Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baby Duck: She's a Bum Genius Already!

So...  we've been talking about cloth diapering for a while now.  I know, I know.  Isn't there something about this being the twenty-first century?  And also--gross!

But there are two major factors influencing this decision.  The environmentalist in me shudders at the thought of the dumpsters full of non-biodegradable diapers that Baby Duck would go through before she's potty-trained.  And the adjunct English professor teaching for pennies shudders at the dollars that would be spent to fill those dumpsters with dirty disposable diapers.  (The adjunct English professor also notes the alliteration in the preceding sentence.)

So I started googling, of course.  I needed to know that cloth diapers were do-able even for people who weren't hippies.  I needed to know that I wouldn't become enslaved to my washing machine.  I needed to know they wouldn't stink up our house.  And I had to think about the real life gross-out factor.  I mean, do real people do this?  People like me?  People I would be friends with?  The kind of people who get pedicures and wear leather boots and drink cheap wine and get a guilty pleasure out of reading celebrity magazines?

I am not sure about those specific qualities, but it turns out that a lot of perfectly normal, not-too-crunchy people are definitely cloth diapering their babies.

So I pored over Amalah's posts on about Bum Genius 3.0 and Funzi Bunz.  I carefully read Jill's posts at Baby Rabies about cloth diapering her baby/toddler (also this one).  As Jill puts it, she cloth diapers her baby but she doesn't wear Birkenstocks.  This is the kind of information I need!  And I visited our local Cotton Babies store and got the tour of all of the different cloth diapering options.

Some real-life friends of ours had a baby in February and are cloth diapering her with much success.  They do a traditional tri-fold cloth diaper with a snappi fastener and a cover.  So when we toured Cotton Babies, I sort of assumed that is what we would end up with.  They're the most economical and the covers are pretty freaking cute.

But after doing the "diaper tour," David was totally sold on the Bum Genius 4.0, and I was leaning pretty heavily in that direction as well.  We liked the snaps over the velcro based on reviews I'd read online. 

These are "all in one" cloth diapers, meaning you can assemble them ahead of time and then throw them on the baby as needed and they go on and fasten pretty much like a disposable diaper, just with snaps instead of velcro or sticky tabs.  The cover has a pocket for a thick insert and there are smaller inserts that can be added for overnights or, I don't know, super-pooper babies?

The other thing about the 4.0 is that they are designed with all of these additional little snaps on them so that you can adjust the size as your baby grows from infant to toddler--meaning you don't have to buy new diapers when your baby gets too big for the first set.  They should last you the whole time your baby is in diapers.  Plus they came in super cute colors and--according to a recent post on Baby Rabies--they will soon be available in patterns!

I have to admit, I was pretty well sold by the cuteness.  Add to that the general idea of not filling a landfill with disposables, (allegedly) being able to potty-train a little earlier, and the earnest promises by cloth diapering moms that the laundry really ends up not being that big of a deal (especially if you have this little sprayer attachment to do a quick rinse into the toilet before throwing the diaper and inserts into a specially designed diaper pail), and you have me pretty well convinced that I can actually do this cloth diaper thing.

But my husband would only be swayed by the budget-friendliness of cloth diapering.  The Bum Genius 4.0 were quite a bit more expensive than the traditional cloth diapers--were they still worth it?

Look how cute and pink it is!
People generally say that you need 24 diapers to get through life without doing laundry every. single. freaking. day.  Cotton Babies sells packets of 12 Bum Genius 4.0 diapers and inserts for about $200.  Double that to get 24, and you have an up-front investment of $400.

BUT, that $400 is supposed to get you through three years of diaper wearing.  Remember, it's one size fits all, so you just adjust the diaper to grow with your baby.

See all the snaps at the waist band?  Gives lots of adjustment.  And the bottom is also snapped up to make it shorter for a bitty-baby.

Here's the full diaper, unsnapped.  The top two rows of snaps are the waist band, the bottom rows allow you to shorten or lengthen the diaper as necessary.  Genius, no?  The inserts are absorbent pads that fit inside the diaper and also fold over to adjust length as necessary.

Compare this to an estimated monthly expense of $75/month on disposable diapers, which means that by the time your baby is six months old, you would have already spent $450 on disposables.

Of course, you have to factor in the cost of laundry detergent, water, and your time and energy to do the laundry.  We've started using Charlie's laundry detergent ($20ish for 128 loads and recommended for baby clothes and dirty dipes).  Our front loader works best with liquid detergent so I haven't tried making my own, although evidently people do it quite successfully and for mere pennies (just ask the Duggars).  We pay a flat rate for water in our city--our water bill is based solely on the number of faucets in our home rather than the actual amount of water we use.  So that won't be a problem.  In terms of environmental benefit of saving water, from what I've read, cloth diapering still beats disposables because water is used in the production of disposable diapers, so there's not as much of savings there as you might suppose.  With cloth, you're not paying for the natural fuels needed to ship disposable diapers on trucks, either. 

You also have to consider the cost of accessories, though.  I plan to make my own wipes by cutting up unbleached flannel and stitching around the edges so it won't unravel. I can store these in a wipe-warmer with a solution like Bum Genius Bottom Cleaner so they stay damp and ready to go. I figure that I'll probably keep a few disposable wipes on hand as well.

Also added to the up front cost of the diapers will be the electricity to dry them (although I plan to hang-dry as much as possible--I do this already with a lot of our clothes). And we'll probably want to get diaper liners eventually (breast milk poo is totally water soluable, so you don't even have to rinse before throwing the whole diaper in the wash, but once they start eating solid foods it gets kinda nasty. So a lot of people use a liner so you can peel out and flush away solid waste and then throw the diaper in the wash).

We also decided to buy a couple of Flip diapers because they have disposable inserts that we figure will come in handy occasionally. And we have to purchase some wet bags to haul dirty diapers home in (gross! but true!).

So, the reality is that our up front cost will be more than $400, but still I think much less than disposable diapering for a year.  The other factor, though, was my own time and energy and desire to not want to gag everytime I think about laundry.  But most people I know who have babies are already doing laundry about every other day.  The first week or so, when Baby Duck is going through 8-10 diapers a day, we will probably use disposables (hey, I'm making an effort here, but I'm not a martyr!)  After that, though, since I will most likely be working part-time, it seems like a little extra effort to throw in a load of laundry won't be that big of a sacrifice.  Keep in mind, I don't hate laundry the way some people do--I'd rather do laundry than cook dinner; however, I'm not typically doing poop-smeared, pee-soaked, laundry.  So I have to admit I'm a little nervous about the gross-out factor. 

But, diapers are gross anyway, right?  And poop is a pretty inevitable part of parenting.  In fact, Cooper decided to give me some extra practice yesterday by having some unpleasant diarrhea on our walk that necessitated me wiping his butt with a wet wipe when we got home.  Eeew!

So seriously, if I'm picking up dog poop and wiping dog butt, is there anything relating to poop that I can't handle?  (Hmm...  asking that question seems to be asking for the fates to send the smack down on me, so let's just pretend I never said that.)

Anyway, we visited Cotton Babies once more yesterday and set up a little registry there just in case people want to buy Baby Duck some cloth diapers and want to know what our color preferences are (or want to buy her these adorable bamboo pajamas because seriously they are so soft and so cute that I'm about ready to drive back to the store and buy them myself even though David thinks $28 is unnecessarily expensive for a newborn baby outfit when "She'll be wrapped up in a blanket all the time anyway.").  Really I figured it would be a way to keep me organized about how many diapers I need and what accessories are recommended.  So after thinking it over for a while, we decided that we felt it was still worth it in the long run--both environmentally and economically--for us to cloth diaper.

So while we were at Cotton Babies, once I'd oohed and aahed over the lovely bamboo baby pajamas and David had played with the Hana wooden toys, David suggested we go ahead buy a few Bum Genius 4.0 diapers they had marked down on special.  He's totally in "daddy mode" these days.  We had to back slowly away from the wooden duck on wheels that Baby Duck could pull around the house...  you know, in a year and a half or so, when she can walk.

So now I guess we're serious about the cloth diaper thing.  We've got a small shopping bag stuffed with Bum Genius 4.0 covers and inserts and last night I practiced diapering my old teddy bear, Ted.  Doesn't he look cute in the "butternut"?

Looking dapper in the diaper, Ted!

We've got 13 more weeks before Baby Duck is scheduled to arrive and I'm getting more excited about her everyday!

1 comment:

  1. We used cloth on Charlie for ten months and I LOVED it. And then Ryan had to defend his dissertation and we had to move to another city and we need to simplify SOMETHING, so we did disposables.

    We used prefolds with a Bummies cover most of the time. It was by far the cheapest option ($150 for 24 diapers, 5 covers, and a roll of inserts, which we didn't end up using). I was always happy with them. We also had a bunch of Bum Genius pockets and a few all-in-ones that we sent to daycare so they wouldn't have to fuss with the prefolds (we were really lucky to have two great daycares that were willing to work with us in our old town. We haven't found that here, which is ironic because this is hippy central).

    I loved our cloth diapers. It was so convenient to take care of everything at home and never have to run out for diapers late at night. The washing thing was no big deal. You're right about the poop thing. You just, sort of, get over it after a while. Not that you *like* it or anything, but it's just not as big an issue as you would think. We never had an issue with smells and we just used a simple diaper pail that was basically a trash can with a lid (though that could be because we only made it to 10 months). We were both in grad school, so we were looking to do things cheaply too!

    I never got going on cloth with Wes (although I tried once or twice), but by the time he came along I was getting ready to defend MY dissertation and you know how that goes!

    Oh, and for comparison, we spend probably $30-$40/month on disposable diapers/Pullups now that the kids are bigger (Charlie only uses a Pullup at night). They only fly through ten diapers a day for a little while, thank goodness!

    I'm not sure if I should give cloth a try for #3 or not, but you've got me thinking it would be worth it. We already have all the diapers!!