There is a cloth diaper carnival going on this week, hosted at Natural Parents Network. It’s basically a conglomeration of bloggers who just can’t get enough of cloth diapering. I’ll admit, it is pretty addictive. I didn’t start cloth diapering my first son until he was about 3 months old, and I hadn’t planned to cloth diaper my second son until he was out of the super-fresh newborn stage. I didn’t have small enough diapers, or so I thought.
#1: Disposables don’t contain the mess
It turns out that I got so fed up with him peeing out the top of the diaper (moms of boys, you know what I mean: they magically pee everywhere but in their diaper if you don’t point things the right way). So I pulled out my stash, and at about one week old, the cloth diapering began.
#2: Cloth diapers fit better
Maybe because my son wasn’t super small—he was born weighing 8 lbs, 10 oz—what I already had fit him. I bought a new stack of prefolds and used the Thirsties diaper covers I already had. Prefolds are so absorbent and covers have such snug elastic that I never dealt with a leak again.
But now, coordinating cloth diapering between two kids was getting complicated. My oldest does not use cloth at daycare, so I only cloth diaper him part time. So planning to have all of his diapers clean and available on the days he’s home is important. And I liked planning to wash his with the baby’s diapers to make a full load.
But my older son gets horrible diaper rash, so half the time I wasn’t using cloth anyway, because it seemed to exacerbate the rash. I tried a variety of detergents and even tried no detergent at all. A few months ago, I was ready to give up cloth for my older son altogether.
#3 It gives you time to do things other than wash diapers
And then I started using the diaper service. It has taken away an element of stress from my life. Is washing diapers all that stressful? No. But I would undoubtedly forget and have to scrounge while they were going through their 3 or 4 wash/rinse cycles. I couldn’t wash and dry diapers overnight because the cat sleeps in the laundry room, and having the machines on freaks her out. Not that I really care—she’s a very mean cat, so I have no sympathy—but she howls.
Then there were the two dryer cycles, or the one dryer cycle and then lay the diapers out in the sun. Which inevitably meant I would be collecting diapers from all over my yard by the end of the day. Then putting them all away: stuffing pockets, folding prefolds, and stacking the lumpy diapers up where they went. Which I usually didn’t do until a day later.
I was constantly washing diapers.
Using the diaper service has made me feel so free. Really. It’s a little thing off my plate, but it’s one less thing to hover in my brain. I pick up a neatly stacked pile of diapers, come home, and put them away. That’s it. No more laundry baskets sitting around or washer/dryer being occupied for days. At least not with diaper laundry.
#4 It saves money
Even though my water bill was up at least $20 from all my washing and I was spending $30 a pop on special detergent, my son was still getting major diaper rash. The diaper service was my last chance at cloth with him, and he hasn’t gotten diaper rash since I started. After spending last month boiling extra water to throw in the wash cycle, stripping my diapers, sunning my diapers, and running rinse cycle after rinse cycle because I was convinced I could still feel detergent residue, it is so nice to be able to put a diaper on my son and not have to worry that his skin will get red, raw, and blistering.
I don’t know if it’s because the laundry service uses industrial machines to get every last bit of detergent out of the diapers or if it’s because prefolds are so absorbent that the moisture isn’t sitting next to his skin as long, but the diaper rash is gone. Another worry that can stop squatting in my brain.
Also, because I was so worried about the diaper rash, I kept trying to buy new types of diapers to combat the problem. I was using prefolds and covers with my infant and pocket diapers and all-in-ones with my toddler. You can’t reuse a pocket or all-in-one when you change it, so that was making a lot of diaper laundry, and I would stress if I didn’t get the wash timed right and ran out of diapers for the next day.
Using the diaper service, I literally only use 2 covers for my toddler (who I only cloth diaper 3 days a week because of daycare) and about 4 for my infant. You don’t have to change a cover unless it got pooped on. I tend to just use one cover all day (or alternate with 2 if one gets too wet) and then throw it in the wash. Then I wash the covers with my regular laundry and hang them up to dry.
I’m still addicted and want to try different kinds of covers now, but I can restrain myself. I can also use wool soakers that I make myself, which saves a ton of money.
Yes, there’s the cost of the diaper service. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s super cheap. You don’t have to pay for water, special detergents, or extra diapers. And you have plenty of diapers, so you don’t have to scrounge and use disposables on the days you forget to do laundry. Not having to buy disposables saves a lot of money too.
#5 You don’t have to deal with the mess
Cloth diapering isn’t bad for a breastfed baby, but once they start eating solids and their poop resembles yours, it’s an entirely different matter. I didn’t want to invest in a diaper sprayer, so I had sacrificed a pancake-flipping spatula to the cause. That’s right, I would scrape my kid’s poop off the diapers with a spatula. Inevitably, it would get all over me.
When you use a diaper service, you don’t have to deal with the poop. Take the diaper off, throw it in the bag/bin, and wipe your kid’s butt. That’s it. Liz, I’m so sorry you and your mom have to deal with my kids’ poop, but it’s really nice to take a break from pancake-flipping poop. So thanks.