Diapers-- the good, the bad, the stinky

When Blythe was just a little peanut wiggling in my belly, I opened up a package of newborn diapers. They looked so very tiny. I didn't know she wouldn't even fit, snuggly, into those diapers for several weeks after her delivery. At six pounds five ounces I still folded the tops down for her, even after the unsightly belly button fell off.

I loved the smell of the diapers though, filling my still baby-free nursery with a plastic-y, powder-y scent everyone associates with babies. I stacked them neatly in a basket on her changing table, the entire package 
 fit perfectly.

At the hospital, right after she was born, she was clad in Pampers Swaddlers. These specialty diapers had a yellow line that ran vertically across the diaper, but would "magically" turn blue to indicate she needed a diaper change. Newborns don't really get soggy, so these diapers were quite handy, especially in our sleep deprived first days. I had received some Huggies that had the same "technology" [is it technology when it's on a diaper?], so we used those up as well.

Due to gifts, I only had to buy one package of newborn diapers, and so I tried Luvs. Thus began my Luv affair. Get it? They seemed longer and more narrow, which fit my baby girl's long and narrow-ness quite well. We had several packages of size one diapers gifted to us, and I had also bought some HUGE boxes of Pampers when they were on sale. I liked the Pampers, but unfortunately Blythe's little bottom did not. So I exchanged them out for Luvs and we have lived happily ever after.

I use Luvs unless someone gives me leftovers of something else. This has worked well.

But back to Blythe as a peanut inside me. I knew of several friends from college who had gone the cloth diaper route. This peeked my interest, not because I'm a "green" person [please don't chastise me for this...I still use styrofoam and we don't eat Organic and we don't plant trees...though I think my dad has planted enough for our entire town], but rather because I thought it would save our soon to be one-income- family a little cash-o-la. So I contacted one of my friends. I picked her brain. I asked her what the best "system" was in her opinion [yes, they have systems now! And all the mothers from my mom's generation and before cry out in jealousy!]
Then I showed my findings to Brent- my husband who always knows me a little too well. His response? [I'll paraphrase]:

"Kels, I think if you really wanted to do the cloth diaper thing you could figure out a way. And I would do it if you wanted to. BUT...since none of your friends close to us have used them, and since they've changed a lot since our parents, I don't know that you'd like being the lone ranger in this. And would it really save us that much money?"

So I started crunching numbers. It would cost about $1000 up front for a cloth diaper system. I asked around, and figured I could diaper Blythe for about $40 a month in disposables. This would mean, if I potty trained her around age two, I'd be at about the same place I would have been with cloth diapers...and I would have had to have done a whole lot less laundry.

For the first 9 months, Blythe was unfortunately constipated. I was always super excited when I got to change a poopy diaper. Then she became more consistent, and the blow outs ensued. I was happier than ever that I was able to just ball up the mess in a diaper and throw it in the garbage. I no longer need a line to tell me she is wet-- I can tell when it's been too long when her waggling little crawling bottom is drooping!
I spend about $30 a month on diapers. I know this will go up a little bit when she needs a little bit bigger diapers, but I can almost always find a coupon or two to use. To me, this is so very, very worth the ease and convenience. 

I want to know your story though. Did you use cloth diapers? If you CHOSE to do this, why did you choose this path? [And if you are a tree-planter than that is okay! :)] If you didn't really have the choice, would you have chose disposables if you could have?  If you use disposables, which brands do you like and why did you go this route?


Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

I don't have kids but I find all of this stuff totally interesting. Probably because I want a baby sooner then later. I think I would love to try the cloth diaper option when that time comes though!!

julia said...

For Henry, I was interested in cloth diapers...but like you, I was overwhelmed by the options and didn't know how to navigate it all. After seeing moms I know cloth diaper, I decided to give it a go for Evelyn. I know that I have not spent more than $300 for all the diapers I own--and I have cloth diapered for a good 16 months! We mostly use Bumgenius and Charlie Banana (one size). I think it is worth it from a cost stand-point...but I'll be honest: in my household, I am 100% responsible for the washing of cloth diapers. :)

*carrie* said...

I do like to be green.

However, we decided against cloth diapers. Eric did not want to go that route. Come to think of it, he only changes about one diaper a week, so it probably wouldn't have mattered too much! =)

I prefer Pampers for the first couple months, and then I am loyal to Huggies Snug and Dry. I actually despise Luvs (no offense), and I am not fond of store brands, either. Kind of funny I'm a snob about it, since I like to be thrifty as much as possible.

Larissa said...

We chose cloth mainly for financial reasons, but also because it freaks me out that each child results in an actual ton of plastic-y waste that we don't think will decompose even after 500 years...AND that all the waste left in them is not properly disposed and can get into public water. I don't really consider myself a "greenie", but that knowledge just grosses me out. :s Financially, we went as cheap as we possibly could, with the fewest pre-folds and covers possible, fleece linings I cut myself and wipes made from old t-shirts. I would say we originally spent $300, and maybe have come up to $400 after 2 years with cloth friendly detergent, and some replacement covers (If you are going to do cloth, get snaps! Not velcro!). And I plan on using them for future children as well, which adds to the savings.

The cons - a LOT of laundry has been done. I'll admit, disposables are much easier and it has been nice to use them on trips. Zac never fully got on the cloth boat and I have been the primary one washing and even changing (he thinks they are too difficult...excuses, excuses :). And sometimes the nasty diapers can be pretty disgusting to clean.

As far as disposables go, I love pampers swaddlers! When life gets overwhelming or emergencies occur (like when I ended up in the hospital) we take a break from cloth for a few days until we are back on our feet again. :)

kelseylynae said...

@Julia-- Sounds like you did save going the cloth route! When I did my initial figuring I was adding in expenses like the wet bags and liners and other "gear" that has to come with it, but I'm sure I could find some deals on those if I really wanted to. Did you use special detergent? Probably a good thing you went this route, as you have probably spent a dime or two on shampoo for your kids ;)… since Blythe is still BALD I'm saving there :) Hope you guys are well! Wish we lived closer and could have a playdate!

@Larissa-- I so appreciated your input when I asked you last year about all of this. I feel like your an EXPERT and really figured out the thrifty way to do all of this! I guess what I didn't figure is once you get a good system, you can reuse that for future children, which I'm sure is where you really save! And I just recently heard that figure about how long diapers take to decompose…I think that is subconsciously what prompted this post! I like how you also shared that disposables are always an option even if you are using cloth diapers, which is nice. I'm just afraid I would invest in the cloth diapers, and then slowly but surely gravitate towards the disposables and end up waisting the money I put into the cloth in the first place! But maybe if I made the investment…hmmm…now you got me thinking again! Thanks for sharing. Hope the big girl bed is going well with your beautiful Zoe!

momiss said...

I, too, was struck with the clothe diaper fantasy with my first. In 1990 there was this way-cool "new" kind of clothe diaper that was marketed as being "green". All I knew about "green" at that time was to send $20 to Greenpeace once a year. These were called "Rainbow Diapers" and involved a covering with extra thick clothe diaper shaped things. MUCH less soft and useful than old diapers, were these, and hard to get dry.
As it turned out, my child got a diaper rash from as much as a drop of pee, which seemed to happen all the time, causing me to change his diapers 5 times more often than if I put a disposable on him. I don't know if all babies react like that, or even pee a little at a time like that, or even if maybe only my son did that. What I do know is that disposable diapers were the way to go for me.
I am almost embarrassed to add this also, but in the interest of full disclosure, it could save lives as well as outfits: Should you find yourself trapped in a van with 2 babies that are too heavy to carry inside a dirty bathroom by yourself, especially if it's at night and you have older kids you would have to leave in the car or wake up and take them in too, a disposable diaper can also be used for older people's emergencies also. Those things can hold a LOT of pee!! And no one will ever know! Except maybe another mother, who would NEVER hold it against you! lol They are a modern day miracle in my book

Brent said...

I take back my comment last night and how I didn’t care to read about diapers…and I made time to read about diapers, because I like you. And it was no surprise that I liked your post.

Also, technology? No. More like a fancy marketing gimmick to make you buy their brand...which is brilliant! Who doesn't want to change the color of things when you wet on it? Well, maybe I should at least say, What guy doesn't want to change....?

Good post. Also, I think I mentioned that we were getting gobs of disposables from baby showers, which got us down the road a while at no cost...plus I mentioned that when you make that decision, you also make that decision for everyone around you (grandparents/ anyone who watches baby). That was something else we talked about. Plus for us, Blythe practically lived on the road for the first 10 months of her live, I would have guessed we would have been cheating and using disposables at ball games (which were 2-3 times a week August-Feb) and trips to visit family (most likely). It just didn't seem like it was going to work for us.

Just trying to keep the comments going...

Ashlea said...

We use cloth diapers - going on 3 months now. We spent $276.00 on the entire system. I do have to wash them every other day or every third day depending on how many he goes through. We also use a special detergent which is $20 a bag and I just finished the first one (though I do use it on his clothes as well). I love them! They can definitely be gross at times to clean up, but we have used disposables when we travel or are in a crunch and I cannot stand them! He ALWAYS has blowouts in them and they never last long at all. Once I figured out the system, he has NEVER had a blow out in the cloth (knock-on-wood).

Hannah said...

Oh diapers... I had thought about using cloth diapers while I was pregnant and my sisters even had a few kinds they would have let me try out (I'm sure they still would if I asked). I think cloth diapers are great and I do feel bad for adding a lot of poopy diapers to land fills not knowing how long it will take them to decompose, if ever, but apparently not bad enough to use cloth diapers. I know I would have to do a lot more laundry and I can hardly keep up as it is right now.

I really like Pampers Swaddlers. They are my favorite by far. I like how they smell like a fresh clean baby (before the baby fills them with not so pretty smells). The also hold potty and big messes the best. I tried Huggies and they did not hold up nearly as well for me (and more than half the tabs were broken!). And some of the store brands did not work as well for us either (which is a shame because I'm cheap, but I just didn't care for the quality and I think that's pretty important considering what they have to hold). For now we're sticking with the Swaddlers. They just work so well for us (plus we got tons of them as gifts!) and are very convenient.

Is that awful?