December 14, 2010

Cloth for a working mom: Follow up on diapering part time...

photo by Thirsties

Part-time cloth diapering is going well for us, I think. By part time, I mean that during the week, we are using a cloth diaper at night (rump-a-rooz). We upped our "stash" of these to 3 right after I returned to work. Occasionally there is a need for an additional diaper between coming home from daycare and going to bed, and then we use a cloth diaper here, too. Also we moved up a size in the Thirsties covers and prefolds. The latter are quite a bit bigger than the newborn-size ones we started with, so this has been a bit of a challenge. On the flip side of that, though, they certainly hold more moisture before needing to be changed. So now on the weekends, we have enough diapers to last all day, so we go all cloth starting Friday afternoon with his early pickup from "school".

The laundry situation is not all that daunting. Monday we start with all clean diapers. By Wednesday we are on the last overnight diaper, so we wash the two other dirty ones with a load of baby clothes that evening, and an extra rinse cycle on the end. The overnight diapers are usually only wet ones, so this work out perfectly. Then we hang them up to dry overnight (or the next morning if we forget). We are now in the winter months, and we keep the drying rack near an air vent, so they definitely are dry by the time we need them the next night. This was more of an issue in the warmer months, when we didn't have the heat going. But then we could hang them up outside without fear of diaper-sicles! Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings (after the babe's in bed) we generally do an entire load of diapers and dry overnight for the next day.

The husband involvement is going well. I can't say he is as into the idea of cloth diapering as I am, but he is resigned to the fact that I really want to do it. AND he has more confidence in a cloth diaper for containing poopy messes than a disposable. AND he actually defended the "ease" of diapering in a conversation recently. He is still skeptical about how to flush "real" poops, but we think they will be fewer over the course of the day when we get to that point, so maybe it won't be as inconvenient as initially thought...

Here is what I think cost-wise: cloth diapering is like going to Vegas with $5. if you don't have enough, you are surely going to loose. It does cost money to run the washing machine, so you want to have a full load when you wash (no pun intended). We only have enough to meet the smallest load setting (on an old-school washing machine). So when I have fewer than that to do, I try to sneak them in with some baby clothes, with an extra rinse. Also, there is a trade off in what kind of diaper to buy if you are only going to be doing this part time: the fancier types (all in ones or twos, pockets) are generally a little easier (if you aren't getting a ton of practice during the week, but they are also a good bit more expensive than prefolds and covers. For costs sake, we are holding onto all the ones we have tested, we purchased some additional, aforementioned, nighttime diapers and bigger covers/prefolds, and for the time being, not planning to order any more.I anticipate that they all will have paid for themselves over the course of a year. If we could get the daycare to use them, we'd be miles ahead of that (though we'd have to double the supply). For more on this idea, see this handy dandy cost spreadsheet I came across. Assuming the inputs are relevant to you, you must be able to wash at least 9 diapers at a time, to see a cost savings over disposable, so be able to go at least that far in.

Lastly, I have pondered investing in a wet/dry bag for evening and weekend outings. However we are currently using plastic baggies that we keep in the diaper bag for disposables anyway. I think if cloth outings become more of an issue, we'll make the leap. The bag is advertised as handy for carrying many other things as well.

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