Sunday, October 17, 2010

observations of prefolds, poop, and traveling

I have a very good friend who is using a diaper service. This way, she can put her kid in cloth diapers and someone else does the laundry. Now, I've stated before that I personally don't like prefolds so this option wouldn't be for us, but it's a reasonable option for many. Traveling with them seems particularly difficult though.

I don't get to see this friend often but email frequently and talk periodically so we're pretty up to date on each other's day to day lives. Recently, she's mentioned a lot of poop leakage with her diapers. It seems like an almost daily occurrence. (A couple of weeks ago, she marveled that she'd never experienced a blow out like she'd heard people talk about. So this is a new occurrence.) Anyway, it's usually the diaper, cover, clothes and whatever the kid was sitting on at the time... usually something like a blanket, couch, car seat, etc. Often, she puts an extra diaper under him when putting him down (and he's 3 mo old so not yet mobile) so that helps too. It just seems like daily that she has to do extra clean up-- which seems to defeat the purpose of a diaper service. (But she's still happy so it's working for them just fine.)

I got to witness one of these diaper blow outs and help with clean up. (Really, I don't mind poop and it was nice to get a few minutes alone with my friend in the middle of an otherwise large event with lots of people. I just wish I could have been more helpful than just making sure he didn't roll off the changing table and didn't put his hands in poop. Those are important things though, I guess.) Anyway, poop was all over the prefold, in the snappi, surrounding the cover, and a little on his clothes and it'd soaked through to the car seat where he'd been sitting. (Just a little moisture on the carseat, fortunately, since there was little they could do about it while on a trip and in the middle of an event.) Anyway, we got the kid cleaned up and in a new outfit in minimal time. It was still a lot of time though.

But I got to thinking... wow, this was a lot harder than with a disposable. If I always had a buddy to help, it'd be fine, but there's no way I could guarantee that. Otherwise, I'm not sure I'd have the positive attitude and perseverance my friend had to keep up with cloth diapering on a trip like she did and deal with frequent monster poops.

More thoughts:
  • Pre-planning: She had to coordinate with the diaper service to swap out diapers just before leaving or she'd have run out of clean ones.
  • Packing: She had to pack more than enough diapers to be sure they'd be set. With disposables, I'd pack a few more than I thought I'd need, I'd be able to run to a store to buy more if my daughter suddenly came down with diarrhea or something.
  • Changing: When changing a disposable on the go, I'd yoink one off and strap on the other in roughly the same motion, pausing briefly to wipe. then it all goes into the trash. With the cloth, we had to find a diaper, cover and a bag to put it in. This was a messy one so we needed clothes and another bag for the messy ones, but that's about the same as a disposible if it'd leaked. Anyway, remove clothes, remove cover, take off and clean snappi, remove diaper, bag things, wipe, put on clean diaper, replace snappi, replace cover, reclothe, store dirty clothes/diapers and trash wipes. Now, to be fair, disposables would really be: remove clothes, bag, remove dirty diaper, wipe, rediaper, reclothe, store soiled clothes, trash dipe/wipes. That seems like 13 steps vs 8. Now, my friend is happy to do it so it must work fine, but it seems like a lot to me.
  • Supplies: She normally has diapers for up to a week and covers for 1.5 days. (As far as I know.) The covers get thrown into normal washes about every day or so. So this posed a little challenge for a 4 day trip with no machine access. Even with a swap of dirties for cleans just before leaving, there was still a limiting factor of covers. Perhaps they bought more, I'm not sure, but it still seemed like some ingenuity needed to be done with cover usage and they used covers they'd have normally washed more thoroughly before using again. This seemed to work fine, but perhaps tripling their cover stash would have been good. Seems like a lot of expense for a 4 day trip though. They certainly made it work, I'm just not sure I'd want to do it. Traveling is hard enough!
  • Traveling home. They had to cart home all their poopy/wet diapers. Ew! But they came up with a clever fix. They put diapers into ziploc bags. (They'd intended to use wet bags but forgot to get them before leaving.) When they get home, they'll have to empty all the ziplocs into their laundry or the diaper service bag but it sure beats smelling 4 day old poop all the way home.

I have to wonder though-- people who are flying places for a week or so... is an entire suitcase dedicated to diapers? Given that many airlines charge for bags, that has got to be costly. Babies already require a ton of stuff. I've got to admire anyone's dedication to cloth diapering who can pull that off!

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