Diaper My Baby!
January 5, 2010 12:42 PM   Subscribe

What diapers to use? Cloth? Partial cloth? Chlorine-free?

My husband and I are expecting our first child (girl). We'd like to use diapers that are relatively environmentally sound, but we'd also like not to make ourselves insane. Doing laundry every thirty seconds is not an option. We were thinking some of the better disposables, but apparently even if they are biodegradable once they go into a landfill they are so compressed they don't degrade regardless...

But the options are, simply, dizzying. Disposable, partial disposable, g-diapers, diaper service (there is one in our area, I checked)...

I should also note that our budget is not unlimited, or even particularly large. We'd like to be economically and environmentally efficient if at all possible, while preserving our baby's comfort (hopefully nothing that will encourage diaper rash) and our own sanity.

Any input, including links to helpful review websites or guides, anecdotes, discount purveyors, etc., is much appreciated!
posted by miss tea to Health & Fitness (45 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Are you planning on having more than one child? If so, the economics probably favor cloth since you can reuse them for subsequent child. Environmentally, I think the best choice is probably cloth through a diaper service as their larger scale operations can make the most efficient use of water/energy/etc. It's kind of a toss-up as to which comes in second place, in terms of resource allocation for cloth that you launder at home vs disposable, depending on whether you line dry, how far away you have to drive to get the disposables and how scarce of a commodity water is in your area. It's something that everyone has to come to terms with for their own situation.

I had great plans to do cloth but the convenience of disposables won me over in the end. I'm also hoping to potty train as early as possible limit the time we need to use any diapers as much as possible.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2010

For the first few weeks, I'd recommend using either a diaper service or some sort of disposable. Things are just too hectic to deal with laundering diapers every day. Once things settle down, laundering cloth diapers at home should be much more do-able. We tried several brands with my son, and found that FuzzyBunz worked the best for us. Laundering them each evening was not much of a chore - just toss 'em in the washing machine, 1 rinse, 1 wash, then hang to dry over night. Very easy.
posted by skwm at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2010

Is should also add that we do use chlorine-free disposables and have been quite happy with them (Earth's Best). We get ours through diapers.com.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:51 PM on January 5, 2010

Not a parent, but as someone watching the baby explosion around me I've seen that a combination of disposable and cloth has worked best. Traveling and babysitting are hectic enough without having to carry dirty diapers or explain the variations of your particular diapering system to someone new.

If you can sew, or even if you can't but would like to learn, you can make your own diaper covers pretty easily.
posted by Madamina at 12:55 PM on January 5, 2010

We use cloth with Nature Babycaredisposables for trips. We have enough cloth diapers that we only do laundry every one to two days. I think that we have actually spent less on diapers than we would have spent on entirely disposable diapers, although the startup cost is significant. It helps that we have a cloth diaper store nearby.
posted by mkb at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2010

We use Bummis. We bought 15 of them and they paid for themselves already (in the first year). There is no diaper service here, though, which would have been our first choice. I have a friend who bought 24 of them to extend time between laundries, but then they spend quite a bit of time putting them back together after every wash, plus storing the used ones can be a bit messy. I like them a lot. If you follow their recommendations (fold velcro back before washing, do not let the cover soak in javel...) they should last until baby uses the toilet (at least that's what we plan on doing).

Another thing is, we do use disposable ones when we spend time visiting friends and family, they're much more convenient when not at home. Also, we did not start using bummis before the second or third month (there really is no time for this anyway), so don't worry about buying them before.
posted by ddaavviidd at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2010

The diaperpin.com reviews are pretty useful.

As far as preserving sanity goes -- I would not have used cloth with a newborn. I use(d) cloth wipes and just with that the newborn period involves a blur of laundry in my memory. Later on the poo is not so frequent. That, and we went up three sizes in the first two months...

clothdiaper.com sells "all in ones" I really liked; they don't leak, they're cheap, and, unlike a lot of the bigger brands of AIOs, they're cotton.

Seventh Generation make a fantastic diaper but they are overpriced. If you are in Canada, the PC Green dipes are pretty good.

Do not make yourself crazy over the dizzying selection of cloth diapers and associated nonsense -- you do not need to pay attention to the six-page-long washing instructions and the like. At the end of the day they're rags. Don't fall for pretty covers... And you don't have to, you know, commit right now. You can buy three different cloth diapers and see how they go, mixing them in with disposables; you don't have to rush off and invest $300 in a full set of the snazziest cloth.

For wipes, I bought a pile of Ikea Krama washcloths before my daughter was born; she's 2.5 and I'm still using them -- they're just washcloths, but they're cheap and so phenomenally durable they're worth going out of your way for if you live near an Ikea. What little experience I have with regular disposable wipes has made me pleased I went the cloth route there; taking off a poo with tiny squares covered in a hand-dehydrating chemical whatever is not so pleasant. (Another thing to ignore: wipe "solution" "recipes." Just use water.)

This will skeeve out non-parents but your washing machine is all you need for a "wet pail"...
posted by kmennie at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, cloth diapers have come a long way in the past decade or so. We use Bum Genius and I recommend them. Also, we cut up old/excess receiving blankets and used those for cloth wipes (along with a spray).
posted by mattbucher at 1:02 PM on January 5, 2010

Advice Smackdown (an advice column) talks a lot about cloth diapers. The specific article I linked to goes into the pros/cons of two specific types, FuzzyBunz and bumGenius.
posted by anaelith at 1:03 PM on January 5, 2010

Thanks all! Wow, lots of fast responses.

To answer some of the questions...

- Only one child planned

- Really really will not be doing laundry daily... y'all don't need the details but our life circumstances make us both very busy and that just sounds horrible. I need to be realistic-- if we go the cloth route we'll need enough for a week and a weekly wash instead, so that makes price more of an issue

- Located in USA, Maine, Portland
posted by miss tea at 1:03 PM on January 5, 2010

we have had great luck with our girl using a diaper service with cloth diapers and then at night using a disposable.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:10 PM on January 5, 2010

Congrats! We just had a girl a few months ago, and wrestled with the same questions. They've come a long way with cloth diapers; we got a few from here locally, and they're expensive, but awesome. You can also sell them back when it's time for larger sizes. That said, we did some dirty math and determined that if we were to try to buy enough of those to use them exclusively, we'd end up spending even more than on disposables once laundry was figured in. Having a few to use whenever convenient seemed to us to be the quickest way for them to pay for themselves. What we've since done is always figure the price of the actual diaper, and the variance is astounding. You'll get killed on the price if you're not paying attention. I thought like most things, the best price would be found online, but I have yet to come across any better than Sam's Club (at about 11 cents each). Wal-Mart and Target are the next best, depending. Finally I'd say don't worry about getting too big of a box. Even as she nears the size changeover - it's not a sudden thing, and you will use them all. Best wishes!
posted by hypersloth at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2010

skwm gives excellent advice here. We used a diaper service for the first couple of months and then ponied up for a dozen or so (maybe more?) FuzziBunz. Some we bought new, others we found on Craigslist. They're fairly adjustable through a size range, so it'll take your kid a while to grow out of them. Save them for the next kid or unload them to other parents. You can buy inserts to go into FuzziBunz, or you can sew your own (ridiculously easy, even without a sewing machine). The FuzziBunz also make excellent swim diapers (just take out the insert).

When you're traveling or have a babysitter who doesn't feel comfortable with cloth diapers, have a few disposables on hand. If we were going somewhere where we'd be able to do laundry (traveling to a relative's for the holidays for example), we'd use cloth diapers. As long as they don't sit in a bag overnight the smell isn't readily noticeable.

We kept a vinyl-coated cloth bag in the kid's room; it attached to the door knob and snapped at the top. Once it got about two days worth of diapers in it we'd wash a load. Urine is easy enough to deal with. For poop, just dump solid waste in your toilet bowl and flush, then put the diaper in the bag. I'd occasionally "fertilize the lawn" by laying out a few nasty diapers in the backyard and then hitting them with a hard spray from the garden hose.

A friend who owns a whoopass baby store in Austin recommends installing a bidet spray nozzle on your toilet, which takes about 10 minutes, and you can use it to wash any solid waste into the toilet.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2010

oh holy cow - if you are going to do ONLY a weekly wash, you might want to reconsider the cloth thing altogether.

my friends had a baby and every DAY they had more poopy/pee-y inserts than you can believe. i had no idea babies peed so much!!!! if you get inserts, you don't have to change the cover all the time if it's not soaked thru, but the all in ones will require a full change every time.

they did use an assortment of all-in-ones, bummies, etc but they did a load diapers EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for almost the first year.

it wasn't really a huge hassle after they got used to it, but it was a lot different than tossing in the trash.
posted by sio42 at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

My local crunchy baby store runs a "cloth diaper 101" workshop that was very informative. I would try to find something similar in your area, or at least find a store that carries a couple kinds of cloth diapers to actually check them out in person and ask questions. It's not a bad idea to start off with disposables and maybe a couple cloth options to see what you end up liking before investing in a whole lot of diapers.

I can recommend Nicki's Diapers if you end up buying online. I've always been very happy with their prices and service.

I use several different kinds of diapers, but if I was starting all over, I'd go with just BumGenius (or some other one-size like FuzzyBunz) diapers. They have a wicking layer to keep the wet off baby skin, expand as baby grows, and are as easy as disposables to use (which is great for babysitters and grandmas). I also agree with skwm that laundering diapers is not that big a deal. For me, it's one load every other day.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2010

oh yes - the bidet spray thing was very helpful for those more solid diaper deposits.
posted by sio42 at 1:14 PM on January 5, 2010

2nd that cloth may not be the way to go if you are doing laundry 1x/week.
posted by kmennie at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2010

We have a five month old girl, our first. We used a diaper service (cloth prefolds) for the first 4 months, and loved it. (Actually, it was through Austin Baby, linked above) The pricing wasn't too bad, less than the pricing for disposables. The service provided us with diaper covers (a waterproof cover to put over the cloth diaper) and with little elastic dohickeys to secure the diapers, and we bought some extras of both. At night and on trips we used disposables as our baby was more likely to sleep for a workable period of time (the cloth prefolds get soaked through pretty quickly, which would wake up our girl). We were very pleased with the service, which took us through a couple of sizes of diapers.

We've just switched to Fuzzibuns, the medium size, which we've liked a lot, too, and which haven't been too touch to clean at all. The medium size should work for our baby for another 6-9 months (they're adjustable), and she can just fit into them now. I would think that Fuzzibuns would work fine on a younger baby, but you'd end up growing out of them within 3-4 months, and that would mean a bunch of Fuzzibuns you wouldn't get much use out of.

I see in your response that you would be limited to washing once a week. Regardless of other considerations, that might price Fuzzibuns and the like out of range, as you might need many many (60-80?) Fuzzibuns to do this. You could still do cloth prefolds, though.

Oh, and pro tip: Use disposables when she is just born, at least until the meconium is all out -- that stuff is hard to clean up!
posted by seventyfour at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2010

Once a week laundry? Do a diaper service. I happily cloth diaper my son, but I'm willing to do laundry every two or three days (he's 19 months old now, but I had a stash of 36 Chinese prefolds that lasted 2 - 3 days when he was an infant). It's really not a big deal once you get used to it, but if you really are dead set against doing laundry more than weekly just go with a service.

If you can resign yourself to laundry two or three times a week, Chinese prefolds work like a charm on infants. Once my son got bigger I favored pocket diapers, including FuzziBunz, BumGenius, Blueberry Diapers, and Wonderoos. They go on like a disposable diaper (no folding, no pinning) and if you get one-size diapers they can be adjusted to fit babies from 8 to 40 lbs. Very economical! And they have good resale value too (yes, people buy used cloth dipes).

I tried gDiapers, and they were a pain. Ill-fitting, leaks, hard to get the inserts in. I've heard some rave reviews for them, but they didn't work for me.

Oh, one more tip - when my son was a bitty baby it seemed like he was wetting on, puking on, or otherwise screwing up an outfit once an hour. So unless you invest in a ton of baby clothes you'll be doing laundry more than once a week anyway.

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2010

Yes - 1st week or 2 use disposable. Too much is going on and not enough sleep.

We have a 10 month old and have been using the Bum Genius cloth diapers. Both our mother and mother-in-law purchased 15 of them - so we have a total of 30. This gets us through 3 days without the need of laundry.

It took a while to get into the routine of things but this is what we do:

1. Baby needs a change of diapers.
2. We put her on the changing table and put together the cover and the cloth.
3. We use plain old wipes to get rid of excess and to clean the girl up and throw these in the trash.
4. We take of the dirty diaper and make sure you put the close the velcro flaps and set aside.
5. We put the new one on the girl and put her in her play area
6. We use the bidget spray hose (from bum genius - which is a must!) and clean it up
7. We squeese out the excess water and place it in a dirty diaper bin
8. When laundry comes we sperate the cloth from the cover and throw them both in to the washing machine. We wash them twice. Once in hot water, Once in cold water.

Somethings that put me off until I got use to it:
* You will get poop on your hand
* You will get poopy water on your clothes
* If you don't shut your mouth when your spraying you will get poop in your mouth
* Your toliet and the surrounding area will have poop spray over it and will require constant cleaning.
posted by bleucube at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2010

Do you have your own washer/dryer, and only plan on using it once a week? Or do you have to take out your laundry to a laundromat? Babies spit up, poop, pee all over clothes, cloths, bedding, sheets. If you're only planning on doing laundry once a week you'll need multiples of things like sheets and your favorite jeans/black sweater/nursing bra/the onesie with feet/etc. Even though it seems like you have tons of clothes for her, you might find that you only have about 5-10 favourite outfits that work for a given time (weight, weather, comfort). A baby can easily go through that in 3 days.

Obviously there are tons of people out there who rely on a laundromat, but I wouldn't really recommend cloth diapers if that's your situation.
posted by barnone at 2:40 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

We do cloth. We use BumGenius (and occasionally FuzziBuns).

In our lives it is not that big of a deal.

We have 24 diapers (~$17/each!) and we do diaper laundry about every 1.5-2 days, but we hang dry.

It paid for itself in 6 months versus disposables.

Our daycare is down with cloth. MANY daycares are unwilling to deal with cloth. Please figure out your daycare situation before making a decision.

This is a very helpful cloth diaper guide.

posted by k8t at 2:53 PM on January 5, 2010

Also, we don't spray off our 14-month-old's poopies. We just toss 'em in the washer. We do have the spray thing, which is awesome but is a PITA.
posted by k8t at 2:57 PM on January 5, 2010

But now I've read that you're only planning on doing laundry once a week.

To be frank, I hope that you're planning on buying your child a lot of clothes. In our house of 3 (2 adults and a child, all of whom have seriously large wardrobes), we still do laundry every 3 days. You'll also need multiple blankets, towels, bibs, etc.

When junior was a new baby, we probably did laundry every other day at least. (Why would anyone want to buy tons of 0-3 month clothes? At least once they're 6-12 months, they wear the clothes for longer than a month and some...)

I think that we probably do laundry often enough just to get our bib supply back up.
posted by k8t at 2:59 PM on January 5, 2010

Also, if you're only planning on doing laundry once a week, I'd suggest getting at least 3 nursing bras and 10-12 nursing tops. (I had 4-7 nursing tops and often wore at least 2 or 3 a day.) Each adult should have at least 2-3 pairs of clean pants available per day as well. They will get puked on.

And once the little one gets bigger, there is food on clothes - baby's and parents'. I count it as a successful week if I get 2 days out of 1 hoodie.
posted by k8t at 3:01 PM on January 5, 2010

Wow, see this is why I love AskMe. I never thought about needing additional clothing myself/for the husband.

We do, in fact, have a washer & dryer. We also have TONS of baby clothes, seriously, we've been the recipients of amazing largesse... but perhaps I am overestimating because I didn't think of how many changes of clothing she'd need daily. I'll have to go back and count the onesies.

Theoretically we could probably start laundering 2 x per week, but that would probably be the max. I don't think hanging dry is feasible, though, because we just don't have enough space.

It sounds like the disposables are probably going to win the day. Any additional thoughts on those?
posted by miss tea at 3:09 PM on January 5, 2010

Order diapers from Diapers.com or Amazon's subscription mode for the cheapest. Also BabyCheapskate is a good blog to read for coupon codes.

When we go on vacation, we use Seventh Generation disposables because they're chlorine free. They are not in fact biodegradable.

I've heard good things about Earth's Best diapers though - both chlorine free and biodegradable. They're quite expensive though.

I've heard terrible things about Nature Care (Target's enviro brand).

Most people I know start with the environmentally friendly and then move to Huggies or Pampers because of the cost and fit issues. If we did disposables regularly, we'd probably start with Kirkland (Costco) brand and see if that worked. We use Kirkland wipes are are happy with the quality. When we occasionally use another brand we do see the different in quality though.

Don't buy diapers in bulk no matter what though -- she may be really long or bulky and particular brands won't fit as well.
posted by k8t at 3:27 PM on January 5, 2010

I wanted to cloth diaper. I look back fondly and go, ho ho ho, as I feed my kid dinosaur shaped bits of chicken.

We used Pampers. Never once leaked. We put a receiving blanket under her in the crib, swapped it out once a week, and didn't change the sheets for six months.

Back when I still had some spirit in me, I ordered a beginner package of cloth diapers from these people. We never cloth diapered, or did almost any of the things I planned on which most certainly didn't include dinosaur shaped chicken in my kid's future, but those diapers were freaking awesome.

They are the most absorbent handy little cloths you can possible imagine. They tell you to wash them a bunch of times before using them (it increases the absorbency), which Mr. Llama did, bitching the whole time, but I tell you -- nothing better for the variety of fluids that baby needs wiped up every fifteen minutes or so.

Seriously awesome. I'd recommend non-parents have a few around. They're that good.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:51 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Diapers.com has been great. Super responsive and easy. And easy to return stuff to if it doesn't fit right or even if you buy too many and can't use them up before your child grows out of them. Since I live in one of their prime delivery areas, I get next-day shipping for free.

I have a different experience from k8t wherein I really dislike the Seventh Generation disposables. They run small, they leak, and the brown color of the diapers while seemingly more "natural" is actually pigment that they add back in. Earth's Best (which I think are the same as TenderCare) work way better for us but to some extent it's a matter of what fits your baby's unique shape and size. You'll figure that out through trial and error (and the subsequent loads of laundry everyone has referred to).

Nature Babycare, while often available at Target, is not a Target brand. They are actually more environmentally friendly than Earth's Best or 7thGen, from what I can tell. But some people don't find them as user-friendly. I liked them just fine.

A pretty exhaustive report on the sustainability attributes of a couple of disposable brands is here.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:57 PM on January 5, 2010

We'd like to be economically and environmentally efficient if at all possible, while preserving our baby's comfort (hopefully nothing that will encourage diaper rash) and our own sanity.

Also: sanity first. Think sanity first. Because there's nothing like the almost trancelike high that comes after a few sleepless weeks, and just the total weirdness of having a creature pee herself and need you to fix that every hour or two. Every single thing that you could possibly not think about -- I highly recommend not thinking about it. Do something else later in life and pay back the environment some time when doing so won't be the thing that has you sitting on the kitchen floor and crying.

Plenty of people cloth diaper and are strong people and good for them, but I tell you -- I could not have handled it.

So just look out for yourself first and add more things you can handle as you decide you can handle them, rather than the other way around.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:59 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

We cloth diapered for 13 months and had 30 cloth diapers to roll through and we still did diapers once every 3 days or so on average. We started with cloth diapers from the very beginning out of fear that we'd have no momentum to start if we started with the easy disposable ones. This proved true: we switched to disposables at 13 months partially because of a week-long trip out of state in which we used disposables and fell under their seductive spell.

This is what I would do if I were you to help make a decision:

Find out the cost estimate for using a diaper service.

Compare this to the estimated cost for purchasing a week's worth of cloth diapers (in a few sizes if this will be necessary over the life of the child) plus the cost of cloth wipes, plus cloth/hemp inserts if necessary, plus the detergent (not all detergents are created equal for diapers---we loved Charlie's Soap). Plus snappies if you'll need 'em. Plus spray (concoction) to clean the bum with the cloth wipes. Plus the spray bottle...

Then compare this with the cost of disposables over the lifetime of diapering. Amazon has a 15% discount called Subscribe and Save that saves us $8 each month. The brand we've settled on and love is Natural Choice (tried all other eco-friendly versions we could find except G diapers).

Also, seconding www.diaperpin.com for recommendations of cloth diapers and all their moving parts.

Hopefully this will give you some clarity as to which way to go. (I feel terrible about using disposables over cloth diapers but I guess I just suppress that on a daily basis.)
posted by rabidsegue at 5:04 PM on January 5, 2010

My disposable recommendation for the first weeks/month are the Pampers Swaddlers sensitive diapers with wetness indicator. So awesome. We got them at the hospital and then special ordered them because they've got a colored strip down the front that changes color when the diaper has been used. It's really great to not have to disturb the newborn unless you're sure she's in need of a change.
posted by xo at 5:18 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

we've used combo of everything for the biscuit. my favorite of disposal are g-diapers. i do not recommend flushing them, but you may have a more powerful toilet than we. they are mighty expensive though.
posted by ms.jones at 6:13 PM on January 5, 2010

So, more on the laundry thing. We had a "happy spitter" for our first, who spat up copiously after every feed, which at first (for breastfeeding, anyway) is every 2 hours. I mean copiously. At least 4 outfits/day for him, at least 2/day for me. Literally a dozen burp cloths. There's nothing wrong with babies who do this, as long as they're happy, there's no solution for it, he just keeps soaking everything with sour milk, and you keep washing it. A load of laundry per day, just for him. I know this was more than average, as our second was not like this, but it's not so unusual, either.

So I'd like to add my vote to A Terrible Llama's, for maybe getting your research done on cloth, seeing how you'd do it, but not making any purchases yet, and then seeing what comes up with your baby and how much life force you have left for other things that are important to you. (After "keeping baby healthy" and "keeping self sane.")

The other thing I wanted to mention is that the spitting thing is just one possible issue that can make a baby more time-consuming, and it's not one of the really big ones. I can see how adding an extra laundry load per week could seem like a lot when you're time-stretched, but I guess it also triggers a little "huh" to hear that extra laundry would be a problem, given how the laundry thing was so utterly dwarfed by the other time-consumption issues presented by The Baby.

I'm sincerely sorry if this comes off as patronizing, and I really don't mean it that way, and I also know it's common knowledge that babies are a lot of work. I just thought, hey, extra laundry, way more than once a week, but also not much of a blip in the amount of time devoted around here to babycare.
posted by palliser at 6:56 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh! Another diapering-related tip: I've never used a baby wipe, cloth or disposable, in my life. The baby's bum gets washed in the sink: lay the baby's head in the crook of your non-dominant elbow, face-down, bum in the lukewarm sinkwater, and use your dominant hand to rub the baby's bum. I used a little Cetaphil, too, so that the bum was really clean and I could then just towel dry with a hand towel. Easier than wipes, cheap as can be, more effective in getting baby truly clean. I proselytize for this whenever I can!
posted by palliser at 7:02 PM on January 5, 2010

I CD'd my son from birth until potty training, so I have some experience. I never used a service, so I know first hand that you definitely will NOT be able to CD if you're not willing to wash every two (three max) days. It's really not an option. However, I've heard great things about the local cloth diaper delivery service in town. You just leave the diapers out for them twice a week and they will deliver you fresh ones. Excellent option!

Have you been to Butterfly Baby on Congress Street? It's a fantastic store directed towards the natural/environmentally-friendly parent. Lots of cloth diapers and you'll get connected to people in the community who can help you with this stuff. They will also be able to give you info about the best disposables to use (Whole Foods has a ton of options for chlorine-free and gel-free disposables).

Feel free to message me if you have any questions about cloth diapers. I did a TON of research and I used everything from prefolds with pins to all-in-ones. I was a bit of a nut and actually sewed my own for a bit.

Enjoy the new baby!
posted by Lullen at 9:59 PM on January 5, 2010

I haven't read all the responses, yet my 2 cents. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT think of cloth diapers, even if somebody else will do the laundry for you. We bought 6 of such diapers as a trial (USD 20 each) after reading so many positive reviews on the web and must say, its a total waste of money. On the top of that, our son's skin gets so inflamed that he keeps scratching all the time and that leads to wounds. For the record, we don't leave wet diaper on. We also tried applying Vaseline before using cloth diaper. That didn't help.

My recommendation would be, spend some money but use disposable diapers. To the environmentalists, you will waste more water and detergent on cloth diapers and thats more harmful to the environment.

Spend maximum time with your baby and get your photographic skills sharpened :)
posted by zaxour at 11:08 PM on January 5, 2010

My disposable recommendation for the first weeks/month are the Pampers Swaddlers sensitive diapers with wetness indicator. So awesome.

Seconding this specific recommendation--except for us the wetness indicator wasn't much of an issue because were told (we were told! by our doctor!) not to wake baby up to change diapers unless baby pooped. So we just got the regular supermarket Pampers Swaddlers.

I think before she was born we probably had some sort of notion that we wouldn't be buying products with little cartoon characters on them, thus supporting the giant industrial comics consortium or some bullshit that on reflection, I couldn't care less about.

So there's some staring into the vacant eyes of Elmo involved.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:38 AM on January 6, 2010

We used disposables for the first two months, cloth since then. Disposables on holiday/longer day trips, cloth at home and shorter trips. Given that my washing machine is small enough that I wash every two days sans baby anachronism, adding another load isn't a big deal. It gets washed at night/morning, hung on a small drying rack thingo and either slung outside for sunshine when we get it, in front of the heater in winter or in the laundry somewhere. It just about doubles our washing load - as opposed to the disposable only days of doubling our garbage with non-biodegradable biowaste (on the washing being more harmful to the environment front). Not to mention the chemical crap going into creating the disposables.

But, washing once a week is going to result in some STANK. Your clothes and theirs. Baby poop gets everywhere. Baby anachronism positively explodes out of disposables when she poops in them. Clothes, us, occasionally furniture. Then there's the puke. Not so much pee, but on occasion that'll make an appearance too. I'd be afraid that leaving the laundry for a week means an entire day spent doing it.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:15 AM on January 6, 2010

Thanks all.

Palliser, no worries, I hear you... it's just I am trying to be a little more choosy about which aspects of the time-consuming-ness of baby-having I embrace and which I don't, and the laundry is one I am trying to avoid as less important; but as g.a. says perhaps the quality of life involved with stinky clothing might change my mind.

I'll check out Butterfly Baby. It always scared me as appearing excessively expensive. :)
posted by miss tea at 3:41 AM on January 6, 2010

geek anachronism speaks the truth. That once a week will be an entire day of nothing but laundry.
posted by kmennie at 5:39 AM on January 6, 2010

Anecdotally, we used cotton for just about everything but the first week, while the maconium cleared out. We did a load of diapers every other day. Ran bleach through the washing machine empty every once and a while...

We just used the pre-folds, with a 'snappi' to secure them and a diaper cover to contain the leaks. 3 dozen diapers, five covers, and a couple of snappis 'covered' us.

The pre-folds are cheaper than the fancy shaped ones with the fasteners. The first couple you put on will be an experience, after that we never really thought about the difference between cotton and disposable at all.

You will do changes more often in cotton. At least, we did more than our peers who used disposables.

We used a 'wet' diaper pail system: water and a splash of borax. Cleared out the solids before they went in the pail.

When it was time to wash, dump boraxy solution in laundry tub, rinse, dump water again, and then into the washing machine. Used 'Ivory Snow' for soap, with a splash of borax for each load.

We never experienced the 'smell' everyone seemed to warn us about.

By the end, we both found using disposables more a pain in the rear, which we used when travelling for more than a day.

Other benefits I can think of:
- The offspring never had a diaper rash
- He was fully 'trained' by 24mo: They feel wet in cotton, and apparently learn fast that they don't like that so much.
- You never have to look for a cloth to clean baby messes up. Use a clean diaper, and into the pail it goes with the others for another wash.

The diapers weren't too costly, maybe $150 invested in those. Don't skimp on the diaper covers, they are not created equal. I wish I could remember the make of the ones we ended up using, they were great. The Ivory Snow soap was pricey.

I don't know how we ended up on the economic scale nor the environmental scale, but I can say that this reluctant, squeemish-about-baby-poo papa found diapering in cotton rather enjoyable. It was a quiet, simple one-on-one time with my son. Oddlly I don't think I'd be saying the same thing if we'd used disposables.
posted by csmason at 6:33 AM on January 6, 2010

It sounds like the disposables are probably going to win the day. Any additional thoughts on those?

If you get a Diaper Genie, return that shit and get a Diaper Champ. Diaper Genie insists you use their own inserts; Diaper Champ lets you use any bag you like.
posted by hypersloth at 8:27 AM on January 6, 2010

Skip them both and do like I've done with dog poop for the last five years--wrap it in a plastic bag from the supermarket with a nice tight knot and throw it in the regular trash.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:42 AM on January 6, 2010

Good luck with your decision. Here's what we went through and are about to again - maybe our story will help you along.

1st week - newborn size disposables (generally hard to find at grocery stores but places like target and babies r us carry them routinely) plus disposable wipes: The first week is overwhelming, meconium (new born poop) is like black tar, and the diaper cutout for the umbilical cord stump is a nice feature.

Worth noting is the fact that infants going through approx. 10 diapers a day. If you have any fears about how hard, weird, tricky any type of diaper will be - don't. In a few short days you'll be a champ just based on the sheer number of diapers you'll have changed!

2nd week on - cloth diapers with a diaper service, an assortment of hand me down and resale diaper covers, homemade wipes solution and cloth (flannel) wipes. We had to wash the covers and the wipes ourselves but those can wait (and soak) for longer than diapers (I recommend BioKleen Bac Out). And the homemade wipes solution smells fabulous.

When the kiddo started sleeping for longer stretches a night we tried all sorts of cloth doublers, etc. to prevent leaks and keep her comfy but eventually we despaired and broke down and use an unbleached disposable at night. We also used disposables for longer trips out of the house but generally kept their usage pretty low.

Just over two years in we have a potty trained kid (except at night) who never had a serious diaper rash (i.e. nothing that didn't clear up with a good slathering of creme in a few hours). It may be luck but other parental anecdotes make me think that the combo of cloth diapers (uncomfortable for the kid, easy to tell when wet for the parent who has to change them more frequently than disposables) and our own wipes solution helped out with both.

Just as a gross-out aside, when we hit solid food we started flushing the poop - makes life with diapers (cloth or disposable) way less stinky and is highly recommended by your local landfill.
posted by rosebengal at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2010

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