As you may or may not have noticed, the Kiddo wears cloth diapers. I've been wanting to write about it for awhile, but felt like I needed to wait until we were more experienced in order to say something useful. Now that we're nine (nine?) months in, I think we're probably as experienced as we'll ever be!
One note, this is meant as more of an informative post than a persuasive one. Disposables have their pluses; you will get no argument from me on that. But I think a lot of people assume they're the only game going and don't even think about cloth. If you are thinking about cloth and need more information, here are some of my thoughts....
(P.S. If the terms I'm throwing out sound like a foreign language, check out this Terminology Guide.)
1. What kind do you use? When I was first learning about cloth diapers I was convinced that we needed a "system" of all one kind of diaper. But I didn't really know where to start, so we just got one or two of several different kinds--pre-folds, all-in-ones, fitteds, Bum Genius, Fuzzibunz--thinking we'd eventually buy more of the ones we liked.
Turns out having a system is overrated. Because the baby is always changing. When the Kid was little, we had trouble adjusting any all-in-ones to fit him, but we got really good at the pre-folds with covers. Now that he's bigger, his daycare loves the all-in-one Bum Geniuses and I love the fitted diapers (that I picked up on major sale!) with covers. And you will never convince me that there is a better night diaper (super-duper-double absorbent 'sposies included) than Libby's HootHoots. We get very sad on the rare night that we haven't done laundry and don't have one of those!
2. Do they work? Yes! The learning curve at the beginning was steeper than I think it would have been with 'sposies. If the size isn't right or you don't get everything tucked in, liquid will leak out onto the baby's clothes. That being said, I can count the lifetime number of poo blow-outs we've had on three fingers. And once you get it down, they are comparable to disposables.
3. Are they cheaper? Maybe. The number I generally see for the cost of disposable diapers from birth to potty training is about $2000. But I hear from friends who use disposables that they believe it may be less than that if you take advantage of sales, coupons, buying in bulk, etc.
I've kept track of our costs very closely, and (assuming the Kid is potty trained by two and a half) we will have spent about $950. That includes our cloth wipes, all our diapers and covers, several wet bags, a diaper sprayer, and the water/electricity/gas it takes to launder the diapers. You could spend more, you could spend less--that's just us.
That number doesn't count the occasional package of disposables. We use them when we travel or when we're going to be out for a long day, because I don't like carrying around a bag of dirty diapers. It also doesn't count the disposable wipes we send to daycare. I haven't kept as careful track of those expenses, but I think we use about one pack of disposable diapers and one pack of wipes per month.
That number also doesn't take into account the fact that we could potentially re-sell or hand-me-down some of our diapers when the Kid is done with them. Additionally, if we do decide to have a second kid, our diapers costs will be zero.
4. What about the laundry? Is it icky? We wash diapers just about every night. We have enough diapers that we could go two or three days, but doing it every night just makes for a better routine for us. Sweet Husband supervises the bath, I start the diapers, I put the Kid to sleep, he flips the diapers to the dryer, lather, rinse, repeat. I know that sounds like work. I thought it would be too, but it sort of gets like breathing after a few weeks--you just do it.
You probably do see more poo using cloth. We have a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet to rinse poopy diapers before they go into the diaper pail. I don't think it's too bad, but I suppose other people might.
For me there's a huge trade-off in smell though. Whatever the chemical is in disposable diapers smells bad to me--like, I always think the Kid's diaper is dirty when he has them on. Maybe I'm weird, but it's worth seeing the poo when I'm cleaning the diaper to not have to smell it all day long.
5. What about daycare? The first daycare we sent the Kid to (which we were OK with, but not in love with) said they had no problem with cloth diapers, but seemed to have trouble using ours. (There were other kids there in cloth, so I never really could figure it out.)
His daycare now (which we madly and passionately love) has never had any problem. His teachers expressed a mild preference for all-in-ones, so that's what we send. Easy.
This was one of my major concerns about using cloth diapers. I've heard so many parents say, "I'd love to use cloth, but I can't send my kid to daycare in them so it's not worth it." Maybe it's because I live in a liberal-hippie town, but every daycare we checked out said cloth diapers would be fine. Sometimes I wonder if people are just afraid to ask?