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Thursday, December 9, 2010

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Why Did I Wait So Long?? Getting it Right With Baby #4

A little more than five short years ago, I was expecting my first children ... twins.  While discussing various new baby plans, my mom asked me if I planned to use cloth diapers.  What?  Was she crazy?  Twin babies, a full time job, a busy husband in school, no way would I be using cloth!  Isn’t cloth messy and unreliable?  Wouldn’t I be wasting water with all the endless washing?  What babysitter or daycare center would ever agree to something like that?  Two years later, baby #3 was set to arrive and I still had my first two children in diapers.  I dared my mother to mention cloth to me... there would be absolutely NO WAY that I could cloth diaper three children.  Ludicrous. 

Fast forward two years later while expecting baby #4... as I was preparing my curriculum for the upcoming semester, I decided to put more of an emphasis on sustainability  in the personal health and wellness course that I teach at a local community college.  Since I am a busy parent and there are many moms (and dads) and soon-to-be moms that walk through my doors, there is a lot of information discussed about parenting, children, nutrition, and yes, diapering - cloth diapers started to seem like a natural (and needed) addition to our syllabus.  After doing a brief amount of research, I mentioned to a friend that I was  looking into cloth diapering - for my class and possibly for myself.  The look of excitement on her face was indescribable.  I truly did not expect that diaper discussions could elicit such a response.  Little did I know that I would soon become the excited one when discussing cloth diapers. 

As I researched cloth diapers and made the decision to use them at home, I began to cringe at the thought of all the waste I put in landfills and the money I poured down the drain over the past few years.  Three children in disposable diapers meant that I was going through over 200 diapers a week on average.  You can only imagine the overflowing trash cans in the driveway!  Strategizing to get the best deal on boxes of diapers including planning time to drive 30 minutes away to the only place that sold boxes of diapers in the sizes and brands that I needed.  Instead of hanging out with my children after a long day at work, I would find myself packing them in the car or paying the sitter to stay a little bit longer so I could make this journey every month.  There was nothing satisfying about seeing those boxes stacked up in the laundry room or seeing bag after bag of trash exiting my house.  Briefly reflecting on these thoughts helped push me closer to my decision to make the switch.   

To help ease my way into the world of cloth diapering, my mother promised me a diaper service as a baby shower gift.  What a treat!  It definitely made me feel less nervous about adding additional laundry onto my already busy laundry schedule.  However, once my baby arrived and I began the cloth diapering process, I realized that the laundry situation was not bad at all and even, dare I say, fun?  I used the service for a bit but gradually began to do all of it myself.  In some ways, although the service was convenient, I felt it was too limiting.  With all those great cloth options out there, I wanted to try them all!  (And, trust me, I am trying...)

Although I began this process diapering our newborn only, I quickly realized that my two year old could easily be switched over to cloth.  There were no transition issues whatsoever!  She even loves keeping her own stash in her room and picks out the one she wants to wear.  My oldest son continues to need diapers at night - at 5 years old and over 50 pounds, transitioning him to cloth was a little bit trickier.  However, the financial incentive is great.  At his age, nighttime diapers average almost $1 per diaper - I could make back the purchase of a new cloth diaper in just 2 to 3 weeks - well worth it to me.  I also hoped that the cloth diaper might speed up the process of him staying dry at night. 

At the moment, our cloth diaper adventure is in full swing for three of my four children.  I love including the benefits of cloth diapering as part of my health class and showing off the new cute styles of cloth that exist today!  My students still envision the old style saggy bottomed prefolds days and they are all pleasantly surprised to see some style as well as ease involved - the cost savings as well as the huge benefit to our environment seal the deal, so to speak.  All it takes is one super-excited mom to share her love of cloth diapering - it worked for me and I hope that now I can convince others.  It’s never too late to switch to cloth!  I finally got it right with baby four!  

by Erin Brighton MPH, M.Ed. - Charlotte, NC


Catherine said...

Love this post! So glad you are sharing the word!

My This N That Life said...

Thanks! I am 3 kids deep...and just a month ago, with my youngest at 8 months, I decided to take a dip into the cloth diapering world. I am just so tired of buying disposables! My 3 year old wets the bed some nights and has occasional potty accidents, but I've ditched the diapers entirely with him. I guess you could call me a part-time cloth diaperer at this point. :) Anyway, thanks for your post! I'm so glad when I see I am not the only person that has decided late to try cloth!

Christina DeLucia said...

Ahh this could have been me writing this blog! I did not start to cloth til baby #4 got here.....I always frowned about cloth and never even gave it a second glance til I saw pics from a friend who was cd her 3rd baby.....after that I was hooked:) SO I have been using cloth on our 2.5 yr old son and baby girl who is almost 9 months for almost 7 months now! I love it! Thanks for sharing:)

Ultygirl said...

Hi Erin, Thanks for the post! What diapers did you find worked for your newborn? I am trying Kushies for my 3 week old but finding they leak poop around my baby's scrawny legs. :(

Brad & Heidi Meier said...

I would love to know what you are using with you 5 year old at night, as I need to make the switch with my 4 year old.

Kelly said...

Erin - That was a great post. I wish I had you as a professor when I was in college. I actually did a paper for my Industrial Engineering class over 25 yrs ago on the benefits of cloth over disposables. I didn't get a great grade on it but hope that was based on my lack of writing skills and not the topic :)

I'm glad you made the switch and are spreading the word to the world.

jhull said...

I started cloth diapering my first (and only so far) when he was 3 months old. He's now 6 months. I was afraid to try when he was a newborn and I was just getting the hang of all the other stuff. I'll cloth diaper right away for my next!

Jill said...

These kids are so cute. I'm so glad I figured this out before my first was even born, so we adjusted slowly to CD'ing her, and now any more kids will get to use hers (fingers crossed!)

erin_b said...

Hi all! Thanks for the positive feedback. I started with hemp prefolds from the Willow Store with my newborn during the day and we stuffed BG pockets at night. Right now, our little guy is four months old and we love Fuzzibunz! We also use quite a bit of Bumgenius - the sitters love the easy velcro aspect and I have experimented here and there with a few other pockets. We are probably 75% prefolds, 25% pockets for him.

As for my big kids... my 5 year old has been tricky! We are currently using SuperUndies Nighttime diaper in the largest size and he is loving them. He was hesitant at first but he just asked me to order another one or two so I guess that is a sign he fears a night where I didn't get the CD laundry done! :-)

For my almost 3 year old girl ... at night we use just about any pocket and use a hemp doubler from Babee Greens to maximize absorbancy. That seems to work well.

Good luck! It is never too late to start cloth.

stkduerr said...

In response to questions about cloth for big kids, I've started using One Step Ahead's bedwetter pants (different than their daytime potty training pants) with my five year old daughter, and they're fantastic! She can really soak a pull-up, but the OSA pants have been up to the task. She likes them better than her old disposables, and I can just toss them in with her sister's BumGenius.

Good luck!