I've been researching diapers for months. Months 'n months 'n months. Seriously, long before I found out that we're pregnant. Strangely enough, I got away from my obsessive searching after I got the news, so it feels like I'm re-starting the search all over again. I had found so many incredible resources online that I feel like I'm sifting through big piles of...ahem, diapers.
Why all the diaper research, Meg? What question do you need to find out? Where to buy them? What brand is the cheapest?
Nope. I feel like I'm about to "put my foot in it", but I suppose part of being a parent is having your decisions questioned, and eyebrows raised. Go right ahead- this is a decision that my husband and I are making, and if it doesn't work out for us, we're willing to admit our mistakes. I figure this whole experience is one big lesson after another. Nobody's an expert...except maybe Michelle Duggar, and even she gets raised eyebrows from time to time.
Anyhoo, the big "what, are you nuts?" revelation is the fact that we'd like to try cloth diapering. There are plenty of reasons, in our minds, to take this route:
- Long-term cost. While the initial investment is just that - a major investment - lots of sources have indicated that the diapers that we're considering will pay for themselves in comparison to disposables. From diaperingdecisions.com, it's stated that over the course of 3 years, one will spend $2694.54 for 7,349 disposable, single use diapers - at a moderate estimate (nevermind if your kid has lots of extra blowouts and accidents). Depending on our budget (of course I'm researching every available option of purchase, and which diapers get the best reviews/last the longest), we'll be spending many hundreds fewer than $1000 for diapers that will grow with our baby until they're no longer needed. Also, when it comes to laundering, "Consumer Report estimates that the most inefficient washer and dryer system costs approximately $0.78 per load to launder whereas more efficient models will cost approximately $0.44 per load to launder. So wash your own, twice a week for between 44-78 cents including water, hydro and detergent or spend $16.94 to $22.05 for single use disposable diapers." Woot. Besides, if I think about it enough, I know I'll be doing tons of baby clothes (which are tiny), so we can wash them together. Kind of how we just throw our cloth napkins in with our usual white loads (which we're still going strong with, thankyouverymuch).
- Ecological impact. Lots of folks argue that disposables aren't THAT ecologically bad when compared to the energy used when cleaning cloth diapers. Even with the dinosaur washer and dryer that we run, it's greener. Further information from diaperingdecisions.com: "Consider the numbers: 36 cloth diapers, that are used over and over; most likely for more than one child, or on average 7,349 single use diapers per child. One time use throw away diapers are the single largest non recyclable component of household garbage, creating 1 ton of garbage per year per child." The process of rinsing and flushing out diapers, then washing once or twice a week utilize sewage that will be treated and released back into the environment properly. Disposables...eh, well, I think they're the devil as far as their biodegradability.
- Comfort. After reading lots of personal blogs (none of which were perked by any companies for their reviews), a common thread is the fact that a lot of children don't have diaper rash when parents use cloth diapers. Sure, every butt's different (and how!), but between the good rash-free odds and the fact that no plastic-y, paper-y feelings will be on baby's bum, I'm a happy mommy. I even heard that in 1970 (back when cloth was pretty much king) less than 10% of kids experienced diaper rash; today, it's closer to 80-90%.
- Longevity. We're hoping to have a brood (ie more than one baby). Do you think those future babies will be able to wear their big brother or sister's disposable diapers? Um, ew. Nope. But, if I learn how to properly care for these (plus the fact that I'm looking into the snap options rather than velcro, which tends to get weak over time), we may only have to purchase the occasional newbie. If that. :-)
- "If it was good enough for my mother..." My mom was pretty basic and old school - she raised 4 kids, all on cloth diapers. (Have I mentioned I love her for her simplicity in raising us??) She also worked as a hairdresser (using our front porch, of all places), so it's not like she had all day to do laundry. PLUS, those were the days of safety pins and the old flat diapers as the only option, until disposable diapers came along - far too expensive for our family. While technology has changed (you can get 4-in-1's, organics, pockets...holy crap, everything), I still love the idea behind 'em.
Arguments against? Well, the financials aren't quite a drop in the bucket initially (more like the whole bucket), and time is a hard thing to control these days. Add that to the fact that we'd like to *try* to breast feed, and there's a good chance I may never leave the house again. Hee hee, just kidding. We'll make it work.
I'm still deciding between some brands and would prefer to just buy one, especially if I see iffy reviews here and there, so I'm sure I'll let you know a) what we end up deciding and b) in the long-term, how things go. Lots of cloth diapering mamas on the interwebs share their disaster stories as well as their success stories, and I'm all about honesty.
In the interest of full disclosure, we're talking about using some more eco-friendly newborn disposable diapers for the first week or two (especially if breast feeding works out), and will probably use the occasional disposable when traveling. Depending on our babysitting situation, we'd like to be able to continue with the cloth diapering if possible. :-)