Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cloth diapering

I've been learning about cloth diapering now for over a month. I think that historically, I always assumed we'd just use the "standard" disposable diaper approach, however upon doing some research my opinion has swayed. The top two reasons I'm seriously considering this option are the reduced environmental footprint (which can be significant if the clean & care process is managed effectively and if the diapers are reused for another child) and the health of baby's skin. Additional benefits include saving some $$ (again, depending mainly on the factors cited above) and the likelihood of potty-training earlier (though evidence for this admittedly appears to be anecdotal).

So what's next?

The first thing I'm going to do is buy some baby and cloth diaper-friendly laundry detergent. Even if we don't end up cloth diapering long-term, we'll still want to wash the rest of baby's clothes in detergent that is free of harsh elements such as fragrances, dyes and brighteners. This site contains an awesome detergent comparison chart. I'm currently leaning toward the Country Save powdered detergent as a first go because it received the highest rating on the chart, is cheaper than most/all of the others with this rating and gets terrific reviews.

Secondly, I'd like to at the very least buy a small number of trial diapers if not go all the way and purchase 2+ days worth (at least 24 diapers). I've essentially decided that one-size is the best option for us. Although they are more expensive upfront, they grow with baby and (generally speaking) are very easy to use - similar to disposables. I'm currently researching various brands that are sold at the Extraordinary Baby Shop including BumGenius, Fuzzi Bunz and GroVia. They all appear to be high-quality products and well-reviewed. I'm not yet sure whether we'll stick to a single brand or try at least a couple of them.

Third, we need to decide on our cleaning approach. I'm currently inclined toward laundering at home due mainly to the cost of cleaning services, though there are many considerations to iron out including storage approach (wet vs. dry pail), whether or not we install a mini-bidet (I like the idea of this and my co-worker who cloth diapers is enthusiastic about hers, however hubby is less than thrilled at the prospect of "spraying poo water all over the bathroom" :) ), how many and what type of wash cycles, drying options, etc. That said, we could always start with one approach and make adjustments based on hands on learning coupled with more research. I don't think home care necessarily needs to be a huge PITA - just a matter of figuring out a system that works efficiently for your household & lifestyle.

Finally, there's the issue that some child care facilities do not embrace cloth diapering so we'd need to keep this in mind as well (either choosing an option that does, or being willing to do a combination of cloth & disposable diapering).

So that's about where we're at now. More to come on this!


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