2015 edit: The title of this was supposed to be tongue in cheek since when I wrote it, this was a hot topic. If you want the TL;DR what I actually think is that you made the right choice for your family. That’s it. When I started writing my weekly “personal post” on Wednesdays, I swore I would stay out of controversial subjects. So much for that. I’ve been seeing this come up so much, that I just can’t keep my mouth shut anymore. I’m not even sure if this post is an “opinion,” it’s just a whole lot of me rambling…not that me rambling is anything new. Definitely not intended to point fingers at anyone etc. etc.
Jennifer Labit (founder/owner of Cottonbabies) wrote an article about cheap cloth diapers and I agree with her 100% about why Cottonbabies products are worth the price, and why they can’t compete with the cheapies as far as price point (the Cottonbabies’ family of products are some of the most reasonably priced “name brand” cloth diapering products out there in my opinion.)
The Diapershops blog posted an article about why you shouldn’t buy cheap cloth diapers, and while I actually agree with a lot of what they said, I think it could be taken as judgmental, even if it wasn’t intended to be.
If you haven’t been here with me since the beginning of my journey, you won’t necessarily know that I started my stash with 3 Bumgenius 3.0 cloth diapers “just to try,” then bought 3 more a few days later. I had a pack or so of disposables left over, and to use as few of them as possible, I washed diapers twice per day. Yep, really. I would wash 3 diapers at a time and often tumbled them dry so they were ready before I’d used the other 3. $100ish investment, and I still actually have a pack of disposables in my son’s closet (it’s been two years.) My husband sold blood plasma as often as he could, so we could pick up some extra diapers. My Mom gave me a Kelly’s Closet gift certificate for Christmas that year and I was able to pick up a few more diapers & accessories with that, then I slowly added to my stash as I could, staying under my monthly budget for disposable diapers.
When I was coming up on the 1-year mark, Cottonbabies’ awesome warranty replaced half of those original 6 diapers for me, since the hook & loop closures were showing that I had washed them a zillion times! I probably put two childrens’ worth of wear on those puppies!
So, do I have a point? Well, lots of people have written posts about cloth diapering on a dime. The Eco Chic wrote about how to cloth diaper your baby for $50. Dirty Diaper Laundry’s flats challenge showed that you can cloth diaper even without a washing machine. Other people have shown how you can “diaper” your baby with things you have around the house (blankets, towels etc.)
I’m being realistic here. Sure, if I were in the position where I literally had to choose between food and diapers for my children, I’d make something work. However, I was hesitant to invest over $50 in 3 diapers, when I had no idea whether cloth diapering was going to work for us. I really recommend not buying a huge stash of a brand you haven’t tried, since you never know what will work for your baby, but buying one here and one there like I did, does put a lot of stress on you to hurry up and wash them & get them ready to use again.
OK, so the obvious answer would be to have a few pockets for Daddy, Grandma, babysitters, daycare etc. and fill the rest of your stash with prefolds or flats, and inexpensive covers. I’m going to be totally honest here and say that I just don’t know if we would have stuck with that. Velcro closure pockets were an easy transition from disposables, and we’re not “afraid” of prefolds now, but I don’t know that we would have jumped right in to folding and snappi-ing prefolds as easily. Now, I know I have readers who started out that way and did just fine. You rock. I’m just being honest about what would work for our family.
There are used cloth diapers out there, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Then, there are these cheap diapers, where you can get a full stash of diapers for $100 or so. I haven’t used any of these $5ish diapers that are sold under several names, so I don’t have an opinion about the fit, function or longevity of the “cheapies” that are usually being referred to. I’ve heard some people say that they were great, others said they weren’t so great. Naturally I have some concern about their quality, safety of materials used, working conditions in the factory where they were made and so forth. I haven’t done any research about that, so I don’t know.
Personally, just for me I was happy to scrimp and save, and do what I could with fewer diapers, so I could have good diapers with a great track record, customer service and warranty. I have also been so, incredibly blessed to have received so many diapers to review in the past year or so. That means my stash grew without shrinking my bank account, and I don’t have to rush to wash diapers anymore. 2014 note I donate all diapers I receive for review but am grateful that those review diapers helped me in the beginning as I was building my stash. I was able to donate diapers, as well as pass some on to a friend. If I were still trying to get by with a day’s worth of diapers, I might have a different outlook.
My husband and I have joked that we’re too poor to have convictions. We’re not really “poor” but we just don’t have the financial means to say I will only buy such and such products or only products that were made in the U.S. etc. We have to balance our desires with our wallets. We use mostly reusable products, in large part because they are affordable in the long run. My cloth napkins were the only purchase of reusable products that didn’t actually save us money.
My husband’s “two cents” was that cloth diapers aren’t much different than, say, performance bicycles. You don’t want to start out with a super-expensive bike, but then again, you don’t want to start out with a total piece of junk (or something difficult to use/that frustrates you) that turns you off from the whole thing.
So where am I going with this? I keep going round and round in circles. Well, I just keep coming back to the signature in Jennifer Labit’s/Cottonbabies’ emails “We believe in building bridges, not walls.” I prefer Bumgenius diapers, and I got by with fewer diapers vs. buying a whole stash of cheapies. (I didn’t know about the cheapies then, or I may have been tempted.) Others may make another choice. So what.
It’s easy for me to say what someone should do when I haven’t lived their situation. Shoot, even if you have, your experience isn’t necessarily the same. A younger, more hip Mom would quote Lil Wayne here “We walk the same path but got on different shoes.” What if I were working full time, and daycare would only take pocket/one piece diapers? Would I want to stay up late every night trying to wash & dry diapers for the next day? Buy disposables for daycare? What if my son’s skin couldn’t handle being wet from prefolds or flats (it really can’t…we have a few diapers that don’t have stay-dry inners, but they are rotated out with stay-dry diapers.)
What’s my point? Do I even know what my point is (not really)? Well, my point (I think) is that while I see the value in name brand diapers, beyond the label, I respect those who make different decisions, and I refuse to point fingers or belittle people because they made different choices. I’m not saying that people who are making a case against “cheap” diapers are doing that, but it can come across that way. I’m used to the “wall” between cloth diapering and disposable diapering moms (along with every other parenting choice!) but good heavens, do we really need another wall between cloth diaper users? Edit: I still do not judge those who use “cheap” diapers. That said, the RDA’s co-op report has opened my eyes to how illegal co-ops affect cloth diapering. My post about illegal cloth diaper co-ops is much more strongly worded than my average post, and some took it as judgement of those who use cheap diapers. Not so.
(The other “walls” I’m referring to are the “I’m greener than you” argument that seems to come up about various subjects and products, along with the “detergent police” and the buying WAHM vs. “big name” arguments…among several others!)