Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cloth Diaper Week! and a look at Bum Genius diapers

Alright, well I thought I'd run you through the basics of how we've been doing this whole cloth diaper thing.  And I was going to put it all in this post, but I think instead I'll write up a few posts to keep us busy for the rest of the week.  So, I hereby pronounce this to be...

Cloth Diaper Week!

Or at least that's what it'll be here on Notes From A Very Red Kitchen.  I just decided that as I was typing it.  And if you feel so inclined you can even join me by writing on your own blog about your own cloth diapering experiences.  Then feel free to put a link up in the comments if you want so other people can read what you have to say about it.  Sound fun?  Sound like a lot of talk about poop?  Heh heh.  Okay well, let's get going then!

We'll kick off today with a look at the Bum Genius diapers we have.  The product pictures I've seen online aren't super great for showing you what the inside looks like and if you're new to cloth diapering like me, reading product descriptions that use terminology you don't understand can get a little frustrating.  So I'll show you the diapers we have, tell you where we bought them, and how you how to put the pieces together.

But first, let's start with where to buy (the little that I know about that) and talk about the cost difference between cloth and disposable.  Because we're poor little college students and, as much as we love the environment, we made this switch to save money.

Where we bought ours:
We looked in our local online classifieds and found someone selling 11 Bum Genius diapers (and a ton of inserts) for $100, so that's where we bought them.  The person selling them lived about an hour and a half away from us, so we went and picked up the diapers on Friday.  Woot woot!  The diapers and some of the inserts were used for about a year (some of the inserts were brand new), but everything is in great condition.  The only place on the diapers that even shows any wear is in the velcro, but it's still in great condition and I'm not worried about it.

Once you look around at the different cloth diaper brands on their actual websites and read reviews and talk to a million people and finally know what kind you'd like to buy, I definitely recommend looking in your local online classifieds (usually you can access them by going to your local news station's or newspaper's website) or your local Craigslist to see if there's anyone in your area selling some used diapers in good condition.  Of course, you'll want to ask why they're selling them.  In our case, the person selling them had a son who was getting older and could undo the Velcro on his own.  I assume they were switching to a cloth diaper brand with just snaps or trying to potty train him.  I didn't ask, but it didn't seem to be a problem that bothered me.  If she was selling them because they leaked all the time or because something about the diapers were faulty, that would have been a different story.

Cost of cloth vs. disposable:
Before we found this awesome deal through our local online classifieds, we were looking to buy 12 diapers (at about $18 a piece) and 12 inserts (at about $18 for a pack of six) from Diapers.com.  All together, it would have cost us about $250.  Still not a bad deal, considering that we've been spending about $70 every two months on disposable diapers and wipes (we usually buy the Kirkland brand wipes from Costco and the Huggies or Kirkland brand diapers from Costco--whichever is cheapest that day).  So switching to cloth wipes (I had the materials for those on hand, so those were free to us) and cloth diapers (at about $250 on Diapers.com), the cloth diapers would have paid for themselves (in comparison to buying disposable diapers and wipes) in about 10 months, give or take.  If you ask me, that's still a pretty good deal.  However, since we got lucky and bought 11 diapers and all the inserts we need for $100, our cloth diapers will pay for themselves in about four months (well, less than that, actually, but I was rounding up).

Also, if you're thinking about switching to cloth diapers, keep in mind that there we be a few more items you may buy for start-up costs, such as a trash can with a lid for storing dirty diapers, bags for storage of dirty diapers, rubber gloves, etc., etc.  I'll get into more of these things later in the week, but I just wanted to mention that, in addition to the $100 we've spent on the actual diapers, we've also spent about $40 on other start-up costs.  Some of these things we'll need to replace someday (like laundry detergent), but most of these things were a one-time cost.

In addition to these start-up costs, we've estimated that if we wash the diapers twice a week in our apartment complex's laundry facility, we'll also spend about $15 each month on laundry.  That would include two full wash cycles and one full drying cycle.  I imagine this cost would be exponentially less if you had the luxury of being able to wash them in your own washer and dryer.  Also, this cost will be somewhat less when we hang our diapers to dry instead of using the dryer.  But we'll save laundry talk for another day.

In summary, once the start-up cost of using cloth diapers has paid for itself (by not having to buy disposable diapers and wipes), we'll be spending about $30 every two months on diapers as opposed to the $70 we were spending every two months on disposables.  This cost will go down considerably when we move somewhere with our own washer and dryer and all of my dreams come true. 

Alright, now let's have a look at those diapers!

Our Bum Genius Diapers:
Ta-da!  This is what a Bum Genius 3.0 (I think it's a 3.0) looks like.  Exciting, no? 

This is what the inside looks like.  The white part is nice and soft.  And it's absorbent.  And it wicks away moisture from your baby's bum.

Inside is what's called an "insert."  It's basically like a big, thick, fancy washcloth to absorb... you know... liquids.  :)  But we'll get back to that in a minute.  First I'm going to talk about the outside of the diaper a little more.

The Bum Genius diapers we have are what's called a one size diaper.  Basically what that means is that our diaper covers should fit a baby from newborn through potty training.  So you might pay a little more up front, but (theoretically, at least) you only have buy your diapers once.

The way it fits both tiny babies and toddlers is by using the snaps you see here.  These snaps allow for three different sizes.




To give you a frame of reference, Olivia was wearing size 3 in disposables and we have our cloth diapers on the medium setting when she wears them right now.

Next up, let's look at the velcro.  Mine is a little tattered, but it of course wouldn't look like this if they were brand new.  :)

Many people recommend getting a different style of Bum Genius or a different brand all together (I keep hearing lots of good things about FuzziBunz) that has snaps in place of velcro.  I agree that snaps would be better.  But we got ours for a lot cheaper, so velcro is okay by me.  :)

If you are looking into buying cloth diapers with velcro (They call it "hook and loop" because "Veclro" is actually a brand name.) you may read something about laundry tabs.  I'll show you what that is.

In order for the velcro to not make all your diapers stick together in a big tangled wad in the washing machine, each diaper has what are called "laundry tabs" next to the sticky part of the velcro.  The laundry tabs are just a soft part of velcro (what I'm pointing to in the above picture).

As we take a soiled diaper off of Olivia, we just make sure to put the sticky part of the velcro onto the corresponding laundry tab.  This way it's ready to go and we don't have to fiddle with the diapers again before putting them in the washing machine.

Ta-da!  Ready for wash.

 This picture is just to show you the laundry tabs and veclro.  I think I have already talked way too much about laundry tabs.  Let's move on.

I've heard some people complain about leaks from other cloth diapering systems.  Usually this is when people are talking to me about liners that just sort of sit inside a water-proof outside part.  Sometimes things can get moved or separated and poop or pee can leak out.  Obviously I'm no expert, but we haven't yet had any leaking problems with these diapers on Olivia.  I think that has a lot to do with good elastic at the legs and the fact that the inserts actually go inside the diaper, so they always stay where they're supposed to stay.

Okay, now let's have a closer look at those inserts.

This is a regular insert in all its inserty glory.

The regular inserts also have snaps and also have three settings:



Got it?

 In addition to the regular inserts, there are also newborn inserts.  The bigger one (in the picture above) is a regular insert.  The smaller one is a newborn insert.  As far as I'm aware, wherever you buy them, each Bum Genius diaper (as in, the outside part of the diaper) comes with one newborn insert.  Basically, a newborn insert is a smaller insert that can't absorb as much.  The regular inserts hold a lot more pee for older kids.  Sometimes if people know they have a kid who's a heavy wetter or often leaks through their diaper at night, they'll put both a regular insert and a newborn insert inside the child's diaper.  So even if you're buying diapers for an older child, the newborn inserts can still be useful. 

Now, I'll show you how I get Olivia's diapers ready.

 I start with the outside part of the diaper.

Then I snap the front down to the medium setting.

Now the outside is all ready to go.

 Then I turn the diaper over.

Whoo!  This is tough work! 
 Then I grab a regular insert and snap it down to the small setting.

 Now it's ready to go inside the diaper.

So, next, I take hold of the non-snapped side (I don't know if it even matters which side you grab, but that's the way I do it) and slip the insert inside the diaper cover like so:

Ta-da!  Insert inserted.  There were a million pictures so you could get an idea of how it works, but I promise it only takes about five seconds to do in real life.

Then I just put the tabs on the front...

 ...and it's ready to go!

I haven't timed myself or anything, but I'd say it probably takes 30 seconds to 1 minute to do all that.  It's easy peasy.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the velcro tabs can also fold over on top of one another in case you need to keep things snug on a smaller baby.

Also, I just wanted to add that I know some people worry about the bulk of cloth diapers compared to their streamlined disposable counterparts.  Keep in mind that Olivia is a pretty skinny kid to begin with, but so far we haven't had any issues with bulk.  Her little jeans fit just fine.  :)  From what I've read and heard from others, super bulky cloth diapers tend to be those diapers that have an outer part and a liner that just sort of sits inside.  Our Bum Genius diapers basically fit her just the same as disposables.  There is a little more bulk, but it's not a problem.

Well, that's it!  I hope that helped you out a little in understanding how these Bum Genius 3.0's work.  Feel free to ask questions if you have any.  Although after ten million pictures of the exact same diaper I'm not really sure what else you might want to know.  :)  Still, feel free to ask if you feel so inclined.

In Summary:
All in all, we started using them on Saturday and I have to say--it is so not a big deal.  And I mean that in the best way possible.  As in, cleaning poop off isn't a big deal, washing them isn't a big deal, getting them ready isn't a big deal, etc.  I'm certainly not about to turn into some cloth diapering fanatic that spits on people who prefer to use disposables (we can still be friends, I promise), but I really just keep thinking to myself that we should have been doing this all along!

Coming up next:
Later on in Cloth Diaper Week we'll cover how to make and use homemade cloth wipes (sans pictures of poop or pee, I promise),  travel-size wet bags, a water-proof laundry bag/storage of soiled diapers before they're washed, and laundering (with tips and thoughts about doing this if you live in an apartment like I do and don't have your own washer and dryer).

See you tomorrow for more cloth diapering fun!


Lisa Lou said...

Oh man. I think you are my new family friend. i am so so so impressed with all this. I will DEFINITELY be calling you in the future about all this. Also, I can't wait to see Miss O wearing a cute diaper. So fashionable!

Melissa said...

I currently work during the day and my mother in law watches my son. I am also pregnant with baby #2. Ive considered using cloth diapers a bunch of times. (mostly for the $$, but also my son gets excema and I like that its natural, less chemicals). But I would hate to leave my mother in law cleaning up the diapers while I am at work and then just coming home and changing one or two before he goes to bed. I am starring these in my google reader though for when I have the opportunity to be a full time SAHM!

emmalou said...

So I got curious about what brand I am familiar with and looked it up. They are really basic and I don't know all the lingo of what type they are, but they are Nikky breathable poly diaper covers and we just use the regular tri-fold cloth diaper inside. It's pretty simple--no real preparation--but probably leaks more than those ones where you insert the absorbent pad.

Kathy Haynie said...

These look great! Wish I'd had these when you were little. I am so old-school with cloth diapers, hahaha. :) Looking forward to future posts!

Anonymous said...

okay, now I really will write my article about our cloth diapers. I have been meaning ti for weeks and now I will do it. (sometime tomorrow if Arora and Ender give me the time:) )

Kim said...

Very nice picture tutorial!

There was one mistake, just not to confuse people. The diaper is a "one size" not an "all in one." An AIO is a one piece diaper that doesn't require stuffing.

Enjoy your new diapers!

Katie Lewis said...

Thank you, Kim, for catching my mistake! I'll fix it right now. :)

Thorson's said...

I have cloth diapered 2 of my 4 kids and love it! My first daughter who wore cloth had a stash of only Bum Genius 3.0's. I was able to sell them for almost as much as I bought them for, and essentially diapered her for over a year for free. My baby now has a larger variety of diapers because I find that each time I try a new kind, I like it just as well, even if it's for different reasons. I live in a smallish town, and have bought mine all online. I would highly recommend sites that sell just cloth (as opposed to diapers.com, because they have so much information, and the staff are so knowledgeable and friendly. Try www.kellyscloset.com, www.cottonbabies.com,
or www.jilliansdrawers.com.
Ebay is also great for buying and selling used diapers!
Oh, and after I stuff my pocket diapers, I leave the velcro on the laundry tabs, and fold them in more like how a disposable comes out of the package. Makes it easy to put under/on a wiggly baby :)

Serena said...

This is a great tutorial. I too instantly fell in love with my cloth diapers when I made the switch at 15 months. My diapers paid for themselves in about 4 mos. as well, as I was spending $50 a month on disposables. I can't wait to CD the next child from infancy.

Maria said...

Nearly al CDs come with a full size insert and a doubler, just FYI. :-) You might be interested in my blog, I offer cloth diaper advice, reviews and giveaways. Oct. is my one year clothiversary so it's all fluff, all month! http://www.change-diapers.com

Danielle Bartran said...

Great information! I'm definitely going to send people to your site when they are interested in trying cloth.

I've been using cloth diapers for almost 2 years with my son, and have converted a few friends along the way. It really is just as easy as disposables...just a little laundry to do...daily when the baby was small, and now every few days now that he's older.

I have the same Bum Genius 3.0s as you and after almost a year the laundry tabs were completely shot. I think they are guaranteed for 1 year, but alas, I missed the boat. So, I recently ordered new velcro (hook & loop) and laundry tabs from cottonbabies.com. I think I paid $1 per set and it included everything I'd need. For 12 diapers, I would say it took MAYBE 2 hours to replace the laundry tabs & the side velcro (I didn't see the point in replacing the front velcro since mine seemed to be holding up okay.) It was like having brand new diapers again! I think they sent the new 4.0 hook & loop and it really is SO much better!

Jenny said...

I've been exclusively cloth diapering for 3 1/2 years (one baby trained right before the next was born) and only use bumGenius! The velcro sucks (or doesn't suck... depending how you look at it), but I still love them. I can't wait until I have the money to buy the 4.0 with snaps, because I will buy 24 and be happier than I've ever been!
Good job with the change over. You're baby's bum, and mother earth will thank you!