When I was looking around in Tar-jay's baby section the other day, a sign on the wall caught my eye. It read:
The person who wears the pants in this family, wears a diaper under them.
Cute, huh? Well, kind of. I guess. On the one hand. But at the same time it seemed to me to represent an underlying mentality in our culture--the idea that babies will take over and ruin our once carefree, wonderful, meaningful lives and cost us a lot of time and money. I know, I know, I am way reading into it, but it did get me thinking.
While there are a lot of things I could talk about as far as how I think the Western world's understanding of what it takes (and takes out of us) to raise a child is fallacious, I want to focus on one aspect: money. I believe that children are viewed as being way more expensive to take care of than they are, or at least need to be.
There is more than one way to spend money. There is more than one way to raise a baby. And there is more than one way to spend money to raise a baby.
I want to share with you one of my tips for cutting down the cost.
What is Money Saver #1?
The biggest money suck for having a baby is buying diapers. While I am a big fan of practicing EC, it is by no means fail-safe and you will still have to change diapers if you live like most western culture (aka in carpeted areas, indoors, not over a mud floor).
When Little Owl was first born we used paper diapers for several weeks before switching over to cloth. Over those few weeks we spent close to $100 dollars on diapers. Granted, we were buying
organic, chlorine free ones, and there are cheaper ways of getting them (e.g. ordering in bulk online, being less picky), but still, any way you look at it we were spending--and were going to spend-- a LOT of money on diapers. That is, until we switched to cloth.
The initial investment for cloth diapers can seem substantial, but when you think about how much you save it comes out in the wash. Literally. (<insert courtesy laugh here>). Before our daughter's birth we had registered for cloth so our start up was cheaper. I did go out and buy another dozen basic cloth diapers to add to our collection. I now have around thirty cloth diapers. Most of them are the kind that have a basic insert that you can get to go with all sorts of diaper covers.
But I also have a few 'fancier' (aka more expensive) cloth diapers that I also use. They are Knicker Nappies. They look like this:
I like both diapers for different reasons-- the basic ones are great because you can reuse the covers multiple times before washing them, the Knicker Nappies are nice because they are easy to take on and off for EC-ing.
My suggestions to you if you are interested in cloth-diapering would be to go to a store and check out the options. In hind-site I wish I had registered for these. (20/20, right?).
What about all the extra work?
One of the most common complaints people have against using cloth diapers is that they are 'so much work'. And while I agree that everyone should do what is most comfortable for them/fits their baby-raising lifestyle I really haven't found it to be much extra work. Babies are laundry-producers. They spit up all the time. On themselves. On you. On blankets. They leak through their diapers (paper or cloth). They pee on blankets. On their clothes. On your clothes. You will already be doing an extra load of laundry at least every other day with a new baby in the house. Throwing the diapers in at the same time has been no big deal for me.
What about all the poop stains and using that little sprayer thing on the toilet? Well, my baby isn't eating solids yet so I haven't needed to use them. I'll keep you posted once and if that changes. But, infant poop is pretty benign. I put diapers (poop and all) into the washing machine, run a rinse cycle before washing, and than wash with soap on a normal cycle. No poop remains. Occasionally a cloth diaper will come out with a poop 'stain' but that can be 'bleached' out by the sun. It's super easy.
What about wipes?
Guess what? You don't need them either. Simply go to a thrift store and purchase a handful of old wash-clothes. Voila! 'Cloth wipes'. Eco-friendly, affordable, durable.
When we go out, along with diapers and wash clothes, I carry a small water bottle to wet the 'wipes' just in case we will be in an area that doesn't have easily accessible running water. What to do with all the laundry until you get home to wash it? Simply keep it all in a plastic or wet bag until you have a chance to take it home and do laundry. One other perk of using cloth? Less diaper rash. I found my little one had less diaper rash with cloth than paper.
Babies don't have to be expensive. Using cloth diapers is one great way to cut down on the cost of raising one. Of course, every family is different. Every baby is different. Cloth won't work for everyone. But, if you are at all up for it I would highly recommend it. I have found it to be better for the environment, better for my wallet, and better for my baby.
If you decide to try it out, or have any questions, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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