To Fluff or Not to Fluff?

Topic of the Week: Why We Chose Cloth Diapers

When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately started researching (surprise surprise) about the expense of a new baby. How much money was a little one going to cost us and in what ways could we save our pennies? I knew from many friends of ours who are parents that two of our biggest expenses once the baby arrived would be diapers and formula. Well, formula wasn’t going to be an expense for us because I had already decided to breastfeed (see this post for details). Diaper options, on the other hand, were uncharted territory for me. I was only familiar with disposables. Let the Googling begin!

The first thing I learned was how much (on average) it cost to diaper a baby in disposable diapers from birth until potty training. You know how much we would spend PER KID on disposable diapers? Upwards of $2000! I’ve seen some numbers as high as $4000!! Yes, that is PER KID. For us, $2000 is a trip to Disney World. $4000 is a trip to Europe… I’d much rather take vacation than spend money on poo catchers. The next thing I learned is how much, on average, it costs to cloth diaper at LEAST one kid (meaning this amount buys one set of diapers that can be used for multiple children if the cloth diapers are cared for properly. It also includes energy costs to wash the diapers). On the high side: $500. That’s right folks. I was going to save at least $1500 for the first child, and at least $2000 for each child thereafter by using cloth diapers. Well, that sold me AND Josh on cloth diapers right there.  I was going to have to do more laundry, but with washing machines today, how much more work is it really?

Then I found out some information that bothered me. The chemicals in run of the mill disposable diapers are nasty. Seriously nasty. Can-cause-chemical-burns-on-your-little-one’s-privates nasty. Now, some studies have claimed that the chemicals are so minimally absorbed into the baby’s skin, and the number of children who end up with a chemical reaction/burn/skin irritation is so small that it shouldn’t be a point of argument. Also, it is possible to buy organic diapers that are nearly chemical free, so for argument’s sake we can leave this one off the table, but I still found the information troubling.

Now let’s talk about the environmental impact. The average baby will go through between 2700 and 3000 disposable diapers in their first year alone. That’s a whole lotta garbage. The amount of resources used to make and wash cloth diapers doesn’t even come close to the amount used to make disposables, so disposables definitely lose the energy and environment battle.

People who have never cloth diapered say that cloth diapering is gross and they ask me “What about having to touch the “yuck” when using cloth diapers??” Guess what- I HARDLY EVER have to touch my baby’s waste. If you think you will deal with less poop and pee by using disposables, think again. Ever heard of a “blow out” diaper? That is what parents call a diaper when their baby has had a huge poop and it has “blown out” the sides or back of a diaper. Here is a great picture that I found on this blog of a blow out example. Yes, it is a particularly epic blow out, but still. SO GROSS!

poopy-dipes

When we travel, we use disposables and, in both Huggies and Pampers brand, Abby would leak poop out of the legs AND back of the diapers EVERY TIME SHE POOPED! So nasty. The poop leaks are substantially less in Honest Company diapers (when she poops she only leaks up the back, not out the legs), but why should I be dealing with leaky poop at all when the soul purpose of using a diaper is to hold in a baby’s waste? I deal with a whole lot more poop when Abby is in disposable diapers than when she is in cloth, hands down. I have had only two poop leaks in cloth diapers, and they were both fit issues, one my fault and one Josh’s, neither of which were a malfunction of the diaper itself.

Then nay-sayers ask, “doesn’t it stink, having a laundry basket full of poop and pee?” Actually, because I clean the diapers regularly, they sit for less time (3 days at the most) than disposable diapers in a garbage can would. Less time= less bacterial growth= less stink. When you walk into Abby’s room, you can’t tell there is a basket of dirty diapers in there, but I have had friends call the hallway containing their baby’s disposable diaper pail “Hobo Alley” because it stank so badly of urine and feces. Yuck.

Next question: since you use your washer to wash poop, does your washing machine get nasty? Nope! Everything is dissolved and rinsed away. Think of the other stuff that has been on your clothing and gone into the washing machine. Mud, oil, food, dust, sweat, snot, other bodily secretions… it all gets washed away. That’s your washing machine’s job! No, you can’t dump the, uh, “nuggets” into the washing machine. You have to dump them in the toilet before washing your diapers but anything that doesn’t come off of the diaper without more than a “flick” can go right in the machine. And if you’re still not excited about the excess poo in your washer, you can buy a diaper sprayer for a reasonable amount of money (or make one for even less!) and spray off any excess into the toilet before throwing the diapers into the wash. For the record, you’re supposed to empty disposables too, it’s just that nobody does. Seriously- just read the outside of your package of disposable diapers! Human waste is not supposed to go into the landfill.

I know that cloth diapers aren’t for everybody. It is a little more work, even just to remember to throw the diaper laundry in the washer at the end of the day. A cloth diaper is bulkier than a disposable on the bum making some clothing difficult to fit (this can be solved by sizing up). They definitely take up more storage space both at home and in the diaper bag. If Abby went to daycare I would be concerned sending my cloth diapers to daycare for fear they would get ruined. And cloth diapers aren’t as easily purchased- you can’t just go run to your local Target or Walmart and get some more. You have to either find a specialty baby store or purchase online to get the particular diaper you use. Not to mention there are a TON of different types of cloth diapers (more on this in another post) and they are all different in style and fit so it takes more work on the front end with research and testing.

For me, the drawbacks were definitely worth the benefits. I can’t say enough good things about cloth diapers (obviously… this blog post is over 1000 words- oops!) and I encourage everyone to give it a try. Besides, how cute is this fluff bum??

Abigail in her "Nebula" print Soft Bums cloth diaper

Abigail in her “Nebula” print Soft Bums brand cloth diaper

 

Daddy’s Little Girl

When I was pregnant, a friend of mine (who also has a daughter) told me that the first moment I see my husband holding our baby, my heart was going to explode with more love than I ever knew I could feel. Oh boy, was she right.

Abby and Josh's First Picture

Abby and Josh’s First Picture

When I saw Abby in his arms, I knew it was all over. I was overwhelmed by how much love I felt for Abby and Josh, and what a beautiful sight it was to see them together. I also knew that I was now chopped liver (not really, but you know what I mean). Abigail was officially a Daddy’s Girl.

Abby and Josh, May 30, 2014

Abby and Josh, May 30, 2014

As we get ready to celebrate our family’s first Father’s Day, I find myself wanting to make this day more special than any other holiday. When I was a child, my family had a special tradition of sending the respective parent on a scavenger hunt for their gifts. The first clue would be in their card and at the end of a series of other clues, the presents would be hidden. My brother and I would always help search for the gifts, filling those Sunday mornings with wonderful memories for us. For Josh’s first Father’s Day, I intend to bring the scavenger hunt tradition into our home so that Josh, Abby and any other children we have can also make some new and special memories.

Renaissance Mom

So I have become horrible about maintaining my blog (obviously, since the last post I wrote was over a year ago). Well, since then I traveled to the UK, moved from CA to NH, came back to Bahrain, gave Dubai another try, and traveled to Oman. Oh yeah, and I had a baby- no big deal 😛

We have had a LOT of big changes in the Ball family over the past year, and I have experienced a lot of personal growth over that time. Since having a baby I have discovered I’m pretty good at being a mom. It comes naturally to me. Don’t get me wrong- it is still the most difficult thing I have every done, but I have an affinity for parenting. And couple my mothering ability with my obsession with research and I have become somewhat of a Renaissance Mom. I have an “answer” to a lot of parenting questions, and if I don’t have an answer right now, I can and will find one! Once again, don’t misunderstand me- I, like most first time (or second, third and fourth time etc) parents, have no idea what I’m doing, but I am having so much fun figuring it out, and love to help others figure out what they’re doing, too!

I have had more than one person suggest that I start a “mommy blog,” cataloguing my parenting journey, including the choices we made, what worked, what didn’t, and why. I love information, and am constantly inhaling new facts and theories. Over the past year, those facts and theories have revolved around parenting. Hey- why not share what I’ve found with other people? The most important thing to me regarding this mommy blogging journey is that mothers and fathers understand that this is a blog of support, a blog encouraging everybody’s right to choose what kind of parent they want to be. Whether you breast feed or formula feed, cloth diaper or use posies, baby wear or are strictly into strollers, this is NOT a place for anybody to feel judged or ridiculed simply because the parenting choices they have made are different from the choices J and I have made. If you are doing the work to weigh the choices, then no matter what decision you make, if it is the right decision for your family, it is the right decision. There is absolutely no “right way” to raise a child. There are pros and cons to EVERY parenting decision. Now listen, obviously, if you’re doing crack and breast feeding your baby, you are not a good parent- those are not the choices to which I am referring. What I mean is that the majority of us are just trying to keep everybody in our family unit happy, healthy and, in some cases, sane. While some choices may be the best choice for our family, it doesn’t mean it is the best for yours. And it certainly does not mean that the decision either of us made was the wrong one.

I am sick of parents beating each other up, judging each other on their parenting choices, or feeling judged by other parents- this parental competition has GOT TO STOP! Just because you aren’t into cloth diapers, doesn’t mean you need to scoff my choice to use them and say “we’ll see how long THAT lasts!” And I certainly have no right to judge somebody on their choice to formula feed their baby simply because we all know breast milk is the better choice on paper, and the last thing you need to hear is “awww, why aren’t you breast feeding? Such a shame…” I don’t know what circumstances led to your decision just like you don’t know why we chose what we did. If the baby is happy and healthy and loved, then everybody should keep their judgments to themselves.

If I do decide to write a mommy blog, I certainly hope readers do not feel judged because they made different choices than we did. I hope that they find my potential blog fun and informative and a place to feel welcome as a parent. I want to include ALL sides of parenting, include posts from people who have had different experiences and made different choices than I have. I want to learn from you and your choices. And I hope that readers know that I am absolutely no expert in the field of parenting. Just somebody who is passionate about it. Even though there are days when I am reduced to tears because being a parent is so stinkin’ hard, I enjoy my job, and I want to share that joy and passion with other parents out there.