Friday, July 9, 2010

Antarctica Embraces Cloth Diapers

Having a baby is generally not a total shock, you often get to know as many as eight or nine months ahead of time that someone of the diaper wearing age is about to join your family. (Notable exceptions being friends who adopt on short notice). Hence, I figured since diapering is one of the biggest expenses to accompany a new baby, I'd try to plan ahead to budget for it. Because I've been asked several times about our decision to use cloth, I thought I'd put my diaper notes together.

First things first, I'm by no means an expert. I've been doing it for six months and think it's pretty crazy easy, good for cutting down landfill junk, and a big money saver. Let me also preface this by saying that cloth diapering may not be for everyone. It works for us. It makes sense for us. I've had folks ask about it, and the best jumping off point I've found is; but you're reading this because you wanted to know what the Queen of the Penguins does with her chick.

What We Penguins Do:

We use BumGenius 3.0 one size and they’re pretty darn easy. I honestly chose them based solely on internet research before I knew anyone in person who uses any cloth diapers *other than the old school pins plus cotton square aka prefolds*. Anyway, these have snaps to size up or down so they'll fit for years, are structured like “disposables” with Velcro, use waterproof cloth on the outside, and have a microfiber soaker insert. We pull those out, and throw it all in a pail, dump it in the washer and wash once on cold (to rinse), then once on hot with about 2 Tablespoons of Rockin’ Green Detergent. (I currently love Smashing Watermelons in Classic Rock)

The wipes are just squares of cloth serged around the edges. I keep a squirt bottle with a couple drops of baby lotion and a couple drops of baby body wash to a cup or so of water and wet down wipes as needed. They get thrown in the diaper bucket. I also now use these for nose blowing and cleaning, they’re handy and one less disposable thing I’m throwing away.

I do diaper laundry about twice a week and have started drying them outside using these nifty octopus hangers, the Pressa, from IKEA. I also have a “wet bag” for the dirties on the road. I "strip" the diapers about once a month by doing a hot soak and adding a little bleach.

Why We Cloth Diaper:

I’d like to claim cloth diapering was all about the environment or what not, because that is important... but, really, it’s mostly about economics. Say you find REALLY cheap disposables for 15 cents a piece. Lets also say you use very few, like 8 a day (We tracked it, and Jax averaged close to 11 for the first few months and is now closer to 9 a day.) That means in one year you’re talking $438 (0.15*8*365). Plus however much wipes are.

Lets say you went over to and bought two twelve packs of brand spanking new bumGenius 4.0 diapers at $203.40 a piece for $406.80... (I’d suggest going with the recently discontinued 3.0 line, or going used at, or looking for a sale or deal, but lets just say, for the sake of argument, that you go new) and two sets of wipes at $11.95 each for $23.90 (again, not sure why you’d spring for brand new brand name pieces of serged flannel, but, say you do) that puts your total at $430.70 (free shipping).

If you add in the laundry costs, then it could, technically, be more expensive to cloth diaper. Until you add that second year, which doubles the cost of disposables and only the laundry prices for cloth... and, unless you really rock the EC and go diaper free, *see next post,* I’m betting you’re going to need diapers for closer to two years minimum.

To be more realistic, disposables seem to average closer to 20 cents a pop, we used closer to 10 diapers a day putting that total estimate at a much heftier $730. I also had no idea how to include wipes in the disposables pricing.

You could also use Econobum diapers with covers and prefolds from the same site and manufacturer for $99 (two sets of 3 diaper covers with 12 prefolds at $49.95 a piece) plus one set of wipes at $11.95 for a yearly total $110.95.

So, you could be talking $110.95 for cloth vs. $1,460 for disposables over two years... cloth diapering can be even cheaper than that if you go a bit more old school/shop around. Those are my quick thoughts and numbers, I'm sure there's plenty of room for variation. If you're local in Atlanta, you should check out Atlanta Diaper Service as an option and for info.

Oh, and on a total side note, cloth diapers come in about a million super cute colors/patterns/designs. They can pretty much function as bottoms during the summer, and offer a veritable plethora of fashion opportunities if you're into that for your "fluff."

P.S. Expect a bunch more New Mom blogging as I answer the most common questions I'm getting from friends and family. I'm not the expert, I'm just a new mom who is willing to share what I've learned so far.

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