Saturday, June 12, 2010

General Overview -- How I feel about cloth now

It's been a few months. I wish I could tell you that I love cloth and I think it's the best thing ever and everyone should do it. But I just don't feel that way. I'm still trying to like it.

* Rash. My daughter has had a rash virtually the entire time we've been cloth diapering. It got pretty bad for a while but switching away from using Tide Free to wash the diapers seemed to help. The enzymes were eating her skin every time she peed. Her disposables might be full of chemicals, but they didn't seem to be actively destroying her body. So we went through various trials with different washing routines and detergents. We keep thinking, "It's getting better. Not to worry." It's been getting better for well over 2 months now. It's really not better.

My current theory is that cloth diapers don't fit as snugly as disposables so it's rubbing her skin when she moves. I'd think maybe moisture is to blame but she is least rashy in the mornings after she's been in a diaper all night that has likely been wet for hours. Anyway, she spends about a day per week in disposables to help clear up the rash. Once it seems to improve, we put her back in cloth (any type) and the rash gets worse again. It's not terrible though. It's be nice to see my little darling's clear skin again. (Thus, she's getting more time in undies.) Anyway, I don't feel like it's better for my kid at the moment.

* Washing. The washing is a big hassle. It doesn't take tons of time, but it does take away resources I don't really have. It means planning when I will do laundry far in advance since it takes a lot of time to soak, wash, double rinse, double dry and during that time, I can't do other laundry. It also means that if I start a load and leave for a few hours, I'll still need to do a couple of hours of laundry when I get home. I mean, I'm not hand washing or anything, but the machine is in use and needs to be tended to several times during the routine. There have been times where someone has suggested something like going out to dinner and I nearly said, "No, I can't go. I have to do diaper laundry."

* Smell. These things stink. I understand they don't need to stink, but this apparently requires a lot of experimentation and is harder to get the more complicated diapers clean. About a week ago, my entire apartment smelled like a barn with no diaper more than a day used (and no poopy ones). After devoting about 16 hours to soaking and 4 wash cycles later, they are reduced to the amount of smell I anticipated. Still noticeable but I don't think would send guests running from our home. I think another all night soaking and several more washes might get them back to non-stinky. Using Tide Free on them originally is likely largely to blame.

* Comfort. I can't really tell if these are more or less comfortable for her. She throws a much bigger fit when I try to put a cloth diaper on her than a disposable. On the other hand, she doesn't want me to take of the cloth diaper either so she is now telling me she doesn't need to go potty when she clearly does. This is a big set back for potty training. Hmm, I wonder if the wipes are burning on the rash and that's the problem. I just got some cloth wipes so maybe that will help.

* Take up more space. In our case, we change her in our small apartment bathroom, not at a standard changing table. We used to keep about 30 diapers in that small space above the toilet and below the counter. Now we can keep 3 cloth diapers in that same space. We've started keeping the cloth diapers in the play pen and taking them to the bathroom individually.

* Always nearly out of diapers. Even right after I do a load of laundry, I have about 20 diapers. She uses 6-10 diapers per day so I never have more than 2 days worth. That means I basically always feel like I'm running out.

* Hard to take on outings. Certainly not impossible, but fewer diapers fit in our diaper bag. (We could get a bigger one, but we haven't.) It also means we need a wet bag to bring home any wet/dirty diapers. We're still using disposable wipes which actually poses the problem of finding a trash can while carting around messy wipes (with disposables, they can be wrapped inside) or just throwing in the wet bag and dealing with them when we get home. If we were using cloth wipes, I think we'd have to pre-moisten wipes in anticipation of use or carry a spray bottle of some sort. This seems hard, but people do it so it must work somehow. We just generally use disposables.

* Hard to tell if they're wet or poopy. When disposables are wet, they change shape so it's really easy to tell. We can't seem to tell with cloth. We've even missed poopy diapers which, of course, led to making her diaper rash much worse but I don't blame that on the cloth diaper, at least not directly. Given that we had several months of no poopy diapers before switching to cloth, we're out of practice in detecting them like we might have been otherwise. On the other hand, I don't mind rinsing them out at all and I thought I would.

* Can't use most diaper rash creams. They waterproof the cloth diapers. There are some that are ok, but we hadn't anticipated all these rashes so I haven't shelled out the money for a special cream. After she's been in a poopy diaper for a bit and needed a rash cream, we used desitin (which smells terrible-- but not compared to the foul smelling diapers) and put her in a disposable. Since we prefer cloth for night time, I put covered her in desitin, carefully pulled on underwear and then put a diaper-with-2-inserts on top of it. (When it was 1am and I had to switch to a new night time set, I was really unhappy.) This seemed to work fine but took a couple of washes to get the stale desitin smell out of her undies. We've since switched to Butt Paste and like it far better than Desitin both for smell and effectiveness. Still can't use it with cloth so she's wearing a disposable all day now and we put her in cloth at night after her bath. A couple of more days of this and she may be rash free again. (It'd be really embarrassing to go to the doctor for her 18 month appointment with the same diaper rash she had at her 15 month appointment.)

* Cloth diapering is a good hobby. Seriously. I can learn about new types or experiment with a new washing system. I can enter contests for free stuff. I can blog about my experiences. :) This is not something to be underestimated with a stay-at-home-mom who needs something to think about when one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish is rote memory. As something I deal with many times per day, this is pertinent and relevant. My mental energy could be funneled into something else probably, but this is the hobby that has sucked me most in years. Maybe ever.

* Cloth might save money. I'd say it does say money but I haven't seen savings yet. I'm still slowly shelling out the dough. Given the wear on my diapers in only a few months, I doubt they'll have any resale value. There are ways to do it and save but we are using mostly more elaborate diapers (due to better fit) and they will not last as long as a prefold would. Prefolds don't have good resale value either but at least they are reusable.

* Less trash. 'Nuf said.

* More self-sufficient. I'm a do-it-yourself-er at heart (less so in practice) but I'd like to be entirely self-sufficient and not have to depend on other people for stuff. Although it's not entirely, cloth diapering feels more do-it-yourself than disposables. I suppose I'd really like to sew my own, but I know enough to realize I do not currently possess those skills or time. I think this is what drew me to cloth initially.

* Work fabulously well as a night time diaper. Our regular disposables don't hold enough for night time but a large bumGenius All-in-one with 2 hemp liners work great. (One might be sufficient but I haven't tried it.)

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