When we adopted Katie, the last thing on my mind was cloth diapers. I was up to my neck in (mostly unnecessary) baby paraphernalia, struggling to form a healthy attachment with a baby who was missing her foster mother, and the most I thought about diapers was to make sure I had one in my bag.
Eight years and a couple babies later, I’ve got infancy streamlined. For most of Cleo’s newborn months, all I needed was a sling, a diaper, and a place to nurse. All of the extra crap we bought at Babies R Us when Katie came home has been given away.
In the years since Katie arrived, we have evolved into a more environmentally conscious family. We order organic, locally-grown food from Irv & Shelly’s ; we recycle fanatically; we reuse everything.
And so, with that lifestyle as the context, I was very intrigued when my college friend Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaf, who writes the terrific, insightful blog Lunch Box Mom, introduced me to her friend, Scott Becher.
One of Scott’s clients, Catherine Bolden, has a natural cloth store called The Willow Store, and she wanted to find some Chicago-based moms willing to try her cloth diaper system, Sprout Change. Would I know anyone? Sarah wondered.
Yes, I certainly did.
I’ve read about how bad disposable diapers are for the environment, and I was ready to try cloth, at least for part of the time. So I turned my attention to Cleo’s butt, and I gave Scott a call.
Catherine sent me the Sprout Change shell and several cloth inserts. In my haste to give it a try, I neglected to read the part about how you need to wash and dry the inserts three times before initially using them. This is because the natural plant oils are still clinging to the fibers, preventing the cloth from being very absorbent.
I snapped Cleo into her new diaper and we raced out the door to Katie’s piano recital. My father-in-law, who was holding Cleo, ended up with a lap full of baby pee. She was soaked, her clothes were soaked, and I called Scott and Catherine to ask what went wrong.
“A lot of people make that mistake,” Catherine told me. “They try it once before washing it, and the diaper leaks, and they give up. Wash it and dry it a few times, and then it will work.”
Take two. I snapped Cleo into the diaper, and this time, it fell off. Cleo is very tiny for her age, but I figured that tiny babies should still be able to wear cloth diapers. I had tightened the adjustable drawstring, but the diaper was still too big.
I called Scott and Catherine again and sent them a few pictures. Catherine called back, and explained that the adjustable drawstring works in two places – around the legs, and around the waist. She also suggested I reposition the diaper higher in the front.
Take three. I adjusted and positioned the diaper, snapped Cleo into it, and put her down for a nap. When she woke up, I checked the diaper, and it was warm and dry. I kept checking it every hour, and it was still dry. Then I realized that she had actually peed in it, but the diaper was so absorbent that I could barely tell.
Whenever Cleo wears the Sprout Change diaper, it feels dry for hours and hours. It is far more absorbent than disposable diapers. She never gets a red bottom in it. We use diaper cream with disposable diapers, but it is unnecessary with the cloth ones (and not recommended because the cream isn’t good for the fibers).
When she poops, we just scrape it into the toilet and then put the cloth insert into the laundry. It’s really no big deal, very easy, and we don’t have to put stinky diapers into our garbage.
As an added benefit, the diaper is very cute! The shell is reversible, and during the warm summer days, Cleo enjoys just hanging out in her diaper. I am so glad that Sarah put me in touch with Scott and Catherine, because the Sprout Change is a nice fit for our family. Now that I have figured the diaper out, it is really very easy.
Since I spend $35 on a large box of diapers at Target, I am happy to cut down on the number of disposable diapers I use. And we were buying a $17.99 container of Triple Paste for Cleo’s butt, which is an added savings for cloth diapers. There are plenty of other places we need to spend that money.
If you have a baby or child who wears diapers and you want to give cloth diapers a try, the Sprout Change is a great option. If you are adopting a baby and you feel too overwhelmed by the process to even consider cloth diapers, maybe you could use disposables for a few months, and when you get in your groove, you could try the cloth ones.
We don’t use cloth full time, but we do use them to cut down on the number of disposables, and Cleo is happy in them. My general approach to surviving with three young kids is to do the best I can, but not to hold myself to extreme standards. It’s often a dilemma to balance what is easiest with what is healthiest (chocolate chip cookies for breakfast vs. eggs, oatmeal and sliced fruit?), and the cloth diapers are another example of that. Fortunately, they really are pretty easy.