my cloth diaper fairy godmother delivers: first impressions of our new cloth diapers

Since many of you have played cloth diaper fairy godmothers and fathers by buying the Beard and I something from our baby registry, I wanted to share how ecstatically excited I was this morning when the first package of loot arrived at my door. Look! Look! You made my morning.

Though these things were ordered ages ago, they were all sent to my cousin’s house in America first. She then repacked them to send to Germany together. Because international postage is a bitch, and it’s getting more expensive by the second. Not to mention customs fees, which get charged when you order something but don’t get charged when individuals send you gifts.

This package was mostly full of cloth diapers, diaper inserts, a few diaper covers, and biodegradable liners that you can use to make dealing with pooped up diapers easier. I think hormonal insanity may be the only explanation, but cloth diapers make me really, really excited. Inordinately excited. But at least some part of dealing with poop does. Otherwise diapering for the next however many years would be a pretty grim prospect. (Am also excited at the thought of trying this, though I don’t think I’ll bother even attempting it until next summer when we’re outside all the time again.)

There are a lot of reasons to choose cloth diapers, and there are a lot of reasons to choose disposables. We chose cloth for three reasons. One: I cannot morally stomach the thought of putting somewhere around 6,000 little “disposable” pockets of crap into the landfill. And jaysus, have you ever read those stories about people excavating fifty-year-old diapers from landfills and finding little nasties like live polio cultures in them? No thanks. We owe it to the survivors of the apocalypse not to leave things like polio (these cultures get into diapers through vaccines by the way) laying around in a huge heap of other valuable resources. Two: Price. Disposables are expensive when you add them up over time. Cloth diapers are expensive once. The difference turns out to be about a tenth of the cost (you would have paid for disposables if you use cloth), according to these folks. If we ever have another kidlet, those numbers just keep getting more attractive. And the fact that we choose cloth diapers as THE thing we wanted to get as presents from the present-minded, those numbers are looking a whole lot like a big fat happy zero. You guys rock. Three: I don’t use things like disposable pads because I find the feeling of that fake-o pad material absolutely horrible. And because disposable products are pretty much the business persons’ wet dream solution to holding buying trends steady, and I don’t want to support that. And because of the environment. It’s all cloth for me, and I’m not going to put my kid in something that I find uncomfortable myself.

There are of course lots of other benefits too, according to the moms of the internet. You tend to get less diaper rash, they smell better, they are fucking adorable, they aren’t choc full ‘o chemicals, and etc. The only problem I’ve heard about so far being that cloth diapers put your kid in a bigger bottom size than with disposables, which can make finding onies that fit impossible. But I didn’t buy anything under size 62 (three months) anyway. You also, obviously, have to do a lot more laundry, but it’s a price I’m very willing to pay to reap all those benefits.

The irony of purchasing cloth diapers out of ecological concern/guilt is the way they come packaged. You’d think that companies marketing to crunchy folks interested in having a low eco-footprint, or whatever the hell that’s called, would be smart enough not to pack their products in individual plastic bags. But FuzziBunz, Kissaluvs, Happy Heinys, and GrowVia all do. Look at all this fucking trash! Just from eleven diapers!

Yeah, yeah, yeah FuzziBunz, print “No waste” and “Eco friendly” on the paper wrap inside the plastic wrap you deliver your products in. No one will notice your hypocrisy. They’ll obviously be too busy hugging trees. Cough. Hack. Choke. The only brand that seems to have thought about this issue is Thirsties. Their cloth diapers all came in “Responsibly & Sustainably Packages 100% Biodegradable/Compostable Bags.” Good for you, Thirsties. And we’ll see if I still think you’re so great when I bury your bags in the compost, and they are still there next year… (I have heard too many questionable things about biodegradable plastics to erase all cynicism on the subject. But maybe my experiment will prove me wrong.) And anyway, they still deserve some extra points for better intentions.

I’m rabidly curious to start testing all these diapers, and I’m sure once the time comes I’ll be writing some detailed ramblings about the pros and cons of all the different styles we’re trying out. But even pre-use, I’ve already got some concerns. Happy Heinys, for example, say right on the label that you’re going to have to replace the elastic around the leg in their diapers at least once in their lifetime, or at six months of use. And yet they do not look easy to take out and replace. FuzziBunz, on the other hand, admits the same but includes replacement elastic and have fashioned the bits of elastic around the leg in such a way as to make them easy to switch out. Many of the inserts (to make the diapers more absorbent) don’t fit in many of the diapers’ designated diaper insert pockets. (Good thing I’m mostly planning on folding up prefolds and bits of towel and burp cloths to use as inserts. Then I can at least make them whatever size I need.) But the real test is yet to come.

So. In conclusion, Captain Diaper Head says:

1. Cloth diaper companies should really reconsider all the plastic packaging. (Maybe I should mail it back to them with a complaint letter? Any other ideas on meaningfully commenting on that?)
2. If you’re going to make diapers that are going to need repairing make them easy to repair, even for sewing idiots. Especially for sewing idiots.
3. Glow-in-the-dark-skull-and-crossbones cloth diapers are the best thing to happen to baby poop since, well since I don’t know what, but they are fucking awesome.
4. Thank you so much to all of the Click Clack Gorilla readers who bought us something from the registry. You are super heroes all.

Want to read more Click Clack thoughts on Gorilla Parenting? Check out…

if you do not buy our products, we will kill you
buns, ovens
possibly the future kindermobile
ramen confessions
punk rock dads and peanut’s pants
midwives and home birth in germany part one
midwives and home birth in germany part two

This post was a part of the Cloth Diaper Blog Hop on Change Diapers.

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Friday November 11th 2011, 8:50 am 17 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,gorilla parent (pregnancy)

17 Comments so far. Please leave a comment.

I love your reusable nappies – they are really pretty! It is good that you are feeling enthusiastic about nappy changing, as there will be lots to come! I knew a lot of people who tried reusables, but I am not entirely sure their hearts were completely in it as I don’t know one that stuck with it. I think in the UK that some nurseries ‘demand’ disposables, so when people returned to work they changed to disposables then. Which is a real shame, isn’t it?

I look forward to reading about your adventures in Elimination Communication. I think I did a bit of that with Hamish (though his part in the communication was non-verbal!). He has always been pretty reliable. He needs to pee precisely 15 minutes after drinking, and I could tell when he needed to pee from when he was much younger as he ahem….always looked ‘perkier’.

Comment by fiona 11.11.11 @ 9:28 am

Had to comment: I just saw an old friend – with a two-week-old baby – yesterday and she put the used disposable nappy in a plastic bag!!! And this is her second child, although I don’t know if she did the same with the first – not really being much of a baby person myself. I was horrified, but too much of a mouse to blurt out how I felt…

BTW, I use a mooncup, which is totally wonderful and ecological.

Love your blog!

Sara

Comment by Sara 11.11.11 @ 11:45 am

You did include the picture! hahaha that makes it all worth it.

I say you wait until the rest arrive and then put it all together and mail it. Unfortunately I already through away the literally hundred or so of those plastic air pocket things that were in EVERY SINGLE BOX. I couldn’t believe how much packaging went into the shipping. All the stuff from amazon- the diapers were in boxes four times their size, and the extra space was filled by those air pocket things. AND occasionally one came in a box INSIDE ANOTHER BOX. I couldn’t believe it. The boxes at least I can use to line the bottom of the chicken house but the plastic? Ack.

Comment by fishinthewater 11.11.11 @ 3:27 pm

thank you for this commentary! i love that cloth diapering has taken off again in our society, but i do not love all of the plastic manifestations… you mention fuzzi bunz, and as far as i know, the diaper itself is made of entirely synthetic fabric (maybe they have other styles i’m not aware of yet). so, you could add it to the list of “not going to go away when i compost it.” at least in the diaper’s case, it has been reused hundreds of times before composting and there is no arguing that cloth diapers are better, whatever materials they are made of, than disposables… it’s just that i think we could do a lot better. you will probably find that the smaller the company (think work at home mama style handmade etsy shops etc), the more likely they are to send you not only less packaging, but are often going to be reusing what packaging they do use. oh, and i am also appalled at the “will need repair” factor. again, while the handmade shops will usually stand behind their work and replace a failed snap or elastic, they are also putting out a product that is built-to-last in the first place- not programmed to self destruct. it just seems to play into the whole capitalist vortex you described- this way, you have to go back and purchase something more from their company. sounds like a disposable… anyway sorry to rant! in case of future snap/elastic failures, you can often, again, support WAHMs, lots of them offer dipe repair service on their websites, for a very reasonable charge, and will deal with those name brand dipes in some cases. i hope information is going to outweigh rant in this comment! :)

Comment by mb 11.11.11 @ 6:24 pm

Fiona: Thanks! I love them too. And hopefully will still love them once we start actually using them…

Sara: Wow, that’s a lot of waste (the plastic disposable diaper in the plastic bag). I wish we, as a culture, would get over using plastic for everything already.

I’ve never tried a mooncup. I don’t like plasticy things anywhere in that area of my body though, which has always kept me using cloth pads instead of trying any of those cups.

MB: Rant or information, who cares, you can leave long rant-feeling comments on here whenever you like, I love it! Reading a long comment from someone like-minded always feels like some sort of virutal high five.

And yeah, the issue of what the reusable diapers themselves are made of and whether they will ever decompose is a whole other can of worms. Seems like I’m just sitting here surrounded by opened cans of worms. :) I didn’t really think about that aspect when picking diapers out. Just went for a bunch of each kind I found that I thought looked practical and sounded good.

I keep wondering if at the end of it all I’m going to end up finding the “old school” prefolds to be the best. They are certainly the cheapest and seem to be the most likely to eventually decompose.

Comment by clickclackgorilla 11.12.11 @ 6:11 pm

Yay! I always love new mom’s who cloth diaper! I worked in a very eco-conscious diaper service for awhile and still cloth diaper my own LO. We use gDiapers with prefolds because the gDiaper covers are biodegradable (except the elastic, velcro, and snaps) since they are all cloth and/or a biodegradable plastic. The prefolds are the way to go, imo. A note of warning-breastfed newborn poo tends to go everywhere and you will still have a few “blow-outs” with cloth-though considerably less than with disposable!

Also, just a heads up for you-do NOT use fabric softener of any sort, check your absorbency of the diapers because you will sometimes have “build up” occur which then needs “striped”, and always use a diaper cream that is cloth diaper safe (I use Broody Chick). If you wash the diapers and they end up with green dots in them then that means that there is an enzyme in the breastmilk that the baby isn’t able to digest-the diaper is still absorbent though and it doesn’t harm the baby that I know of. AND if there is a yellow stain after washing then the diaper cream that was used isn’t okay for cloth. If you have cornstarch I’d use it as an inexpensive powder on baby’s booty.

Oh, and we p/t EC’d our LO starting at 4mo. She’s still in cloth right now for medical reasons preventing us from always knowing when she needs to go but she is very comfortable on all sizes of potties and will hold it even if we don’t catch her. She even sleeps a full 10hrs through the night without peeing unless she’s had a lot to drink before bed.

Good luck and I am so excited to follow your journey!

Comment by Dawn 11.14.11 @ 8:57 pm

:) i hear you on the cans of worms! it does feel like that, being an expecting mama, sure enough. i will open one more for you- fitted diapers that are all cotton, using wool covers/longies. closer to the goal of all composting…

Comment by mb 11.14.11 @ 11:18 pm

Dawn: Thanks for all the tips! Cornstarch, eh? Good to know. I haven’t looked into diaper creams at all yet. Wasn’t even sure I would need to go there, but better to look into it now then when I’m desperate I figure.

As for the fabric softener, I’ve never used it in my life, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I actually don’t even usually use detergent (wash nuts are our favorite). So that part should be covered. I’ve heard good things about just washing them with a bit of tea tree oil in with the laundry. Anybody else do that?

It’s going to be irritating drying everything during the winter, already not sure how well that is going to work. (We don’t own a dryer and if I have to go into town to use a laundromat I basically just stop doing laundry.) But a few days ago the Beard installed a pretty awesome ceiling hanging system thing for laundry drying that should be a good solution since the heat from the wood stove dries things very, very quickly.

MB: Yeah that does sound like the best possible combination. I need to convince my mom to knit us some wool diaper covers. I have been oogling a bunch of them on the internet. Actually, that’s how I found your blog!

Comment by clickclackgorilla 11.15.11 @ 12:43 pm

Yay! Baby presents! That is crazy that cloth diapers come with that much packaging.

Comment by Katherine Martinelli 11.15.11 @ 6:56 pm

I am totally intrigued by that potty training method. I tried it one day and andre pooped in the toilet and peed in the potty both times i tried it. then he started having some health issues and we had to inspect his poop, then my mother in law came to live with us and i knew that just wasn’t going to go over too well, and blah blah blah. but i think it’s a really interesting idea and i think it could totally be done. let me know if you ever give it a go how it works out!

Comment by Jillian 11.16.11 @ 5:23 am

Jillian: Awesome to hear that a few attempts at EC worked out. I’m totally fascinated by that method too. And wow, your moms in law moved in with you guys? How’s that going?? Best of luck…

Comment by clickclackgorilla 11.16.11 @ 4:22 pm

Penniless Parenting cloth diapers without a dryer (but you probably already saw that). We use soap nuts too-works great. I add a bit of oxi-clean to get out stains but baking soda, borax, or vinegar works just as well. I’ve never tried tea tree oil because it’s expensive for us but I’ve heard that it can help with disinfecting since it’s anti-bacterial.
Can I just say that I wanna see your awesome drying system?! I wanna live in a tiny home and am looking for drying ideas… :) Good luck!

Comment by Dawn 11.16.11 @ 7:38 pm

the mother in law thing is ok – ya know, has it’s ups and downs as you would expect. she is just living with us until feb. to get to know her grandchild and help us our with childcare for a while. it’s a huge help and saving us a lot of money, so i can’t complain.
about EC: my sister went to china for her doctoral program and brought back crotchless pants for andre (haha) and we did a bunch of research on what the deal was with that. i think it would be fun to try, and i always like to tell people about it when they use that old line “it’s all about when the child decides they are ready” in reference to potty training. i work a lot with behavior as a special ed. teacher for students who are pretty developmentally delayed and it’s going to be interesting to see how much of my “behavior mambo jambo” will effect my son. he’s my little experiment so maybe once my mother in law leaves i will give EC a go. I read that the woman in daycares in china can potty train little americans over the course of a week or so with it. if they can do it, why can’t i? (famous last words). haha. :) take care, hope you are feeling well! being pregnant is awesome, i miss it already.

Comment by jillian 11.17.11 @ 1:05 am

p.s. is that bad that i referred to my child as “my little experiment”? i mean that in the best possible way (my experiment to turn out the most incredible human being in the world – no pressure, little buddy!). haha.

Comment by jillian 11.17.11 @ 1:13 am

Dawn: I am totally planning on posting pictures of the new ceiling drying racks soon. Next time I do laundry and fill them up probably.

Jillian: Haha, I don’t think it’s bad calling him your “little experiement.” What is parenting besides one enormous life-long experiment anyway? Haha. I’m interested to hear how your behavioral “mambo jambo” effects him too. I love to read stuff on the subject, so I’m sure I’ve got my share of it too. :) All the countries where they handle potty training differently are such a good reminder how much of our child rearing stuff is cultural and not The One True Way that must be followed at all costs. A lot of pretty judgemental parents (about “alternative” parenting stuff) I’ve met could use the reminder…

Glad to hear that having the mother-in-law there isn’t too stressful. Cool that she could take so much time to come get to know him. Hopefully my mom can take the time to do something similar at some point.

I am trying to savor the pregnancy at the moment for sure. Suddenly it’s starting to feel like it’s going to be over SO soon (and yet the birth still feels kind of far away), and every time I remember what it was like to throw up all the time I do a little inner cartwheel at not feeling like that anymore.

Comment by clickclackgorilla 11.17.11 @ 3:17 pm

As for diaper creams, I can tell you a good herbal remedy. A calendula (pot marigold) salve made of calendula blossoms, olive oil, and beeswax. Worked great on my daughter’s friend’s baby who only changed his disposable diaper 2-3 times/day. He had horrible diaper rash and one coating with it caused almost all the redness to go away. And she kept him in a carseat all the time till he was about 3 mos. old. Use 1 cup dried calendula flowers, 2 cups olive oil and slow cook in double boiler for 3 hrs. Strain and add beeswax: 1 part beeswax to 4 pts. infused oil. Keep in a cool dark place. Completely natural and should wash out of diapers. I didn’t use it as I didn’t know about it 27 yrs. ago with my kids. You have my e-mail, if questions ask. Hope all goes well with little peanut.

Comment by Deb 01.15.12 @ 5:32 pm

 Cloth diapers are awesome. Messy some times but worth it!

Comment by Jenny 05.20.12 @ 9:25 pm




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