Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: Diaper dilemma

Boy, you forget to check the mailbag for a couple of weeks, and the letters pile up!
Dear Bored Housewives,

My first baby is due in two months and my husband and I are fretting about diapers. (Well, actually, it’s my mom that’s doing the fretting, really, but that’s a story for another day.)

We’d like to use cloth diapers as much as possible, though we are open to the idea of using disposables on occasion. We’ve been checking around in Vancouver for different options but, as with all things baby-related in this town, we’re overwhelmed both by the degree of choice (which ranges from cheapo disposables from Wal-Mart to fancy west-side diaper services) and by the charged ideological nature of choosing among the options. (The general consensus out there seems to be that you either hate the earth and use disposables (say the cloth advocates), or you hate your baby and use cloth (say the disposable enthusiasts).)

So we turn to you: what do you all think about diapers? For those of you who used cloth, did you buy and wash your own (and if so, any favourite brands or tips)? Or did you use a diaper service? (Any you’d recommend?) For those of you who aspired to use cloth but changed your minds after trying them (I hear it happens a lot), what swung the vote?

Yours sincerely,

First, congratulations, Colleen! That's so exciting! And second, my apologies for taking so long to post your letter. Hopefully the collected wisdom of the BHNers will compensate for my tardiness.


  • At 12:25 PM, Blogger Joanne said…

    I wanted to use cloth and bought cloth. I figured I did laundry daily anyway, who'd care if it was diapers? Also, I thought it would be a lot of garbage. Then I had a c-section and it all went to hell. I tried but I couldn't bend down well to dip them in to the toilet or whatever and then I used disposables and then it was all over, and now it's been a year! For me, it was a good idea in theory but in practice, it didn't work out. I think you're smart to be flexible already - that is, maybe use cloth when you're home but not be totally opposed to disposable for when you're going out or whatever? Good luck!

  • At 2:32 PM, Blogger Molly said…

    I have used cloth since Kale was born 8 months ago. In the beginning we used the diaper service (Diapers Naturally) because I was so overwhelmed by the number of diapers out there I just couldn't decide. Unfortunately I was less than impressed with diaper service. Everytime he pooped it got on the wrap so even though I didn't have to wash diapers I was constantly having to wash wraps and it was hard to find enough clothes to make a load to wash the wraps some days. A friend gave us a few of her old cloth diapers (Motherease) and after using them for a day I was hooked. They are Canadian Made. They are one size fits most babies (8-35lbs). They contain the most explosive breastmilk poohs. We don't even use disposables when we go out because they leak way more than the Motherease diapers. I dread vacations when I use disposables because I know we will end up with a mess. When we bought our own we went with the Stay Dry Liner and even after an overnight the side of the diaper next to the baby feels completely dry. As for washing, every three days I throw them in the machine with some Borax and soap. Soak 20 minutes, drain and then run through a normal wash. No stains.

  • At 4:59 PM, Blogger ... said…

    I say disposable all the way. I try not to hate the earth and I don't drive a car. So...well, nevermind my logic, I just went with disposable because I find poopy cloth gross to clean and I couldn't afford to hire a diaper service.

    Mind you, I've also threw out a couple of pairs of underwear during my daughter's toilet training days, so forget I said anything. I have some electricity to waste and some water to leave running.

    Good luck!

  • At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    we went with half & half. actually we started with the diaper service exclusively - which was wonderful (diapers naturally) i never had to deal with a poopy diaper any more than i would with a disposable. but as my daughter grew, she just soaked them at night, so we switched to disposables at night (she slept better & longer which is... essential to everyone's happiness)

    although i've never tried them, i have heard wonderful things about motherease (as molly describes above). and would probably give them a try next time around.

  • At 9:02 PM, Blogger Cataclysm said…

    Ahh diapers!!!

    My cool and groovy, save-the-world-and-all-things-in-it friend Kirst made a comment like, "you're gonna use cloth diapers, right?!!!" when I was 4 months pregnant. To which I said, "of course"... secretively thinking I'd have to get cloth for when we visited her.

    But then I was doing the math on how much disposables were - that we could save $5,000 per kid! And the environment too! And cloth diapered babies toilet train 6 months on average earlier! Win, win, win!

    So then my nervous pregnant energy went into cloth diaper overdrive! In my diaper-buying frenzy (curses to eBay!), I bought too many Wonderoos, Fuzzibunz and Happy Heiny's pocket diapers. Hated all of them due to leaks (or maybe I was doing something wrong).

    But a lovely BC woman makes Sweet Cheeks diapers and always has great sales (like buy 2, get 3). And we LOVE LOVE LOVE these!!

    He rarely leaks, even with those poo-canos (as Doppleganager calls them), as the SC is so very well designed! We use the Sweet Cheek fleece doubler and it really does keep him pretty dry!

    Shop around for cloth wipes as they range in price but SC wipes are awesome too if you can find them on sale - and man, I still hate disposable wipes for cleaning up poo (I end up using 10+ wipes instead of 3-4 cloth). I keep a bucket of water to use and change the water before I go to bed - when Rian was very new, we'd change the water before each diaper change and make it warm but that lasted about 3 days...

    The 2 important parts of my diapering system are the Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Covers (awesome, awesome, awesome covers!! Check out for the best deals in Canada) and the diaper sprayer!!

    I mean, I love my cloth diapers but there's no way I'd get my hands in the toilet. For $43.50 you get the mini-shower that attaches to most toilets easily!

    Diaper services seem pretty good if a little pricey. My washing machine with oxy bleach doesn't get them as snowy white as a service but we do maybe 1-2 extra loads a week which isn't bad.

    The only other comment I have is that we've had trouble getting pants big enough for his cloth diapered bum. Overalls work well!

    ... and saying all that, we do mostly put a disposable on Rian at night... there's not much I wouldn't do to for anything that might possibly give me a good night of sleep! And don't ask me about sleep - our 'sleep aids' have cost us in the region of $500... the Sony stereo, the down sleep sack, the baby massage oil, books, CDs, more foam for his crib after he was 6 months old, fleece sheets, lavender room spray, etc.!!

    Take care,

  • At 9:35 PM, Blogger Tammy said…

    I was waiting for Kris's post because I knew it'd have all sorts of great information... information I totally tend to use NEXT TIME I have a baby.

    With Sam, I was totally committed to cloth at the beginning, though not committed to cleaning poop myself, so we went with the Diapers Naturally diaper service. Here's where things went off the rails for us within the first two months:

    - The diapers and covers themselves? Sucked. I don't know if Diapers Naturally has better makes and we just didn't know to select them, but Sam had blowouts (aka the dreaded "poo-cano") all the time.

    - Sam co-slept with us. That + frequent blowouts meant we were constantly washing not just his clothes but also our clothes, our bedding and our mattress pad. It got harder to see the positive environmental impact of cloth diapers when we were constantly running loads of laundry.

    - My husband hated the cloth diapers. He found them awkward and hard to use, again probably due to the make we were using, because I know know, thanks to Kris, that there are waaaaay more user-friendly models out there. And because he did the majority of the diaper changes for the first few weeks (I was somewhat immobilized by my stitches), he started defaulting to the disposables we kept on standby.

    So at the end of two months, we'd paid all this money for the diaper service and were barely touching the lovely snowy white pile of cloth diapers. I gave up.

    I did consider returning to cloth diapers because of the whole "cloth diapered babies toilet train earlier" stat, but right about the time I started thinking about it, Sam turned into a dervish on the change table. We quickly switched to pull-up diapers (disposable) because they're the only things we can whip on and off as he tears around the room.

    I've diapered a LOT of different babies in my time, and I've NEVER seen one resist a diaper change the way Sam does. Or if not resist, exactly, he manically pretends that this entire diaper transaction isn't taking place, so why should he bother slowing down?

  • At 9:46 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    I chose disposable and have never looked back, but if you do go that route, try a few different brands to see what you like. Some of the women in my mom's group swore by Pampers, some by Huggies. It seemed to depend on the shape of the baby which brand fit best. Congratulations and good luck!

  • At 10:05 AM, Blogger landismom said…

    Color me going straight to hell--the number of disposable diapers we've used will no doubt cause a hole in the ozone the size of Cleveland. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I discovered that no diaper service existed where we live. At that point, we lived in an apartment that did not have a washer and dryer. Ergo, disposables were the only choice I was willing to make.

    Having had one of each gender, I will echo Melissa's comment about different diaper designs--our daughter was a Pampers-only kid--if you put Huggies on her, it was a leaky disaster. On my son, it's all Huggies all the time--Pampers never worked for him. I can't tell if this is a girl-parts/boy-parts design issue, or just their different proportions--I'm sure ymmv.

  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger Tammy said…

    Hmm... see, now for Sam Pampers have always worked better, whereas Huggies? Not so much. We LOVED the Pampers Swaddlers and were nigh-devastated when we realized that they stop making them past a certain size. They were great for the early months, though.

  • At 11:37 AM, Blogger Tallis Ford said…

    I think like a lot of the comments have suggested, things of course aren't so cut and dry once you actually have a baby. We started out with disposables (somehow i just didn't even consider cloth) and then around 8 months old i got a hankering to consider cloth.

    I got myself online and almost had a massive breakdown with all the information. I had spreadsheets trying to sort out the choices and was still overwhelmed.

    My nature is to research things to death and then pick something and stick with it. I can only say this was a flawed strategy with cloth. I've decided the best approach would be to buy 1 of each different type of cloth diaper: pocket, pre-folds with covers, and all-in-ones. Just by maybe one or two of each and then decide what system works best for you.

    We went with prefolds and covers (i have some imsevimse and bummis super whisper snaps) and i like both. We've accumulated some fitted diapers to go in the covers and sometimes i like those too, now that Henry is wrigglier on the changing table.

    We also use the rice paper inserts. I guess they keep his skin drier but the main reason is because with poopy diapers, you just strip off the liner and throw the whole thing in the toilet. It's amazing. No rinsing or shaking needed.

    The other thing is that at night we use these micro-fiber cloths that are in the car-care section at Costco. They are cheap for a whole bunch of them and they are amazingly absorbent. I just use it like a doubler.

    Finally, i cut up an old fleece blanket into strips and i put that on top of the prefold. It also helps keep it try around his tushy.

    These things allow us to use cloth day and night on the weekends. during the week he goes to daycare and they only use disposables. When we travel we use disposables and often if we're going say swim class, we use disposables but i've done both in the past.

    Hope that helps and just know that nothing is a deal-breaker. Maybe you make some bad choices or decide that cding isn't for you and then a few months later you re-evaluate. I don't think it has to be an all or nothing proposition.

  • At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. You guys are too much. Thank you - all of you - for your fabulous and thoughtful comments.

    It's funny - the spouse and I have so far been thinking, "What's the big deal? It's just a bit of baby poo?" but when I guess when the baby arrives and the poo-cano threatens, life gets a little more complicated. So, thanks for the tales of experience, the advice, and the warnings.


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