, ” I feel like a cloth diapering spokesperson, and have my schpeel down pat!”

Of course, like any cd’ing parents, Erin & Aaron have  had some funny diapering moments…”When Oliver was still breastfeeding, and we were transitioning to cloth diapers full-time, I was concerned that they couldn’t ‘hold everything’.  One afternoon, I thought that Oliver might have gone poop – so I decided just to peek into his diaper, right at the hip.  It was like I had poked a hole in Hoover Dam!  I immediately pulled my finger out and it was like the hole had been plugged.  These things really hold it in!!”.

Thank you, Erin, for being our first ‘REAL MOM’ 🙂

 

**If you’d like to be interviewed for a REAL MOM feature, please e-mail me at JocelynC@DiaperParties.com for more info **