Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Diapering Dilemma - An Overwhelming Choice

Trying to be somewhat responsible to the planet, and yet recognizing that life needs to be not too complicated, we have travelled down a convoluted path, working out what diapers to use. I really hate the concept of disposables, but they are undeniably convenient. We started with a local diaper service, and at the beginning when Kate was brand new (I can't believe that was 18 months ago!!!), we were really happy. They provided unlimited cloth diapers, and once a week picked up the bag of soiled diapers and left freshly cleaned ones for us. It was perfect, until she grew a little bigger, and then she was in between diaper sizes for some time. The positives about the diapers used by the diaper service: they were very absorbent (they had microfleece lining and some kind of microfleece suede outer cover) and the waterproof covers meant that usually we only had to change the diaper but not the cover, and of course the convenience of having them collected and cleaned cannot be overstated. The negatives, however, were too annoying to overlook. The diapers themselves didn't have many snap choices. They sold that as a positive (i.e. only one snap per side!) but that was not a positive as far as we were concerned, because as Kate grew, it became more and more challenging to find an appropriate setting for the snaps. That, and the manufacture of the diapers was hugely inconsistent and variable in the placement of the snaps and the shape and dimensions of the diapers themselves, so if you figured out the alignment for one diaper, it certainly didn't automatically work for the next one. I also wasn't a fan of the rash that developed along the serged seams on the leg openings. We ended up having too many blowouts for my liking, which kind of defeats the purpose as far as I'm concerned: it ceased to be convenient and relatively easy to use.

So we thanked them for their wonderful service, explained that it was more about the product than their service (which was fantastic, and for other babies, it's possible the diapers would work just perfectly), and I had to figure out what else we could do. We went through some various disposable options; I hate the chemical smell that most disposable diapers contain to let you know when the diapers are wet (like you can't tell just by squishing them slightly), so I tried to find unscented and undyed options. We loved the price and fit of the PC Green disposables, but I hated the plastic smell of them so much that I'd open a package and open every single diaper to try and air it first before Kate used it. They also gave Kate a rash, so that didn't work  We ended up using the 7th Generation disposables for a number of weeks. They worked well, they didn't give Kate a rash, and they didn't smell, but they are not inexpensive.  We went back to the PC Green brand since, as they have ceased to be plastic smelling, and haven't given Kate a rash again, so they're now our go-to disposable for travelling and night time; not cheap, but a somewhat inexpensive dye-free and scent-free alternative

I didn't want to stay with disposables, so I started the search for cloth diapers. Oh. My. Goodness. The options! Well, I suppose that's good, but it's certainly overwhelming. We luckily had a store not too far away that offered a trial borrow program. Fantastic! I decided that I wasn't a fan of fitted and prefold diapers. The fitted were pretty similar to the diapers used by the service, but like those diapers, the serged stitching along the leg openings were abrasive. One-sized diapers appeal, because they will grow with your baby, and in theory, you only have to buy one set to last for the length of diapering. The down-side is that for small babies (and Kate seems to have a skinny waist and thighs), one-sized diapers can be too big for some time. I didn't mind the concept of stuffing, so pocket diapers were a reasonable sounding option.

So we tried a few different varieties, and my favourites that we borrowed were the Baby Kangas one sized pocket diapers. The pockets on these were accessed from the front and outside, which, when you consider what you have to do to unstuff a poopy diaper, had huge appeal. They worked quite well, but had hemp inserts. While hemp and cotton are very absorbent, they're not very good at wicking moisture away from the skin. The Kangas do have a polyester layer between the baby and the inserts, it didn't seem to do a good enough job keeping Kate's bum dry.

I decided that I really liked the ability to remove a soiled layer and replace it, while keeping the outer covering for reuse.  I started looking for something along those lines, and discovered gDiapers, which seemed to fit the bill perfectly.  I looked high and low for them, but the only option you can buy here in Canada is the cover and the disposable insert.  Well, that kind of defeats the purpose of the reusable cover and not disposing (they say they can be flushed, but we're on septic and I sure didn't want to take the chance).

Finally, I ran across the Flip diaper system, and it seemed to meet all of my requirements: an absorbent insert that is easy to load & unload, leak-proof outer covers that have soft edges for around the legs and middle with lots of snaps options, and they're "one size" such that you change the rise dimensions with the three sizing snaps in front.  And I was able to purchase them in Canada!

The verdict?  These work really, really well for us.  They seem to fit our skinny, tall & lanky little girl, and they've grown well with her.  The process of washing every three days takes a little getting used to, and making sure to strip the detergent build up every once in a while is important too.  Sadly, since we have to use so much oily creams etc. on Kate's legs and mid-section for her eczema, I've had to replace the covers recently (i.e. after about a year of use) because they all of a sudden just lost their waterproofing (hardly surprising: oils and waterproofing do not mix well), but I think that wouldn't be necessary in most situations.  I believe that this product should be useful for most people right up until no more diapers are required.  And I feel that they were a good, economic solution to the cloth diapering that we were hoping to achieve (because oh boy, are those "all in one" diapers expensive).

What are your favourite cloth or disposable diapers and why?  Have you had any true disasters?  Please share - it's great to learn other options!

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