Me and the Fluff.
If I can say this without sounding like the total nerd that I am (it’s true) then I have accomplished something great, but I’m afraid it likely won’t happen, so here goes nothing: I am addicted to cloth diapering. Maybe that’s more ridiculous sounding than nerdy, because how the heck does one be totally full-throttle all into DIAPERS, the very thing that involves tons of baby poop and baby pee, and sometimes random food bits that haven’t completely broken down? And sometimes, said baby poop goes out of the diaper, up the back, and onto everything in close proximity. How does one truly love something that revolves around all that nasty?
(Apologies for the little hiatus; I was out gallivanting in the trees and the water and the sand and the bushes.)
I will tell you why, in my ode to this very bizarre phenomenon, it is not so much a phenomenon at all. We started to switch to cloth diapers in April, when the little one was about 5 months old. I had seen a friend’s status update on Facebook talking about their switch to cloth diapers, and that sparked a whole discussion on the fluff, and how it’s never too late to switch. I’m sure there were some people who thought we were crazy for wanting to take on cloth. I wondered if I was crazy, too, but that’s because I knew little about using cloth diapers. Turns out, a little Googling goes a long way, and I was absolutely swamped in the world of fluff and the lingo surrounding. AI1’s, AI2’s, pockets, prefolds, fitteds, covers, diaper pail, wet bag, liners, hybrids, FuzziBunz, bumGenius, you name it. I was slightly overwhelmed, but continued trucking. I’d do all the research and reading of particular brand reviews, and report back to Kyle. We decided to pick up a couple different kinds at a local baby store, and we haven’t looked back since.
But, but, but… the POOP! It’s a little intimidating for some I’m sure, but I wasn’t really nervous about it because heck, we had been dealing with poopy diapers all along, so it couldn’t be that bad, could it? I was right – it wasn’t. By the time we had switched fully to cloth, the little one was eating a lot more solids, and so the poops were corresponding. We hadn’t invested or created a diaper sprayer, so we were on our own to tackle the poop. I remember the first time we had to change a poopy diaper. It was a family affair, and we were both in there, and if I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure Kyle volunteered to clean the diaper. Aw, such love. But you know what? It really wasn’t that bad. Most times now, we can just kinda shake the poop off the diaper, into the toilet, and all is well. Occasionally, we have to do a bit of a dunk and swish with the diaper cover, but that’s it. You can even use a flushable, biodegradable liner that all you have to do is flush! Those add up the costs (only a tiny bit) so we avoid them but use them for when we’re out and about, or someone else will be changing the boy’s bottom. I feel like I need to go into a long-winded explanation of how to do it, but that’s really it, there’s not much more to it, and it’s really not complicated. Bonus: if your baby is exclusively breastfed, breastfed poop is water-soluble, so you just have to wipe your baby’s bum, toss the diaper into your wet bag or diaper pail, and off you go.
There’s so much laundry though, isn’t it just way too much work, and you’re using all that water and energy anyway so you’re not really helping out Mother Earth… I’ll be honest, this argument kind of bugs the crap out of me. The first part, I get, yes, the laundry seems daunting, but for real, the diaper load is probably my favourite load of laundry to do. And since we use pocket diapers (a cover, with an opening at either end which you just stuff a microfiber, hemp or bamboo absorbent insert into), often Kyle and I will just sit in the evening, chatting, or watching a show, and stuffing diapers. It becomes second nature after awhile, and then you have a clean and cute little stash of fluff for the next couple of days. The laundry really isn’t that bad, it’s as easy as flipping the wet bag (we choose to use a waterproof, zippable wet bag to hold our dirty diapers, and then the bag just goes in the wash too) inside out (so you don’t even have to touch the dirty diapers if you don’t want to) and flipping on the washing machine. Yeah, it sure is stinky, enough to knock you over, but if you can hold your breath (if you really need to) for 5 seconds, then you’re good to go.
The argument about energy output and water usage, however, irks me. For one, we line dry outside or inside wherever possible. We have never once put the covers in the dryer, because sun is the best stain remover ever, and also, we are preserving our diapers this way. We do dry the inserts, however on really hot days, I’ll toss them outside to dry too. The energy consumption with disposables, however, is never ending. The fuels, water, energy, plastic, and human-power used to create, package and transport the diapers to stores, and then to a landfill, where billions of poopy diapers sit for hundreds and hundreds of years does not compare to the recycle factor and reusability of cloth diapers, in my humble opinion. This isn’t even taking into consideration the bajillions of disposable wipes that are used. We were using cloth wipes from when Cade was about 3 weeks old, due to a bad diaper rash and sensitive skin, so it only made sense to take it up one more notch. Here’s a fun little tool to calculate costs of disposables vs. cloth, including water and energy usage.
I don’t consider myself a hard-core environmentalist, but we’re working on it. Using cloth diapers has totally motivated and encouraged me to choose greener options in my every-day living. For instance, I got together with a couple of friends and we whipped up a batch of calendula/coconut oil/beeswax/tea tree oil diaper cream (cloth diapers = NO zinc-oxide based creams!!!) that also doubles as an awesome moisturizer skin cream, and it feels awesome to live my life in such a way that is even just a tiny bit more self-sustaining.
I’ve also got a DivaCup on the way, which I ordered half price yesterday. I’m beyond excited about it, because I’ve been wanting one for awhile, just haven’t taken the plunge. That was totally the push I needed, I guess. I want to expand my green knowledge, take it to the next level, and keep on keepin’ on. I want to be more friendly to my body, friendly to the earth, and friendly to my little guy’s health, and in turn, teach him to do the same. Hell, I wish I could sew, because I’d love to be able to sew our OWN diapers. Perhaps one day. I’ve been doing reading about the No ‘Poo method, making own laundry detergents, and of course cleaning supplies, which we already often do. Vinegar and baking soda work wonders, however, I’m not gonna lie, I love the smell of some of those nasty chemical cleaning poisons, so I think I ought to invest in a few essential oils to toss in my baking soda and water mix, to freshen things up a bit.
Ok, back to the fluff. But, I heard you have to change the diapers way more, and I heard that cloth diapers leak a lot, don’t they? Oddly enough, I found this link today that brings me to a point I wanted to touch on. Yes, you do have to change cloth more frequently, especially if your little one is a heavy wetter. But with that being said, I am totally okay with it for the reasons the writer listed in the aforementioned post. I am not cool with my little boy sitting in his own urine for hours. That seems mean and unfair to him, and so, changing more frequently is okay with me. Does changing diapers ever get old? Yup. It sure does. But you get used to it and you move on.
As for leaks, we had a lot of leak issues in the beginning, which is why I always tell people who are thinking about switching to cloth, to bear with the cloth! You’re likely to run into some issues, so give yourself an adjustment period. A couple troubleshooting measures we did were, abolish the use of dryer sheets on our other laundry. They are a big no-no for cloth diaper loads, but the residue from the sheets can stick to the inside of the dryer and coat your diapers, so we just did away with them on a whole and gave our dryer a good wipe down with water and vinegar. I think they may have contributed to some repelling/leak issues in the beginning, and even if they didn’t, abolishing the dryer sheets was a good step in the right direction anyway.
Another adjustment we had to get used to was ensuring the diapers were on properly and tight enough. You might seem like you are putting them on too tight, but if there is too much gaping or loose pocketed areas, material can bunch up and poke through, wicking out moisture faster that you can say leak. This is one reason why we prefer the snaps over the hook & loop (velcro) style. Snaps seem to heed a tighter and more snug fit, and also, the little one hasn’t yet figured out how to undo the snaps. ;)
I love to talk about cloth diapers, as you can tell, and so anyone that is even remotely thinking about doing the switch, I always corner them and blather on. It’s probably a cloth diaper turn-off, in reality, but I like to spit out all the knowledge I have gained from doing research in hopes that I can convert someone else. There are so many positives that we have discovered, and Kyle and I are both super into it. We’re saving a crap load of money, we never have to purchase disposables ever again if we don’t want to, you always have a diaper on hand, and if you’re running low, it’s as simple as running to the laundry room and tossing a load in, the environment will thank us and the little one, we can use the stash we bought for our next baby as well, you can customize your absorbency, our boy’s sensitive skin is looking mighty fine and the red, raw, rashy looking bum is few and far between. Not only that, but the odd time that we use disposables now (we’ve got a tiny little stash left from when we stocked up during my pregnancy), I can’t stand it. I can admit it, I’m a diaper snob. Sigh. But they just smell so raunchy, and they’re so crinkly, and white, and… just not cute in comparison to the fluff that my boy’s bottom is usually adorned in. Did I say I’m a diaper snob?
One time when I was talking about cloth with someone who was thinking of switching, she tossed out the “wow, that’s awesome, you are such a good mom” card. Guh. Thank you, thank you, that’s very sweet, but… and listen up, I’m going to say this loud and clear, my goodness as a mother is not determined by the diapers my boy wears. Honestly, I may be a diaper snob (only within the confines of my own family), but I do not think using cloth makes me a good mother. Really, I don’t. Do I think I am a good mother, why yes I do, but not because of the diapers we use. I could use Seventh Generation chlorine-free diapers, or Huggies, or Pampers, or homemade cloth diapers, FuzziBunz cloth pocket diapers, or Bummis prefolds, and still be a terrific mother. We use cloth because 1) it is affordable and we’re on a tight budget 2) we feel that it is better for our precious Earth, and 3) we feel that it is better for our precious boy. It is a personal decision that we have made and decided is the right choice for the boy and for us as a family, and we’re totally happy with that decision. I don’t care if you use disposables or if you use cloth or if you practice elimination communication. I believe that you are doing what you feel is best and what is going to be the best choice for your child and your family, and that is why you are a good mother, a good parent. With that being said, I’d love to keep talking up the fluff and convert you. And no, I’m not crazy. I’m not out of my mind. It’s really not that bizarre of a concept, and I will do anything I can to normalize it so that more people will get on board. Like I said, I don’t care how you diaper, but I love talking about cloth and so if you’re wanting to switch, what that means is I will have one more person to blather on with about cloth, and to me, that’s wicked.
Have a happy hump day my dear readers. I know you are out there. Let’s talk about things you do in your life that are ‘green’ or ‘crunchy.’ <3