Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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Confessions of a Former Sposie User: Traveling With Cloth

My son, Hank and I comfortable on the plane.
Let me start with saying that as the title implies, I have not always been keen on cloth diapers. I remember someone asking me about cloth diapers when I was pregnant and me giving some sort of retort that involved me not wanting to keep buckets full of vinegar and dirty diapers hanging around. Fast forward through the first few months of my son’s life, getting together with my mommy group and making new friends, and being talked into trying a modern cloth diaper from one of my mommy friends who had just made the swap due to her child’s allergies.

I am not going to lie, I was not in love with the idea of cloth diapers at first. Of all people, my husband was the biggest advocate. I am a stay at home mom, and he saw cloth as a major cost savings. So I took the plunge. Ah, maybe that’s not right. I dipped my toe into cloth. I decided to go with a pack of the least expensive all in ones I could find. I figured I would only do it during the day and only at home. I didn’t even buy a wet bag.  As time went on, and I got more comfortable, I started taking them out with me to my mommy group meetings at my friend’s houses. I figured that was nearly home, and I carried a zip lock that occasionally got replaced to act as a wet bag. Then I realized that wasn’t too bad. I bought more cloth. I discovered my love of bum genius, flip and econobum. I also bought a real wet bag.

Fast forward a few more months, and my love of cloth had grown. I went to full time, added more brands, and started reading blogs about cloth diapers. My son really seemed to prefer them too- I can’t blame him- I know I hate the feeling of those paper momma diapers.  My husband and I went away over night for the first time- to a friend’s house, and I did it. All cloth. That wasn’t a huge deal though. I brought more than enough clean diapers with me, my two wet bags and a couple zip locks in case I ran out of room (which I did). Easy peasy, I didn’t have to wash anything, just dump the solids in the toilet and wash the rest when I got home. I was so proud of myself.

Then my grandpa called. He wanted my son, my mom and myself to go visit him in Florida. This would involve an airplane ride, the three of us staying in one room for a week and being away from my washing machine. My mom immediately said that there would be no way for me to cloth diaper, she did not want me to put my nasty diapers in my step grandmother’s washing machine. I reluctantly agreed. It was two months out and I had not used a single disposable in the three months prior. I sulked and complained about it all the way to a week before our trip. To my surprise, my mother called my step grandmother to see if she would mind me using and washing my cloth diapers. She had absolutely no problem with it. My mom agreed to be on board as long as I used disposable on the plane. I agreed to the compromise.  My biggest issue with this trip and cloth diapering was the amount, specifically the weight, of my beloved diapers.  I have never been known as a light packer, and add in that I was bringing an 11 month old to a completely unchildproofed house with no toys, high chairs or pack and plays meant that I would be hurting for space. I had to be selective about what diapers to take with me. I ended up with 3 pocket diapers, for when we were out and about, three of the flip stay dry inserts,  ten econobum prefolds, and six covers. I very much splurged on the number of covers because they are light weight. I ended up not taking detergent with me due to weight restrictions. I regretted this when I saw the perfumed detergent my grandparents used. Because of this I tried not to use much microfiber when I was there- it seems to retain the perfume smell. Those prefolds might be a bit more bulky, but they are the most forgiving on wash day. My step grandmother was hugely impressed at how far cloth diapers have come, and my mother also discovered that cloth was no big deal.  On the plane ride home, we used cloth. Mission accomplished.

Riding high on my successfully taking an 11 month old on a real trip, my husband and I decided to have the whole family go with him on his business trip to San Francisco. We would be in a hotel in the middle of the city for a week. We would be cozy, but this would be one of my only opportunities to visit with one of my friends (also a new mom) who lived an hour away. I had only used the couple of disposable diapers on the plane to Florida. This was a different game though. There was no washing machine, and hotel washing service was very expensive. Finding a laundromat close to the hotel was an option, but I didn’t really want to spend two hours of my site seeing time there. I could use hybrid inserts, and bless you those who do, but they just weren’t for us. I read the blogs and finally found what worked for me: flats. The blogs recommended them for people camping. They were supposed to wash very easily, and dry fast. I looked up a youtube video on how to fold them, and realized after practicing with a towel that I could do it. I ordered a dozen and a snappi. It was about the same cost as a pack of disposable diapers, so I figured if it worked at least that money would not be down the drain. I figured I would do my best with hand washing and possibly use my friend’s washing machine or a laundromat for a day to get them really clean midtrip. My friends and family began betting on how long I would be in California before I bought disposable diapers.

My flats hanging to dry in the hotel shower. I wondered what the cleaning ladies must have thought!
I prepped them and then I did a test run of my flats. I did cheat and use the washing machine for washing most of them, but I hung them dry on a rack to see the drying time- about two and a half hours. I used them during the day with mostly successful results. They did leak a bit here and there, and they were hard to get on my wiggling toddler at times, but it wasn’t that huge of a deal. After the day run I decided to stick to my night time diapers because I was afraid of the leaks.

I had learned a lot about traveling with babies since my last trip. I did know that the airline would fly my car seat and stroller for free, but did you know they will also take the pack and play for free? Not that I needed one this time- the hotel had one. I had also found a car seat bag at a consignment sale. Reading the cloth diaper blogs, I found what was probably an obvious solution to my packing problem: put the cloth diapers in the bag with the car seat. I am still not totally sure this is allowed, but no one made any sort of issue of it. I called the hotel hoping to get a drying rack. They said there was a line in the shower for that purpose.  I ended up packing my dozen flats, the snappi, four prefolds,  five covers, three pockets, and a roll of disposable liners. The liners were bought in the beginning when I wasn’t quite sure if I could cloth diaper. I used a few, and then realized that my breast fed baby’s poop was no match for my washing machine and stopped using them. Honestly they had gone in my son’s closet and I hadn’t thought of them in awhile. I figured since I already had them, they might make the hand washing easier.

I used two prefolds and then a pocket on my five hour flight. Space was limited and I had decided that the flats would be more difficult to change.  The flight was like a normal day out- take a diaper out of the bag, put it in the wet bag. Once we landed and went to the hotel, I thought the best way to set myself up for success was to have everything organized and ready to go. I pulled out my flats, and folded them and put a liner in so they would be ready to go. I put my big wet bag under the sink in the bathroom, and the small container of detergent by the bath tub. I then went to bed- jet lag and toddlers are a rough combination!

The next day, I went about my business as normal. We went to breakfast and did a quick survey of what was around us before we returned to the hotel for my son to take a nap. I had decided that this would probably be the best time to wash. 

My wash routine took a few days to get perfect, but this is what I ended up with:
  1. Make sure all solids are completely out. Rinse diapers in cold as you unfold them under the faucet. Squeeze water through as you do this. Pile at other end of tub.
  2. Turn water to as hot as it goes. Put a tiny bit of detergent into tub, directly below faucet. Fill tub until diapers are floating, then turn off water and let them soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Agitate the water. Basically swish the water around making it move through the fibers of your diapers. Do this for about 2 minutes. Allow to soak for 5 more minutes.
  4. Rinse everything well and ring every bit of water out of them that you can. This step is very important.
  5. Hang to dry.
I came back to check on my diapers that night, and was not happy. While the diapers were clean, even the flats that had only taken two and a half hours to dry in my house were quite damp. The prefolds  and microfiber pocket diaper inserts were still soaked. I realized what the problem was- there was no air flow. I had turned off the air conditioner to the room, and then closed the door to the bathroom to keep my toddler out.  There was no window to open either. I took the wet diapers out and hung them on the pack and play in front of the air conditioner. By the next day all but the microfiber were dry (they took 2 days at least).

So I guess the moral of the story is, you can do this. You might be on the road, but cloth diapering is still not that hard, and in my opinion, well worth it. My son was as comfortable in his cloth diapers while we were away as he was at home. I also have to say I am proud of myself. I know if I am ever in a situation where I do not have access to a washing machine or drier, I can make it by. Me- the woman who was not going to cloth diaper because it seemed like too much trouble.

By Catherine

6 comments:

Erin said...

Awesome post! Great job. See I knew you could do it. It seems so long ago we got started and now look at us, lol.

Angie said...

I really enjoyed reading about your adventures!

Anonymous said...

We are about to take my daughter on an almost month long trip with cloth diapers. driving most the way, stopping off at several families houses. SO it will be interesting to see how this works!! We will be bringing all our bottles of soap, because of allergies, and we will have washers and dryers, I hope, at all places.... all my diapers I made have microfiber inserts so I hope we have dryers because it wont be fun having to wait forever to dry!!

great article!

Hannah said...

Thanks for this post! I'm doing some extended travel in Europe soon and I'm hoping to use cloth diapers, but worried about the bulk in the luggage. I mostly use prefolds and covers at home so I think that would travel well.

Catherine said...

I am so glad you all enjoyed the post. I very much enjoyed writing it. I hope it was helpful.

krystina said...

wow, that's a lot of info, between this post adn the other ones. We're getting ready to take a vacation for a week, and I def want to bring my cloth, I haven't made the plunge full time yet, but I do like my cloth diapers!