Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back to the Diaper Drawing Board

I know what you're thinking. Another diaper post? Good grief, does this woman do anything other than sew maternity tops and research cloth diapers?

Actually, those of you who cloth diaper probably understand. From the numerous articles, posts, and comments I've read, it seems that most women who choose to cloth diaper become somewhat obsessed with it. The fact that I've read those numerous articles, posts, and comments, would indicate that I am no exception to that trend!

With a second baby on the way, we'll soon have two in diapers. I had the option of either duplicating my current system, or going with something new -- but one way or the other, purchased or homemade, I *would* need more. So it was back to the diaper drawing board for me!

But that's not the only reason to head back to the drawing board. After 18+ months of cloth diapering, my homemade flannel diapers are wearing out, and I've encountered ammonia issues with the microfiber inserts I've been using. I was having to strip my diapers at least monthly, and use an ammonia neutralizer intended for fish tanks (!) to deal with the odor build-up. As it turns out, it's not uncommon for microfiber inserts to start having stink issues after about a year of use. While my inserts were only $0.62 a piece, I'm not a fan of having to go to the trouble of replacing them yearly.

Add to that a rather mish-mashed stash made of up of a few prefolds, flannel fitteds with lay-in soakers, flannel/alova suede"stuffable" fitteds, two different kinds of microfiber inserts, and a couple of hemp liners, and you end up with a rather complicated system. Too complicated. The variety was a result of (fortunately frugal) experimentation, but I think having two little ones will be enough "variety" in my life. I could squeeze a little more life out of my fitted diapers, but since it's back to the drawing board, anyway, I decided to retire them (though I've stored the better ones in case I need them at some point in the future).

While I was taking the trouble to go back to the drawing board, I decided I might as well get back to the basics, too! There are so many fancy diapers and fabrics in the cloth world today. In the course of my research, I agonized over the merits (and drawbacks) of fancy fibers like bamboo velour, sherpa, hemp fleece, and ZORB. It seemed like every time I found a "miracle fabric," I also found unimpressed reviewers who had found it less than miraculous. Since none of the above-mentioned fabrics are cheap, I wasn't willing to dole out the cash to make an entire stash of diapers with fabric of unknown effectiveness (I could try several fabrics, but I really wanted simplicity).

After a while, I threw up my hands and started looking at prefolds. I figured I could try making some with stash fabric and cheap towels, and see how it went. I was not against buying prefolds, but even though they're relatively cheap (about $2 to $3 each for good prefolds), they typically come in 3 or 4 sizes. With roughly 24 diapers needed per size, the "cheap" prefold suddenly seems a bit more expensive.

It was while I was researching prefolds that the concept of flat diapers finally made it onto my radar screen. Flat diapers are large squares of absorbent fabric that are folded into a diaper shape. This is the very oldest and simplest kind of diaper. When I first investigated cloth diapering during my first pregnancy, I didn't really even consider flats, though I have no idea why. Perhaps I assumed they were complicated and that newer, fancier diapers would do a better job?

Oh me, oh my, how wrong I was! I've been using flats for a few months now, and while that's probably not enough time for a conclusive "study," I'm officially convinced.

I've also discovered a much cheaper alternative to the Thirsties Duo Wrap covers (better quality, too, in my opinion), so I've bolstered my stash of diaper covers with One-Size and Tiny Diaper covers from (Disclosure: that's a referral link, so any purchases made through it will add points to my account). Not only do they have phenomenal prices on diapers and flushable liners, they also sell sewing supplies (including hard-to-find nursing bra clasps!), and many of their products ship for free on orders over $25 (plus coupon code LITTLEFLOWER gives a 10% discount). Their products are made in and ship from China, but the company is run by a missionary couple and all proceeds go to a ministry that helps abandoned and special needs children in China -- so I can't really complain about that! *wink* I am pleased as punch by the various products I've tried, and I love the little "extras" they tuck into each package.

I'm still interested in prefolds (as you can tell from my Pinterest board), but flats are so cheap and easy to launder that I'm sticking with them for the time being!

I'm revamping my initial cloth diapering posts to reflect the changes in our system, and adding a new post to the series to (hopefully) make things a bit neater and easier to navigate:

Adventures in Cloth Diapering
Part 1 -- Initial Considerations and Counting the Cost
Part 2 -- What We Use
Part 3 -- How We Use It
Part 4 -- What We've Tried (and Ditched)

For more on the pros and cons of flats, our new covers, and our current system, you can check the updated posts (particularly Part 2).

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