The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part II: Fresh Start

OK, so, it turns out that buying a bunch of secondhand diapers on the cheap might not be a great idea. But, I wasn’t ready to give up on the whole cloth concept. So, hedging my bets, I purchased the following:

But guess what? If you want to do this at home, without hiring a service, you also need a bunch of other stuff. Luckily, we got a ton of it for free (mostly, I gather, from co-workers who briefly attempted and then gave up on cloth….):

So, for those keeping track, in Part II of this adventure, we invested about $150 (including shipping), but we probably have more like $350 worth of merch. Here’s my take on the goods themselves: 

  • Charlie Banana: These are waterproof pocket diapers with a microfleece lining and adjustable elastic in the leg openings, very similar to FuzziBunz. Unlike FB, the CB leg elastic is sewn in (so, not replaceable, but also one less thing to deal with). It adjusts with a little clip similar to a bra strap. So far I’ve found that tightening the elastic is easy, but loosening it up again is difficult and will rip up your nails. These diapers do not have a rise adjustment in front, but the snaps are arranged in such a way as to give pretty customized fit around the leg.
    Is that a Charlie Banana in your pants, or....?

    Is that a Charlie Banana in your pants, or….?

    These diapers are VERY BULKY and not in a cute way.  It’s less “Oh, look at that cute round baby bottom” and more “Does that baby have some kind of intestinal protruberance….?” We have to size up her onesies if we want to snap them at the crotch over these diapers. And many of her pants don’t even fit over them. In general, I find these easier to stuff than the FuzziBunz were–although the whole stuffing process is still kind of annoying. I literally bought these only because I had Target coupons and gift cards to use. They work fine, but I probably would not buy more.

  • BumGenius Freetime AIO: Meh. I can’t decide if I love these or not! This is the BumGenius version of the all-in-one diaper. Instead of stuffing soakers into a pocket, there are two flaps sewn into the diaper and you just lay one down over the other one. Since they’re not stuffed, these have a slimmer profile than the CBs–all clothes fit over them, even ones she’s pretty much outgrown–and they are easy to grab from the drying rack when I need a diaper now but haven’t had time to stuff the others yet. These diapers do have snaps to adjust the rise in front but as far as I can tell, no adjustable or replaceable elastic in the legs (two months in, this has not been a problem at all). I’d say they’re great, except in the face of poop. I find it hard to spray poop off of them into the toilet without either dipping the loose flaps straight into the filthy water or, alternatively, holding the flaps in place and having all the sprayer water pool in the space where the soaker is attached, and then suddenly spill out everywhere (You can just picture the charming scene, right? Right?), and I suspect that the BG fabric is overall a little stinkier than the others we have. One time one of them came out of the laundry smelling like a stagnant pond.
  • GroVia Hybrid: Are my favorite. The light mesh cover dries super fast, and I like that the soaker just snaps in instead of going in a pocket (not unlike a giant maxi pad). So, if only the soaker gets wet, you can reuse the cover a few tiems between washes! I’m coming to realize this is, like, the point of other cloth diapering systems, but it’s not true of any other diaper in our stash, so highly valued here.  The covers are super, super cute, and the profile is slimmer than CB (but puffier than the BG AIOs). These also also work with disposable stick-in liners that you can use in place of the washable soaker (that’s what makes this diaper a “hybrid). A pack of 50 disposable liners came with my order, and I think I’ve used one or two of them so far. They’re…fine. Shrug. Again, if I’m in a place where disposable works better, I’ll probably just use that. GroVia diapers are available in both snap and hook and loop (aka, Velcro…) closures. I got the hook and loop this time and, honestly, they are so frickin’ easy. It makes a refreshing change from the snaps and they fit perfectly. I assume the closures will ultimately fail, though, especially if I continually forget to fold them down safely every time I wash them. And someone just mentioned that when the Fustible gets older, she’ll be able to pull the diaper right off–something that, I confess, had never even occurred to me (at this point I would die of excitement if she did something as amazing as unfastening a diaper). So for future, maybe hook and loop is not a great idea. A final point in favor of the GroVia Hybrids: Sam, who is somewhat ambivalent about the whole cloth diaper thing, but is being remarkably good sport considering it was all my idea and I charged ahead with it without really consulting him, finds the GroVia Hybrids to be the least onerous of our options to deal with.

I used these almost exclusively at home for my last two weeks of leave, and really got used to the system. I’m getting awesome at the stuffing (not so awesome at the spraying, sigh…) and in general I’ve really come to like the diapers. I also think they contain her mess better than disposables. She seems to have fewer blowouts that affect her clothes in these. These 9 diapers (up to 10 changes, if the GroVia shell stays dry and you can get away with just replacing the soaker with the spare) set us up nicely to do a load of wash every other day, supplementing with a few disposables between rounds of washing and drying. I was overly nervous about the washing at first, but so far it’s fine. I use the BumGenius detergent, and do a prewash cycle (cold) followed by a super cycle (warm/cold—BG calls for hot but CB and GroVia say don’t use hot, sigh, and I’m sure not separating them, so I try to split the difference). I hang them on a drying rack to dry, so far usually just in my bedroom, but as summer actually arrives (it’s going to do that, right?) I’d like to put them in the sunshine to take advantage of its rumored stain and odor-reducing power.

Then, just as I was getting confident in our routine, I went back to work and the Fustible went into daycare full time. By coincidence, this was also the first super muggy, hot week of the year. That first week, I tried to use cloth at home and disposable at daycare. Disaster! Just trust: 1-2 cloth diapers a day does not generate a load of wash quickly enough to head off horrifying stench. And, tension mounted at home: previously I had stood firm on the principle that whoever changes the diaper gets to choose the diapering method, no questions asked. But now, I started to get resentful every time an opportunity to use cloth was “missed.” Not fair, and not the line I’d wanted to hold on this. So for us, cloth at home and disposable at daycare was not a workable solution.

My fallback was to try using the cloth diapers only on weekends, and disposable during the week. But if we were out a lot or traveling–which we do a lot of in the summer–we’d probably still use disposables a lot of the time. So as I estimated out that we’d be saving disposables on what, at most 10 changes a week? I started to get frustrated. Our financial “break even” point on cloth diapers retreated beyond a grim horizon and the whole thing started to seem rather pointless.

But, then! I discovered by accident that daycare actually will do cloth (and in fact two other babies in the infant room already use them). This literally changes everything. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure at first that I wanted to do cloth diapers at daycare: coming home every day with a backpack full of wet and poopy diapers to deal with, just as we’re trying to walk the dog and make dinner, and spend our precious 90 minutes with the babe before she goes to bed, did not sound like a laugh riot. But here’s the thing: we’ve discovered that in the disposables, she blows out her diaper at daycare more often than not. Literally, like three or four days out of five. It’s absurd. In short, we’re dealing with bags of wet and poopy stuff on a near daily basis anyway, so it might as well be diapers that are designed for it (and protect her clothes better) than not.

So now: the Fustible has a stash of disposables at day care, and when I happen to have a bunch of clean cloth at the ready, I drop those off as well, and they use them first, dipping into the disposables as needed (or when individual caretakers aren’t comfortable with cloth, which is fine). Because of my hoarding tendencies, I try not to take in more than a conservative estimate of a day’s supply, because it drives me nuts to be taking “inventory” at home and be missing diapers that have taken up permanent residence in her daycare cubby (ditto her sunhat, monster sweatshirt, and most of her socks, but I digress…), so sometimes they run out of the cloth by the end of the day and have to switch to disposable, and that’s fine with me. So, this is working! We’re all getting the hang of it! But there is still a lag of a day or so between loads of laundry when we’re clean out of cloth. So to fully commit, we need to up our stock, just a touch. More on that another day….

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6 thoughts on “The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part II: Fresh Start

  1. Hooray for finding something that works! I should have mentioned that the GroVia covers are hands’ down our favorites. We have 3 and they are used until they get pooped on. They have sized up better than any of the other covers we’ve used. I keep thinking we should buy more.

  2. You need a Spray Pal. http://www.spray-pal.com/
    They make spraying your diapers so much easier. If I didn’t have my sprayer and Spray Pal, I don’t know that I would be able to stick to cloth diapering.
    Most of my stash is BG 4.0 pockets, and I adore them. I used them on my recently potty trained 2 year old and her 4-month-old brother. They fit both kids super well.

    • That’s a great suggestion, thank you! Some part of me resists the entire idea of paying money for such a specific, weird implement as a funnel to spray diapers into my toilet. But, some other part of me is realllly tired of wiping poop off the walls, so maybe I should just do it.

  3. Pingback: The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part III: Fully Committed | Chameleon in Boots

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