Monday, January 14, 2013
Crunchier than I Thought: Cloth Diapers and more
In September 2012, I was lucky enough to be visited by a dear friend who was in town for a short while. She's been a huge support during the roughest parts of this pregnancy and I was eager to see her face to face. It was my first opportunity to meet her beautiful first-born son and to see exactly how a cloth diapering family travels.
Wait wait wait... Let's back that up.
Cloth diapering? That's some pretty crunchy granola. It's hippie talk. Disposables are easy and if they weren't perfectly fine for our babies, they wouldn't be on the market. Why would anyone want to be up to their elbows in poop and extra laundry? Truly, I'm a girl who loves convenience. I will admit that I have purchased separate packages of Apple Dippers from McDonalds and I've bought one-time-use versions of just about everything available at the grocery store.
I'm not that girl.
I don't compost. I recycle, but not religiously. I used disposable diapers on both of my daughters. I use chemical heavy aerosol disinfectants in the house (albeit, not often). I let my kids eat Top Ramen and over processed chicken nuggets. I haven't camped in the middle of nowhere in years. I rarely buy organic. In fact, I only buy organic when it happens to be on sale for a price lower than the alternative. But after hearing about my friend's experience with cloth diapers, I found myself curious.
Maybe I am that girl.
I watched my friend and her son and tried to tell myself that what they were doing was different. Just one problem with that: It wasn't. They were both completely, almost unnervingly normal. If I hadn't been told beforehand that they were cloth diapering, I never would have known. My curiosity grew.
I asked questions. She was more than happy to answer and to fill in the details about the parts I hadn't yet thought to ask about (or felt awkward asking). She referred me to websites and gave me the benefit of her experience. She mentioned things she wished she had done differently, like sewing her own cloth wipes instead of buying them. She expressed how happy she was with the money she was saving. She was happy that she wasn't adding to the mountains of disposable diapers in landfills. Her laundry was just as manageable as before. She had never had a complete diaper failure like her friends using disposables.
I soaked up every word. It was then that I decided I should probably set this nonsense aside and let my usual critics silence this ever-growing idea. I first brought it up with my husband. If reading those pro-cloth sites did nothing else, it did convince me that most fathers are not excited to try cloth. My husband? He's not most fathers. He's better. Abraham was raised by a mother who expected her sons to listen to her. He heard exactly what I was saying and was 100% in favor of trying cloth. My fear began to grow as my reasons not to cloth diaper began to dwindle. I repeated over and over again in my head: I am not a hippie, I am not a hippie, I AM NOT A HIPPIE! I turned the duty of shutting down my intentions to my mother in law. If you can't trust a mother in law to disapprove of your parenting choices, who can you trust? Struck out again. She fully supported the idea and promised to help where she could. Knowing that my own mother would support any decision I made, I gave up on being talked out of it. And just like that, the decision was made. I could no longer figure out where I could object. Maybe I am a hippie. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
I am that girl. I'm going to use cloth diapers for my son.
I'm keeping an open mind and an escape route handy. Knowing that I'm less than reliable when it comes to being crafty, I've determined that disposables will be fine until the umbilical stump falls off. Folding a diaper is one thing. Folding it around a cord? No, thank you. I've also determined that when we travel in October, we'll be using disposables. I have no intention of figuring out how to wash cloth diapers aboard a cruise ship or while staying at Disney World. If the trip were only a couple of days, I could see attempting it; but we're looking at 2+ weeks.
Now that my diaper research and decision are solid, I've started noticing the other "crunchy granola" behaviors in my life. I'm a huge proponent of reusable shopping bags. Sure, this is something that is becoming very common, but if you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever haul my own bags to the grocery store, I would have laughed. I would have laughed and then probably made some condescending remarks regarding your sobriety.
I signed up for EcoBabyBuys.com (Disclaimer: I receive nothing for promoting their site) and within a week, I'd purchased a set of 4 wool dryer balls. This was never my intention. I signed up for the site hoping to get some good deals on cloth diapers, but when I started reading about wool dryer balls, dollar signs appeared behind my eyes and I couldn't resist eliminating pricy dryer sheets. The whole idea of reducing chemical exposure was just a bonus. (For the record: The dryer balls arrived today. I've yet to try them. I will most definitely post a review of them after I've had the chance to see exactly how well they work.) I took my friend's advice and I made a set of cloth diaper wipes.
They were so easy to make and turned out so cute that I started thinking about other things I could make. Today, while cutting up an apple, I realized that I use a small fortune in paper towels every week just drying off fruit and vegetables before cutting them. Now I find myself planning to use some of the wipe materials to make a small dish towel specifically meant for drying fruits and veggies. I've started using vinegar to clean my windows. I'm not using nearly as many one time use items or items with lots of chemicals. I buy local more often than not. I have no idea what has come over me.
I know this: My family seems healthier already and we're in a position to save a lot of money with these little endeavors. Will we stick with cloth diapering? I have no idea. Right now, I've purchased a few cloth diapers and I'm willing to give it a shot. I'll give you all an update when we figure out how well it works (or doesn't work) for us.
If you are a cloth diaper distributor or retailer and would like me to add your product to my stash of cloth diapers and accessories to try and later review, please email PontiusPython@yahoo.com. I am willing to try just about anything and will send you the review before I publish it, but I retain the right to be completely honest with my findings. Any reviews of such products will be made available for publishing on your site as well as mine.