Friday, December 14, 2012

The Downside

So, you find an overwhelming amount of stuff when you google "cloth diapers" and everything seems pretty convincing, but once you're enrolled, it turns out to be "not as expected", here are a good things you're going to have to do if you go the cloth diaper route:

1) Laundry.

         Let's just put it like  it is: cloth diapers need washing.....a lot. I can easily say that the washing machine does the work for me and I wouldn't be lying. I'm still amazed at just throwing Tiny Guy's dirty diapers in the wash without doing anything to them...and they come out clean. But then, why is it a hassle?

         Cloth diapers are picky in that regard. You can't wash them with the rest of your stuff, they need "special" treatment. First, the detergent can't have anything. Cloth diaper advocates will urge you to buy a specific brand, but I've managed to do it with a simple "free and clear" detergent. It's quite simple: no oils, no fragrances  no soap. Second, it has to be the right amount, too little won't clean, too much will stay and cause repelling. Third, they need pre-washing (which is not a problem) and extra rinsing, they need to be free of the "free and clear" detergent. Lastly, and the biggest hassle of all: they can't stay dirty. That means, you can't just play lazy and decide to not wash diapers for a few days. Urine is not gonna be merciful with them. Once they get dirty, you have no choice but to wash them in no longer than 3 days.

2) Leaks.

           OK, I was complaining about brown clothes in the back in my previous posting. How then, am I still doing so with cloth diapers? Well, I haven't had a single leak on the back, which, by itself, puts cloth diapers way up high and makes it worth having them. But they are no leak free. I've only had 4 leaks due to explosions, all of them through the legs, all of them with the same brand of diapers and all of them pretty easy to clean up. But I've had considerably more pee ones. And that one I give to disposables, with which I never had one.

             As said before, cloth diapers are picky, and they like repelling moisture, being loose, getting full and being squeezed. all of which ends up in wet clothes. Babies are different, water is different, detergents are different and fabrics are different, plus we don't have our moms to help us sort those things out. There's no idiot proof way of getting rid of leaks, you need to troubleshoot according to all these factors and determine why leaks occur. It is no fun to get your brand new set of diapers only to realize that your baby is wet because you didn't know how to deal with some of the stuff that came with them.


          Diapers are pricey. No way around. They will most likely end up being big savings in the long run, but in the short one, it's hard to start if you're short of cash. Posts are around there saying that you can use old T-shirts, towels, wool sweaters from the thrift store, etc. But even if you do that, you still need something to fasten them up, some waterproof cover, a place to leave them and do laundry. Even the most basic and economic way will imply an investment.

           In my case, diapers are diapers, towels are towels, and shirts are shirts. If I start using towels as pre-folds or inserts and T-shirts as fitteds, everything will be extremely confusing and sorting out clothes will be a problem.

           Want an advice? don't get married. Shop around, find sales, used, etc. It's always good to have pre-folds and plain white covers ready for any emergency ($2.50 per pre-fold, $5 per cover), but if you like the fancy stuff, try different brands. If you get an amazing deal with one and it turns out it didn't fit right, you're stuck. If a brand doesn't meet your expectations, you can always save those diapers for later use or re-sell them. they're pretty good at keeping their value.

4)The big P

             First question everybody asks when you tell them you have cloth diapers is: "what do you do with the poop?" You deal with it, but sometimes it's a pain in the rear end.

              Tiny Guy is exclusively breastfed and less than 3 months old. What do I do? I dump the dirty diapers in the diaper bag. That simple. The washing machine takes care of that. My mom's face turned pink, blue, white, red and purple when she realized I was dumping poop in my brand new washer. Put it that way: you throw every other body fluid there,  that's what it does, it takes the body fluid and dumps it in the drain and gives you back your clothes all clean. Baby stools are just another body fluid, they're liquid, they dissolve.

            Now, when it comes to babies eating solids, things change. Washing machines can't handle solids, nor you want them floating around the rest of your clothes. So, what do you do? You dump it in the toilet.....and then dump the dirty diaper in the bag, etc. It's that step that can get tricky, specially with sticky stuff. You can use biodegradable liners that will ease the process and catch all - or most - the stools, but they are expensive also, and if you happen to have a toddler, the odds of your liner being lost somewhere in the bedroom are quite high. You can also use a water sprayer, for very easy 45 bucks, you can scrubb them down with a brush....or you can manage to use your shower hose and get them to fall in a bucket, which will be dumped in the toilet. The worst of my toddler has taken me about 2 minutes to get all the solids off. Don't worry about stains or little lines, washing machine will take care of that.


Is it worth doing it? it depends, if you like your baby looking cute, using cloths in his butt like a decent human being, and you absolutely hate the smells and dealing with garbage like me, it certainly is. But it's not for everybody, so if you choose to use disposables, don't let anyone intimidate you or guilt you out of it.

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