Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cloth on the Go

I'm taking a quick break from my previous rant discussion to talk about cloth diapers. I love cloth diapers for lots of reasons, they are cute, they are easy, they are cheaper than disposables, don't smell like strange perfumes, A. likes them better and they mean I never have to go to the store with a sick/cranky/tired baby because we are almost out of diapers. Many people will also tell you that they are better for the environment and keep harmful toxins from touching your baby's delicate skin which is also true, but less of a concern for me as those concerns can be mitigated to some extent by buying some of the more eco-friendly disposables. We love cloth for lots more reasons that I'm not remembering, but I did a whole post about it so if you want to hear me go on and on some more click here, otherwise I'll attempt to get to the point.

Before A. was born I knew that I wanted to use cloth diapers. I had some people tell me I'd never manage or that it was too hard, but that just made me want to prove them wrong. The one thing that even supporters of cloth diapering said was that I would probably want to use disposables while we were out and for the first month or two after A. was born that is exactly what I did until one day when I realized it was no longer easier. Those that were suggesting disposables while out and about were all in my parent's generation and did not have access to many of the things that we have now to make cloth on the go so easy. For them it was a lot easier to use disposables, but many of the problems that made it that way have now been solved. Now, if you have the right equipment, it is actually easier to leave your baby in their cloth diaper than to switch them into a disposable before leaving the house. You can use cloth diapers on the go without buying anything extra, but there are a few things that make it a little easier.

Wet bag - When you leave the house with cloth diapers the biggest drawback is that you can't just throw away the dirty diapers. Instead you have to carry them with you. At first this seems like a major issue, but a good wet bag will hold in any smell or dampness. There are a lot of good wet bags on the market and many of them are really pretty. I love having a wet bag in my diaper bag even on those rare occasions when I'm using disposables because they are also good for holding nasty burp clothes, bibs or soiled clothing. Babies can be disgusting sometimes and it is nice to have a clean place to put whatever it is they have soiled. I don't know how many people I know who've thrown away an outfit because they were out and about when their baby had a blowout (normally while using a disposable diaper) and they didn't have a way to get it home to wash it. I've also found that not all public changing tables have a trash can nearby. Since I'm putting everything, including wipes, in my wet bag I don't have to worry about trying to manage a dirty diaper, wipes and a baby while looking for the nearest trashcan or even consider turning around with my squirming baby still on the changing table to throw stuff away in the trashcan behind me.

Cloth Wipes in a Wipe Case - The next thing I love to have are cloth wipes in a wipes case. Plain cases can be found at most baby stores or you can buy fancy ones on Etsy. They will generally hold 5-6 cloth wipes which may not sound like much, but frequently one cloth wipe will do far more than one disposable wipe so you don't need as many. It may seem silly to use cloth wipes, but it is nice to not have to remember to put the diaper in the diaper pail and the wipe in the trashcan or to have to separate the contents of the wet bag into the wash and the trash when you get home. We use cloth wipes almost exclusively because we are lazy and cheap are concerned about our environmental footprint. You can carry dry wipes and a spray bottle with water or bum cleaner, but I generally just grab a few pre-wetted ones from the bin of them on the changing table and put them in my wipes case on my way out the door. I've seen people do both and they both seem to work well. This isn't to say you can't use disposable wipes, I just find it easier to use cloth.

Pocket Diapers
or All-in-Ones - At home I normally use prefolds with a snappi and a cover, but when I'm out I like the diapers that work more like a disposable because they are faster, easier and take up less space in the diaper bag. I have done it both ways and can tell you that it really isn't hard to use prefolds when you are out and about, but I'm lazy and A. doesn't like staying still for a diaper change in the middle of a play date the way she does on her changing table at home. There are a ton of options for these styles of diaper and which ones you use depend on everything from whether or not you are willing to stuff pockets to how much you want to spend to how chunky your baby's legs are and even what colors you like. BumGenius and FuzziBunz are the two most popular brands and both are great. FuzziBunz tend to work better for chunky babies and the BumGenius tend to be better for slender babies, but your mileage may vary.

Disposable liners - One of the big things that people (including myself when I started) worry about with cloth is what to do about the poop. If you are still exclusively breastfeeding (no formula or solids) the answer is easy, just throw it in the wash! (Yes, it really is that easy and no this isn't a trick, everything is water soluble and the hot water and soap will kill the germs.) If you are out and about throw it in the wet bag which will contain the smell. If you are using formula or solids though, the answer is a little more challenging. In a pinch you can still put the dirty diaper in the wet bag, but I prefer to put a slightly cleaner diaper into the wet bag when I can. If I am near home or at a friend's house I use the same washable liners that I use at home and shake any solids off into the toilet. If I'm out shopping or traveling though I prefer disposable liners. These are thin, flushable and biodegradable. You put them inside the diaper and toss them in the trash for a wet diaper or flush them poop and all for a dirty diaper, easy peasey. That said, we only use them if we are going to be out a while as it is one more thing to remember and I'm lazy (plus by the time they are on solids babies generally only get one dirty diaper a day and it normally happens at a regular, predictable time).

Back-up supplies - The one problem with cloth diapers and supplies is that they are bulkier than disposable diapers and wipes. This means you can't carry as many with you and I know I tend to worry about running out. The first thing to remember is that there are stores in the world and even those using disposables will run out sometimes and have to buy a pack of diapers because the shopping trip ran long, they stopped for lunch or their toddler drank more water than they thought. However, in the interest of being prepared I normally carry one or two disposable diapers and a small pack of disposable wipes tucked into the corner of the diaper bag "just in case". (This actually started after A. dirtied her last diaper when we had one more store left on a trip running errands on the far side of town and I had to run in and buy a pack of diapers.) I know that once we put the disposable on her that we need to head for home, but it buys me the time I need sometimes. The only problem we run into is that we use so few disposables that when A. starts getting to the top of a size range we need to make a concerted effort to use the rest before she grows out of them and remember to buy more in the next size up (which reminds me, I think she's probably been in size 3s for a while now and we haven't ever bought any...). Thus far we have used exactly one pack in each size and I'd kinda like to keep it that way.

I hope this answers any questions for those of you who are considering cloth for your next kid, currently using cloth at home but switching to disposables while out or even using disposables and considering switching to cloth now. (Toddlers tend to potty train faster in cloth, just saying.) If you have any questions on how to get started or if you currently use cloth out and about and have a great suggestion for how to make it easier please leave a comment. Now days, for me at least, it really is easier to use cloth out than it is to bother changing a clean diaper simply because you are leaving the house and want a disposable.

1 comment:

  1. I love my cloth diapers! I have been diapering babies for over 10 years, and I can't say enough good things about cloth (or bad things about disposables, for that matter!).