Sarah and I are really enjoying using cloth diapers on our son. It’s economical and better for the environment, and as a bonus it horrified my parents. After trying a few different styles, we’re very pleased with Bumgenius Freetimes. At $20 per diaper they aren’t the cheapest, but they work well, are easy, and come in an Albert Einstein pattern.
Yes, the Albert pattern was important to us. Stop laughing.
As a bit of background, there are a few kinds of cloth diapers available. In broad categories, there are prefolds, pocket diapers and all-in-ones. Prefolds are like the old-fashioned cloth diapers — a large piece of cloth that’s folded or pinned and then a waterproof cover over it. Pocket diapers are a waterproof cover plus a cloth pocket; absorbent inserts get stuffed inside, making the absorbency customizable. All in ones have the absorbent pieces sewn in, so there’s nothing to stuff or fold. We tried all three, and the FreeTime’s version of the all in one was by far our favorite.
Inevitably we get questions whenever someone sees that we’re using cloth. “How much poop do you have to touch?” is a popular one, as well as “Wow, so do you just spend all day doing laundry? How do you wash them?” With respect to bodily fluids, we have an infant and a dog with a sensitive stomach. Trust me, we’ve seen worse than what comes out of dirty diapers. Cleaning isn’t too bad either; a stinky diaper gets rinsed in the toilet before it goes in our wet laundry bag, and we wash the diapers once a day. Once our son moves to solids, we will get a sprayer attachment that attaches to the toilet to make cleanup really easy. We are lucky enough to have a washing machine right off our kitchen, and usually whoever is up first with the little guy starts the diaper wash. Once they’re clean, we line dry them on our back deck, or hang them in the bathroom if the weather is bad.
Yes, it’s a bit more work than tossing a disposable, but we spent $400 on our diapers, and we don’t need to buy more. When our son was in disposables for the first month and a half, we probably spent $200 on disposables alone! Our water bill has ticked up slightly, by about $10 a month, but that’s the only ongoing cost.
We roughly estimate we will save at least $2,000 over disposables, and if we have more children, we already have the diapers, so that savings increases exponentially.
There’s some debate about how much more environmentally friendly cloth diapering really is, since it requires running the wash more often, but reducing how much trash we generate is certainly a benefit all by itself. Best of all, there’s no “oh crap” moment where you’ve run out of diapers and the baby just pooped. As long as we stay on the wash cycle, we never run out of diapers.
In doing our research on cloth, we came across different suggestions for the magic number of diapers to keep around. Some people said 18, others 24. At last count, we had 19, and we haven’t run out yet before the dirty batch got washed. If we had more, it would probably let us skip a laundry day once in a while, but it’s not our top priority to round up our collection.
What makes the FreeTime so great is the way the absorbent pieces are sewn into the diaper. Instead of sewing them in on both sides, they’re sewn in at the ends and overlap in the middle. This means you can adjust where you want the diaper to be most absorbent. So for our son, we can double fold the front flap down and have the back flap rest inside the length of the diaper. This works quite well for daytime and nighttime, though as he’s sleeping longer and longer we may need to lay an insert in for extra absorbency.
FreeTimes come in Velcro and snap-style closures; we opted for the snaps for longevity. Velcro can wear out over time, but snaps are pretty sturdy. The first few times we used them on a squirming, angry baby, it was rough, but now we’re both proficient enough we can practically do it in our sleep. Even my parents are comfortable using them on him. These are the people who when we first said we were using cloth declared they would keep disposables at their house; after seeing how simple the FreeTime is, they’ve stopped threatening that!
The other way you can future proof your child’s diaper years with the FreeTime (and all Bumgenius diapers I believe) is by adjusting the snaps along the front of the diaper. They can be snapped at the top row for smaller babies, and as the baby grows, you snap in the next lower row until you’re using the diaper entirely unsnapped in front at its full rise length. Bumgenius says the diapers should go from around 8lbs to 35lbs, and that seems about right-my son is right in the middle of the snap levels; he’s probably around 18lbs.
The one downside to cloth diapers is bulk. They tend to be a bit bulkier than disposables, which is fine most of the time, but when you have an outfit that fits a bit tighter the diapers can cause a fit issue. We’ve mostly noticed this as our son ages out of certain sizes. In a disposable, we might squeeze one or two more uses out of an outfit, but the cloths take up just enough space that we can’t do that.
We really love our FreeTime diapers. They are a bit pricey up-front, but the cost savings over time is tremendous. Plus, they come in ridiculously cute colors and that awesome Albert Einstein equations pattern. You can make cloth diapering more complicated, but at the end of the day you really just need two things: a willingness to come into contact with poop, and a washing machine. In return, you’ll reduce the waste you generate, save money, and have some fun!
MSRP: $19.99, Bumgenius.com
What I Liked: Absorbent; easy to use; more economical than disposables; ridiculously cute; built to last; can be used from birth to potty training.
What Needs Improvement: Nothing
Source: Personal Purchase