Cloth Diapering Update: Yes, We’re Still Going! But I’ve Learned Some Stuff…

Last year, about this time… my husband and I made the decision to cloth diaper our first baby.

The decision was primarily a financial one and since the math showed we could save thousands of dollars by foregoing disposables, it wasn’t hard to commit.

I spent hours browsing the web to figure out what kind of cloth diapers would fit our lifestyle best, stocked up on the necessary goods and waited for baby to arrive.

Ten months after her birth, I’m happy to report we are STILL cloth diapering!

This .gif feels appropriate here.

This .gif feels appropriate here. (Image Credit: MyLittleBrony.com)

I’m gonna take just a second to gloat here for a bit… since several of my co-workers lovingly but insistently told me I’d never keep it going past a few weeks (or months at the most). The fact that we’re still going strong despite our little one gobbling up solids (and expelling them) is so exciting and sometimes, let’s face it, it’s nice to be able to say “I told you so!”

That said, I’ve definitely learned a few things that I’d like to share with all the other moms and dads who might be thinking about cloth. Here we go…

1. Be prepared for double (or even triple) washings

Samsung 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washer in White, ENERGY STAR (Image Credit: HomeDepot.com)

Samsung 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washer in White, ENERGY STAR (Image Credit: HomeDepot.com)

If you have a high-efficiency (front loader) washing machine, expect to do some extra washings of your diapers. If your baby has extra sensitive skin (as ours does) you’ll need to rinse each batch thoroughly to get out all the detergent residue. I’ve tried some of the “specialty” cloth diaper detergents like Rockin’ Green and “stripped” the diapers of build-up at least 2 times. Those moves helped… somewhat… The bottom line though? If you’re using cloth diapers (at least the kind we’re using) they will require some extra TLC beyond the “just toss them in the washing machine with a good detergent and you’ll be fine” fallacy you might hear or read online. Even with all that extra effort…

2. The diapers will probably stain

We're using Charlie Banana one-size diapers like those seen here. (Image Credit: Diapers.com)

We’re using Charlie Banana one-size diapers like those seen here. (Image Credit: Diapers.com)

Especially since baby started solids, we’ve had some discoloration and staining on all of our diapers. We’re using both Charlie Banana one-size pockets with inserts and Bum Genius one-size.

Fortunately, I found a great tip on the web… sun bleaching! I’ve found laying the diapers and the inserts out in the sun for several hours – or all day if possible – whitens them right up. I guess grandma really did know best! :o) Get me a clothes line, stat!

3. Invest in a diaper sprayer

Like this one. Or this one. At first I thought this was a luxury but once baby started solids… well… it’s a MUST have. Ours was easy to hook up to the toilet and instead of all the poopy going in the washing machine… it goes in the toilet (where it belongs.)

4. Cloth on-the-go is hard to pull off

We’ve pretty much abandoned cloth diapering whenever we go out of the house for an extended period of time. Despite buying a portable wet bag and sporting a can-do attitude, one incident involving a baby crying and screaming on the Target changing table while I desperately tried to adjust the “snappies” on her diaper was enough to put me off the whole thing.

5. Puffy diapers make for nice padding on baby’s bottom when they plop down

It’s worth noting that with baby girl getting more mobile and pulling herself up a lot, it’s nice to have an extra cushion when she plops back down again. She seems to enjoy it anyway. :o)

Are you a cloth diapering parent? What did you learn in the early months? Any recommendations for others? Share your comments here!

Ciao,

Michelle

Advertisements

How To Save Money On Disposable Diapers

Diapers are expensive. Super expensive. On the order of a new car downpayment expensive.

Most estimates I’ve seen online put the total cost between $1,500 – $3,000 for a single child in disposables, on an average potty training timeline. That’s one reason I opted to use “pocket” cloth diapers for our new little baby.

Unfortunately, for reasons outlined here, cloth diapers are not an option for everyone – especially families who are struggling with poverty. That’s one reason we’re partnering up for a month-long effort with RocketCityMom.com this September called “The Great Diaper Drive.”

Join our effort September 1st - 30th!

Join our effort September 1st – 30th!

We’re collecting disposable diapers for local babies in need, to be distributed through a local non-profit called Manna House. Details on how to donate here.

As our effort ramps up, I thought it’d be a nice idea to dig up tips for all mommas and dads on how to buy disposables more cheaply. It can be done.

Basic Tips

1. Buy in bulk (look for cheaper cost-per-unit or cost-per-diaper)

Make like you’re headed to Costco. In fact, Costco (or any other warehouse shopping outlet) is a great place to buy “bulk” diapers. They’re often (although not always) much cheaper when purchased in packs of 100 + than when bought in smaller sizes. Economies of scale.

2. Buy store brands

Store brands are often way cheaper than Huggies & Pampers. Just the other day I picked up a package of Size 3 for Jane (which we use on the occasions when she has developed diaper rash) and saved at least $3.00 over the premium brand they had on the shelf.

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers, Size Newborn, 76ct @ $20.23 on Diapers.com

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers, Size Newborn, 76ct going for $20.23 on Diapers.com

3. Stock up during sales

I just did this with baby food – stocking an entire pantry shelf with Stage 2 jars & pouches. Jane is not anywhere close to eating Stage 2 (6 months +) but she will be eventually and certainly within the expiration date. My husband laughed out loud looking at our overstuffed pantry but the principle applies to diapers too. Buy whatever size IS on sale WHEN it’s on sale.

Advanced Strategies

1. Combine coupons

Make like TLC’s extreme couponing masters and keep an folder of clipped coupons (or printed ones from the web) that you can combine for maximum savings. The Coupon Centsation has for example an excellent blog post showing how you can MAKE money off a Huggies Diaper purchase starting this Sunday, September 8th! Yes, this strategy requires some work but if you’re a detail person…

2. Sign up for online promotions and fliers

Diaper companies are all over social media now, just like we all are. Take a minute to like your favorite brands or sign up for rewards programs. Send letters or emails to diaper companies to share your experiences. You may just get some rewards in return.

up&up™ Baby Diapers - Bulk Pack (Size 3) featured @ Target.com for $24.99 - $26.00

up&up™ Baby Diapers – Bulk Pack (Size 3) featured @ Target.com for $24.99 – $26.00

Pampers and Huggies also offer loyalty rewards programs. Diaper packages will feature codes to enter online after registering for an account and adding codes found on other products like baby wipes can add to your rewards!

3. Shop online

Diapers.com and Amazon.com. Can’t lose with best price comparison.

Big Things Happening! Join Us For “The Great Diaper Drive”

I’ve been settling in as a new mommy for a few months now and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that we go through a LOT of diapers. All you ladies out there weren’t kidding!

We’re still going strong with pocket cloth diapers (hoping to save some big money) but occasionally our little one gets a gnarly case of diaper rash that requires a slathering of cream and disposables. The last time that happened, we raced through a full pack of diapers in about two days! Talk about expensive.

Sadly, not every mom is in a position to use cloth diapers and many are struggling to keep up with the massive expense of disposables. That’s why I’m so excited to announce that WHNT News 19 is partnering up with RocketCityMom.com this September to collect diapers for local families in need!

“The Great Diaper Drive” will be happening all month long and you’ll see me on-air and on-location… putting the call out for people to join us in this wonderful effort.

All diapers will be distributed through Manna House, a local 501(c)3. Click here to make an online donation. Please enter “diapers” in the comment section. A donation of $25 will buy 200 diapers.

You can also donate disposable diapers and wipes at these businesses all month long:

  • Manna House – 2110 South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville from 2:00-7:00 p.m. (Monday, Wednesday or Thursday)
  • A Nurturing Moment – 7540 Memorial Pkwy SW in Huntsville
  • Itty Bitty – 5732 U.S. 431, Brownsboro, AL 35741
  • Kidventure – 500 Lanier Road, Ste. D in Madison
  • The Little Gym locations – 2124 Cecil Ashburn Dr. SE and 470 Providence Main St NW
  • Posh Mommy and Baby, Too! – 7755 Hwy 72 W. in Madison
  • WAY-FM – 9582 Madison Blvd. #8 in Madison

Kidventure will also host a Diaper Shower on Sunday, September 8th from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Every child that brings a package of disposable diapers gets in free!  There will be refreshments, live entertainment and door prizes.

To read more on the local need for diapers and why we’ve decided to Take Action with this diaper drive, click here.

How To Get Free Breastfeeding Pumps & Supplies

A very close girlfriend of mine happens to be pregnant right now as well and she told me something recently that sounded too good to be true. She mentioned that, due to some provisions in the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – her insurance was going to cover the cost of her breastfeeding supplies, including a pump!

breastfeeding

Regardless of your feelings about Obamacare, this is exciting news. At least it was for me. As a mommy-to-be who will be trying to breastfeed and work I have been researching higher-end breast pumps and they are EXPENSIVE. The double-electric models (allowing you to pump both breasts at the same time with greater efficiency) can run up to $300 at least.

So all you ladies out there who are expecting, or if you know someone who is expecting, take note. Here’s what I’ve been able to dig up on the expanded maternity coverage provisions of Obamacare.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, under the Affordable Care Act, “women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services – is covered with no cost sharing for new health plans.”

This includes “breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.” More specifically, comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, plus costs for renting breastfeeding equipment.

Some insurance companies are going beyond just covering equipment rentals and offering to cover the cost of some or all of a personal breast pump! United Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest insurance providers, is adopting this approach.

Per the company’s website, “UnitedHealthcare will cover the purchase of a personal, double-electric breast pump at no cost to the member.”

“To rent or purchase breast pumps, members will be required to contact UnitedHealthcare or a network physician, hospital or durable medical equipment (DME) supplier. The physician, hospital or DME supplier will bill UnitedHealthcare directly for reimbursement. Members will not be able to purchase supplies, such as breast pumps, at retail and send the receipt for reimbursement.”

A quick scan of the comment sections of several popular mommy blogs reveals stories of folks getting brand-name equipment like Medela and Ameda using this approach!

Ameda "Purely Yours Ultra" Double Electric Breast Pump with Black Tote

Ameda “Purely Yours Ultra” Double Electric Breast Pump with Black Tote

There are of course, some “catches” with this exciting development. Depending on when your insurance plan “rolled” over – or when the start of your new policy year begins – you may not be eligible for expanded maternity care coverage or a breast pump.

As I learned when I checked into my own eligibility, there are also “grandfathered” insurance plans, which are not required to comply with all of the new ACA guidelines immediately – even though those guidelines were upheld as legal. Here’s an explanation of how those “grandfathered” plans can operate as such.

If, like me, you sadly don’t get to take advantage of this new benefit from the ACA due to “grandfathering” or other conditions that partially exempt your insurance provider, take heart. You may still be able to save some money on your breast feeding equipment!

Many employers offer what are called “flexible spending accounts.” Pre-tax money deposited in such an account can be used to cover the cost of many medical supplies including breast pumps and related equipment! As the New York Times reported, “the Internal Revenue Service announced [in 2011] that it would grant nursing mothers a tax break on pumps and other breastfeeding supplies.”

If you don’t have a flexible spending account, you might still be able to get a tax break. The New York Times also stated that those “without flexible spending accounts may deduct breast-feeding costs if their total unreimbursed medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize.”

So… all that said, make sure to check with your insurance provider or company HR department to see if you are entitled to a free breast pump or lactation support classes! If not, keep an eye out for extra savings come tax season. Then you can spend the money saved on cute baby clothes!

Ladies, if you’ve tried any of these money-saving techniques for breast feeding, feel free to share your experiences below!

Baby’s Nursery: Go Cheap Or Whole Hog?

Hubby and I have reached that point in the pregnancy when it’s time to start putting together the nursery. You’d think that would be easy. Pick out furniture, paint the walls, add some cute blankets and voila! The perfect little place for baby and family.

Except, for some reason it’s been really difficult to decide how to approach the nursery and it all stems from one question – should we go cheap or “whole hog” as they say?

The benefits of going cheap are obvious. Babies are messy. They destroy things when they get to toddler stage. Furniture gets banged up and doesn’t last anyway. As many of you readers mentioned in our previous discussion on cloth diapering – babies often end up getting changed whenever (and wherever) you have time. That really undercuts the argument for something like a changing table and other “fancies” as my husband might call them.

Then you have those giant “nursery bedding” sets. The adorable ones with matchy-matchy animal designs and a crib skirt with bumpers like this…

Little Bedding by NoJo Dreamland Teddy 10pc Nursery in a Bag

Little Bedding by NoJo Dreamland Teddy 10pc Nursery in a Bag

I’ve seen some run as high as $300.00 including wall decorations. Really, does baby care about a few decals on the wall? I’ve also read those solid fabric bumpers can be unsafe – since baby can roll up against them while sleeping.

On the other hand…

I love, love, love all those cute little bedding sets! Maybe it’s the new mommy in me but when I see pictures like this…

or like this…

Tiffany Theissen's Lavender Celebrity Baby Nursery (Designed by Lonni Paul)

Tiffany Theissen’s Lavender Celebrity Baby Nursery (Designed by Lonni Paul)

I DO desperately want to create that “perfect” little space for momma and baby. Comments from some friends have really reinforced this idea as well. A girlfriend who just gave birth to her little one a few months ago said having a glider/rocker was such a comfort when nursing to her AND the baby. So now I’m thinking we should get one…

I also really like the idea of spending a little more on a convertible crib and some furniture pieces that will grow with our little girl and hopefully last. Then I see some of the prices – $650 for just a crib alone and a cringe.

There’s no way we’ll ever be able to spend $5,000 – $10,000 on our nursery… Maybe $750 if we really economize and I put my Google ninja skills to use to find online deals. (Contrary to popular belief, we TV people don’t all make a Katie Couric salary. lol.)

I did find this combo furniture set at Walmart…

Summer Infant - Fairfield Crib Set

…with good reviews for an almost-seems-too-good-to-be-true price. I’m wondering if I should splurge a little more though. How much we should really invest in baby’s nursery given the time we’ll spend there?

So that’s where you all come in. How much did you spend on baby’s nursery? Did you find ways to decorate for less? How much did creating that “perfect” little nest matter to you?

Post below ladies! Can’t wait to hear from you all…

Cloth Diapering: How Much Can You Really Save?

A couple of weeks back, I posted on my Facebook page that my husband and I were planning to try cloth diapering. Responses ranged from ultra-supportive to “Wow, she’s crazy!”

There are a lot of reasons not to cloth diaper. There are also a lot of reasons to do it. They are better for the environment, softer for baby’s bottom and cheaper. It’s that last reason – cheaper – that won me over.

When I first got a registry list of all the things we would “need” for baby – I almost died of shock. Seriously. I’m a naturally skeptical person, so I knew we wouldn’t need ALL the items on that list but after calculating the must haves… I immediately started revising our family budget.

One question I keep getting is, “Is it really worth it?” That depends largely on your tolerance for scraping poop into a toilet. Today though, I thought I’d share with everyone what I found when asked myself that question and did the math.

Before I lay out the numbers, I need to mention that there are many different types of cloth diapers and my husband and I plan to try one of the more expensive – albeit more convenient – called Pockets. Here’s a breakdown of the major types.

So here we go. We’ll start with disposables. First, finding an “average” cost for a disposable diaper in the U.S. can be a bit difficult. Thankfully, smarter people than me have done cost breakdowns that are easily available on the web. Click here or here to see what I mean.

Photo Credit: Flickr / longestaugust

As baby grows, they need bigger diapers and bigger diapers generally cost more, since there aren’t as many per box. Price per diaper (also called unit price) as a result, can range from $.15 to $.45. Let say then, for purposes of simplifying the math, that an average price per diaper over baby’s early years will be $.30.

According to the University of Michigan, the average time it takes to potty train a child is about 2.5 years or 30 months. Using an average of 8 diaper changes a day (adjusting for a larger number of changes when baby is small and fewer when it is older) that brings us to a disposable diapering cost (8 changes x $.30 per change x 913 days) of $2,191!

But wait! There’s more!

  • Wipes @ $.03 per wipe (average based on my cost per unit observations) X 7,304 total changes (8 x 913) = $219.12
  • Diaper pail and/or Diaper Genie = $50 (including liner refills)

Total Disposable Cost: $2,460,12

Here are our expenses in going “cloth” as I calculate them:

  • 24 cloth diapers & 48 inserts (CB pockets, one-size until potty trained) = $479.96
  • 30 CB cloth organic wipes = $48.57
  • 2 wet bags (to store/launder diapers in) = $40.00
  • Additional water/detergent usage (via @Mint estimate) = $252

Total Cloth Cost: $820.53

TOTAL SAVINGS = $1,639.59

A few key points…

*Modern cloth diapers can be reused for a second child provided they are well cared for, dramatically increasing the possibility of savings.

*The brands we chose for cloth diapering in the example above are higher-end and there are much cheaper options available on the market, providing the opportunity for even more savings.

*Disposables for many families are just easier to use. In fact, many who use cloth diapers end up using throwaways for long trips or day care, so those may need to be added to the cost estimates for cloth diapering in some cases.

This is by no means an scientific analysis but to me the potential savings was just to enticing to ignore. Then again, this being our first little tot, we haven’t yet had to face “mountains of doodie” as one of my dearest friends likes to call it.

Parents, what do you think? Does the math above win you over? Or do you think cloth diapering is way too much hassle? Sound off below!