Being a Hippy Mama: Step 1, Cloth Diapers and Wipes
In case you couldn’t tell by our obsession with hybrid vehicles and backyard chickens, Y and I try to be as "green" as we can. Things were obviously no different when it came to having a baby. Lucky for us, we’re finding that being environmentally responsible with our baby stuff is actually saving us a LOT of money, too. So I’m going to share with you guys what we have been doing, starting with a little summary of our diapering methods.
Before I start, I have to address an issue that irritates me a lot. There is some amount of controversy about whether or not cloth diapers are truly better for the environment than disposable diapers. I honestly think this is a huge load of crap. We do an extra load of laundry per week in a high efficiency washer – there is simply no way that’s as bad for the environment as 50+ disposable diapers in a landfill – I just don’t believe it. And to be honest, that discussion boils my blood, because I’m pretty sure the people who say cloth is as bad as disposable are just trying to make themselves feel better. But I digress.
We use gDiapers with a combination of cloth and biodegradable inserts. Because all of the terms I’m going to use can be kind of confusing, I’ve got a couple of little image guides for you, the first of which is here:
There are a bunch of different kinds of cloth diapers, but I’m only going to cover what we use. I’m not an expert on everything, mmkay? So. There are a few different parts that make up a gDiaper. Here’s how it works: you have the gPants, and inside the gPants is a waterproof pouch, which snaps into the pants. The cloth or biodegradable inserts fit inside the pouch. The gPants come in three sizes: small, medium and large.
When Charlie was a wee tot, we bought a whole bunch of small gPants and gCloth inserts from Craigslist (note: small is an easy size to find used, because babies only wear it between 8-12 pounds). I fell in love. Chuck’s little butt looks so darn cute in gDiapers, and they are very easy to use. I have tried all-in-one diapers a few times and have had nothing but troubles (leaking and such), so I consider myself a loyal gDiapers fan. I especially love that you can use either cloth or disposable (biodegradable!) inserts with them.
During the day, we mostly use cloth, unless we’re going out (more on that below). If you’re doing cloth with gDiapers, you have two options: pre-folds or the gDiapers brand gCloth. Pre-folds are really cheap, and all you have to do is fold them in thirds and stuff them in the gPants. However, they make for a really big bum, whereas the gCloth is much more streamlined (it’s basically flat, but really absorbent). We used gCloth when she was in size small gDiapers (I found them on Craigslist), and we now use pre-folds (because I’m cheap – gCloth is REALLY expensive).
At night time, I find that the cloth isn’t absorbant enough. Thus, we use a biodegradable gRefill, which is more absorbant. To soak up the extra night-time pee, you can either use another gRefill folded in half underneath the main gRefill (which gDiapers recommended), or you can stick a couple of cloth “boosters” underneath the gRefill, which is what we’re doing. Once again, this has a lot to do with our pocketbook. We use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save for gRefills, but they still aren’t cheap.
If I take Charlie somewhere in the car, I generally put her in a gRefill (for some reason, the car seat makes this kid poop almost every time – there’s no greater laxative, I swear!). Although we have a wet bag for carrying around dirty diapers, it’s just easier to get rid of the poop and put the gPant in the wet bag if it’s dirty.
For most people, dealing with the poop is the part that dissuades them from cloth diapering. I’m not going to lie to you: there will be poop. But the poop is honestly not that bad. We bought a diaper sprayer for our guest bathroom, which helps with clean up – no scraping off the poop. Next to the toilet, we have a Simple Human trash can (because it’s pretty and you can open the lid by stepping on it) with a PlanetWise diaper pail liner in it. If there’s poop, you hold the diaper in the toilet, spray the poop into the toilet, then toss the dipe into the pail. Done and done.
The vast majority of the diapers, though, are pee diapers (did you know that a lot of babies only poop once a week?). We have another can/liner set up next to the changing table, and I mostly just pull the pee diaper out and throw it in the can. End of story. When it’s time to do the laundry, we just turn the bag inside-out into the washer, and voila! You didn’t even have to touch it.
I mean, really, people: the honest truth is that babies poop. Sometimes, they poop everywhere. Their clothes (and, let’s be real here: your clothes too) will get poop on them, especially if you use disposable diapers (which tend to cause "blow outs"). So if you’re afraid of poop, you’ll probably get over it. If you’re afraid of having poop in your washing machine, take comfort: after you spray the poop in the toilet, there really isn’t any left on the diaper to go in the washing machine anyway. If you really don’t want to spray the poop, I’ve heard good things about diaper liners, but I have yet to try them.
Now, onto the wipes.
Reusable wipes are such a no-brainer, I can’t believe more people don’t use them! Even the people I know who use cloth diapers usually use disposable wipes. When Charlie was about a month old, I was horrified to find that we’d gone through a huge box of disposable wipes, which cost about $75. Bad for the environment and bad, bad for the budget.
Reusable wipes are just washcloths. The best kind are thin and small; we have three brands, two of which I love (Gerber and Imse Vimse. Stay away from Spasilk – they’re scratchy and don’t absorb well). When it comes time to change a diaper, I squirt some diaper solution onto a wipe and wipe her butt. Then I throw the dirty diaper and the wipe into the diaper can. Easy peasy! We use squirty bottles like these, filled with water, a little bit of baby shampoo and almond oil, plus a drop of tea tree oil (other recipes here). We have disposable wipes for the diaper bag (and I admit I use them on especially nasty poops).
A few tips:
After she outgrew size small, we had to buy a lot of medium gPants new (I recommend buying them at Babies R Us and doubling up on coupons). It’s an investment upfront, but saves a TON of money over disposables in the long run.
If you’re wondering exactly how we get the pre-folds in the gDiapers (or want awesome close-up photos of every aspect of gDiapers), check out this post from Joyful Abode.
I like gCloth better than pre-folds, but the pre-folds are much, much less expensive. I bought the pre-folds to fit the medium size gPants, but in retrospect, it would make more sense to buy the gCloth for size medium/large instead of size small. She’ll be in mediums until she’s 28 pounds, and the larges use the same size gCloth. Definitely more bang for your buck if you’re going to spend money on gCloth at all. Otherwise, just be cheap like me and buy pre-folds. Three dozen is more than enough.
Hi! I’m Sara, the voice behind Stinkerpants. Since day one, my goal has been to “create a happier world, plain and simple.” Originally, I did this by making people smile with my custom drawings—but in 2013, I’ve decided to take another path.
What is that "new path," you might ask? Is it kosher to say "I don't know yet, but I'm working on it?" I sure hope so. Stinkerpants is my online home. Welcome!