Before our babies were born, I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. I loved the absence of chemicals and the positive environmental impact. I thought the cost savings would be helpful for the family budget. And the cute colors and patterns made me smile.
Photo compliments of Melissa Marciszko Photography.
I was worried about talking my husband into it, but convincing him to get on board was actually incredibly easy. My husband is an accountant, so he put the numbers in an Excel spreadsheet (because every decision we make is via Excel analysis) including not only the cost of diapers, but also detergent, energy and water. He couldn’t deny the savings. Over $3,000 assuming they were potty trained by age two. (They’re definitely not. Sweet, optimistic, childless fools we were.)
As soon as the babies got home from the hospital, we dove right in. Over the last two years, I’ve learned a lot about cloth diapers. As we shift into potty training mode at our house, I wanted to stop for a moment and share some of the wisdom I’ve gained in the last two years of cloth diapering triplets.
1) It’s not that hard. I get a lot of people that say things like, “I could never cloth diaper one, let alone three.” Or “How do you have the time to cloth diaper?” Quite frankly, it’s not bad. Once you get into the swing, it just becomes part of your daily routine. I’ve figured out that it adds about 25 minutes to my daily chores. That includes laundry, spraying off dirty diapers in the toilet, and sorting and putting the diapers away. The savings is definitely worth the extra time.
2) It’s not totally easy. I’m not going to lie to you. There is a learning curve. It’s not that steep, but it’s covered in poop and pee, so that makes it a little annoying. I’d say it took us about two weeks of leaks and frustration to figure it out.
Here’s a picture of my five-pound baby in her very first cloth diaper. You better believe that sucker leaked like crazy. She might as well have worn nothing at all. First of all, I had the elastic around the legs set too tight and it was pulling down the front of the diaper. I also had extra cotton sticking out everywhere wicking up the urine. In desperation, I went to our local cloth diaper store and got them to show me everything I was doing wrong. This brings me to my next point.
3) Find an ally. I didn’t have any friends in Colorado who were cloth diapering, so I leaned really heavily on the owner of the local cloth diaper store, Baby Cotton Bottoms. In my experience, people who love cloth diapers love to help other moms get on the path. Find someone who loves cloth diapers and don’t be shy about asking for help. With just a few simple tips, we were well on our way to figuring out what we were doing.
4) Take a class if you can. We were so lucky to have Baby Cotton Bottoms in Colorado Springs. They offered a Cloth Diapers 101 class that made all the difference in the world. If you haven’t cloth diapered before, and you start doing research, there are so many types of diapers it can make your head spin.
Learning about cloth diapering in a setting where I could ask questions was incredibly helpful. (I also found it sweet that my husband took notes and asked more questions than anyone else.) We were able to find diapers with reusable shells that fit babies 4 lbs to 40 lbs and have lived through the abuse of two years of triplets. I would not have known what to get without this class. They also taught us how to wash diapers, remove stains, and increase longevity.
5) Quality products are important. When you’re trying to save money, it’s tempting to go find the cheapest diapers possible and attempt to make them work. I’ve known several moms that have fallen victim to this trap. They all got frustrated with the leaks and decided to quit. Instead of saving money, they got stuck with cheap cloth diapers they couldn’t resell and still paid for disposables.
If you were trying to minimize cost, I would recommend getting a lesser number of quality cloth diapers and doing laundry a little more often. Also, don’t get caught up in collecting. (Yes, this is a thing.) Limited edition patterns and completing collections can become costly. As cute as cloth diapers may be, collecting more than you need and paying premiums for special patterns is not a recipe for affordability. (We use Soft Bums Echo during the day and Fuzzibunz one size diapers at night.)
6) Increase the longevity of your diapers. With three in diapers at the same time, we needed those diapers to take a beating and hold up well. We learned a few simple tricks to help them last a little bit longer.
There are two basic types of closures. Snaps are the first kind and hook and loop (think Velcro) are the second. The hook and loop are a little easier, but they wear out much more quickly. We had one of this type because I wanted a cute pattern (see above note about not collecting), and it didn’t last a full year. As an added bonus, the kids still can’t take off the snapped diapers very easily. They whip off disposables like little Houdinis.
Another way to extend the life of the diapers is to hang the shells to dry so the elastic doesn’t wear out. We use these little Octopus hangers from Ikea. They’re cheap, cute, and save a lot of space.
To keep the diapers looking fresh, you can put them out in the sun when they start to stain. This amazing little trick is the best stain remover I’ve ever seen.
7) Use a diaper sprayer! A diaper sprayer is a handy little nozzle that attaches to the side of your toilet. Whenever a baby poops, you rinse the poop into the toilet. That way you’re not putting it directly in your washing machine or getting it all over the sink or bath tub. This is a must for any cloth-diapering family.
8) Develop a system. Every night before we go to bed, we put the diaper laundry in the washing machine. In the morning, we hang the shells and dry the inserts. Mid-day, I put the clean diapers back in the drawer. Repeat. A system is so important for keeping your family organized, so you don’t find yourself scrambling for a diaper at an inconvenient time.
9) Do what works for your family. If we are out for more than a few hours, the kids wear disposable diapers. This may upset some cloth diaper purists, but it’s what works for our family. In a short outing, 2-3 diapers may be dirtied and I can handle that. But if we do an all day outing, I could end up with 15 dirty diapers in my diaper bag with 4-5 of them being filled with the brown stuff. I’m sorry, but no. Just no. I’m not going to carry that filth around with me all day. Maybe with one child I would do it.
10) Find your why. There will be moments when you will wonder what in the heck you were thinking after you start cloth diapering. Try to remind yourself of your babies’ skin, the money you’re saving, or the landfills you’re not contributing to building. Or think of the small bonuses. For instance, I never worry about running out of diapers. I’ve never experienced a blowout. And the kids look absolutely adorable in cloth diapers.
Photo compliments of Melissa Marciszko Photography.
While I am anxious to get on to the next adventure (we just started Montessori Toilet Learning), knowing that we are almost done with diapers is bitter sweet. They’re growing up, and I’m excited for them. But I will miss them little.
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Five Things I Want My Friends with One Baby to Know: A message from a mom of triplets to all of the other amazing moms.
Momming Your Way: Tactfully Responding to Unsolicited Advice: How to handle the unwanted comments about your parenting without being rude.
Hello there! I’m Krysta. If you’re new to The Thoughtful Mom, welcome! And thank you for stopping by.
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