Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cloth Diapers

My husband and I decided to use cloth diapers with our baby.  I don't know exactly what made me decide that it was a good idea, but I read about them somewhere and decided I wanted to do it.  I read up on them and talked with Jon and we decided to do them for two reasons, neither more important than the other, price and environment.  When I think about the number of disposable diapers sitting in landfills, that's pretty sad and I didn't want to contribute to it. (besides the effort that goes into making each diaper and shipping them to the store…it all adds up to a lot of materials and transportation.)  Also, diapers are expensive!  So, here's the breakdown on how it's been going. 

We used disposable diapers for most of Cora's first two months. We got lots of diapers as presents and we visited family and friends over Christmas so we didn't want to be borrowing people's washing machines to wash our dirty diapers in. (Also, that way we didn't need to buy any "newborn" size cloth diapers.) Cora is now over 3 months old, so I have about 6 weeks of experience using both types of diapers.

First, the diapers.  We bought the type of diapers that have a waterproof outside and a cotton or hemp insert.  So, most of the time the insert is wet, but the waterproof outside is re-usable. We bought a few different brands to see which ones we liked the best. Most of the diapers we bought were the one size fits all type.  Each diaper has a dozen snaps so that you can make them smaller or larger depending on your baby's size. We spent about $250 on all our diaper supplies.   Ok, beside the price and environmental savings---look at how cute that baby is in her little diapers!  Look at that!!!!! 

I really like being able to put a super soft white fluffy diaper against her skin rather than a disposable diaper.  (I hadn’t anticipated caring about that particular aspect of diapering.)

Here's how an average day goes.  She usually dirties 6-8 diapers per day, one of them poopy.  We have a bin with a liner under the changing table that we throw the dirty inserts and/or diapers in. (So far, there is no smell.) We also use cloth wipes, so those go in the bin too. We usually wash them every other day, so it makes a pretty small load of laundry, only about 15 diapers and the wipes per load.  I rinse off the two poopy diapers before putting everything in the washer. Then I hang the diapers to dry outside. 

Now that she's exclusively breastfed, her poos are pretty liquidy and they rinse away easily.   I've heard that changes once they start eating solid foods.  Once that happens, we'll start using liners in the diaper and when your baby poos you can just flush the poo and the liner down the toilet.  We'll try to use the bathroom at the same time so we're not adding more energy and water costs.

It really hasn't been too much of a hassle.  Cora's nanny is happy to use the cloth diapers and just sends home the dirty inserts every day.  (I’ve heard some daycares won’t use cloth diapers, so that will need to be a factor.) It takes about ten or twelve minutes every other day to rinse the poopy ones, wash them, hang them, and put them away. It's not gross and the liners are all still as white and clean as the day we bought them.  The diapers seem to work great so far.  We’ve had a few “blow outs” and most of them were with the disposable diapers, the cloth ones work just as well at keeping the mess contained.  She hasn’t had a diaper rash yet, but she’s only 3 1/2 months old, so that’s not saying a lot. 

When we go out, we have a small waterproof bag that we keep the used inserts in. We bought a pack of disposable inserts months ago, and haven’t used them all up yet, but I don’t think we’ll buy them again. It’s just as easy to use the cloth inserts and bring them home as it is to use the disposable inserts and find a place we can throw them in the garbage.  (I don’t want to leave dirty diapers at a friend’s house, for example.)

So, the time isn't too much of an issue, how about cost? 
(Although we live in Japan, I've calculated in $ rather than \.)

I went to this awesome website that lets you input your energy costs, brand of diapers you use, estimated age of potty training your baby (I estimated 26 months, but who knows?) and all sorts of other information.

It’s a great idea to go here and type in your own costs if you’re interested in cloth diapers.  You can personalize everything to match your lifestyle and see if cloth diapers would be worth it.  For example, I know that I wouldn’t want to buy the cheapest disposable diapers.  So I factored in a moderately priced disposable diaper.  I was also able to choose exactly the brand of cloth diaper we use, our electricity and water costs for laundering, and so forth.

Total Cost for Cloth Diapers in 26 months:
Total Cost for Disposable Diapers in 26 months:

I think the price savings is considerable, especially considering that we’ll re-use the biggest expense (the diapers, inserts, diaper bin, etc.) again with the next baby and save about $250. 

The terribly ironic thing is that the thing I most want to do with the extra money is take a trip to Thailand and spend a week at an elephant reserve.  Well, the jet fuel we’d use up flying there probably negates any environmental savings from the cloth diapers!

Anyhow, let me know if you have any questions about cloth diapers or tell me how your cloth diapering experience worked!


Tricia and Michael said...

I've moderately toyed with the idea of cloth diapering. I think its great that its becoming more popular. But the research kindof overwhelms me and I hate laundry. Do most of the people in Japan use cloth? Will it be an issue at all at the day-care she'll go to?

Love the baby updates. She looks so happy and sweet. Wish I could squeeze her.

Sara Hendricks said...

Yeah, the research is a little overwhelming. There are so many different styles and price ranges. Some people swear by one type or another. If you're interested, our favorite brands are "Grovia" and "Thirsties." They're not the cheapest, but we like them and I feel like they will last through a number of kids.

Most people in Japan use disposable, but our nanny thinks cloth are fine, so she's happy to use them. Once Cora is a little older, she'll go to day care and I'm not sure how they will feel about cloth diapers.

The UnMighty said...

Here's my experience with disposable diapers...

So cost and environment aside, I'm sold.

Vance Abby Jane said...

That's cool to learn about and that calculator is so helpful too. Sara your baby girl is so beautiful!! Like one of the prettiest babies I've ever seen!!

Sara Hendricks said...

Thanks Abby! I think so too!

Unmighty--ewwwww. I'm fine with my OWN baby's poo.

@lliE said...

That is interesting. I've not considered it at all, because I think of the old school way, the way our parents used to do it-- Eh, no thanks.

But your system looks pretty cool-- and manageable.

She is a cute little sweetie baby. Wish we could have seen here-- I'm hoping for this summer.

@lliE said...


Sara Hendricks said...

As an update. The nanny who watches Cora said yesterday that she has (ewww sorry) particularly big and explosive poos compared to other babies. (Sorry Cora if you're reading this someday!) So I'm double impressed that the diapers seem to hold everything safely.

wanderingstar83 said...

I am really happy to see that you have written another entry. This is great to know am glad that the cloth diapers are more manageable than I would have expected. I hope you keep blogging!