This post is part of series I did on "Things I Said I Would Never Do (And Now Do!)". Read the other posts in the series on owning a small dog, homeschooling, and drinking goat milk.
I remember the moment clearly. It happened in June of 2012. I was sloshing out a pair of soiled undies in our toilet while trying to potty train my oldest. Wet. Soggy. Smelly. And I was thinking, “This takes away any desire I ever had to try cloth diapers!” I thought this because I assumed that if I were to use cloth diapers a large chunk of my life would be spent by the toilet rinsing out diapers. Things have changed since that hot day in June 2012. I now use cloth diapers and can’t imagine going back to my Luvs coupon-clipping and sales-chasing that I used to do. (Still love Luvs, by the way, read on!)
There are many reasons that moms use cloth diapers – from saving the environment to saving money to saving their child’s delicate skin. True to Mennonite heritage, I switched to save money (for any readers not familiar with the Mennonites, we are known for our frugal ways). But what changed to get me interested in cloth diapering? Enter our second son, 14.5 months younger than our eldest. Two in diapers. That’s a lot of diapers. After many months of double diapering, we thought, hmm, what about cloth diapers? At that point, we had already potty trained our oldest, but we were expecting baby #3. So, we knew many diapering days were still in our future. We heard from someone that cloth diapers had come a long way from the rubber pants and diaper pins phase.
I took a trip to Weaver’s Store. I found myself in the cloth diaper aisle feeling overwhelmed – Bumgenius, inserts, newborn size, pre-folds, 4.0s, special diaper soap?? I was rescued by a kind, warm Weaver’s Store employee who slowly explained the different styles and choices. I settled on two choices – Bumgenius freetime and another brand that I long since sold on Craigslist and can’t even remember the name.
Why do I like cloth diapers? Beyond saving money, it is so rewarding to see clean cloth diapers getting whiter in the sunshine. They are simple to use, simple to wash. And my babies have had no diaper rash since I have switched to cloth (except when my newborns battle thrush).
But, I mentioned that I still like Luvs. Yes, I do. I still use disposable diapers (like Luvs) overnight. I don’t like the way a cloth diaper smells after being worn for 10 hours overnight. I also use disposables on vacations for convenience.
Before I wrap up this post on cloth diapers, I thought I would address some common questions I get from other moms about cloth diapering.
1. Does it really save money? Yes, yes, yes! We sat down and did the math before purchasing cloth diapers. There are so many factors involved – brand of diapers you use, brand of cloth diapers you want to purchase, number of diapers you use, diapering soap, cost of water, time, etc. However, from our figuring for what our family uses, we found that in 4-6 months cloth diapers paid for themselves.
2. Are they hard to clean? When my babies pee, I simply drop it into the diaper pail. When they poop as newborns, I don’t wash them out unless they are really soiled. (My youngest is 6 months, and I may have washed out 3 diapers in her lifetime.) Around 7 months or so as solid foods become part of the diet, I find you need to dump them in the toilet and rinse. Not scrub. Just a quick dip. My Bumgenius diaper soap does the rest.
3. Do they help you potty training more quickly? Hmm…this is hard to answer. All my boys were easy to train. 1 used disposables and 2 used cloth. My two in cloth were ready for potty training before 2. I think cloth diapers do help get them ready, but I think the bigger factor may be that moms using cloth diapers aren’t afraid of messes. Therefore, we aren’t as timid to step into potty training.
4. Do you always hang them out? Yes, even in the dead of the winter. Diapers need sunshine to stay smelling fresh. In the winter time, they don’t dry outside, but they still need that sun time. There are a few days where I cheat and hang them by the wood stove.
5. Don’t they stink? No, but they don’t smell “good” either. It is important to use diaper soap without all the extras – fabricate softener, fragrances, brighteners, etc. So, they don’t come out smelly all rosy, but they don’t stink either. The biggest factor in keeping them from stinking, I think, is to hang them out.
6. What kind do you use? I’m sold on Bumgenius freetime – a one-piece cloth diaper. No stuffing, no folding, no pins. Simple & easy for Grandmas and babysitters to use.
7. What kind of diaper pail do you use? A very simple one - a five gallon bucket with a lid. I long since trashed my smelly fancy flip one from Babies R Us. Cloth diapers don't sit in the diaper pail as long as disposables. Therefore, you don't have the stink issues. I wash diapers everyday or every other day. That keeps my bucket smelling just fine even after 3 years of use. I also don't use any liquid or anything in the bucket.
8. Don't you have to change your baby more frequently? In general, no. I like babies to have a dry diaper at nap times and wake up times. Whether cloth or disposable, that is typically when I change them. I would say cloth diapers don't quite match the absorbancy of a disposable, but come very close!
I would welcome any questions or comments on cloth diapering!
Up next in my series...."I Will Never Own a Small Dog."
If you’re just joining my blog, I’m doing a series of “Things I Said I’d Never Do” (and now do!). This is the second part of “I Will Never Drink Goat Milk.” In the first part, I described how we became interested in goats. Today, I’m going to give you a brief picture of how things unfolded from that first sip of goat milk from a friend to our first sip of goat milk from Russell Homestead.
After sampling our friend’s goat milk and learning that goat milk handled properly from a home dairy can taste delicious, we immediately began searching for a dairy goat. All we had to go on was that the goat milk from our friend was from a Nubian goat. So, we looked for a Nubian because we heard that different breeds of goats can have different tasting milk. Well, we knew we liked Nubian milk. The only other thing we knew is that you can’t have just one goat because it will get lonely. Okay, we thought, we really only want one, but we’ll get two (fast forward to the current time and we’ve found so many uses for the milk that 3 goats are hardly enough!).
We found a young couple who had a set of triplet goat kids – 2 does and buck. Other than looking for a Nubian, our only other preference was that we didn’t want a plain white goat. Well, this couple had an adorable brown doe and a, umm, very plain white doe. The buck was absolutely adorable – lots of color, but we knew we didn’t want a buck due to the smell. (Bucks, by the way, are the culprits for that “goaty” smell. They do some pretty odd things to earn that smell. Google that, if you’re curious. So, one way we keep our milk tasting great is to not keep a buck with our does. In fact, we don’t even own a buck.) We ended up taking the two does in September of 2013. I named them Penny & Nickel, and they are still with us today.
Now, let me insert here that, just because you buy a dairy goat doesn’t mean you have milk. In order to produce milk, a goat must give birth (a process goat people call “freshening”). Penny & Nickel had never had kids. We attempted to breed them in the fall of 2013, and waited & guessed & fussed over them all winter (a goat’s gestation is 5 months), and finally succumbed to getting them an ultrasound (yes, an ultrasound for a goat) to satisfy our curiosity. Unfortunately, they were not expecting kids, which was the fault of the buck we later learned from his owners. We were extremely disappointed because it was now the spring of 2014, and goats tend to breed in the fall. Spring is not a good time to breed goats. We knew we had to wait until the fall of 2014 to breed Penny & Nickel again.
Time for Plan B, we decided. Let’s get a goat who is “in milk,” one who has just given birth & has milk. Enter Vanilla – a Nubian/Alpine cross goat that we purchased in milk from a local family. She had never been milked; we had never milked. Interesting combination, but, at last we had our own goat milk! We were so excited because the milk was every bit as delicious as the sample from our friend. And what milk wouldn’t taste good after many months of working for it?
In the fall of 2014, we bred all three of our goats, and God blessed us with 6 goat kids in February 2015. We milked our three goats all spring and into the summer. Currently, they are reaching the end of their lactation and ready to breed again.
To sum it all up, let me just say that I never thought I would drink goat milk, but we do & I like it. I still like cow milk, too. There are days that we think our goat milk has an odd flavor – perhaps from something they ate or from not chilling it quite quickly enough. But, I think if you were milking your own cow like we are our goats, you would experience the same thing.
Has it saved us money like we thought it would? Our failed breeding in 2013 set us back, but they are catching up this year in their profitability. They are certainly saving enough money that we want to keep milking for now.
Up next in my series – “I Will Never Use Cloth Diapers.”
We knew it was only a matter of time until someone fell in love with Digger. (He was the last of our 8 puppies from Jolly's litter to find his forever family.) I know that many of our puppy families had met him and were hoping he'd find a good home. So, I just wanted to do a brief post letting you all know that a wonderful family from Massachusetts has taken Digger home. And they are even planning to keep his name! Digger now has the distinction of the Russell Homestead puppy who has traveled the furthest from the Keystone State. Enjoy Massachusetts, Digger!
Also, thanks to all our puppy families who have commented on the blog! We love those comments & updates!
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
Independent Field Representative