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Day 7 of the Flats Challenge: Final Thoughts.

Posted by Becca on 5/30/2011 to Frugal Cloth Diapering

And so it ends.  I’ve just put my daughter in her last mandatory flat diaper and put her to sleep and I’m more relieved than I can say.  I’ve discovered many positive things about using flat diapers, but with the list of pros come some cons as well so it’s nice to know that I now have the option to use whichever type of diaper I want as each individual situation dictates.   But before I go into that, let me tell you about the final day.

Sunday means church which means traveling with cloth diapers—well, mini traveling.  In addition, we went on a little day trip about an hour away from our home to a historical battle site that my brother, who’s a Marine, wanted to see.  I packed all the flat diapers that my daughter would need for the day in her diaper bag before we went to church and I was so pleased at how much space was left after packing about six flats and two covers.  If I’d have packed that many pocket diapers with all the other things my daughter needs in her diaper bag, I would have had trouble zipping the bag without making it burst at the seams!

Church and our trip went well, mostly because my daughter got all her poops out early in the morning—both of them spilled over the kite folded flat and onto the cover so I had to throw 2 of my five covers into the wash.  But since she only peed the rest of the day, it was easy and quick to change her.  Most of the time I used the kite fold, but when I was in a hurry I’d throw on a cover pre-stuffed with a trifold.

To finish the day off we went to a restaurant, and my little girl got pretty restless waiting for the food so I held her on my lap.  I was ready to call the week a leak-free success when I felt moisture on her inner thigh.  But when I changed her diaper I realized that she had been wearing a flour sack towel.  At this point it’s only been washed twice so I can’t really come to a conclusion yet about its overall functionality.  It doesn’t seem like it would be as absorbent as the regular flat diapers but I shouldn’t judge until it’s gone through at least 6 washes.

Since the final evening of this challenge is here, and we’re done with flats, my husband and I came up with a list of pros and cons that come with flat diapers.  I’ll start with the cons so we can end on a positive note

  • Flat diapers are more complicated than other diapers because they require one of many different folds.
  • Sometimes they unravel when you try to clean the poop off making it difficult to find all the poop and dunk (or spray) it off the diaper before throwing the it into the wash.
  • Because they’re not fitted around the legs and waist, there is a chance of leakage if you go coverless—mostly with poopy diapers though.  Of course, a cover will stop that from happening, but the lack of elastics in flat diapers  encourages more soiling of the inside of the cover.  When the cover gets soiled, you need to wash it, which means that you may have to wash your covers more when you use flat diapers than you would with fitted diapers.
  • You often have to use pins or a snappi to fasten flat diapers.
  • Usually, flat diapers are a two or three step system as opposed to modern cloth diapers which are often on your baby in only one step
  • Personally, I found it difficult to practice potty time with flat diapers because it takes so much time to take the diapers off and put them on.
  • My husband declares that they’re not easy for travel because they’re a more complicated and time-consuming system, but I’ll get back to this one in the pros.
  • Flat diapers wash very easily.
  • They dry quickly as well.
  • They’re inexpensive.  You can cloth diaper with flats on a very small budget.  You could buy 12 flats and 4 covers for about $75 (before any discounts or sales)
  • They retain less smells and residue than many other types of diapers.
  • They’re one size fits all diapers because they’re very adjustable depending on which type of fold you use.  Also, many of the folds are one size fits most.
  • They’re versatile and adjustable—not only with size, but with absorbency.
  • In our experience, flat diapers don’t leak.  The flour sack diapers did, but again, I think that’s because I didn’t prep them.  I have yet to have a regular flat diaper leak on me.  Although, I do remember once a month or two ago I only put one flat, trifolded, in my daughter’s diaper cover overnight and we did have some leakage then because it just wasn’t enough absorbency.
  • They’re absorbent.
  • My daughter has had less diaper rash this week than ever.  She had some slight redness the first night, which cleared up within an hour, but since then, even if I leave her in the diaper longer than I should, she’s been rash free.
  • I feel that flat diapers are perfect for travel because they take up far less space in your diaper bag or suit case than other cloth diapers.  Also, they’re great for vacations because you can hand wash them if you don’t have access to a washer.

So the verdict is in.  My husband—who barely changed a diaper all week—is decidedly against using flat diapers ever again.  He’s been fine with the trifold stuffed covers, but he misses the pocket diapers for all the reasons listed in the cons list.  I’m of the opposite opinion.  Overall, despite the negative points, I really like flat diapers—minus the extra work.  I don’t know that I’ll ever switch to using them exclusively, but I also don’t think I’ll be able to part with them and give them away as I’d originally intended.

As far as hand washing goes, do I think it’s possible to use the diapers and hand  wash them on a regular basis?  I think it’s very possible for full time stay at home moms.  For part time stay at home moms like myself, it’s still possible but slightly more difficult.  But if I try to picture myself as a mom who has to work full time to barely make ends meet, and comes home exhausted every day still needing to spend time with the kids and take care of the house, I wonder if hand washing flat diapers every day would be something I’d be willing to do.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m sure it would be extremely difficult and draining for someone in that sort of situation.

That said, I hope that there is someone out there who will benefit from the research and documentation that will come from this week.  I hope I’m wrong in my assessment and that some struggling families out there will be able to loosen the belt a bit because they discovered the benefits of using and hand washing flat diapers.