During my first pregnancy, my husband and I started spending a lot of time in the high-priced children's stores, more dreaming than shopping. I looked at the wooden toys, the patterned baby slings, the nursery decor, the Robeez booties... All the beautiful things I would buy if I had the money. (Many items did make it onto baby gift wish lists.)
During one such window-shopping trip, my husband got interested in a cloth diapering kit by Bummis. This one:
Cloth diapers? Really? That was not an option I had even been considering. I took a look at the kit, and gave it a, "Hmm. Interesting." and sort of hoped he wouldn't bring it up again. He did, but only to say it might be cheaper and maybe we should look into it. We didn't. At least, not for a while.
When Nik was born, we brought him home in disposables, and within a few weeks, we had our diapering product loyalties all figured out. Pampers Premium diapers, Huggies wipes. I loved the Swaddlers that Pampers made in their smallest two sizes. Other diapers were papery, and rough. Swaddlers were soft, almost... cloth-like. I was never enamoured with Cruisers though, although I still preferred them to every other brand I tried.
We played the disposable diaper game for over a year, complete with the coupon clipping, points collecting and diaper-chucking of all true diaper players. Every week we put another black garbage bag of stink at the curb for pickup. Even with our supposedly 'odorless' pail, Nik's room started to get that faint dirty diaper smell as we approached garbage day. With each box into the shopping cart, and each bag at the curb, I got more and more curious about the cloth diaper option that I had dismissed so out of hand.
Around the time Nik was 10 or 11 months, I started to meet moms online and IRL who were using cloth instead of disposables. Their diapers weren't the prefolds from the Bummis kit, though. And they weren't the raggedy cloth diapers that I had seen during my babysitting days, either. Their diapers were really quality items, dare I even say, cute! Still, I was hesitant. Nik was nearly a year old, and the cloth diapers I was coveting were expensive... Would it be worth it to switch this late in the game? I had so many doubts. I didn't know a thing about cloth diapering, and I already had the disposable routine down. What if I switched and hated it? I didn't even know where to go to buy cloth diapers. They don't exactly carry them at the grocery store.
Running to Internet research for help, I did find a local web store that sold a number of different styles and brands, but that didn't help much. I had thought the choice was between cloth and disposable. What I quickly learned was that 'cloth' isn't just one option. There are so many different styles of diapers, and different manufacturers, and even different accessories that you may or may not need, that even pricing out the differences in diapering costs for a year got very complicated, very fast. Then, when I started trying to figure out how to wash and dry them, and which detergent to use, I got so overwhelmed by conflicting advice that I let the whole thing drop. Disposables were doing the job. Why complicate things?
Another 3 or 4 weeks of putting that stinky bag of diapers out with the garbage pushed me over the edge, though. I logged on to the local web store I found, and just looked at what they carried. I decided an adjustable-size diaper would be most economical, so I settled on a pocket diaper with snaps, that you could size for babies 8-35 lbs. At the rate that I was changing diapers, I figured I would go through about 6-8 a day, so I wanted 24 diapers - enough so that I wouldn't be doing laundry every other day. And I did the math. The diapers, cloth wipes and detergent for a year came out to about $600. The disposables I had been using, plus wipes and garbage bags came out at over $700, even with the coupons I had been saving. I placed my web order, and we became a cloth diapering family when Nik was 13 months old.
I've never, ever regretted it. I used to switch to disposables for holidays, though, and have regretted that. Things didn't turn out exactly the way that I crunched the numbers, because spent more money on wipes, and accessories like wet bags, than I had planned, but because of cloth diapering I also switched detergents to something cheaper and more environmentally friendly, so I figure it's a wash. And speaking of wash, I have never really minded the extra laundry. It isn't like I have to go down to the river with a washboard, after all. I have high-efficiency front loader in my basement! It is also worth noting that I wouldn't switch my husband or myself to disposable underpants just to avoid the laundry...
Now, if someone even breathes in the direction of being curious about the cloth diaper option, I feel compelled to pull out a fresh diaper and show them how easy it can be. "Look at this cute, comfy, completely unscary cloth diaper," I want to say. "Think of the money you'll save, the garbage you'll avoid! Try it, you'll like it!" Then I realize that sounds a little like I am channelling Sam-I-am, and I tone it back a bit. I still tell them, though, because I wish someone had told me sooner. I love my fluffy butt baby.