This post is part of the 5th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge, an education and awareness campaign designed to highlight the benefits of using cloth diapers even in less than ideal financial circumstances.
“How was this experience for you, what have you learned, and what will you do with your new knowledge?”
A week of using only old-fashioned flat diapers, washing them by hand, and hanging them out to dry. A week of throwback, low-tech diapering. A week of bending over the tub, a week of being thankful for sunny, breezy days.
So, could I do it? If I had no other choice, if it meant the difference between food on the table or clean pants on my baby? If I was thrown back 18 years, to the days when my oldest was born and we were poor as church mice? Would I choose cloth knowing what I know now?
Is it more work to hand wash a day’s worth of diapers and hang them out to dry? No one is saying it isn’t. But is is worth it? And, more importantly, is it doable? For sure.
My overall experience wasn’t stressful or particularly hard. I found a rhythm (washing early in the morning, hanging out to dry immediately, diapers dry by the toddler’s nap time), and I really had no issues with the flats at all. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed the simplicity of the clean white cotton and the predicability of the absorbency. Towards the end of the week, as Jude hit a growth spurt and started nursing all.night.long, I found that he was soaking a single flat (he leaked once) and I had to add some flannel wipes for extra holding power. I tried to pad fold a flat inside of the kite fold, as recommended, but on a newborn the reality was little legs poking out like twigs and an absurdly fluffy bum.
I can say that 18 flats is a bare minimum stash with a newborn. For full-time diapering with flats exclusively, I’d bump the total up to 24. That gives you a little more cushion and, when your baby goes up to needing that extra pad-folded insert, you will have some wiggle room.
So what will I do with the knowledge? Two things. First of all, I’m in love with the flats and see myself using them pretty much full-time for daytime diapering. I’ll go back to machine washing, but living where we do, line drying is an option nearly year round. I see that reducing our electricity costs and helping our budget overall. Second, I’ve felt a huge conviction to find ways to assist lower income families with family necessities like diapering. I’m not sure what that will look like (I’m still praying about that!) but I know that this is one of those issues where once your eyes are opened, you can’t unsee.