Flats and Hand Wash Challenge is over. I think I should feel relieved or something, like "OH MY GOSH THANK GOODNESS I'M DONE!!" but I strangely don't. Its odd, I actually enjoyed those little squares of cloth! Not only that, but I got a strange since of satisfaction from hand washing them all too.
Going into this challenge I was convinced it was going to be hard. I thought I would strongly dislike it (trying to get out of the habit of using the word hate!). I was convinced I would fail, at least with Karma, a few days into it and already had my excuses lined up as to why I couldn't continue. "I have 3 girls in diapers!" "its just too much work, I have enough to do being a stay at home mom of 4 little ones" "Karma is a super soaker, there is no way those thin little flat can contain her". The list went on and on.
I was willing to give it a try though because I wanted to see if it was in fact doable. I have a little grass roots project with 2 other mamas called Spreading The Fluffy Love. Our goal is to get diapers to mamas in need who cannot afford to start cloth diapering on their own. I figured if I was able to do this challenge then I could in good conscience ask other mamas to use flats and even hand wash if they did not have access to a washer/dryer.
Once I started my motivation shifted a bit and I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it so that I could then add some flats and covers to our 72 hr emergency kits and have a sustainable way to diaper the girls if we were ever with out electricity for an extended period of time. We live in the sticks so its very feasible that if something happened, like a huge tornado that knocked the electricity out, we could go days before it was turned back on.
The thing is, I didn't strongly dislike it, I didn't even dislike it a little bit, I enjoyed it. Aside from a few a hiccups along the way it was pretty uneventful. By the third day into the challenge I felt like I had been doing it forever. Perhaps this was because I pretty much cloth diapered like this, using prefolds and the washing machine that is, for months when we first started out. We had a very small stash when we started cloth diapering last summer and I had to use random things from around the house to get through each day. I already knew that hooded baby towels make the best back up diapers, but take forever to line dry.
I actually love flats! In fact I discovered that I like them FAR MORE than I do prefolds! Prefolds and covers were all I had for the first 7 months! Then in March/April I started to get nicer pocket, fitted and AIO diapers and I felt quite spoiled. I began to shove the prefolds to the back and use only the "nice" diapers. I technically now had a stash large enough to only have to wash every other day but I was so sick of the prefolds and covers that I still washed daily so I could strictly use the "nice" diapers.
That's not the case with the flats, I really enjoyed them. If I had it all to do over again I would have bought flats to go with my covers instead of prefolds. Not only do I plan on buying 1 package of flats for our emergency kits I plan on buying a second package just for me to use. Not only are they great to use on their own but yesterday and today I have been using them as boosters folded inside of Blissful Booty AIO diapers and they work great! (yesterday I was using them just on Karma since I ended the challenge Sunday night with her due to an eczema flare up, today on everyone)
This challenge reaffirmed my belief that cloth diapering does not have to be expensive to start out. I think I got sidetracked and forgot that once I finally had "nice" fluff and became spoiled. You don't need hundreds of dollars or a full stash of pocket or AIO diapers to start cloth diapering. You can buy a few basic things like 2-3 reasonable priced covers and a package of flats to start you on your way.
If you have absolutely no money you can still use what you have around your house. Use receiving blankets, hooded towels, old t-shirts for the diapers. There is no need for covers around the house if you can't buy them right away. When you need to go out put on a pair of fleece PJ pants over the diaper, or an old wool sweater if you have one, you could even pin a fleece blanket on top. Fleece and wool are water proof and they will not leak. Fleece is my night time secret weapon, its the only thing that keeps Karma dry over night. Then, you can take the money you would normally use to buy disposables and buy 1 nicer diaper each month. After a few months you will have a nice little stash built up for your baby.
Cloth diapering is available to all moms, no matter what their income is, we just need to think outside the box sometimes. I think too many moms research the options, see the $20-30 diapers and think "I can never buy enough of those, heck I can't even afford ONE!" and write off the entire idea as out of reach. Or they think to themselves, "sure I could afford to buy diapers but I have no place to wash and dry them" and again brush off the entire idea. The idea of using flats and hand washing probably never even occurs to most. Hand washing is not and idea that most think of, but it can be done and you know what, its not bad at all! Just watch out for poop and invest in some gloves!
If I were advising a mama in need who had little to no money and was going to start a flat stash and hand wash them I would suggest:
Blue Dawn- easily available and cheaper than any cloth diaper friendly laundry soap. Its also great to scrub out the shower, tub, sink or wherever it is you are washing the diapers so there is nothing left behind.
Purex Crystals- to help keep stinkies away, make diapers softer and make hand washing fun.
Gerber Flats- cheaper than other flats and again easily available for purchase. Double up though, 1 will not cut it very long. Two will go 3-4 hrs on a baby no problem.
Econobum Covers- they are simple adn white yes, but they do their job and if you watch Cotton Babies they often put them up on their seconds sales for $4.95 each and they always have free shipping. That's where I got mine from. For 1 baby 4-5 would be enough covers so you could get them for $20-25.
For all of the above you could start cloth diapering for under $40! ($12 for flats, $20 for covers, $2 for dawn and $4 for the Purex Crystals).
Think outside the FLUFF! It can be done!
this flats lovin mama,
P.S. A HUGE THANK YOU to Carrie Prince Cox for loaning the flats to us so we could be a part of this challenge. We appreciate it very much!