So, I’m diving back into blogging after a three-month hiatus with a post about…cloth diapers.
I understand if this is only of marginal interest to the faithful ones who read this blog. However, if you’re a mom (or mom-to-be) who is considering cloth diapering – well, this is for you.
I was a reluctant convert to cloth diapering.
It has been on my radar since before Evie was born and I’d decided for and against it multiple times. My sleep-deprived mind went around and around on it – Pro’s: money saved, environment conserved, cute diapers. Con’s: start-up cost, extra work.
Finally, about six weeks ago, we made The Decision. We were going to cloth diaper. I was encouraged watching a few friends who seemed like they still had time to occasionally shower while still being a cloth-diapering family (i.e. it apparently doesn’t take up every second of every day). We’d been saving an Amazon gift card to help with the start-up expenses should we choose to cloth diaper and, finally, all the stars aligned to indicate it was time.
I went online to order and BOOM discovered there are 43r6943758123845=375 brands and styles of cloth diapers – not to mention an entire vocabulary you need a codebook to decipher (stripping? it’s not what you think. doublers? not just for twins).
I spent the next five hours of my life researching cloth diapers.
Eventually, I limited it to what I could order off Amazon (due to the gift card). In doing so I found Alvababy which, as best I can tell, is an off-brand version of bumGenius. The bumGenius brand diapers are excellent quality but, with prices ranging from $14.00 -$18.00 per diaper and, not enough time to slowly save or buy on sale, they were out of our price range.
In researching Alvababy I found that they were the same pocket style that I liked (for newbies – like myself six weeks ago- pocket style diapers have an opening (i.e. pocket) between the diaper lining and the waterproof exterior – you stuff it with an absorbent insert). Alvababy diapers come with either one or two rows of snaps. I strongly prefer the style with two rows of snaps because the second row allows the diaper to be tightened snugly around the legs (versus just around the waist).
So, on to the review.
Somehow, miraculously, these diapers made me a fan of both the Alvababy brand AND cloth diapering.
1) Price: The most expensive diaper I could find on the Alvababy website is $6.99 (average price is around $4.80 a diaper). If you’re a last-minute convert to cloth-diapering (or just trying not to spend a lot) these are an extremely affordable selection! Bundling different diapers can make you eligible for different discounts and, if you purchase 20 or more, free express shipping!
I tried to find a graphic that accurately expressed the amount of money saved by cloth diapering. I’m sure one exists but I feel like most of the ones I found exaggerate the amount disposable diapers cost in an attempt to push people towards cloth diapering (most moms I know will not be paying full-price for name-brand disposable diapers). It IS safe to say that it’s undoubtedly cheaper to cloth diaper. That much I know. We spent a total of $170.00 on our cloth diaper system – that was for a total of 18 diapers, 50 inserts, three wet bags (one large, two small), a drying rack and a large container of the detergent needed to wash the diapers. Minus our $100.00 gift card it cost us $70.00 for a permanent system of diapering. I’m sure that over time I’ll have to replace a diaper or two but, the money saved over the course of a few years and multiple kids in diapers will add up significantly.
2) Variety: The selections are abundant and CUTE. Oh my word. In addition to an array of solid colors and great prints and patterns you can get different snap styles and a lot of different types of inserts (bamboo, hemp, bamboo charcoal, microfiber, fleece, suede). For your viewing pleasure I’ve created a small gallery of some of the prints.
3) Durability/Quality: With spending only about $5.00 per diaper this was obviously my biggest concern. These diapers really did exceed my expectations. They’re well-made and properly sewn. I chose the microfiber lined diapers with microfiber inserts and purchased a total of 18 diapers (two bundles of solid colors and one bundle of prints off Amazon) and have been throughly pleased over the last month that I’ve used them.
Thanks to the double-row of snaps I’m able to adjust the diapers for a snugger fit – because Evie is a longer/leaner baby the second row of snaps allows for a tighter fit around only semi-chubby thighs (on the blue diaper you can better see the second row of snaps I’m referring to) which has led to very minimal problems with leaking (more on that below). The diapers are easy to stuff – for nighttime I put two inserts in Evie’s diaper – depending how often she wakes up to nurse either 1 or 2 double-stuffed diapers take her a full twelve hours (she wakes 1-2 times to nurse over that twelve-hour period). During the day, when the diapers only have one insert, I change her every 2-3 hours and we don’t have trouble with leaking.
My single “con” regarding Alvababy diapers would be in regards to their quality control. Both bundles of solid color diapers came with 12 inserts – we were also given some inserts as a shower gift before she was born which led us having 40 inserts before my patterned diapers/inserts even arrived.
This turned out to be in our favor. Dun dun dun.
Pictured: The inserts I received with the solid-color diapers (on bottom) and the ones that came with my patterned diapers.
I tried the smaller, rounded inserts out of curiosity (expecting they would probably leak) and, sure enough, they did. As you can see in this picture below they don’t even match the shape of the diaper! Since I only received six of the small inserts (and we already had so many) I didn’t bother mailing them back – I just assumed Alvababy meant to gift me some cleaning rags in addition to the patterned diapers ;).
From reviews that I’ve read Alvababy does seem to have a good return policy – if this happened with a larger shipment of diapers or inserts it doesn’t seem there would be a problem returning/exchanging them. I’m glad that I did receive some of both inserts – if all my diapers had smaller inserts I would probably have returned all assuming the entire brand was poor quality.
4) Care: My other great fear with cloth diapering was the amount of time I expected to spend on them. It’s true that cloth diapers take more time than disposable diapers BUT it’s a difference of maybe one hour a week? Even with only 18 diapers (which is on the low-end of “suggested amounts”) I only have to do a load of diapers every other day. Evie uses 1-2 diapers at night and 5-7 during the day which means we have plenty to only wash diapers 3x a week (sidenote: cloth diapering a newborn, which I did NOT do, would equal more frequent washing, more staining due to meconium and more stuffing because of the smaller inserts needed. It’s totally doable but just a FYI that this review/estimations are what I’ve found as a cloth diapering mom who started with a five-month old).
I pre-washed my diapers/inserts 3x before using them the first time – reviews I read said that absorbency increases each time until the 8th wash. I didn’t notice a distinct difference but…at least my diapers were extremely clean ;).
When diapers are soiled I separate the insert and diaper and put both pieces in a large wet bag I have hanging next to the changing table (I have small wet bags for the diaper bag when we’re out). I haven’t found it necessary to do any soaking or pre-washing for my diapers (occasionally, for a really messy one I’ll wash it out. Note: have a pair of plastic gloves on hand).
For daily care I do a cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse with Charlie’s Soap (which smells weird but keeps detergents etc. from soaking into the diapers and lessening their absorbency). I DO wash my diapers, inserts and wet bags together – over the past month I haven’t noticed any problems with the diapers elasticity lessening etc. I tumble dry the inserts and line dry the diapers. Once dry, I stuff all the diapers – this is the most time-consuming part – but still takes less than ten minutes and re-fill the diaper bin. DONE for the next two days.
When it’s sunny out I put the diapers on the porch, on rainy days they dry in my living room. The sunshine helps keep them white (I have very light stains on 1-2 of my inserts but none on my diapers). They dry quickly and fully either location.
Like I said, it adds maybe an hour a week to my schedule? Three ten-minute periods of stuffing diapers. An extra thirty-seconds per diaper change to do up the snaps and maybe fifteen minutes spent putting diapers in the washer, transferring them to the dryer and hanging them on my drying rack. I spend more time per-week washing dishes than diapers.
Is cloth diapering for everyone? Nope. Should you feel guilty if you choose not to cloth diaper? No. Cloth diapering doesn’t make you a better parent it just keeps a little extra money in your pocket. If the tradeoff of extra work for extra money is worth it to you, do it! If not, don’t! Either way you choose, I hope this review helped to answer some questions – if there’s anything I missed feel free to ask it below!
As Alvababy’s website promises: “check out our many colors and prints – bright colors bring happy and harmonious feeling to baby and make diapering enjoyable!”
The harmony these diapers have brought to my home is hard to find words for. Place your order today.
P.S. writing this post has made me realize how much I miss blogging. More please!