Friday, April 9, 2010

Babies on a Budget--Diaper Edition of those things you just can't avoid if you are having a baby! Never all that pleasant to deal with, but very, very necessary. Unless you have a child who comes out potty trained. In which case I am incredibly jealous! :)

When we got pregnant with Little Guy I decided fairly quickly that I was at least somewhat interested in using cloth diapers. The more I researched, the more interested I became. It really started out as a way to save a lot of money. Then I learned about the environmental impact of disposables. And that you were supposed to empty the 'contents' of disposables (just like you do with cloth) in order to prevent ground water contamination. Then I started hearing numbers about what disposables cost and I became even more convinced that we should cloth diaper. Seriously, I thought it would probably be cheaper, but as I researched and price checked I found out how very, very much money I could save our family! Average cost of disposables per child $3240 and average cost of cloth $600 for all children in the family.

So basically, the 'eeewww' factor should be the same (dealing with contents and such), the environmental impact would be less and the cost would be substantial less. Why not give cloth a shot? Then I discovered the entire new language I would need to learn to decide which cloth to use! Talk about overwhelming....

So there are pre-folds, Chinese pre-folds, diaper service quality pre-folds, one size, pockets, all in ones, contoured, fitted, covers, wool soakers, snappis, microfiber inserts, hemp inserts, bamboo inserts and then there are all of the same choices, but in organic and then there are the name brands, and those made by at home moms and all the used choices and then there abbreviations that people use, but I didn't understand. I'm sure I've missed about 45 other different terms I kept hearing, but all in all my head pretty much started spinning. I am college educated and actually really like researching things, but I was way overloaded! It may have been because I was pregnant and had mommy brain, but it just seemed more confusing than it needed to be!

I started talking to Mike about options, prices and the whole idea. He was onboard and supportive from the beginning. Mike never baby sat and had never changed a diaper. He figured if he had to learn and he learned with cloth he wouldn't know any different. Have I mentioned that I love my husband? And we knew there would be laundry, but I work part time and Mike is at home when I'm at work so we figured we could probably keep up with it. Really it is one load every couple of days, not too much all in all. Really, really love that man!

I finally figured I should keep it simple and make a decision. I read many good things about Kissaluv 0s for newborns, especially those who are breastfed. These diapers were the kind that needed covers and there were a ton of different recommendations. I read many more good things about using one size diapers since they can take a baby from 8 pounds up to about 35. Basically kids can use them until they are potty trained, so it is truly a one time investment. I kept hearing about bumGenius and Happy Heiny diapers and decided to focus on those. Their one size diapers are pockets, which just means that they have a slit on the inside where you put an insert. The insert is what actually does the absorbing and the diapers come with inserts. Of course, you can always buy more inserts or ones made of different materials (hemp, bamboo, etc) but the basics are there when you get started.

I focused on finding those three brands. The Kissaluvs for when Little Guy was newborn and one size diapers to move into as he got a little bigger. I was open to finding used diapers in order to further lower our cost. I also figured if I bought used and it didn't work out I could resell them and we wouldn't lose any money. I knew we'd take a hit of some sort if I bought new and we decided we didn't like them. I ended up searching on craigslist, diaperswappers, and even asking at rummage sales when I saw things that indicated a possible cloth diapering family.

In the end we bought 5 used bumGenius 2.0s. They were in perfect shape (seriously doubt they were used more than once or twice) and have held up very well. I think bG are diapers that continue to look really nice inside and out, but we've heard from many friends who bought new 3.0s that they have issues with the velcro. We are glad ours are older even if they only came with one insert (the new ones come with two). We also bought 12 used Happy Heinys. These came with two inserts which is helpful at night as we could double Little Guy up as he became a heavier wetter. These looked rougher when we bought them, but they are our work horses. My husband prefers these and overall we seem to have less leaking when using our HH. We were also gifted 2 of these new and very quickly we could not see any difference between the new and the used. The lining of Happy Heiny diapers just gets more beat up more quickly, but it does its job! The velcro tabs are also much bigger which makes for a more secure fit around the waist. (I should mention that ours are all velcro, but there are versions that use snaps as well. The only snaps on ours are the ones that adjust the rise in the front...making it bigger as he grows.) All of these diapers were bought from craigslist listing here in Milwaukee.

We did decide to also get Kissaluv 0s for the early days. I bought a lot of 20 of these from diaperswappers. The person was patient with me as I was such a newbie! The days these came I was in serious nesting, momma mode and just fell in love with them. They are so tiny and such soft colors and I was totally excited to have my baby and put him in them! I believe we got a cover or two as part of the package, but I knew we'd need a few more. I found a mom through rummage sale asking who sold me another 6 Kissaluvs and a couple of covers. Then she suggested I also buy her 12 prefolds. I wasn't sure about those, but decided the price was low enough that they would be my insurance. If we didn't like them, I'd sell them and we would have them on hand in case laundry became overwhelming during the early days when changes happen so, so often. It turns out we didn't love them, but they did help out a few times. We've kept them, but if we don't use them more with this baby we will be selling them. I figure I'd rather use the money to buy one or two more one size diapers. We used our KL0s for about 2 months and do not think they were absolutely necessary, but I'm glad we had them. They fit during those little days and I'm not positive that the one size would have.

We spent less than $400 for all our diapers and wash cloths that we use for wipes. The diapers were all used. And they are still being used! And they will be used even more shortly! Now we are working to build up our stash for when Baby 2 and Little Guy are both in one size. We've added another 5 Happy Heinys I found on craigslist and we figure we still need to add some more. I'm guessing we'll spend less than an additional $100 on diapers for this baby. And really, we could just use what we have, but like to have enough that we do not wash a load of diapers every day.

There are many ways to save on disposables (coupons, store brands, etc) but the best way to save money on diapers is to use cloth. We figure we paid for our stash by the time Little Guy was about 4 months old. And we've had almost no expense since then. We wash our diapers in Charlie's Soap, in case you are wondering about caring for them. We hang them out on a line or in our basement (during the winter) and only very occasionally dry them in the dryer (again, in the winter.) We love them so much we've been known to hog the conversation around new parents and extol the virtues of cloth diapering if they are at all interested or asking questions. My husband actually talks about it with his friends! And yes, my husband washes diapers! Love him :)

If you have any questions or comments about cloth diapering or the love and care of them I am more than willing to answer questions. Some wonderful moms responded when I was asking questions and were more than happy to answer my questions. I'm more than willing to continue paying it forward! Be warned, some people do become cloth diaper addicts and get very into the different styles, prints, and options which can become very pricey. We may love our diapers, but we've kept it simple and I've worked to keep our budget low!

Happy Diapering!

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