Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cloth Diapering Papa

Jaymz and Daniel
I had the idea to get a Dad's view of cloth diapering (CD), since I often hear other mothers say that they would like to cloth diaper, except their husbands wouldn't go for it. I am always surprised to hear that their partner's hang-ups about cloth diapering is the deciding factor.

In my family, we believe very much in equally shared parenting. Among other things, that means that my husband and I don't argue over who will help Daniel with his elimination needs. Whoever is holding him or is generally more available when he needs to go to the potty or have his diaper changed is the one who does it. Similarly, our decision to cloth diaper was reached mutually. We are both aware of our collective carbon footprint, and we try to do everything we can to lessen our impact on the environment. (We also wanted to save some money!)

Still, I was curious what Jaymz would say about cloth diapers without me interjecting things (I really can't help myself). The following interview was the result of my curiosity. And since it's my blog, I get to interject after the fact (my comments/additional information will look like this):

Why do you cloth diaper?
Environmental impact, I think is the main reason. I guess long-term price factors into the decision, too. And of course, it's an easy decision because my wife wants to do it.

What have you thought about cloth diapering/how have you found it to be (easy, hard, gross, etc.)?
It's been much easier than I had anticipated. I'm surprised that it's just as easy as using a disposable diaper. It's just different.

What was your biggest learning moment/curve when it came to cloth diapering?
Obviously the poop is harder, there are a few more steps involved in dealing with poop than with disposables, because we spray diapers down (With Biokleen Bac Out; we don't have a diaper sprayer.) and ever since solid foods, we've been wiping or rinsing the poop off the diapers. The rest of it was easy to learn. None of it is difficult. You just have to do it once and you'll know how.

What's your favorite diaper and why?
My favorite diaper is the light purple (Bubble) color Bumgenius 4.0 with snaps, because it's just about the easiest diaper I've ever used...and it's pretty.

Sam and Mikko
Why do you like pocket diapers?
That's a great question, because I really wanted to like all-in-one (AIO) diapers the best. The draw of the AIO diaper is that there's no work: you put it on, you take it off, you wash it, you dry it, repeat. The problem with the AIO diaper are the washing and drying phases. The other part is awesome, but the washing and drying phase suck. With the washing phase: the material that's used in the AIO (the inside) has to be made out of absorbent cloth material, but it stains more easily. (We used a few Bumgenius Organic Elemental AIOs for a while, which we found do stain very easily—much more so than synthetic fabrics—even with exclusively breastfed poop.) The even bigger problem is the drying phase—they take forever to dry. The whole point of a diaper is to absorb and retain liquid, so if there's no way for you to dismantle the diaper partially in an effort to clean it, then the diaper is going to keep doing its job, and absorb and retain water, which makes it impossible to dry.

So, back to your question, I really wanted to like AIOs because they're easy. The pocket diaper is the next best thing to the ease of an AIO because you put it on, you take it off, you take out the insert, and then you're done. I like the AIO-type diapers over prefolds and covers, but I like pocket diapers best of any of the modern cloth diaper options.

Why do you like snaps more than aplix (velcro) closures?
Initially, I thought that snaps would be more of a pain to use because you have to snap four snaps on each diaper, but once you learn how to snap the snaps efficiently, it's not a pain. It doesn't become a hurdle; it's just second nature. Like buttoning a button on your shirt, it becomes easy. So, after that point (when it becomes easy) it's less of a hassle to use the snaps because you don't have to remember to affix laundry tabs (like you have to on the velcro diapers when you put the diapers in the laundry). Also, it's my assumption that the snaps are going to last a much longer time than the velcro diapers, so it becomes more of a long-lasting investment.

Back to prefolds and covers for a moment: Did you find them difficult to use? What were the pros and cons?
I didn't hate prefolds and covers, and I think prefolds and covers were the right choice for us for when our baby was a newborn. Because, A. you really can't beat a diaper service (we used a diaper service for the first three months of Daniel's life), that was key for us with our cloth diapering in the beginning. Even if you're looking at disposable diapers versus a diaper service, the diaper service wins because it's the same price as buying disposables, and the difference in environmental impact is drastic. And, B. We went through a lot of diapers when he was a newborn, and I think that would be impractical to wash so many pocket diapers, especially for first-time parents who don't have an established diaper routine. ...Even prefolds and covers were much easier than I had anticipated!

What do you wish you had known before beginning cloth diapering?
I wish I would've known that pocket diapers are worth the price. I was hesitant to spend money on such an expensive diaper that's just going to get pooped on, but having done prefolds with covers and then switching to pockets exclusively, the difference in ease of use and ease of clean-up is worth the price.

Harry and Shirley
What's your favorite CD accessory?
Bac Out. Bac Out is fucking amazing. Is that an accessory? I wish that I had known about Bac Out years and years ago. I use that stuff to clean everything now. It actually cleans things, first of all, and it smells good. Show me a cleaner that actually works and also smells good, you know? Bonus, it's not harsh on the environment. (Bac Out really is amazing. If you haven't tried it, you really should, even if you don't cloth diaper. It's great for lots of household cleaning needs, like cleaning up after pets, and it smells like limes!)

What's your favorite thing about CDing?
I'm really glad that I don't have to go to the grocery store and buy a pack of Huggies every week. It feels really wrong to me, like when we had that coupon for cheap Huggies, I felt dirty buying them, like, "What am I doing to our planet by buying these diapers?" It just felt wrong. My favorite thing about cloth diapering is twofold: the convenience and also saving the environment.

What's your least favorite thing?
Probably the smell. With disposable diapers, you can wrap them up and throw them away and you don't have to smell them ever again. (I actually think disposables are stinkier, because the trash doesn't get emptied as often as cloth diapers get washed.) With cloth diapers, you put them in the pail, and when you open the pail, you smell it, then when you throw the pail in the washer and you smell them a lot when you do that part. That's my least favorite thing...which is why I'm grateful that my wife does most of the diaper laundry! (I don't really mind the smell; I've smelled worse things than a little ammonia and baby poop.)

What advice would you give to another dad who was reluctant to CD?
I would tell that person to just make a small initial investment in whatever type of cloth diaper seems best for your family, and just try it for a few weeks. My guess is that you'll probably find, like what happened to me, that actually, cloth diapers are not at all more difficult than disposable diapers. And even if you don't decide to use the diapers full-time, you can always still use them.

I hope this was helpful and/or interesting! I certainly had fun interviewing Jaymz and hearing everything he had to say about the various aspects of cloth diapering.

I'm curious, fellow cloth diapering families: Of you and your partner, who initiated the idea of CDing your baby? Did one of you need to be convinced? What was the main deciding factor in choosing cloth? I can't wait to hear!


  1. I totally agree with him on why AIO's are not good. I seriously disliked the BG AIO's for that same reason. They took like three dryer cycles if I really wanted to them to be totally dry! I do like AIO's made by other companies, though, where the absorbent part is either only sewn in at the top and bottom of the diaper or it snaps in and out.

    My husband and I are like-minded in most ways (we are both pretty frugal, love DIY and are not afraid to be different), and he is usually happy to listen to my viewpoint when it comes to parenting issues. CDing was my idea but he has been great about it. He definitely changes his share of diapers and will also wash them if I don't get to it first. But, heck. The guy encapsulated my placenta for me. He doesn't get grossed out easily!

  2. Oh, I miss Jaymz! Best quote I've heard today: "Bac Out is fucking amazing." High-five!

    This was a great post.

  3. Love the interview!

  4. I love hearing your husband's responses! Great idea! My husband had to be talked into it but once he was, there was no looking back. He actually bought our first pack of cloth diapers. He tells other people about them and sings their praises! :)

  5. Cloth diapers were actually my husband's idea. I wanted to do everything else as green and natural and AP as possible, but I hated doing cloth diapers on my younger siblings, so I had resolved that diapers were the one thing I'd go easy on. But my husband insisted, for budget reasons, that we go with the WAY cheaper option and do cloth. He even volunteered to do the diaper laundry!

    Almost a year later, he's still never done a diaper load (oops!) but I've discovered that cloth diapers aren't any more trouble when you get the hang of them. Dealing with pins took a while to learn, but now I find them easy -- plus, the velcro covers I have now actually hold a prefold fine without pins. I can even change a diaper on a standing baby!

  6. There's something very satisfying about reading these comments, having wondered when I was cloth diapering Jamie if there would ever be a day he had an appreciation for it. Today's the day!!

  7. This is brilliant. I also hear so many women say it's their husband's reluctance that keeps them from cloth diapering, or has them doing a mix of cloth and sposies. I'm glad Sam, like Jaymz, was always on the same page with me about cloth. We ended up with a diaper service full time with Mikko, and Sam's a whiz at prefolds and covers!

    And, hey, that second picture is super cute! :) He was so leeetle.

  8. I initiated cloth diapering, and my partner WAS a little resistant at first. But he's also on the same earth-friendly page I'm on, so it wasn't too difficult to get him 100% on board. He prefers our pocket diapers because, "they're so easy!" (Which he will enthusiastically tell anyone who asks, and some people that didn't ask.) We also think Bac-Out is fucking amazing. Because it is!

    He does most of the diaper changing in the house, and most of the diaper laundry (well, laundry in general, actually) so he's not a casual user - he's knowledgeable and conscious about what it all involves.

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