Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fuzzi Bunz

I can't believe how big my little girl is getting already! I was just looking at a previous blog post with pictures of her in her turquoise diaper. She's much bigger now! Here are some pictures of her and her friend Liam in their cloth diapers. Enjoy!

Cost analysis of cloth diapers versus disposables

Recently I have been challenged to prove that using cloth diapers is actually cheaper than using disposables. I'm not sure why anyone would question that it is cheaper to reuse something (anything!) than to throw that same thing away, but it's been done. It seems fairly obvious that using cloth diapers is cheaper than disposables, but how much money will I actually save? Turns out it's not as major as one might think because of one thing: Laundry. Figuring out the cost of laundry took a bit of time for me to do, but I finally did. We go through about 8 diapers a day, so that's the number I'm going to use for my analysis. So, here's the breakdown:

My friends can find 240 newborn diapers for $40.99 - This is the cheapest I could find them on, which I hear is the cheapest place to buy diapers, and the cost will go up per diaper as the sizes get bigger, but let's use this as our baseline for the cost of diapers which is 17.1 cents a diaper. (Size 4 diapers cost 24.5 cents per diaper, but I'm going to give my disposable-using friends a head start in this race and use 17.1 cents for comparison.)

My stash of 20 cloth diapers cost $400, but I didn't pay for half of them, as I got them as gifts for my shower, but as we're assuming that most people will have to buy their diapers, we'll include this cost. My diapers are one-size diapers which will fit Eleanor from about 1 month old till potty training. Yay for not having to buy more (unless I really want to!). :) At 8 diapers a day, we will use each diaper 146 times in a year (wow!), so that's a start-up cost (for only 1 year) of 13.7 cents a diaper. After that, the start-up cost goes to zero (we're assuming paying off the diaper in the first year).

Now, each time we use a diaper, we have to wash it. I looked at the cost of my laundry detergent, my washing machine's energy usage, and my electric and water company's rates and figured out that it costs 32 cents to wash about 20 diapers. This is a cost per diaper of 1.6 cents. We also use our dryer, but you wouldn't have to. So, if you line dry your diapers, your costs end here. Our dryer costs us approximately 3.5 cents for each use, so .2 cents per diaper. Thus, washing and drying costs 1.8 cents per diaper.

Okay. So we see that for the first year, our startup costs and washing and drying costs together cost 15.5 cents per diaper. This is $451 for one year of cloth diapering, which would be $495 for disposables. Year 2 (and 3 if needed) our cost per diaper is 1.8 cents. For year one, then, disposables (if you get the cheapest you can find and your baby never grows out of the newborn diapers) end up costing only $44 more than cloth, but for the next year, cloth saves significantly. If the baby wears 8 diapers a day, then the savings in year 2 (and subsequent years or more kids) is $443. However, this is not even quite fair to cloth. As mentioned, we're assuming newborn sized diaper prices. In year two, a disposable-clad baby is going to be wearing 25 cent diapers, and in that case, the savings is actually $684.

To sum up:
Disposables: 17-25 cents per diaper
Cloth (year 1): 15.5 cents per diaper
Cloth (each following year): 1.8 cents per diaper

The savings doesn't really look like much in year one, but what it really looks like to us financially is that we don't have to spend our grocery budget on diapers. Instead, we have diapers already on hand (practically free since they're already paid for), and we just spend an extra $4 a month in electricity/water/detergent (total!) to use our diapers. This makes a big difference. Also, most people don't get their diapers for as cheap as my friends get them on Amazon. Go into a Wal-Mart and check out the price on diapers there and how much per diaper and you can see it's a little more significant a savings (when I looked, I couldn't find diapers cheaper than 22 cents for the newborn size). Other costs to consider are a diaper genie and refills (not necessary, I suppose, but a lot of people get them) and diaper rash cream, which more disposable-clad babies need than cloth-babies. For cloth, you'll probably buy one or two wetbags for storage, but again, these are one-time costs (as opposed to diaper genie refills and diaper cream).

Let me know if I've missed something in this analysis; I want to be able to give the most correct, up-to-date information on cloth diapering possible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So long, 8 hours of sleep in a row!

Well, my baby is 4.5 months old now, but I still don't get to sleep through the night. I know, that's probably pretty normal. In fact, many many parents have babies who sleep less than mine, so I'm probably pretty lucky, actually. Except for last night. Last night wasn't that great. (Sorry, to all you moms who have it even worse than this, I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but it's my own molehill).

The main reason last night was a not-so-good experience is that our cloth diapers were being stripped (this is a process that I don't like much, but at least this is the first time we've had to do it and may be related to washing our diapers on vacation). The reason this is a problem is that we had to use our non-favorite cloth diapers (tested and tried and found wanting) or disposable ones. The stripping process basically took all day and night because it involved washing the diapers in blue (original) Dawn then rinsing again and again until all the Dawn was rinsed out. It took many washes. I didn't count them, but I'm thinking it was about 6 cycles (pre-wash, hot wash, extra rinse) to get them clean. Anyway, I am reminded why I hate disposable diapers so much. Again, they're papery feeling, but also they don't work as well.

So, last night Eleanor started off in our GoGreen Pocket diaper (the tested and found wanting diaper) which leaked after 4 hours of sleep and woke her up. And I mean really woke her up. She wouldn't go back to sleep for an hour and 15 minutes! I changed her, fed her, and swaddled her then woke a grumpy Ryan to rock her back to sleep (meanwhile I had to throw those aforementioned diapers in the dryer and feed the kitties - at 2:45 am). Ryan was up with her for 30 minutes, so I finally went in to relieve him and finally got her back to sleep 5 minutes later. Whew! Oh, did I mention I put her in a disposable diaper after that? Oh yeah. So, we were up again at 5:15 with a wet baby, wet swaddle, and wet sheet. So, diaper change, short feeding (yeah, she was hungry again!), sheet change, and back to my bed with baby. It's easier to get sleep that way (note: we don't co-sleep on a regular basis and never overnight. This is an occasional nap situation where I'm not really asleep anyway). This time I put her in her Happy Heineys diaper, one that works well but the fit just isn't my favorite. At least I didn't have to worry about waking up in a pool of pee! Guess what, though? My night isn't finished! At 6:30 I got up to change Eleanor to get ready for the day (yay for dry fuzzibunz!), I decided to change her on the twin bed in her room instead of on the changing table. Why oh why? She promptly peed on the bed (and her last clean swaddle blanket). Awesome. So, I have tons of laundry to do tonight, and I had to scramble to find one clean swaddle (remember she wet on 3 of them over night) to send with her to Mimi's house. Sigh.

Normally, you must realize, Eleanor wears a BumGenius diaper to bed and stays dry all night. It's wonderful. They work great. She wears fuzzibunz during the day, and they may leak after 6 hours overnight, but they're still way better than 'sposies. Anyway, more on stripping later. It's definitely a downside to cloth diapering.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My fuzzi stash!

I counted up my cloth diaper stash last night to see how many diapers I have that I actually use. My mom just bought me three more, so I figured I probably have enough now. I have 14 fuzzi bunz, 7 charlie banana, and 3 bumgenius. All 3 brands are pocket diapers (the only kind I use), and the bumgenius ones I use for nights only right now (they're a bit bigger than the fb and cb, so there's more room for stuffing). So, I have 24 diapers in use.  It's about the perfect number of diapers. I do laundry every two days, for one reason because my dirty diaper bag gets full and also to keep my diapers from staining. With 24 diapers, I have plenty to get me through while the laundry is getting done, in case it takes a little while, like if I start the laundry at night and put the diapers in the dryer before I go to work, she'll still have diapers to wear that day.

We have a range of colors, too! The newest additions were turquoise, mint, and choco truffle which gave me some more "gender-neutral" colors. I also have several pink, one purple, a few buttercream (one of my faves!), and 7 white diapers. My favorite is a Charlie Banana patterned diaper. It is white with pink flowers and butterflies; so pretty!

Here are some pics of Eleanor in her newest FuzziBunz diaper! I love the turquoise color (actually called "spearmint"). Isn't she the cutest?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Missing my baby

This morning I had to leave a smiling, happy baby and come to work. It about broke my heart. Last night, Eleanor was cranky and it seemed like nothing we did could make her happy. Eventually she settled down with a bath, a clean diaper, swaddling, and her paci. But then she just went to sleep. This morning, she wanted to play, but her mom had to go to work. Why does it seem to go like that? Yesterday she went to one grandma's house and was playful, talkative, and all in all a very happy baby. Today she's at another grandma's house, presumably having just as lovely of a day without me. I wonder what mood she'll be in tonight. I really hope I get to play with a happy baby for a couple of hours before she goes to bed! I miss my Eleanor.

Why do moms have to go to work? Is it this bad for dads, too?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cloth Diapers: The good, the bad, and the stinky

Okay, so I know very few people care about cloth diapering, but for anyone who's curious about what it's like, I'm here to tell you.

The Good:

I won't lie: I LOVE cloth diapering. Who would have thought it possible to like anything having to do with taking care of baby bum messes? Well, let me tell you, it's way better than disposables, and here are some reasons why:

1. Cloth diapers save a TON of money. I use one-size pocket diapers, which means that each diaper should fit my baby from 8-35 lbs (in other words from about 6 weeks old to potty training). I have 20 diapers at approximately $19 each, so an investment of $380 will cover diapering for up to 3 years (as opposed to about $1000 each year with disposables). Even the added laundry doesn't negate the savings. Not to mention that I didn't pay for all of my diapers since some of them were given as gifts.

2. Cloth diapers leak less. I've tried them both, and it seems like our cloth diapers hold more liquid. Yes, there are some leaks, but only when we don't change her often enough. And you get that with disposables too.

3. Cloth diapers are soooo soft! They have a fleece lining inside which is all that touches our baby's bottom. I like handling them much better than the papery disposables.

4. I like the laundry. :) Sometimes it's a pain to have to wash a load of diapers because there are only 2 or 3 left, but generally it's nice to pull clean-smelling diapers out of the dryer and stuff the inserts back in to replenish our stash.

5. Cloth diapers are cute!

6. Some babies have a really rough time with diaper rash, but not with cloth diapers. Disposables have all sorts of chemicals that help them absorb the liquids, and those can cause problems. Eleanor didn't have a problem with diaper rash in the first few weeks while we used disposables, but it's nice to know she probably won't have any trouble in the future, either. Cloth diapers are much more natural.

7. I'm reducing our trash output. It was amazing how quickly our trash filled up with diapers, even the tiny newborn ones she started out wearing! Thinking about all of that waste hitting the landfills was not a great thought, and I'm really not that much of a "green" freak. Plus, I don't really like dealing with trash.

The Bad:

Some of the positives above can be a negative, in a way. For instance, #4, the Laundry. This is also a downside. Here are some drawbacks to cloth diapering, which I feel are far outweighed by the positives:

1. The Laundry. I have to wash diapers every other day. Of course, all this involves is dumping my wet bag upside down in my washing machine and pushing one button, then "start." Easy as pie, but it has to be done. When they're clean, I pull them all out and put them in the dryer. When they're dry, I have to stuff the inserts back inside the pockets. This is also not a big deal as I can easily do it while watching TV.

2. Cloth diapers make my baby's butt look big. They're puffy. Because they're not full of chemicals to help them absorb liquids, they have to have extra fabric inside to soak it all up. This bothered me at first, but I'm used to it now, and Eleanor is still cute as a button! In fact, the cloth diapers are cuter than disposables when she's not wearing anything else, and they work great under dresses or rompers.

3. Cloth diapers take up more room in my diaper bag. My hubby and I are sometimes out and about all day with our little one, so we need to pack quite a few diapers (6 usually works for all day). I could probably carry 5 or 6 disposables in the amount of space one cloth diaper takes up. This makes our diaper bag heavier and bulkier, but we're pretty used to it now.

4. We have to take home dirty diapers. We carry a wet bag around in our diaper bag for the dirty diapers and bring them home at night to wash them. Again, this is something we're used to. The benefit to this is that when we're at other people's houses we don't have to worry about stinking up their trash can with our baby's diapers. I also know that some people take home dirty disposables, anyway; they just store them in a plastic bag and throw them in their trash at home. This sort of negates the negative of carting home our cloth diapers.

The Stinky:

All diapers stink, whether disposable or cloth, so don't use this as a determining factor. It's just a matter of whether your trash stinks or your wet bag (which seals in the smells quite well and gets washed with the diapers). Some people also have some problems with "clean" diapers stinking, but we haven't yet, and there are solutions to those problems, as well.


All in all, cloth diapering takes time and research, but is so worth it! For us the main reason was cost savings. For friends of mine, the main reason was their son's skin sensitivity. For you, it may be saving the environment one diaper at a time. Either way, it's a rewarding experience. More about our cloth diapering experience later!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Wow! I can't believe I'm a mom! My baby is 2 months old now, but it still seems so strange that she's my child and I am responsible for raising her! The journey thus far has had its ups--precious sleeping moments; smiles just for me; wide, inquisitive eyes--and downs--not knowing how to soothe a wailing baby at 2 am; not being able to sleep in any more...ever!; having to leave my baby with someone else while I go to work--but it's all worth it! I can't wait to experience every stage along the way as my Eleanor grows up.

What would I do without Ryan? He's the best husband and father in the world! He can soothe Eleanor when I can't figure out what to do, he helps with her in the middle of the night, he keeps me sane! He's also been a trooper when it comes to using cloth diapers; he now says they're not bad at all! :) I love knowing that Eleanor will have a positive example of what a man should be like. Best of all, he simply adores his daughter. I love watching him with her; it's the sweetest thing in the world.

If I can remember to blog more often, here's where readers will see what my life as a mom is like. I want to give you information about cloth diapering (how cheap, simple, and fun it can be!), tell stories about my baby, encourage other breastfeeding moms, and basically just be real about mommy-hood. I hope eventually I will find time to read books and crochet because I would love to continue posting book reviews and pictures of finished projects, but for now being a mommy is taking up all of my time outside of work. Oh yeah, and I will try to post lots of pictures!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!