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Cloth Diapers Resources

elizabeth-st-lawrenceSavvy SouthernMamas profiles are back. Know a sassy, savvy mama you want to nominate? Email anne@southernmamas.com. Read past SouthernMamas rock! profiles here.

Meet Elizabeth St. Lawrence, stay-at-home mother of three who became a cloth-diaper enthusiast (and cloth wipes, too!) with the birth of her third daughter, Brianna (pictured here)

Your family:
Husband: Matthew. Three daughters: Alexandra (5), Samantha (4), and Brianna (6 months)

Liz, we understand you use cloth diapers. Are you nuts? Why did you decide to try cloth diapers this time around? And please tell us there’s no toilet dunking involved?

Honestly, I didn’t realize people still cloth diapered when I had my first two daughters! I think with the whole “green” movement the last few years combined with the economy, cloth diapers are making a great comeback. A few weeks before Brianna was born, I was giving into one of my guilty pleasures, Facebook, and one of my friends from high school mentioned cloth diapering on her status. I had to comment and bombard her with questions, and soon I was spending all of my free time researching cloth diapers!
There are a lot of valid reasons for cloth diapering; I will explain the reasons that “won” me over.

First, I hate throwing out so much trash. When we moved to Savannah last year, I was absolutely shocked that there was no recycling program. The town I lived in (in Rhode Island) had recycling pick up for at least 20 years, and to live in an area with zero (or so I thought!) recycling was really hard to get used to. The average baby will produce over 1 TON (that’s 2,000 lbs) of stinky, poopy diapers that will forever be in our landfills- EWWW! Using cloth diapers was one way our family could cut down on waste. Since moving to Pooler, I found out about the recycling center and now our family throws out only 2 bags of trash a week!

Second was cost. When I lived in RI, there was a great store that sold discounted diapers. I could get a HUGE box about 30% off warehouse club prices! Moving here, I knew I would not be able to get those deals. It’s been a few years since I have bought diapers and when I looked at how much a box costs now, I almost passed out! Now just like disposables, there is a big price range in cloth diapers. If someone was looking at the absolutely cheapest way to cloth diaper, your baby could use pre-folds and covers (good pre-folds are about $2/piece) but there are cloth diapers that are closer to $35. Once again, similar to disposables, the price ranges based on the materials used.

My third reason is somewhat a combination of my first two. What do you have when your child is out of disposables? Nothing and you are AT LEAST $1500 lighter in your wallet. If Brianna was not going to be my last child (at least that is what we are planning!) I would be able to use the cloth diapers for another baby, automatically cutting the costs of diapering another child dramatically. My niece is three months younger than Brianna and I have already given her some of the smaller diapers. If I wanted to, I could sell them on such sites as www.diaperswappers.com and get about 50-70% of what I paid for them originally (given that I take care of them properly). The combination of another child being able to use my “stash” and in turn creating even less waste plus the possibility of selling the diapers at the end of this stage is what catapulted me into the cloth diapering world!

cloth-diaper-2Would you recommend cloth diapering to new moms? Why or why not?

I would recommend cloth diapering to new moms, given a couple of factors (but these are not absolutes!) First, I personally think being a stay-at-home mom might make it easier to cloth diaper. I don’t think there are a lot of daycares in the area that are cloth diaper friendly (but I could be wrong).

Another is if the mother plans an exclusively breast feeding. When a baby is breast fed, there is no need to “dunk” the diaper, one can just throw it in the wetbag, making the first half a year or so much easier to cloth diaper. Third, is having a positive support network. My husband has always helped taking care of our girls (i.e. changing diapers), putting Brianna in a cloth diaper is just as easy as putting on a disposable (Matthew will even put on pre-folds!)

What are some other misconceptions some of us have about cloth diapers?

The cloth diapers that are on the market now are NOT the same our mothers or grandmothers used. Even if a modern mother wanted to use the “old fashioned” cloth diapers aka pre-folds, they are easier to use (no pins and plastic pants). Disposables are not always easier. Anyone who has breastfed their child has experienced “blowouts”. The design of almost all cloth diapers eliminates this. Every time Brianna has had a “blowout” it has been while she has been wearing a disposable (usually at church or at the Y). Also, storing the dirty diapers produce the same smell as using disposables (there is no wet pail).

Have you noticed any health benefits of cloth diapers, such as less diaper rash?

Personally, I have not noticed less diaper rash (as compared to my other two daughters). Brianna has very sensitive skin and we go through cycles of diaper rash. However, I strongly believe her rashes are more genetically related (eczema runs in our family) than cloth diaper related. I do love not seeing those tiny little “crystal beads” on her bum that I would occasionally see on my other girls. The chemicals used for disposables are kind of scary.

cloth-diapersWe heard there are a slew of different types of cloth diapers on the market now. What are your favorites?

My favorite diaper is the Bum Genius One-Size 3.0. A one-size diaper means it typically fits a child from 8-35 lbs or from birth to potty training. I also like my Happy Heinys for the fun prints (ballerinas, ballet shoes, flowers). Soft Bums are another favorite because the shell can be reused (one would just put in a new soaker pad), are also one-sized and made by a Work at Home Mom.

Gro Baby has a similar concept to the Soft Bums and the soakers are made out of organic cotton. I have recently tested a Smartipants and they are my new favorite- they combine a lot of cool features, made in the USA and are very reasonably priced.

Lastly, if money is no object, I just received a Blueberry bamboo velour Minky diaper. Yes, you read right, a diaper made out of minky! The diaper is so soft and beautiful, it almost seems weird a baby is to soil it!

I also actually like pre-folds too (I am partial to unbleached Indian cotton)! No need to use pins, you just tri-fold it and place it in a good cover (like a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap).

Where do you buy yours and how to you clean them? Are there any local cloth diaper services?

My first purchase of eight Bum Genius cloth diapers was at Just for Baby & More, right here in Savannah! I love that store! I have also bought my wipe warmer there (more on that in a little bit!) Right now, they just carry the Bum Genius One-Size and might carry other brands (especially if there is a big enough cloth diapering following!)

I bought my Happy Heinys on www.mamabargains.com but that was a special, one-time type of thing.

I bought more Bum Genius diapers on www.cottonbabies.com, the owners are the masterminds behind that wonderful diaper! I have also bought diapers on www.kellyscloset.com . They have a great blog on cloth diapering and a weekly giveaway www.theclothdiaperwhisperer.com (I actually won one week!) Probably one of the most useful cloth diapering sites is www.diaperpin.com .

There are reviews on almost every cloth diaper and accessory plus they have a directory of all of the cloth diapering websites and list current promotions.

I do not know of any local cloth diapering services but most cloth diapering mamas wash their own diapers. Usually diapering services only wash pre-folds and most moms that actually use pre-folds are doing so to save money. Paying for someone to wash the diapers somewhat defeats the purpose. There are certain types of detergent a mama needs to use on cloth diapers. I chose to switch all of my laundry to Country Save, to make my life easier!

Now that Brianna is starting solids, I use a diaper sprayer to wash the soiled diapers (think of a kitchen sprayer attached to the water line of the toilet) NO DUNKING! I store all of the dirty diapers in a large wetbag and wash the diapers about 2-3 times a week. I have an HE machine and this is my wash routine- one normal wash on cold with no detergent, a heavy duty wash with 1/4 scoop of Country Save and an extra rinse. I dry my inserts and wipes for 40 minutes in the dryer. The shells I either air dry or hang outside. Drying outside allows the sun to bleach out any stains that might remain.

Even though I HATE laundry, washing cloth diapers never seem like a burden. Especially since I do not need to stress about finding the best prices on a box of disposables, clipping coupons or running out to the store to buy more because I realize that I have run out!

You might have caught that I put my wipes in the dryer. If one is going to cloth diaper, using cloth wipes just makes sense. Originally I bought some cheap baby washcloths but have upgraded to some flannel WAHM wipes (local mama at www.peachykeenbaby.com ) and some bamboo wipes (bought at Just for Baby). I store the wipes in the wipe warmer (that I bought at Just for Baby) and wet the wipes with water mixed with a little wipe concentrate. We use the wipes for not only diapers but for cleaning up little girls’ faces and noses!

We’ve heard cloth diapers are making a comeback, fueled largely by Internet-savvy mompreneurs who’ve launched Web boutiques selling the different brands. Any interest in starting such an online boutique?

Not only are the cloth diapering websites owned by mompreneurs but most of the cloth diapers are designed and/or made by moms in the USA! Talk about stimulating the economy! Personally, I think there are enough online boutiques.

I would LOVE a brick and mortar cloth diapering store in Savannah! Even though I have over 10 years of retail experience, I would enjoy doing cloth diapering seminars. I just want to spread the “cloth diapering love” and inform parents…hmmm, something to think about!

Would you like to see more mainstream awareness of the benefits of going cloth ( in maternity magazines and pediatrician offices) similar to the push to breast feed etc. so moms realize they have an option?

I really do wish there was more awareness of all of the benefits of using cloth diapers. In some areas of the country, cloth diapers are extremely popular (the Pacific Northwest in particular). Some countries in Europe offer parents monetary incentives to use cloth diapers! There are hospitals in Europe that send babies home in cloth diapers (not pre-folds with pins but Bum Genius!) I think in our society the focus is on convenience but at what cost? Parents need to know about better options.

And finally, the bottom line (excuse the pun), any estimate of what you spent a year on disposable diapers per child compared to what you’ll spend a year on cloth for your youngest?

I try not to think about how much money I spent on diapers with my first two! Especially since they are 15 months apart, there was a good year that I was buying diapers in two different sizes! I was very fortunate that Alexandra and Samantha were both potty trained at age two and only had to buy overnights for the following year.

To date, I have spent around $500 on cloth diapers (and accessories) which would be similar to disposables but I will be able to use most of the diapers I have until Brianna is out of diapers. I did choose to buy more expensive diapers.

If a parent really wanted to cut on diapering costs, one could cloth diaper for about $100 (24 good pre-folds with 4-6 covers). However a parent chooses to cloth diaper her baby, it’s a great “green” choice!