Product review: Diaper pail, safety 1st.

18 08 2011

I get asked quite a bit about how do I deal with the dirty diapers until I am ready to wash them. I use a dry pail system. I must confess that the whole ‘storing dirty diapers until laundry day’ was a little intimidating to me because I was afraid of the smell. Imagine a two days pile of dirty diapers!
We chose to buy Safety First… and so far we have no complains. The pail comes with a deodorant disk in its lid and we add some baking soda between diapers, to control odors. If you walked into our room you would not be able to tell that there are dirty diapers, even with poopy diapers and wipes. As long as the lid is shut, the smells stay inside. It is a little small, it does not hold a three days stash (45 diapers plus the shells) but it would hold a two days load, we just solved that problem by buying a new pail and having one in each changing station.

It is not only great controlling odors but it is also light and easy to use. It has a release mechanism that opens easily and promptly, which is a must when you ar getting rid of soiled diapers and wipes with one hand while holding a wiggly infant with the other.

When we started cloth diapering Ignacio my mom went do laundry and asked me if I wanted to put together the diapers and his clothes. I said no (yuck!) and after she explained that it would be a load saver I insisted that I would rather not to have his dirty diapers thrown together with his clothes. Once she came back from the laundry room she told me “you were right, the diapers smelled!” but none of us could tell until the pail and bag were opened!


Cloth Diapering 2: Health and Environment.

25 07 2011

Now that I have talked about the financial advantages of using cloth diapers, what else do you need to consider when choosing what kind of diapers to use?

Disposables are made to be super absorbent. This might be attractive for some people, but not me. When we were in the hospital my newborn was diapered with disposables and most times we could not even tell if he had urinated or not. As you may know, the number of wet diapers is an indicator of how well a nursing newborn is feeding. We had no clue if he was wetting the diapers because they were constantly dry. Now, the stool too would become so desiccated that we would have to scrub his skin to clean it! Also, I want my baby to know that he is wet or soiled, so he will tell me about it, I want to change him promptly and have him clean. I think no one deserves to be sitting on their own stool.

And besides, cloth diapers are so cute!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

There are also health concerns. When a child feels wet or soiled, he will be uncomfortable. This will prompt him to stop using diapers sooner in childhood, which will save money and environmental resources (the less your child is in diapers, the less diapers he’ll use), children in cloth diapers potty train earlier than children in disposables. There has been an increase in young children showing lower urinary tract and bowel conditions, likely related to the extended age at which they are remaining in diapers; once the average age to be potty trained was 18 months, now it is 3.5 years!

While both cloth diapers and disposable diapers proponents advocate that their choice is best against diaper rash (cloth diapers because they are changed more often and have no harmful chemicals, disposables because they keep baby drier) there is contradictory information and no real support for either claim, so don’t decide on one system or the other based on this. There are a multiplicity of factors affecting your baby’s skin and it includes the sensitivity of the baby’s skin itself, things a breast feeding mother might have eaten, kind of detergent being used to wash the diapers, etc. The important thing is to change baby as soon as possible and to avoid using alcohol or fragrances that might affect baby’s skin.

What about the processes that go into making these diapers? There has been much debate about the environmental impact of this, with people saying that the cotton industry pollutes as much as the chemicals used in disposables (though there is always the organic cotton option). There has been also debate about the energy and water used in washing cloth diapers (though criticism has been drawn to the studies saying that the impact is the same given that they were commissioned by the disposable diapers industry, and that the data collection was flawed).ย  However, when it comes to health I find cloth diapers safer, disposable diapers contain polyacrylate as an absorbent, this chemical has been reported to be of moderate concern as a non reproductive toxin. I know that I will never be able to protect my child of everything out there, but I can try to reduce his exposure to toxins as much as possible.

There is one major thing that would decide me against disposables even if I believed that the environmental impact is the same for both systems, though, and it is the millions and millions of diapers in our landfills, more than 2% of landfills are used by piles of soiled disposable diapers. I do not want my child’s diapers to be still here after the children of his children are long gone! Cloth diapers are not made out of plastic, so they will rot more promptly, and even if they were in conditions so anaerobic that they would not, the amount of cloth diapers that one child uses along infancy is much less than the amount of disposables. As I mentioned earlier, my baby goes through 12-15 diaper changes per day, that would be about 400 in a month; I have 16 shells with 40 cloth diapers for him; and even when I will buy some more, the waste that we can generate for all his diapering age is one order of magnitude less than what we would use in one month alone!

Additionally, there is concern about all the bacteria and viruses that are being contained in these diapers in the landfills and could potentially leak to the water shed. A very scary thought.

This is not to say that I will never use disposable diapers, I have in certain occasions, and I will talk about that in the future, but I can reduce my impact by restricting those instances and using cloth diapers in my every day life. You don’t even need to commit to full time cloth diapers to reduce your impact on the planet. Most daycares do not want cloth diapers, but you could still use them when you are back home; or you can choose to cloth diaper during the day and use disposables at night to keep baby drier during sleep time. In the end the decision is entirely yours, but if you would like to pick the cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly choice, cloth diapers are the way to go.

Product review: GroVia Bioliners

21 07 2011

GroVia bioliners

After posting about the money considerations of cloth diapering, I was planning to post a second entry about health and environment, but the liners got so much attention that I thought I would skip to the product review section instead and leave the other entry for next week. I guess people want to avoid touching stools as much as possible, and I don’t blame them, I am amongst them!
I use GroVia liners. They come in a roll of 200 units, they are flushable and biodegradable. The way to use them is to take one liner and place it in the inside of your cloth diaper (against baby’s bum), they will capture the solids.

I started using them as soon as I started Ignacio on cloth diapers, but the fact is that his stool was too runny and it would go straight through the liner. I tried them for some days and then did not see the point of using them. I remember my mom also commenting on how useless these liners were. But then Ignacio grew and turned 1 month and his stool turned thicker and more consistent (sorry if I am grossing you out, but this is a diapering entry after all!), then I went back to the liners and was very satisfied with them. I really like how they work, they simplify my life a lot. When the baby poops I just bring the diaper to the bathroom and take the liner, contents and all, and flush it down the toilet, which is really useful, because it saves me from trying to dislodge the mess from a cloth diaper with toilet paper.
At the moment that I bought them I chose those because they were the best price out there. There were no other factors, I had no idea of their quality compared to other brands, but I am very happy with them. They are strong and stay put when you have to take them out and flush them, which is essential, the fibers allow moisture to pass by but they do not weaken at all.ย  I would very much buy them again and I recommend them!

Have you tried a different brand of liner? What are your thoughts on it?

Cloth Diapering 1: The money factor.

18 07 2011

It should be no surprise that being concerned about the environment we have decided using cloth diapers. If you are planning to go the cloth diaper route don’t expect “hurrahs” from people around you, you’ll get puzzled looks, because some time, between the 50’s and today, disposables went from being a luxury to being perceived as an inherent right, a “must have” instead of an option. But there are many reasons for which you might want to rethink diapers and try cloth.

Besides the environment factor, there are financial and health reasons why I rather using cloth diapers.ย And cloth diapers are so cute!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me introduce you to the first part of my cloth diapers entry, or “the money factor”.

I challenge you to make a rainbow with disposables! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sure, the price per unit might not seem high, but it adds up really fast. My baby, Ignacio, hates to be wet or dirty, so I change about 12-15 diapers a day. That is about 400 diaper changes per month! If I consider an average price of 25 cents per diaper (from a range between $0.2 and $0.3 for store brand or name brand) that would put us above $100 per month (13x30x0.25). The initial cost of your cloth diapers should be covered in the first 5 to 6 months of your baby’s life. Is there anything else that we would pay that kind of money for something you use once and then trash? Using cloth diapers will save about $1500-2500 in average by the time your child is out of diapers (assuming a child being potty trained at 2.5 years, one full year younger than the average in the United States!)
Even if you had to pay for laundry, as I have to (since we have no washing machine in our rented apartment), washing one load of diapers three times a week would be an extra $324 per year. Still cheaper than disposables. And the cost diminishes even more if you think that you can use the same diapers for your next children!

One question I get asked a lot is: “But, the poop!? What do you do with the poop!?” The answer is simple: “You clean it, the same way that our grandmothers did”. Ifย  your baby is exclusively breast fed, then I hear that you do not even have to do that, you just put the whole thing in the washing machine, mess and all! For those of us that cannot do that, today you can use biodegradable liners, which I do, that are set inside the diaper and then you remove the solid waste with them and flush them in the toilet. This makes my life so much easier! Besides, a little known fact, you also are supposed to remove the solids out of the disposables before trashing them!

So, even putting all health and environmental reasons aside, financially, cloth diapering makes so much sense! And those extra $1500-2500 that I saved? Well, I would like to go on vacation with my husband and son! ๐Ÿ™‚