The Great Diaper Debate: Cloth Vs. Disposable

So, I know that things have turned into “All Things Baby” here on the dailycynema, but that’s primarily because the impending birth of this baby girl feels more real with each kick and hiccup in my growing belly. I should probably also prepare you for the fact that it will quickly transition into “All Things Fitness” come late spring because while some women only gain 25-35 lbs. during their pregnancies….I am not one of them. Ha! I wish. I think my body hoards every single calorie that it gets during these 9.5 months because I’m such a careful eater during non-pregnancy. But let’s not talk about that just yet because I shudder to think how painful working out will be after taking so much time off of serious workouts.

Step One: Learning About Cloth Diapers

Anyway, back to diapers. When I was pregnant with Parker, we went the traditional route on most everything and that included using disposable diapers. I was sufficiently freaked out by becoming a parent that I didn’t really give a lot of thought to the various options out there. Plus, I didn’t know anyone who had cloth diapered, so my exposure to it was very limited. The one thing I do remember is the massive amounts of diapers (and money) that we went through over the course of having a kiddo in diapers for 3 years. This time around, I decided to at least explore the other options out there.

I have to admit, when I first started reading about cloth diapers, I felt overwhelmed by the information out there. There were terms like prefolds, fitteds, AIOs, soakers, etc… that meant absolutely nothing to me. I literally spent weeks just getting up to speed on the different types of diapers out there and reading up on the best ones (at sites like this one). You know what I realized? There are a lot of freakin’ options available in the cloth diaper world!

Step Two: Seriously Considering Cloth Diapering as an Option

After I started to get comfortable with the terminology and different ways that someone can cloth diaper, I started to seriously consider it as an option. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to go through a box of diapers a week? It would mean saving money and creating less waste in the landfill (which the bleeding heart in me was happy about). Sure, it would mean a lot more laundry, but we have a washing machine and I’m comfortable with line drying the clothes outside to save energy on drying.

One hurdle that I was trying to get around is that the average cost of a cloth diaper can be pretty pricey. For the AIO (all-in-one diapers that are most like disposables in that they are a single piece that you use and launder), they could range anywhere from $12-24 for a single diaper. That seemed like a pretty steep start up cost considering that newborns go through 10-12 diapers a day for the first month or so and we’d want enough diapers for at least 2 days.

FuzziBunz AIO

So, I had a thought. What if I got just a handful of AIO diapers for when we go out or have a family member watching the baby, but used fitteds and covers for around the house? Fitted diapers look like disposable diapers, but you have to put a waterproof cover over them to protect against spills. Then I took this line of reasoning one step further. What if I made those fitted diapers myself with old material that we had laying around the house (Parker’s old receiving blankets and old washclothes and towels), then they would essentially be free. There was only one problem: I had never sewed a stitch in my life. Does this sound completely insane to you? It does? Oh good. That means it’s completely in line with my usual decision making.

Step Three: Taking the Plunge

Not to be deterred by my lack of sewing experience, I took the first step in asking my parents to buy me a sewing machine for Christmas. I’m sure my mom was amused by this request, but since she always humors me when I enter this type of ridiculousness, a brand new Brothers sewing machine arrived on my doorstep two weeks later.

I found a lot of helpful information on the Internet and I relied on this website to get me started. I made the first handful of diapers (using a trial and error process) using the old materials listed above and once I was comfortable with the general idea behind making my own fitteds, I ventured out to a fabric store and took advantage of their fleece sale to stock up on some inexpensive, cute fleece (about $2 a yard, which makes 2 fitted diapers). I also bought microfiber towels from the auto parts section of Walmart ($5 for 10 towels) because I read that they hold 8 times their weight in liquid and make great soakers for the inside of the diaper.

Thirsties Duo Diaper Cover

Since fitted diapers need a cover to keep in the wetness, I took advantage of a couple of online sales and bought a couple of covers to make sure that the fitteds I was making were the right size to fit inside.

Step Four: The Reality

While I have mentally committed to cloth diapering and have made 8 diapers thus far, naturally, I have no idea what I’m really in for. I’ve read up on the proper method to wash cloth diapers, I’m going to buy some drying racks that attach to our deck to assist with the drying and I’ve learned all about the dos and don’ts of which diaper rash creams to use.

With that said, I am woefully ignorant about how this is going to go. I’m definitely maintaining an open mind though. If I find that cloth diapering during long day trips is a pain, I’m comfortable using disposable diapers while we’re out and about and using cloth at home. The way that I see it, each time I use a cloth diaper instead of a disposable, I’m saving money and that’s one less diaper going in the trash.

So wish me luck and stay tuned for my (mis)adverntures as we try our hand at being “natural” parents!


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