Whatever works diapering

by Ginger on January 13, 2011

in Day in the Life, Mom Thoughts

A few months ago, I did a guest post over at Accustomed Chaos on cloth diapering–specifically, our combo cloth/disposable methods. And today, because I’m lazy and in a bit of a funk, I decided I would repost it here for your perusal. Enjoy.


To explain how we approach diapering in our house you need to know a few things about us.

1. We are a “whatever works on any given day” kind of family.
2. We are prone to taking the path of least resistance to keep our sanity.

So it makes sense, given those two things, that we do a combination of cloth & disposables with our son. How did we get here though? Well….

Before I got pregnant, I was one of those people who would proclaim “Cloth diapers? I could NEVER do that!” Not because I thought it was bad, or gross, or weird, but because I’m lazy and it seemed like a LOT of extra work. I mean, a baby is going to add enough extra laundry (which I hate), why pile on to that?

About halfway through my pregnancy, I had a conversation with one of my best friends that changed my mind. She had two kids under two, and, I was shocked to find out, she had gone to exclusively cloth when her second was 2 months old. She told me all the benefits she had experienced & then she said “It’s not that hard. If I can do it, YOU can do it.” She said it with full sincerity, and I believed her.

So my husband and I started doing some research about cloth: the environmental aspects, the purported benefits, and the types & styles. We found ourselves where we often are in life–right down the middle. We liked the idea of fewer disposables ending up in the trash, but we didn’t like the idea of the additional water usage for our family (we live in Southern California, an area that despite the proximity to the ocean is plagued by drought). We relished the stories about avoiding blow-outs in disposables, but didn’t love the stories of having to go through lots of different brands to find diapers that worked for an individual baby. And yes, we loved the idea of saving some money on diapers, but realized that the cost savings could easily be null and void depending on what diapers you bought, and how overboard you went with the cute ones!

One thing we didn’t face was any fear on actually USING cloth (laundry yes, usage, no). I had seen modern cloth diapers, and had done enough research to know that it was a totally do-able thing. My husband, who is a work at home freelance artist & designer (and as such, would be a WAHD), was totally on board. He was on board with all-in-one’s, pockets, fitteds & covers,  and even, to my shock, prefolds and covers. I knew he was gung ho about it when he installed the diaper sprayer of his own accord!

So, cloth it was. We dove in, head-first, making all kinds of decisions about what to use, and when. We were lucky to have a local shop that carried cloth diapers so we were able to go and look at them, and try them out (on a doll of course), and see what we were comfortable with. We began to buy, and stock up and make choices.  But as the piles of cloth grew, we also had a growing awareness of the REALITY of not just cloth, but US.

I mentioned before that we are prone to taking the path of least resistance. Well, it hits full force on many aspects of parenting, and diapering was no exception. As we were looking, we realized–we were not going to do cloth exclusively. In the early days in particular, we wouldn’t want to deal with cloth in the middle of the night. So for that, we’d use disposables. And, probably no cloth out and about. So for that, we’d use disposables. And no cloth until the meconium had passed. So for that, we’d use disposables. We were starting to see a pattern.

And that’s when we made the first of many decisions based on OUR family and OUR way of doing things: We’d do cloth as much as possible, and disposables the rest of the time.

No rigid guidelines, no guilt, no shoulda, woulda, couldas. We’d do whatever worked on any given day. And so far, it’s been wonderful.

We average about a 50%-50% split on cloth versus disposables. When Jackson was a newborn, we mostly used cloth during the day: prefolds & covers, along with some Kissaluv’s 0’s & Thirsties Fitteds with covers. At night, or when we were out, we’d use disposables. As he outgrew those diapers, we moved to mostly fitteds & covers along with disposables. As he outgrew those, we moved to pocket diapers and disposables–which is where we are now, at just over a year old. Some days, we mostly use disposables–when my husband is having a crazy week with clients or art & we don’t have the time for the extra laundry, or when we’ve waited too long to do laundry, or, honestly, when we’re being too lazy. Some days we use almost exclusively cloth. We’ve never successfully done cloth at nighttime–Jackson is a heavy wetter, and even with 3 hemp inserts, always wakes up wet in cloth. So, disposables at night are a constant, but other than that, we really just…go with the flow.

Because we use both, we’ve adapted some of our “techniques” from one to the other. For example–there is not a single poop in our house that doesn’t get flushed, disposable or cloth. It helps with the trash & the smell, plus we figure we’d rather the poop go through the sewage system rather than into the landfill. If nothing else, it keeps us operating the same way no matter what diaper we’re using. We’ve gone exclusively to pocket diapers with velcro (Bum Genius) in part because they’re so similar to disposables. And we change Jackson as frequently in disposables as we do in cloth. The methods remain the same, no matter the container.

I honestly love cloth–I love the thunder butt, and the softness and the lovely colors. But I also love disposables–the ease, the convenience, the ability to get them anywhere should we need them.  I’ve lovingly stashed all the outgrown cloth diapers, and will gladly pull them out again should we have another baby, and again, they’ll sit on the changing table, right next to the package of disposables.

For our family, the combination has been the best option.

The Daddy January 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Did you really just say “go with the flow”? Awesome.

Michelle January 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

This is how we’ve done it. And it’s what works best for us, too!

Perpetua January 14, 2011 at 4:25 am

We’re just starting the combo thing (when our kid is almost two. Go us!). I’m still not sure how it’s going to work out because E is very rash-prone, so we have to use cream most of the time. In that sense, disposables are much easier, but I have to say I see the benefits of cloth, too.

Oh, and also: I’m a moron. I never started flushing poop until we started using cloth. What the heck is wrong with me??

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I know a lot of kids have fewer rashes in cloth than in disposables–whether that’s because the chemicals aren’t there or because they get changed more often or what–so maybe E will be that way too. We’ve not really seen that too much ourselves, but J’s not really rash prone (unless he’s had oranges. Sadly for us all).

Ann Wyse January 14, 2011 at 7:34 am

Thank you so much for writing this. You know, I feel like so often, we (as mothers) are so unyielding in our decisions that we forget there are benefits to many different approaches. I LOVE this open and honest review!

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