Posts tagged ‘starting cloth’

What are the advantages of laundering my own diapers instead of using a diaper service?

Many people wonder why they should hassle with laundering their own diapers when in many areas, diaper services are readily available.

Diaper services do provide a measure of convenience, since you are not responsible for laundering your own diapers.  In addition, some people find a recurring monthly expense easier to budget for than the larger initial expense of purchasing and laundering your own diapers.  However, diaper services significantly reduce your options (most only offer the option of prefold diapers), and the monthly cost certainly adds up (most cost between $60 and $80 per month)… and this cost doesn’t include the cost of diaper cover, which you have to provide and launder on your own.  It only covers the cost of the prefolds themselves.

And with a diaper service, when your baby is potty-trained, you are left with nothing!  If you choose to buy and launder your own diapers, you can choose any diaper combination you wish, you are not bound to any repeating monthly expense, and at the end of your baby’s diapering, you have a stash of diapers to reuse for another child, or you can pass them along to another baby or recoup some of your investment by reselling them.

The exact same diapers that a diaper service uses can be purchased by the dozen for between $16 and 22… at this rate, you could buy four dozen diapers for the same cost as ONE month of diaper service.  And by trading your monthly service cost for just the cost of water and electricity, you’d end up saving at least $500 a year.

I think diaper services can make sense if you have unreliable/unavailable laundering facilities, or for families that are committed to the ecological and health benefits of cloth but just cannot stomach or have time for the laundering.  But for most people, I think the financial benefits of laundering your own just make it an easy decision.

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February 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm 8 comments

What do I really need to buy to get started?

I realized my last post was getting a bit long-winded, so here’s my suggested list of what you need to purchase before you get started.

Absolute necessities:

diapers: at least 1 dozen (I suggest an average of 1 dozen for each day of laundry. So if you launder everyday, 1 dozen; every other day, 2 dozen, etc.)

If you opt for prefold diapers, then you also need covers.  Prefolds & fitteds aren’t waterproof on their own, so a cover is a necessity.  If you opt for pocket diapers or all-in-twos, make sure they either come with inserts or that you have some for your diaper shells.  The shell isn’t absorbent on its own.

That’s it!  Diapers!  Not too complicated there.

Extras that are very nice to have:

Now I don’t call any of the below accessories true necessities, because you can get by without them. (I have customers that just use old shopping bags for their dirty diapers when they’re out of the house, or they use old trash bags for their dirty diapers at home.)  But all of these are nice things to have.   They also make great gifts for people, if you know someone who is going to be cloth diapering.  Often the accessories get a bit overlooked, but they do make life easier.

wetbag: to store your dirty diapers in when you are on the go ($5-21)

pail liner: to store your dirty diapers in at home ($12-16)

cloth wipes: more economical and easier to use if you’re using cloth diapers. With cloth wipes, you don’t have to worry about separating out the wipes from the diapers; they just all go in the same laundry. You can save money by making these on your own.   Flannel works great! ($12-21/dozen)

diaper sprayer: if your baby is on solids, not really necessary until then. ($40)

January 21, 2010 at 2:25 pm 4 comments

How can I start cloth diapering without breaking the bank?

prefolds

While most people understand that over time you can save a lot of money by using cloth instead of disposables, it still doesn’t change the fact that plopping down $400 for the perfect cloth system is daunting for most, and impossible for many.  So how can you get started without breaking the bank?  Here are some ideas…

First–and I know this sounds simplistic–but try not to focus on everything you’ll need from birth to potty training.  Start small.  I meet many people that get discouraged at the cost of diaper sprayers, bigger sizes, etc… but you don’t go out and buy a year’s worth of disposable diapers at once, right???  If you did, you’d be discouraged with disposables, too!  Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.  Hold off on the purchases you won’t need until later, and start with an essential stash.

There are a couple of ways you can start cloth diapering.  Some people are successful with just buying one or two diapers per paycheck and just cycling those in with their disposable diapers, and slowly building up their stash that way.  This is great for those who are very patient–but it can also lead to discouragement for others.  Trying to use both disposables and just a couple cloth diapers can get very frustrating.  For one thing, you still have all the hassles and expense of disposables, and then you don’t have enough of a stash of cloth to really “get going” and develop a routine.  And, since you are only using one or two cloth diapers a day, it can start to feel like the change to cloth isn’t making a difference, either budget-wise, environmentally, or for your baby.

Another option, and one that I encourage you to think about, is to set aside the money you usually spend in one month of disposable diapering, and build your “starter stash” with that money.  Most families are spending around $50/month on disposables (a bit less if you buy store brands and use coupons, a bit more if you don’t).  For $55 you could try our Cloth on the Cheap bundle, which will outfit you with one dozen prefolds, three covers, and one Snappi.  This system will allow you to get through a day of cloth diapering, so you would be washing daily, but at least you can see if cloth is something that will work for you and your family… and if you decide at the end of the month that it’s not for you, you aren’t really “out” anything, since you just spent the same amount as you would have on disposables anyway.  In fact, if you hate it, you can even sell them or give them away.  And if you like the system, you could opt to expand a bit by adding another bundle or rounding out your stash with selected items from the store, or you can just stay “as is,” washing daily.  You can design a similar system by buying from any store, though I do discount the items a bit if you buy them in the package, so you save some money (and we have free shipping, so why would you really want to shop elsewhere??? 🙂

Now I know some of you are thinking, but aren’t prefolds hard???  And the answer is, not really.  Sure, I admit they aren’t quite as convenient as pocket diapers and some of the fancier modern diapers, but they are still very workable.  I think a lot is just in the frame of mind people go into diapering.  The moms I’ve met that are really committed to diapering in the most economical fashion always seem to manage with prefolds, and then the ones that are sort of set against it going in often find reasons that confirm to them that prefolds aren’t for them.  So, maybe prefolds won’t be your choice…but they are the cheapest way to get into cloth.

If you decide that prefolds aren’t an option, there are some ways to diaper cheaply.  First, check your local Craigslist or mom’s groups and see if anyone is willing to loan or sell their diapers.  Often people want to get rid of their older items, and cloth diapering moms are sort of a “community”–a lot of times people will give killer deals just because we like to see other moms succeed at cloth diapering, too!  There are also some online resources.  Diaperswappers is the premiere place for buying and selling cloth diapers.  (Note: I have not had good success on ebay. First, used diapers are technically prohibited from being sold there, and often the new diapers are no cheaper than buying from a store, but without warranties or any protections that you get from buying from someone reputable.)  On Diaperswappers, you can often find diapers in good used condition for around 50-75% of their new cost.

Also, keep in mind that all of Mothering Grace’s Busy Moms’ Bundles are discounted, and remember that we do price matching, free shipping, and we have a very liberal return policy, too!

Most of all, though, I encourage you to take advantage of resources around you before you set course on a diapering system.  While what works for your friend may not work for you, it is nice to get some opinions from people you know.  And I am always so disappointed that more people don’t contact me and really ply me with questions about diapering.  My favorite part of owning a diapering business, the reason why I got into this, is because it is a joy to help people make the diapering choices that will really work for their families, budget, and lifestyle.  Please take advantage of this if you are considering cloth and chat with me!  I feel confident that there are solutions that make sense for everyone, no matter the budget constraints.

January 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm 4 comments

Question: What kind & how many newborn diapers should I buy?

kissaluvs

The question of what kind and how many newborn diapers comes up a lot, and it’s hard to say exactly what the right answer is for you and your baby.

Many people now opt for a “one-size” diaper as their primary system, thinking this will result in a lot of money savings.  Unfortunately, except for the SoftBums diapers that we carry at Mothering Grace, I really haven’t seen a one-size diaper that will truly fit a newborn.  In fact, most one-size diapers will be sort of ridiculously big on your little one until they hit 12 or 13 lbs.  This may be only 6 weeks or so if you have larger babies, but for others it could mean 3-4 months of oversized fluffiness.

This leaves most people wondering what the “perfect” diaper is to start off their diapering journey, and this is where it gets complicated. For economics, I think prefold diapers are definitely the way to go for this brief period of diapering.  These diapers won’t be getting a ton of use, so it makes sense to go with the cheapest method possible.  However, when one of the big selling points of modern cloth diapers is that they’re just as easy as disposables, it’s hard to tell people, “Oh, but you really should start with prefolds to save money.”  And realistically too, if people get a “bad taste in their mouth” with cloth diapering, then they aren’t as apt to stick with it.

Often people are looking for a more convenient option.  The undisputed “king of newborn cloth diapers” is the Kissaluvs fitted in size 0 (pictured above & coming soon to Mothering Grace!),  It features a handy snap-down that accommodates a newborns umbilical cord, and it fits well in that newborn period up until about 13 lbs.  At $12.95 each, these are substantially more expensive than prefolds, but also much more convenient.  Also, you can frequently find people selling their newborn stashes on diaperswappers or craigslist at steep discounts, so that might be a good way to outfit your newborn stash. (I bought 33 Kissaluv 0’s for $100, so I was happy.)  People often ask if it’s “worth it” to spring for a fancier, easier diaper like Kissaluvs instead of prefolds for newborn diapering, and I think it all just depends.  If you are already a bit nervous about cloth diapering and prefolds don’t sound like something you can handle, or if you anticipate having more children in the future who could use your newborn diapers, then I think you can totally make a case for the diapers being “worth it.”

This discussion wouldn’t be complete though without offering another option: the two-size diaper (like AppleCheeks or Thirsties Duo Diapers).  These diaper makers work from the idea that, if one-size diapers aren’t “really” one-size fits all and you need to buy a newborn diaper anyway, why not just make a two-size diaper?  So AppleCheeks and Thirsties have both stepped in and done just that.  Both will fit newborns from about 7 lbs. up until around 17, and then at that point you would bump up to the size 2 diapers, which fit until about 35-40 lbs.  I think these are a great option for the parent that wants to start with a convenient diaper, and the great thing about these is that they do get a bit more of a customized fit at all sizes than you usually get with a one-size diaper.  Both of these are fantastic diapers, so I encourage everyone to really check them out instead of breezing straight past them to the one-size diapers.

As for how many, I think to be safe with newborns you need at least 20, even if you are okay with laundering once everyday.  Sometimes newborns will be pooping practically right as you’re changing a diaper, and you don’t want to be stuck with not enough diapers.  So while older babies can get away with just 12 diapers per day of laundering, I like to have a few extra for newborns.

January 14, 2010 at 8:01 am 6 comments

question: My child is nearing toddlerhood. Can I still benefit from switching to cloth?

my toddler

I am approached by a lot of parents who fear that, since their child isn’t a newborn and is maybe close to their first birthday or even past it, that they have missed their opportunity to use cloth diapers.  Not so!

It’s never too late to consider a switch to cloth, and never too late to start reaping the benefits of cloth diapering.

First, the health benefits of cloth are going to benefit your child no matter when you switch. By switching to cloth, you’ll be reducing your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals like dioxin that are found in disposables.  Also (and this may excite you), cloth-diapered babies generally potty-train up to 6 months earlier than disposable-diapered babies, so you may be making life easier for both you and your baby by making the switch.

Second, you can still benefit financially, too. The initial investment is what scares many people off from cloth diapering.  But consider this, most babies are in diapers for 30 months, and most families spend at least $50 a month on disposables. If you switched your child at a year, you are still most likely looking at 18 months of diapering, or around $900 of potential disposable diaper costs. We have many systems (in fact, all of our predesigned systems) that cost MUCH less than this, even with the “fancy” diapers like pockets or AI2s.

This savings doesn’t even begin to include the fact that, even after your current baby is done using the diapers, they are still usable for any future children you might be hoping for, or you can sell the diapers when you’re done.  Used diapers sell on average for around 50% of their initial retail value, if you are willing to sell on Craigslist or Diaperswappers.

And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing… I have one friend who started cloth diapering her children literally a diaper at a time, until gradually her budget and time allowed her to build a complete stash.  She is now cloth-diapering full time, but she made the transition without breaking the bank.

Also, you may find that you have more options in diapering types if you are past the newborn stage.  Often the one-size diapers will fit toddlers perfectly until potty-training, or if you opt for a sized diaper, many kids never grow past the size mediums.  You may be able to buy one size and never even need to size up, since toddlers’ bodies often “lean out” as they are more active than the crawlers.  I know with my Grace, she has been in the size mediums for over a year and still has room, and she is a big girl too at 25 lbs. at 17 months.

Starting cloth when your child is older may be the perfect time for you and your family. You are probably more settled into parenthood (or in some cases have adjusted to adding more children to your family) and perhaps more mentally ready to tackle a new diapering venture, now that all the initial changes of bringing a baby home from the hospital have wound down a bit.

If you are interested in starting with cloth, I do recommend trying to find some support and checking out the diapers yourself in person if possible.  Often the selection online seems overwhelming, and it’s difficult to grasp the differences between each diaper if you can’t see them for yourself.  At the very least, even if you don’t have local cloth diapering resources, feel free to contact us with any questions.  My favorite part of owning a cloth diaper store is helping parents make the transition to cloth and introducing them to all the varieties that are available.

January 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm 3 comments


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