The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

a cloth diaper story…

We cloth diaper.  We love it and have had a wonderful experience.  We decided to cloth diaper after reading some horrifying statistics about disposable diapers.  Here are just a few:

  • Disposable diapers contain chemicals such as dioxin, a carcinogen that may affect your baby’s health.
  • Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste.  In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.
  • Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.
  • No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.

(Disgusting, right?  That’s just a few of the reasons.  Facts courtesy of the RealDiaperAssociation.org.  This is a great site for a disposable diaper reality check.)

We made the decision to cloth diaper well before Schy was born.  One of the easiest decisions we made on the path to becoming parents.  The potential health risks to our baby and negative environmental impact were enough for us.  It’s also much more cost-effective than buying disposables from birth until potty training.  I think that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 to $800 for cloth compared to $2400 -$2600 for disposable. And if you use them for a second child?  You do the math.  Huge savings.  Of course, with cloth it is an upfront expense which can seem like a huge burden on top of all of the other items you are trying to buy in order to prepare yourself for baby.

Cloth diapering can seem like a daunting endeavor.  I can’t say that there weren’t times in the first month of Schy’s little life that we just didn’t feel like scrubbing her tiny diapers every day.  But we did.  And it simply became part of the routine.  It takes very little time each day and is now much easier since she is eating solids and not EBF.  So, let me tell you about the basics, in my experience anyway.

Infant diapers are pretty much essential for the first few months.  We used the BumGenius infant diapers and loved them.  I would say that I highly recommend them.  If you keep an eye on BumGenius items, they often do a buy 5 get the 6th free sale.  Every little bit helps!  A lot of diapers claim that they fit 8lbs and up.  In my experience, there was NO WAY that Schy would’ve worn those enormous diapers at 8lbs!  They would have been gigantic and they definitely would’ve leaked around her skinny little legs.  I know it might seem hard to buy tiny diapers to use for such a short time.  Use your judgement, but in my opinion, the infant diapers are essential.

Now, the overwhelming task of choosing the right diaper. I have no idea how people know what the right diaper is until they physically have a test subject in front of them.  There are pocket diapers, prefolds and all-in-ones, one size, etc.  I researched and read reviews and compared prices and finally came to the conclusion that we were going to try the BumGenius 4.0 one size diapers.  These seemed to consistently have the best reviews across a number of different sites, and we were really happy with the quality of infant diapers, so we went for it.  I bought 10 to start.  Yeah.  10 isn’t really going to cut it.  I had no idea what I was doing then!

bumGenius One-Size Snap Closure Cloth Diaper 4.0bumGenius Elemental Organic Cloth Diaper

I was intrigued by the BG Elemental all in one (AIO).  These are organic and a little more expensive, so I only sprung for 6 of these and about 6 more BG 4.0 shells.  In the beginning we really hated the Elementals.  They are pretty difficult to rinse thoroughly of breastfed poopie.  We don’t have a diaper sprayer, which probably would’ve helped.  I was disappointed since I’d spent the most on those and we were unhappy with them.  NOW, however, we love them!  Schy is eating solid food which makes clean up much easier and the AIO is much easier to wrap around a speedy baby as she running off than a two piece diaper.  If I could afford more of these right now, I’d buy many.  The BG 4.0’s have been great.  We’ve been using them since Schy outgrew the infant diapers, so say about 9 months.  They’ve held up well, with the exception of one snap that has pulled through.  It’s still usable, just harder to snap that one.

That brings me to the next dilemma: hook & loop (velcro) or snaps.  After reading the reviews, I decided on snaps.  The consensus was that these are much more difficult for little ones to pull off when they reach that ‘diaper pulling off’ stage!  The snaps also hold up better in the wash.  I witnessed this first hand with the infant diapers.  The velcro tabs did start to catch lint and curl a bit toward the end of the three months of use, no matter if we made a diaper chain or latched them to themselves.  Velcro may give a slightly better fit for those in between sizes, but you may also have to replace the tabs after so many months of use.  Who has time for that??  My verdict: snaps.  Hands down.

I did order 6 flip covers also once we realized that the Elementals weren’t going to work out, at least for a while.  The Flips are fine, but not nearly as good as the BG’s.  (I think Flips may be made by BG.)  They aren’t lined like the BG’s are and the liners tend to slide down and bunch up in the shell.  Looks uncomfortable, so I assume it probably is.  But they were much cheaper and they work just fine.

I’m sure that there are other great diapers out there, but the BG’s are what work for us.  I have learned some tips and tricks along the way, but I’ll save those for another day!  I am constantly preaching the superiority of the cloth and if I am able to change just one person’s mind from using disposables, I will be happy.  If all cloth diapering families did the same, we would be taking a huge step in the right direction!  Our landfills are big enough.

What are your favorite cloth diapers?  And what made you decide to CD in the first place?  I am happy to answer any questions that you may have, also!

Schy rockin’ her BG’s on a hot summer day.

(I am in no way affiliated with BumGenius.  I am simply a lover of their product and have not been compensated in any way for promoting their products.)

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