12/28/11

Going Cloth is EASY and INEXSPENSIVE

Could you spare 15 minutes every other day if I could guarantee you a savings of $600-$900 a year?

GREAT! I know it’s hard to imagine that your little one could be any more adorable, but it’s possible; just imagine your baby wrapped up in these super cute cloth diapers! It’s a win—win for your pocket book, for your little one’s bum, and for your diaper-changing experience.

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I know what you’re thinking…

Cloth diapers, are you kidding me? The flat white rectangles that you have to fold and then those pins that you stick yourself with who knows how many times, and to top it off those awkward fitting and noisy plastic pants? No way; that’s why they invented disposables.

This is the same thought I had three years ago, sitting across the table from a friend as she excitedly told me about cloth diapers. Then she took one out of her purse and my entire perception changed. So give me a chance, check out these pictures (remember as much as $900/year is at stake here) and you will see that cloth diapers have come a LONG way from folding diapers and diaper pins.

 

The above picture is a Bum Genius 4.0 with Velcro, it’s a complete diaper with Velcro tabs (just like the disposables); the only difference is that instead of throwing it in the trash can you throw it in a wet bag. YES, it is that simple.

So now you are thinking, Ok, I think I could manage that, but what about the poop? This is a question I frequently get and I respond with, “If your husband was playing soccer and slipped in a pile of dog poop how would you wash his pants?” The reply 99% of the time is, “I would put them in the washing machine,” and the other 1% of the time it is, “I would hose them off outside.” This is EXACTLY what you do with a baby’s poopy diaper. Before solids you simply toss the diaper in the wet bag, and then you dump the entire contents and the wet bag into your washing machine and let your washing machine do the work. Once your baby starts eating solids and their poop turns solid (or as we say around here, ploppable) you simply ‘plop’ the poop into the toilet, flush, and put the diaper in the wet bag. And for the 1% of you who would hose your husband’s pants off before putting them in the washing machine, you are in luck because you can buy a diaper sprayer that does the same thing, just into the toilet!

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This diaper looks super-sized because it is.  This is a night diaper which around here means a regular insert with a loopy-do.

The Bottom Line: just how much CAN you save and what does going cloth really cost?

1) Pick the type of cloth diaper that fits your lifestyle best
               a. Pre-fold and Cover (Econobum) – This is very similar to the flat diapers your parents generation used, but they now come pre-folded and the covers are made of Polyurethane laminate (PUL) which is very similar to the plastic pants except you get a great fit and none of the “plastic” noise. And those pesky diaper pins have been replaced with snappi’s – no chance of sticking yourself!
               b. Pocket Diaper (Bum Genius 4.0) – This is a diaper that functions exactly like a disposable diaper; the only difference is you place a microfiber insert between the cover and the fleece lining (the pocket). We call this “stuffing the diapers,” and this is easily done in a few minutes while watching the evening news. Once they are stuffed, they are ready to go and just as easy as a disposable diaper. I bet you could stuff all your diapers faster than you could load up the kids and drive to the super market parking lot to purchase your disposables.
             c. Pocket Diaper Hybrid (Flip) – My friend who introduced me to cloth diapers started out with Bum Genius, but the stuffing just wasn’t for her, so Cotton Babies came out with the Flip to fit her needs. This diaper functions in the same way as the Bum Genius except the fleece lining is attached to the insert instead of to the cover so you simply lay the insert into the water proof cover (PUL) and voila, no stuffing. And as an added bonus, if you are traveling and won’t have access to a washing machine, no problem. You don’t have to use disposable diapers, you can simply purchase disposable liners, toss the soiled liners and keep the shells, still saving precious dollars!
             d. All-In-One – (Bum Genius AIO) – This diaper is the same as the Bum Genius 4.0 except it is all sewn together. No stuffing, no laying inserts in; this diaper is all in one, always ready to go. It’s the “green” twin of the disposable. Simply wear, wash, dry, and re-wear!

2) Purchase the recommended 24 diapers – infants on average go through 12 diapers a day so it is recommended to have 24 so you wash every other day.

 


I went to Amazon.com and found the best deal I could on name-brand diapers and wipes. I found $.0347 was the cheapest I could buy one wipe for and $.19 was the cheapest I could buy a diaper for; bringing the total cost assuming one wipe per diaper change to $.2247 per change. I multiplied that cost by 12 diapers a day times 30 days a month to come up with a cost of $80.892 per month for disposable diapers. The diapers that you see listed above can all be purchased at http://www.cottonbabies.com and they always give FREE shipping. 

[Wipes = .0347 Diapers = .19 Total per change= .2247 12*.2247*30 = 80.892]

I think this comparison chart is important for everyone who is thinking about cloth diapering because the thought of fronting anywhere from $100-$400 on diapers in one lump sum can seem overwhelming, but when you break it down like this and see how fast you pay off those diapers (as soon as 1.2 months) and how much money you save in one year (remember that most cloth diapers last not only for multiple years, but multiple children), you can see the initial investment is worthwhile. Some of you may be in a situation where you only have $81 a month to spend on diapers; no problem, choose one of the cheaper options at first and gradually build your stash. You could purchase just 12 and wash every day for one month and then have enough to purchase the rest of your diapers the following month.

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Perhaps you don’t know which diaper is best for your family; purchase one of each kind and experiment. Another great thing about cloth diapers is they hold their value very well so you can easily sell the ones you decide don’t work as well for you.

A couple of purchasing hints: until a month ago, the best deal you could get for the Bum Genius 4.0s was when they run the “buy 5 get 1 free” deal, but right now they have a “buy 2 get 1 free” deal on their artistry series and a few other colors that they are discontinuing; this is the BEST deal I have ever seen for Bum Genius 4.0s, and trust me, I have stalked the Internet for 3 years!

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Did I mention that you also no longer need to purchase swim diapers?  Simply take the liner out of the diaper and just use the shell if you are going to be in a pool, or leave the diaper in tact for a day at the beach!

3) Necessary Diaper accessories
                        a. Cloth Wipes – I initially thought I would use cloth diapers, but disposable wipes, but I quickly came to my senses. If you are already washing diapers why not wash a few flannel wipes, too, and it’s MUCH easier to put the entire diaper and clean-up supplies in the wet bag instead of making an extra trip to the trash can. You can purchase flannel baby wipes for a little less than $1 per wipe or you can go even cheaper (which I am a fan of) and make your own. Even if you have never sewn before you can make these, trust me. Go to your local fabric store and purchase ½ yard of flannel fabric – be sure to print off one of those 40% coupons that are always easy to find – and score ALL the wipes you need for $1 or less. Cut the flannel into 8x6 pieces, turn the sewing machine on to the zig zag stitch and zig zag around the perimeter of the wipes…DONE...at least $24 dollars saved, and hey, now you made something for your baby. 
                      b. Wet Bags – I recommend two small wet bags (for the diaper bag) and two large wet bags (for the main wet bags at home). I say two of each because you assume one is in the washing machine or drying while the other is in use. The small wet bags are $12.25 each and the large are $22.25 each, on average. OR, again, you can go cheaper and make your own. These bags take a little more skill since you will be adding a zipper, but I will make a deal with you as I have with all my other friends whom I have converted; you purchase the supplies, max $5 per wet bag, and I will make them or help you make them. YES, I love cloth diapers and the more people I can convert the happier I am, so convert and let me help you get started!

Why Cotton Babies? Aren’t There Tons of Other Brands Out There?

When I did my research three years ago, I found bar none that Cotton Babies, specifically Bum Genius 4.0 (3.0s at the time) were not only the best quality, but the best bang for your buck. I compared Rumparooz, Happy Hines, Fuzzi Bunz, G Diapers, the works. Cotton Babies’ one size per diaper was the initial turn on for me – I didn’t like the idea of needing to purchase a full set of small, medium, large, and then possibly extra large diapers. I liked the idea of purchasing ONE set of 24 that would last from birth to potty trained. Yes, more of these brands are offering a similar one size fits all, but they don’t fit as well, and they don’t hold as much urine. I then redid my research about a year ago when I had a relative from Australia who wanted to convert to cloth diapers and I didn’t feel comfortable automatically saying, “BUM GENIUS by COTTON BABIES, hands down,” since my research was a little dated. I remember how daunting the whole cloth diaper world was when I was first getting into it and seeing things like CD and AIO and not having a clue what all that meant. (CD=cloth diaper AIO= all in one diaper.) So again I compared cost, reviews, personal experience, and experience of other friends and was led to the same conclusion – Bum Genius by Cotton Babies – BEST price, BEST quality, BEST diaper, hands down.

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I made my initial investment of $372.90 for 24 Bum Genius 4.0 diapers and they have lasted me 39 months so far. That’s only $9.56 per month for diapers and that price keeps going down the longer we use them. How many people do you know who can say the price of diapering their baby decreases the longer their baby wears diapers and the more kids they have?

I will share with you an interesting, unplanned experiment that will help preserve the longevity of your diapers. There were three of us that all had babies within six weeks of each other and all chose Bum Genius, and it just so happened that our cloth diaper drying routine was a little different.

I was the die-hard gonna hang my diapers on the line come rain, shine, snow, or wind storm, because that is what I understood was the best way to take care of your diapers.

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Friend A chose to hang just her inserts on the line because it makes for less hanging, and the shells dried so fast she just laid them on a dryer rack inside.

Friend B mainly dried her inserts and covers in the dryer.

After 20 months of wear whose diapers looked the best??

Friend A’s. Mine, by far, were the worst off, and by that I mean they are STILL completely functional and don’t leak, they just aren’t as pleasing cosmetically (my first baby wore them for 20 months, second baby has been in them for 17 months). I found that hanging the PUL covers in direct sunlight was really hard on them and caused them to start peeling at the edges – not affecting the function of the diaper, but not looking as cute. So once you convert, my suggestion is to hang your inserts in the sun – the sun is an awesome natural bleaching agent – or throw them in the dryer, and hang your covers inside.

I haven’t received any form of compensation for this content, but I am entering this blog post into a contest where I could win 12 Bum Genius 4.0 cloth diapers, but more importantly I can win YOU, a commenter on this post, 12 Bum Genius 4.0 cloth diapers! So ask me your questions, tell me why you are still skeptical, and share your experience with cloth diapers and which brands you love.

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37 comments:

  1. One thought: Is this sponsored by a diaper manufacturer? Because there is no mention of a diaper service which is a good option for people who aren't concerned primarily about money (costs about $80 a month-probably about the same as disposables) but is far better for the environment. Also thought it interesting that you don't mention the environmental aspect at all...

    - Katie Eckardt

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  2. The contest is held by Cotton Babies who makes Bum Genius, which happens to be the brand of diapers that we use. The goal of the post was to show that cloth diapers are easy and inexpensive and I have no experience with a diaper service so I wouldn't feel comfortable saying one way or another, but you could certainly comment on the blog thread and add your 2 cents! Yes, there are some fantastic environmental benefits, but again the goal was to show that cloth diapers are easy and inexpensive. But please feel free to comment and add that tid bit :)

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  3. This is very informative Monica. Thank you for educating me further on the matter. :)

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  4. Monica, I love your post!!! I admit, after reading all that research, you really do almost have me converted. I have been using disposable diapers, mainly for the convenience factor and only having researched the more expensive option of delivery-service cloth diapers. I am now tempted to try out the cloth option, that not only is more environmentally friendly, but may be just as convenient as the disposables!

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  5. Preaching to the choir! None of the chores associated with bum genius are a big deal--it's like any other load of laundry, I've found. No special or added steps, really. Stuffing the pocket diapers takes no more time than folding a load of laundry. You don't HAVE to line dry inserts, but even if you do, that takes 3 minutes? I line dry a lot of other things around the house-anything that gets stained goes in the sun. Anyway, I don't think people realize how low maintenance they are. Thanks for writing this! xoxo Lauren

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  6. I would still be skeptical about the poop&pee in the washer...do you have to do anything extra to make sure the washing machine is clean?

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  7. Wow, I wish these had been around 29 years ago! Much easier than the old fold & pen & more arbsorbent. Funny that people get hung up on the poo in the washing machine - the poop doesn't stay in the washing machine - rinse, wash, rinse = poop gone

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  8. You are so right - cloth diapers are definitely the best and most cost effective. I used them for my 4 ( a long time ago). My son and his wife are using a diaper service (Ft. Worth area) that picks up soiled diapers once a week, and provides a new supply. That is still much less expensive than disposable diapers and is environmentally friendly. Love your post - very informative.

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  9. Look at those cuties! Good to know about the drying part of it. I've got to get a line or rack or something outside before this little one gets here!

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  10. Sandra, I would say it is certainly just as convenient. I would say it takes me 5 seconds to dump the wet bag in the washing machine, 3 minutes to hang the diapers once they are done washing, and another 5 minutes to stuff the diapers. That's 8 minutes and 3 seconds every other day, WAY worth the savings to me. Let me know when you are ready to dive in and I will help you get started. I have several diapers that have seen better days, but are totally functional if you want to give them a try.

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  11. Nicole - the diaper washing routine is rinse on cold, wash on hot, and then rinse again. There is NO poo and NO urine residue left in the washing machine.

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  12. I was freaked out a little when we first started using cloth, only because of putting poop in the washing machine. And not nice, firm poop, but muddy, loose, gooey poop. But I rinse on hot first, then wash on hot as well. And after a few loads, I totally forgot about the poop and I love my cloth diapers. Now that we're having our second child, the $$cost$$ of NOT buying more diapers is really going to help us out. Goooooooooooo cloth diapers!!

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  13. Thanks so much for this post. I have found it the most helpful and informative of all the cloth diaper posts that I have read to date. I am expecting my first child in May, and plan on CDing from day one. There is so much information out there, that it can be overwhelming at times! The best advice that I got from this is to hang the diapers inside-something that I would have never thought of (but definitely have the space to do!) Thanks! PS. I would love to win the diapers too!

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  14. Karyn - Thank you, I am excited to see that someone stumbled upon my cloth diaper blog post via a search engine, that means I am reaching more people than I thought. If you have any questions along the way I would be happy to help.

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  15. Also don't most disposable diapers use lots of bleach to get them white? I can't imagine that the chlorine is good for the baby. What sort of detergent do you use?
    Do they only sell them online or could I go to a baby specialty store and look them over? I would want to see them all before choosing. I like buying online, just for something major like this, I would want to do a comparison, so I could see and feel what would be up against my babies skin for it's entire infancy. Then I could bu them from the
    Okay so I checked out the website and I totally want the Albert cover (is it a cover or is it the actual diaper). Also the picture of Jericho with the ghost hat is all kinds of cute. Happy New Year!

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  16. I use Allen's and have from the beginning. I did my research and concluded that Allen's is what I wanted to use and I have never had a smelling or staining issue. However, in the above scenario Friend B has always used ALL free and clear (1/4 of the recommended amount) and has not had any issues with smelling or staining either. Friend A uses the cotton babies detergent and likes that the best - she tried Arm and Hammer and a few others and had some smelling issues. I think you have the right idea, try one out and see what you think, but remember that it should be free of dyes and perfumes, but even with that criteria there are a lot of options. The specialty detergents like Allen's and the cotton babies you can find online or at a cloth diaper store. Good luck!

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  17. Props to you, Monica, for your thorough research, and for taking the plunge! It's so much easier to try something out when you have a friend's recommendation. Thanks for sharing what you've found to be a great investment.

    My concerns would be ... having to hold on to stinky cloth diapers when you're away from home, and having to wash diapers before putting them in the washing machine. It seems like putting dirty diapers into the machine would contaminate everything or clog your washer?? (ew)

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  18. Cloth diapers are so much easier then people realize....modern day washing machines get very hot and therefore the diapers (and washing machine) stay very clean! We are having baby #2 in March and will DEFINITELY be using them!

    Bethany at themadrids.com

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  19. Jessica
    If you are washing the diapers every other day, it would seem to me that it would be more sanitary than disposable diapers. I don't take my trash out everyday, so they would me hanging out in the house longer than the cloth. I don't have kids yet, so maybe once you have babies you do take out the trash daily. I guess I will have to wait and see.
    Audrea

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  20. Raine christiansonJanuary 4, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    I completely agree with this post!!

    Not only are they safe for your little ones being that they are chemical free which means much less rashes and infections but they are extremely cost effective. I found myself so far to have spent around 200+ on cloth diapers and wipes compared to disposables where I was spending 40 to 60 on diapers every two weeks add that up for a year and that's WELL over what I have spent so far on cloth diapers.

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  21. Raine christiansonJanuary 4, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Also I'd like to had that they are convient in the fact that your not constantly having to buy diapers, they are there when you need them and all you have to do is throw them in the wash (of course once you clean all of their poppies off). They are also so Eco friendly which I love. Some people are concerned as to whether the cost is worth is bc of all of the washing you have to do but honestly it has not effected my water bill eat so ever. I would recommend cloth diapers to everyone they have way more pros than cons!!!

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  22. Raine ChristiansonJanuary 4, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    I also did not use cloth diapers on Collin (my son) until he was 18 mos, with the moving transition with the army we decided we would cloth diaper not only bc of my research but knowing Monica had used them and had such great things to say we tried them out and fell in love!! Bye bye rashes and sensitive heiny. We are expecting out second in may and will cloth diaper her as well, can't wait to try it out from the beginning!!!

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  23. Jessica - check out the diaper sprayer and you will see that you can hose off the diaper into the toilet before putting it in your washing machine. I think the poop is one of those mental blocks that some people have, but I bet as soon as you do a few load (as Kara said) you will completely forget about the poop. I have NEVER had any smells, residues, or anything left in my washing machine and we started out with 15 year old washing machines! Remember you rinse cold, wash hot, and then do another rinse.

    As far as traveling with a dirty diaper I can say that I have not smelled a dirty diaper through our travel size wet-bags. And if you are at a friends house without kids you don't have that awkward moment where you have to ask where they want you to dispose of a stinky diaper.

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  24. Such a great post, Monica! Cotton Babies diapers weren't as well know when Joseph was a baby (I think they had just started making their bumGenius version 1.0 at the time), and we ended up using mostly prefolds, covers, and fleece liners. I think now we would definitely be looking at the Flips since I never loved stuffing the few pockets I had, and because of their disposable liner option for traveling—such a smart idea! I think all the Cotton Babies products look really well designed, and I love all the colors they have now (I think they only had five when Joseph was a baby). Actually, your idea about Rosalie using those Flip training pants is still on my mind, probably going to give them a try soon!

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  25. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures! I love seeing how diapers fit on real life babies and not just the babies that the companies put their diapers on to take pictures for advertising. And I agree with the above posters... I have never smelt a dirty diaper when out if I remembered to bring my wet bag and I find that my babies rooms smell much better with their cloth diapers than my friends babies who are disposable diapered. The disposables stink like chemicals and perfume even before they are dirtied and smell even worse once soiled!

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  26. I am expecting in May and have been going back and forth on cloth dipering (my mom said not to do it cause she did it with my oldest sister and it was a nightmare - that was over 30 years ago) I am so lost on where to begin.....you have been most helpful but I am still unsure on what would be the easiest for a first time mom ie: which brand/type to use, if instructions are included, ect. I feel kind of silly asking but like I said I have no experience in this.

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  27. Chasity - that is an excellent question. Are you going to be a stay-at-home mom or working? Do you plan to line dry your diapers or hang them outside?

    If you are staying at home I would go with a combination of Bum Genius 4.0's and flips. Once you stuff the Bum Genius 4.0's they will be ready to go for hubby, MIL, mom, etc. The flips you insert as you go, but they provide a great option when traveling for the weekend or even just a full day out and you want less bulk in the diaper bag. Less bulk because you don't have to take 12 full diapers just 2 covers and the needed inserts or even disposable inserts, which would allow your bag to get smaller as the day goes on.

    If you are going to be a working mommy I would suggestion the AIO's because your day care providers are going to be more willing to do the cloth the easier it is. With the AIO's the diapers are ready to go and there is no insert to remove before putting the the wet bag or washing machine. Also there would be no stuffing for you when you get home. You would just throw the wet bag in the washing machine, dry, and done!

    As far as line drying vs. drying in the dryer I would tend to not go with the AIO's if you are going to line dry because the PUL material really breaks down in direct sunlight, and its nice to put the inserts in direct sunlight because the sun is an awesome bleaching agent and will bleach out ALL stains.

    If you have more questions or clarifications let me know!

    P.S. I think once your mom see's how far cloth diapers have come she will change her tune, mine did!

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  28. Thank you so much Monica. You have been a huge help in all of this. I am unsure if I will stay at home or work (since my husband will be joining the military and I am uncertain as to where we will be stationed). So with the AIO's, you would just wash them and then hang dry the entire thing or toss it in the dryer? And honestly the Bum Genius 4.0 seems like the better way to go since you can wash it all and then dry the inserts and lay out the covers (since I am unsure if I will have the option to hang them outside). And what exactly is the PUL material? (Sorry for silly questions again)
    Also, what type of accessories would you recommend starting out and any tid bits to cut corners (like making your own wipes and wet bags-which I don't sew so I may have to splurge on some things lol) and I was looking at the Cotton Babies website and it seemed a little intimidating.
    I was telling my mom about your blog over lunch and she said that this way sounds much better than what she was used to!

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  29. I have never used the AIO so you would have to experiment and see if they will hang dry in a reasonable amount of time, but yes putting them in indirect sunlight is the way to go with the PUL. PUL stands for polyurethane laminate which is the material used on the outside of the diapers and diaper covers because it is water resistant. My only other tip would be to make your own diaper spray so go to the travel aisle and purchase two travel size spray bottles and then make your own diaper spray. You can either spray directly on the baby or spray the wipe and then wipe baby. 1 cup water, 1/4 cup baby oil, 1/4 cup of Johnson's all in one, and that's it! Those are all the items I use, just the diapers,wipes, wipe spray,and wet bags and you are ready to go. Glad to hear your mom is coming around.

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  30. I love how all-inclusive your information about cloth diapers is! The graph really helps show the cost savings between the different systems. We've been cloth diapering for 4 1/2 years now. We use almost none of the same diapers we did at the beginning, but mostly because I've switched out my bumGenius 3.0s for 4.0s and our prefolds have mostly fallen apart (I always put prefolds in the dryer because I like them to be soft for baby's bottom). I always hang my pocket diapers in the laundry room an they dry very quickly. I love how you compare your drying method with that of your friends to help people know how to best care for their cloth diapers!

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  31. Great post! I just shared it on Facebook. I don't know anyone else who cloth diapers, so I'm hoping some of my friends check out your post and maybe start to consider it!

    You did a great job of breaking down the cost and savings!

    I've been cloth diapering for 3 months now (my son is 3 months old) and my husband says I'm obsessed...which I am, haha! I, too, LOVE the BumGenius brand. I've got the Flips and 4.0's. They are so easy! I made most of my stash out of these diapers as my husband tried several styles and liked these the best of all (he found them easiest to put on). I agreed, so we've been slowly building our stash these past few months.

    And you were so right about that great deal on the buy 2 get 1 free BG's! I bought 4 got 2 free. Love it!

    It's so nice to see someone else who loves their cloth diapers as much as I do. Great job on the post, I hope you win!

    Theresa Beazley
    tas0077@yahoo.com

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  32. I love your charts on saving money! I cloth diaper because i think it is more comfortable and it would be what i would want to wear if i were a baby (and it was what i wore as a baby). I have only found positives to cloth diapering and am so glad that i was able to give my son (and future children) and clean healthy start at life. But the graphs, where I can see what I'm saving makes me even more excited about cloth diapering!

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  33. Oh my, oh my!!! The pictures of your girl are just killing me. The smile is contagious and awesome!! I am digging the charts. I am a sucker for stats. I cloth diaper too and can not imagine my life without that lil' fluffy butt running around. Good luck to you! Precious kids!

    debbie moretti
    dmoretti1967 at yahoo dot com

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  34. Oh wow, I learned something! How interesting to know that your diapers were worse off.
    We're currently cloth diapering a one-month old, and sadly don't have enough diapers to forgo using the dryer. We have enough newborn/small diapers to do laundry every other day (and use the dryer), but once he's into one-size, we'll have to do laundry more often, using the dryer.
    I'm just glad we don't have to buy disposables though, because we certainly couldn't afford those. Plus, they're so crinkly and not at all cute.

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  35. Rachel - the covers dry really fast, as in they would be dry in 15-20 minutes and probably be dry by the time your inserts are dry. Putting the inserts in the dryer is not a problem, its just the covers with the PUL fabric that are not optimal in the dryer or the sunshine.

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    1. Hm, I didn't really think about that. We don't use the dryer on normal covers, or even the wetbag because of that. I'll definitely start doing the same with pockets! Thanks. :)

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