Diapering in a Drought

California is in a severe drought. Like many others in the Bay Area (and just about anyone who has grown up in California and lived through many other droughts), our household has long been practicing water-conservation. That means there is not much we can do to cut back further – our lawn is already deader than dead and we dread laundry and dishes so much that every load is completely full anyway.

Having a baby does throw a bit of a wrench in our water conservation efforts, though. There is more laundry to do and being at home during maternity leave means more dishes, as well. When we found out we were expecting, we had thought we would use cloth diapers – one of the few things I saved from Jack’s infancy. But then the drought got worse – it’s now considered to be one of the most severe droughts on record for California. There is talk of fining households that don’t cut their water usage. Even worse, there are worries over drinking water shortages.

Considering this, we started thinking cloth diapering may not be the way to go after all.

There is a lot of debate about the amount of water required to wash cloth diapers versus the resources needed to manufacture disposable diapers and then dispose of them, and which type of diaper has the bigger environmental impact. Most studies seem to come to a similar conclusion – there is no clear answer as to which is better for the environment because availability of resources (water vs. landfill space) differs by geographic area. Landfill space is always an issue, sure, but the scarcity of water can reach emergency levels much more quickly – which is now what we’re looking at in California.

With these things in mind, I started wondering about alternatives to both cloth and disposable diapering. Aside from elimination communication (which I have neither the time nor the stomach to try), other options are gDiapers (with flushable inserts) and cloth diapering services. Unfortunately, gDiapers present many of the same problems as disposables, with the added concern over the possible clogging up of the plumbing in addition to the extra flushing required. Further, in our county they cannot be composted by our waste management company. Diaper services, on the other hand, use only prefold diapers (the kind that require folding and pinning/snappi-ing and a cover) – which I loathe due to the bulk and the lack of moisture-wicking. When I used prefolds with Jack, we easily went through twice as many diapers each day as we would have with other types of cloth and/or disposables. Using twice as much cuts into the benefits of using a service that washes them in bulk, no?

This diapering thing seems so much more complicated that it used to be.

I finally stumbled upon diaper composting services. Some of the same diaper services that offer drop-off/pick-up and washing of prefold cloth diapers also offer a disposable option – you can buy eco-friendly disposable diapers from the company, which will drop them off weekly and pick up the dirty ones to compost at their facility. The service eliminates the extra water usage issue AND saves us from sending more garbage to the landfill (and paying for a bigger garbage can)! Two such services here in the Bay Area are Earth Baby and Tiny Tots.

Right now we’re trying out Earth Baby (they offer a 1-month free trial). So far it’s working out fairly well, although I have to mention that Desmond is a super soaker and has leaked out of the diapers at night lately (in reading reviews, it’s an issue with some babies using the Naty brand of diapers, which are the only brand Earth Baby offers), so we’ve taken to using Huggies for nighttime diapering. The Huggies have to go into our garbage can, of course, but it’s only around 10 diapers a week so…we’ll take it; I can’t be washing sheets every day!

The diaper composting service is not a big money-saver, unfortunately. The diapers and wipes can only be purchased through the service and are more expensive (the service has to make a profit somehow). We are avoiding the cost of additional water usage and a larger garbage can, though. And, well, I am not sad that I’m avoiding the laundry involved with cloth diapers, either…cloth is soft and cute and great for sensitive baby skin, but extra laundry still sucks!

I’m no expert but so far, this seems like one of the most environmentally-friendly diaper options for Californians right now.

What do you think? Does the environmental impact influence your household’s diapering decisions? Do you have drought conditions to take into account in your area?

A Plethora of Topics Contained Herein

I’ve been a dreadful blogger and for that, I offer sincere apology.  I will try to be better!

Here’s the lowdown on what’s been going on…

Joe started his new job but still had to finish off part of the season at his old job.  He is now on his twelfth straight day of work (with 3 more days to go).  The commute to the new job is 1.5 each way.  Luckily, he totally loves his new job!  Aside from that, our apartment is a mess and we get about 20 minutes each day to talk to one another.  I have to leave early for work in the morning, and he gets home late.  We are tired as all hell.

Jack had a pediatric check up.  He now weighs 27 lbs 6 oz and measures 33.5 in.  He’s a little on the short side but perfectly healthy.  Oh, and his head is huge just like his daddy’s.

Jack and I have had a cold.  I lost most of my voice yesterday and am still recovering.  At least I don’t have snot interwoven with my hair like my son.

I read the book Happiest Toddler on the Block.  It was fantastic and I have started using some of the “toddlerese” techniques when Jack throws a huge fit.  It helps much more than I expected (also kind of annoying: caveman speak resulted in giving Jack the keys to the kingdom.  He is now VERY fond of the phrase “I don’t like it!”  I suppose it’s better than screaming.).  One of the things Dr. Karp recommends is to gossip with your child’s toys to persuade them to do something (because everyone is more attentive when the suddenly hear whispering).  It was hilarious to see Jack’s reaction when I started talking to his previously-unnoticed Ugly Doll who we call Monster.  Now he will not let that thing out of his sight!  Jack has starting talking for the monster in a gravelly voice; he doesn’t realize the monster isn’t supposed to call Joe “Daddy.”  We are constantly saying, “Yes, I like monsters.”

I updated Jack’s shutterfly albums with our pictures from Maryland.

I saw Sex & The City and loved it!  I’ve heard others who were disappointed but I think they failed to drink a cosmo beforehand.

We received the Sumbuns pocket diapers (one velcro, one snap) that I wrote about a few weeks ago.  I love the size and fit and they are damned cute.  My only beef is that the slit for the insert is located at the front of the diaper and the fleece overlaps, which makes it a little difficult to shake the insert out when wet.  On diapers with the slit to the rear, I can usually find a dry spot at the end of the insert to manually pull it out if necessary without getting my fingers soaked with urine.  Not so when the slit is in the front.  If that doesn’t bother you, I have no other complaints and may even buy more because the fit is so good!

Also, on diapers.  Jack is outgrowing the “one-size” BumGenius and Haute Pockets diapers.  He is literally bursting out of the Haute Pockets, and the BG’s are leaving red marks on his hips.  I am thinking about replacing all of our BG’s and HP’s with Happy Heinies one-size diapers because I love them so!  I don’t mind buying one-size diapers this late in the game because we can either save them for the next kiddo or sell them to one of the many people I know who are going to have a baby in the coming year.

Oh!  Potty training.  Jack has started throwing fits when we take off or put on a diaper.  Methinks he is approaching potty-readiness.  Of course, he won’t even look at the potty but still!  I ordered potty books for him and we are going to start slowly.  If he didn’t hate being naked, I would probably try the naked time technique but alas, the boy is modest.  I don’t mind that, to be honest.

I still dislike my haircut.

See you soon!

More Pocket Diaper Reviews

Sick of trying to stretch the baby prefolds fit Jack, we finally sold them off and I bought some more pocket diapers to compensate.  We could have gotten by if we were more inclined to use the next size up of prefolds (I think we have toddler size??) but they are HUGE and we hate them.

I am still in love with Fuzzi Bunz, but I didn’t feel like spending $18 on a sized diaper and I have been wondering if there’s something out there I’m missing…  I still like the BumGenius diapers quite a bit, but they are actually getting a little snug on Jack, so I didn’t want to invest in more in case he really does grow out of them.  I am comfortable enough with cloth diapering, and I trust Nicki’s Diapers (home of free shipping and inserts for all pocket diapers) enough, that I didn’t read reviews on these diapers before purchasing – just took the plunge and hoped for the best!

I bought:

  • 2 Haute Pockets One-Size Diapers (on sale for $14) – one snap, one velcro
  • 1 Happy Heinies One-Size Diaper ($19)
  • 1 Large DryBees ($16)
  • 1 Imse Vimse potty training diaper (yet to be used, bought due to wishful thinking)

I like the color options on the Haute Pockets, and the fit is great.  I don’t like is that the open portion for the insert doesn’t lay flat or overlap to completely cover the insert.  It doesn’t seem to bug Jack and the diapers haven’t leaked (although this might be an issue for babies spending most of their time laying down).  I tend to use our BG at night because Jack would unlatch the velcro when awake, but the Haute Pockets have much stronger velcro to prevent toddler’s from stripping.  I am not sure if they would work for overnight as the ones I bought have “breathable” PUL, and frankly I’m a little afraid to try…

The Happy Heinies diaper is great!  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it since Jack is so keen on undoing velcro, but this is strong stuff.  I love the trim fit and the cow print we got is so adorable!  I would definitely recommend these, and will stock up more with a second baby.

DryBees – my new favorite diaper of the sized variety.  These suckers can hold a TON of pee, there is a huge variety of cute colors and patterns, and the velcro is super strong.  Bonus: the fleece is the softest and thickest I’ve ever felt, and the diaper is constructed so that only fleece touch’s the baby’s skin.  I LOVE this diaper.

I am still awaiting an order of Sunbums (including one with sock monkeys on it!) from a sale I took advantage of, so that review is pending.

The Naysayers

At one of my baby showers there was a large group of older women (mostly co-workers) who told me I was crazy for considering a natural birth.  There was a mix of those who wondered why I would ever do that to myself, those who tried natural and asked for an epidural as soon as they got to 4cm, and those who regaled me with horror stories (“my kid broke my tailbone!”).  Altogether I think there were about 30 people at my shower, and only two came forward to tell me that they also had natural labors and YES I could do it.  I was very appreciative of their support.  The others drove me crazy and to this day I’m annoyed by their attitude toward my wishes.  With that said, I remembered their comments during the most painful part of my labor and that memory stiffened my resolve to forego pain medication so that I could have the birth I had planned.  I never spoke about my labor with any of those women afterward; it was just enough to know that they were wrong and I could do it.

In discussing my plans to use cloth diapers prior to having Jack, I received some flack from a few friends.  Some were simply ignorant on the subject and doubted that I would be able to get the diapers clean.  Some had given up cloth diapering themselves, mostly because their wash routines were overly complicated, and they assumed I would also give up.  20 months later and I still love cloth diapers.  I found my own way to make it work in our life and I have been very happy with my decision.  No one ever mentioned it after Jack was born, except for those people who saw what we were doing and wanted to try it themselves.  It wasn’t my intention to inspire others to cloth diaper, but it’s certainly nice that more people are considering it.

While no one said it outright, I do believe there were some folks in my life who were dubious about my plans to breastfeed Jack.  I got the impression from one person in particular who, when Jack was about 5 months old conceded, “He’s obviously thriving, so what you’re doing must be working!”  In the early days breastfeeding was certainly difficult, and it definitely still has its moments, but I am just thankful to have made it this far despite the fact that I had no one around to help.

Overall I think I’ve had a pretty easy go as a new parent.  I haven’t received any criticism since Jack has been born.  I think it helps that Jack is such a happy, easy-going fellow.  I doubt that his awesomeness has much to do with how Joe and I parent, in all honesty.  I’d like to think that Jack is teaching us how to parent, and that things have gone well because we are responsive to his needs.  It sure is a nice thought but there is probably a bit of luck involved, as well.  In any case, I am kind of giving myself a pat on the back for all my hard work over the last couple of years (we’ve all gotta take a moment to do that sometimes, right?) but I also wanted to acknowledge that I have been helped by the naysayers.  If it wasn’t for their comments and my drive to prove them wrong, things might have turned out differently.  You certainly never know…

Apparently it's CDing Weekend

I’m kinda sorta attempting the NaBloPoMo thing, so every little idea is going on the page this month.  Hopefully y’all don’t hate me when this is over!  🙂

If you have been thinking of giving cloth diapers a try, if you need to move up to the next size or otherwise expand your stash, it’s a good time to do it.  There are some crazy clearance sales going on right now as it seems that diaper manufacturers will soon be coming out with their latest and greatest creations.  I, for one, am more interested in saving myself some money than I am in having the latest innovation (at least when the current situation is working just fine).  So, without further ado, here are some rad sales for the shoppers out there:

Fuzzi Bunz on clearance for $13.95.  I would urge you to buy from Nicki’s Diapers, which happens to be my absolute favorite to shop for diapers online, but this sale seems to be going on everywhere.  Nicki’s always includes an insert with their pockets, give discounts for bulk orders, and many items are eligible for free shipping.  Oh, and the selection is fabulous.

BumGenius 2.0 one-size pocket diapers are on clearance for $14.95.  No news of what they are changing in what many (me not included) claim are the perfect diaper; we’ll just have to wait and see.  You can find this sale at Cotton Babies, Abby Lane, and Wildflower Diapers to name a few.

Happy shopping!  If you know of other awesome deals, feel free to share them with me and my readers in the comments.