Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Overcoming Diaper Need

I've really been thinking about this challenge and how it truly brings awareness about diaper need.  Did you know "1 in 3 families in America struggle to afford diapers for their children"? source One-third of those families cut back on other necessities, like food, in order to purchase them.  Some have even reported drying out and reusing disposable diapers or even simply dumping the poos and reusing them!  Disposable diapers are only intended as one-time use.  They were intended to be changed 8-12 times per day for newborns and down to about 4-8 times per day as children grow.  Some of these families are forced to use only one diaper per day for their children!  That's disgusting.  Consider the health consequences of that!  

There are diaper banks across the US and world that help supply families with diapers.  With the economic state of the world right now, though, there are even more people in need and fewer resources to share, so while some get assistance, others are still struggling along.  Some have found alternative ways to help, like my local cloth diaper bank "Cover Your Bum."  They loan a supply of cloth diapers for a few months so you can save to buy your own supply.  What a blessing!  And did you know that cloth diapers hold their value better than your car?  You can often sell them used for much more than half your purchase price.

Our family started using cloth with our 2nd daughter. She was about 9 months old and going through about 2 value sized boxes of diapers per month.  I had been wanting to cloth diaper for some time, but my husband was leery of various aspects of it.  Finally, while working on our budget I came up with an idea.  We were spending about $30 per month on diapers, plus more on wipes.  My idea was to spend $30 on a beginner supply of cloth diapers and covers and use them for an entire month.  If we hated them, we weren't out any money and could return to disposables.  If we LOVED them, we would be saving about $400 per year (after I learned to use cloth wipes)!  So we did.  I made my own prefold diapers, purchased econobum one-size covers with a small supply of prefolds, and went to work.  It was a little tough of  a transition since there is a learning curve, but we were blessed to have a good washing machine and dryer and the ability to hang our clothes on the clothes line outside.  I had been making my own laundry detergent for some time and decided to use that.  We do occasionally still use a disposable when the kids stay with the grandparents, but I love our cloth.

After trying out the camp washer with my homemade t-shirt flats, I really believe anyone who is struggling but is willing to put forth a little effort can pull themselves out of this pit of diaper need.  You could wash a day's worth of flats in about 10 minutes and they dry quicker than other materials.  In ideal conditions it can take as little as 1 hour, but for us it took about 4 hours out in the sunshine.  Many have reported drying indoors with a fan running under them made it much faster.  I haven't practiced a lot yet, but next week is the challenge!  I'll get a lot of practice in!  And I've already been using my flats.  I really love how versatile they are.  Given a little time, you can find so many different folds to try, the simplest being  a simple tri-fold.  Just take your flat and fold in half. 

Fold over the uneven edges.
 Fold into thirds, width-wise.
 Fold the rest of the way over.  Tuck it in your cover and put it on baby.

With this set-up of the simple trifold, you can easily make the folds I made in my previous tutorial about prefolds. You could fan out one end and put that on baby's bottom and attach with boingos or snappis or pins.  You could twist it in the middle.  Then there are more complicated folds that put more absorbent layers  where they're most needed.  Go the dirtydiaperlaundry.com, click on cloth diapers and you'll find a wealth of information.  She even has videos on youtube show you how to do many folds, make your own camp-style washer, and make your own t-shirt diapers.  Let's do this!

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