Put down those disposables: Parents embrace old diaper ways

The Williams' have a variety of kinds of cloth diapers that they regularly use, some of which are advantageous for their ease of use and others work better for overnight situations.

The mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” has created a cloth diaper revival in the Lawrence.

Lawrence mom Dorothy Williams said the decision to use cloth diapers on Frank, her 18-month-old, seemed like a given.

“I’m really into recycling and reusing anyway, so it seemed like a good idea,” Dorothy said. “Like, oh, of course I want to cloth diaper.”

Dorothy and her husband, Jeff, are among a number of parents in Lawrence who have decided to forgo disposable diapers for the reusable cloth alternatives.

Not your grandma’s

“One of the reasons that cloth diapers have become more popular is because the diapers have become easier to use,” said Karin Barrett, sales associate at Blue Dandelion, 841 Massachusetts St.

Gone are the days of white cotton cloth diapers held up with safety pins. Today’s cloth diapers come in a variety of types and styles, which are more user-friendly than those of generations past.

“They aren’t like they were when we were kids,” Jeff said.

Modern cloth diapers are machine washable, and many options fasten with snaps and Velcro.

Dorothy and Jeff use a variety of cloth diapers on Frank, but they said their favorite is the prefold style.

“I do like the prefolds because you get more diapers for what you spend,” Dorothy said. “I recommend that people start out with the prefold.”

Prefold diapers are the most basic form of cloth diapers. These rectangular-shaped diapers are folded directly onto the baby and fastened with “snappies” or secured with a waterproof diaper cover. You can also fold the prefold diaper in thirds and put it directly into the diaper cover and onto the baby.

At the Blue Dandelion, a package of 12 prefold diapers with three diaper covers and a wet bag costs $55.

“It’s a much more economic option,” Barrett said.

Other styles of diapers include all-in-one diapers, which are fastened onto the baby in the same manner as disposable diapers, but with Velcro or snaps. These diapers run $20 a piece in the Bum Genius brand at Blue Dandelion.

While the all-in-one diapers have a much heftier price tag, Barrett said the extra price comes with extra convenience.

“The nice thing about the all-in-one is it is no more difficult to diaper than with disposables,” Barrett said.

Lawrence resident Jeff Williams is pictured with his one-and-a-half-year-old son Frank on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Williams and his wife Dorothy have been using cloth diapers for Frank for quite some time. Many parents are hesitant to use cloth diapers because of the perception of extra work. Jeff explained that once he and his wife worked out a system for laundering the diapers it became routine.

Saving money

Regardless of which cloth diaper style one chooses, going cloth saves money, Barrett said. Most cloth diapers are adjustable and come in one-size-fits-all options, so parents are able to use them throughout their child’s years in diapers.

According to Babycenter.com, parents spend $35 to $85 a month on disposable diapers. Over the course of two years, that’s $840 to $2,040 spent on disposable diapers. Compare that with $480 for 24 all-in-one diapers or $110 for 24 prefold diapers.

Barrett recommends that moms and moms-to-be try out a variety of cloth diapers to see which works best for their baby before investing in one particular brand and style.

“Most mothers I’ve talked to have a variety of diapers,” Barrett said. “Babies aren’t all shaped the same.”

Dorothy Williams said she shopped around to find the style of diapers that worked best for Frank. For parents who want to try several kinds of diapers, buying used gives them that option at a discount price.

“I bought different used ones to see what we liked,” Dorothy said. “We still just have a mixture of diapers.”

Doodlebugs, 816 Massachusetts St., sells used cloth diapers in all styles and varieties, from all-in-ones to prefolds and everything in between.

Doodlebugs owner Lawanna Huslig-Hanks said cloth diapers are one of her most popular items.

“The first batch of diapers that we bought didn’t make it off the counter,” Huslig-Hanks said.

She said the most popular brands of diapers at her store are G-Diaper, Fuzzy Bunz and Bum Genius. At Doodlebugs, these used diapers sell for about half the price they would new.

When Huslig-Hanks opened Doodlebugs about two years ago, she made the switch from disposable to cloth diapers for her own daughter. At that time, Huslig-Hanks said she was spending at least $80 a month on diapers, so she made the switch to cloth to save money.

“I’m a convert,” Huslig-Hanks said. “My first child was Huggies all the way.”

Huslig-Hanks said she didn’t mind the extra loads of laundry the diapers produce.

“I felt like the extra work in washing them was totally worth what I gained,” Huslig-Hanks said.

Dorothy Williams agrees.

“It’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems at first,” she said.

For parents who are overwhelmed by the thought of washing soiled diapers, cloth diaper service Metro Cloth Diapers, based in Kansas City, will wash diapers for Lawrence residents for $25 a week.

Cutest on the block

Fashion-forward cloth diapers and diaper covers provide an added bonus for parents who opt to use cloth instead of disposables.

“I went for what was cute,” Huslig-Hanks said of her cloth diaper selections.

She said she liked to select colorful and printed diapers that matched her daughter’s dresses.

Dorothy Williams said she also enjoyed the fun patterns on the diapers and diaper covers she bought for Frank.

“It definitely makes it more fun,” she said. “When they are running around in diapers, it looks really cute.”