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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: “Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering”

One of the biggest issues I have struggled with is how to introduce a Mom to cloth diapering. I strongly believe that MOST people out there would end up cloth diapering if they were educated on it or at least gave it a try. I have tried to come up with a perfect Baby Shower gift to introduce cloth diapering, but worry it may appear too pushy to just force a cloth diaper on someone. Plus, if you are wanting them to really try it, you’d need to buy a diaper, wet bag, and a few other things to really have them give it an honest shot. That’s why I think Kelly Wels’ book, Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering is a neat idea on what to give a new Mom.


In this post I am going to give you my take on different aspects of this book.  But first, a video review (what I talk about in the video review is different from what I write about below, so I suggest looking at both):

Video Review

“There isn’t a cloth diaper police. You will find whatever diapering system suits you and your baby (whether cloth or disposable) by experiencing diapering firsthand.” (p.9)
I’ll be honest, baby books have been banned from my house. I got tired of feeling like I needed to be on ONE side of some mothering debate. No matter what book I read, I felt like motherhood was polarized—baby wear or baby bucket, babywise or on demand, homemade food or jarred, cry it out or soothe to sleep, cloth diapers or disposables. This book didn’t have that attitude. Wels gave an open tone, making it clear that there are parents out there who might just find that disposable works better. I felt like she spoke kindly and unforceful about it (often I find that cloth diapering advocates can sound like they are preaching a religion. I’ll confess, I may have been that way in the past myself!).

History and Statistics
“The Real Diaper Association reports that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of babies in the US wear cloth diapers at least part-time.” (p. 12)
Wels brings her experience in the cloth diapering industry to give a great historical account, complete with my LOVE….STATS! It was neat to have a background. I think I would rather the section be a little bit farther towards the back of the book. If anyone else is like me, they only give the first third of a book a good, close read, so it would be neat to have a simple guide to cloth diapering in the very beginning. But, nevertheless, this information is so interesting!

“Cloth diapers can cost about 6 cents per diaper change, depending on which type of cloth diaper you choose. Disposables, by comparison, cost 36 cents per diaper change according to www.diaperdecisions.com (p. 28).
When I started cloth diapering, I found that it cost quite a bit more than what many of the cloth diapering websites had estimated. I was impressed to see what I feel to be a close-to-honest estimate of what a cloth diaper may cost (don’t get me wrong, you can cut corners by using Swagbucks or flats). I also felt like she was up-front and honest about the leak issues associated with cloth diapers. When I researched cloth, I was under the impression (from numerous sites) that my days of leaks would be over when I cloth diapered, but they had only just begun. Wels outlines what causes the leaks, and also provides some helpful tips on how to fix them (which I wish I would have known back then!).

What causes you to hesitate
“If buying single-use items were truly better for the environment, why do we wash our clothes or dishes after each use? Isn’t it cheaper to just manufacture these products over and over again?” (p. 32)
Wels definitely covers different questions people have had about cloth diapering, including the popular, “Is cloth diapering really helping the environment?” And I think the quote above is a great rebuttal to that. She also covers the convincing the husband topic which, as you guys know, was the toughest part for me.

Lingo-Free Basics
“Today’s cloth diapering world is filled with a maze of terms that can be quite confusing and even downright frightening to a new mom who simply wants to know how to cloth diaper her baby.” (p. 48)
Amen sista! I could not understand the terms at all when I was learning about diapers. I felt like every cloth diaper definition included some random lingo I didn’t get. For example, what exactly is an INSERT? How does that differ from a DOUBLER? Is the insert in addition to what is already in the diaper? Wels clearly outlines these definitions in a lingo-free zone. She has a great section that describes (with illustrations!) what the different terms mean. I also like that on pages 84-86 she outlines exactly what you would need. She also has tips on different issues such as traveling with cloth diapers, cloth diapering twins. I love the simplicity of her advice, and I only take issue with the fact that she says to use “1/4 cup of detergent.” That may be true, but I think it would be nice to clearly indicate that the amount of detergent may need to be a serious tweaking process, especially if someone has hard water, an HE machine, etc. She does indicate that cloth diapering is a process that may need some patience as you work things out, but I would have loved to see that specifically in reference to washing diapers.
Other Parents
“’I like that my kids’ poop won’t be preserved for 500 years in a landfill. That’s not a legacy I think they would like!’ – V.C., Plattsburg, NY (p. 69)
The book is filled with quotations from other parents about their experiences cloth diapering. Like this one above, that totally made me giggle! You know me, I like to hear the voices of MULTIPLE people when making a decision (which is why my reviews are based on how the diaper worked on several babies, not just one). So I love that 25% of the book (ha, you know I had to drop a stat!) consists of quotes from other people about their experiences. I sometimes wished they were a little shorter or important statements were put in bold, simply because I normally like to read Parenting books with a skim (don’t worry, I didn’t skim this one since I am reviewing it for you!).

Cloth Diaper Resources
“Just be careful not to let overzealous review sites taint your decision. Rather, look at the websites of each brand, talk to trusted sources you know, and test drive a diaper for a day and see what you think.” (p.87-88)
I like how she lists some cloth diaper resources. This was written before the release of Padded Tush Stats, so it is my hope that I would make the list as a valuable resource. But I do feel like it is appropriate and necessary for me to briefly give you my little schpeal on why I think I might be a helpful, unbiased resource for people who want to cloth diaper. My reviews are based on the voices of many, not solely my own. And when I present a review, I do not hold voices back. If someone doesn’t like a diaper, the stats don’t lie. I am also honest when I perform my own reviews (you can see through most of my reviews where in one category or another I will give a low score of a “1”). I also have the attitude that every cloth diaper works well for at least some baby, so it is my aim to help pinpoint WHICH of those babies would work best with that diaper. So I hope my positive tone may not come across as “overzealous", but instead as a fun matchmaker who seeks to pair up a baby with the diaper that will work best for him/her. I also don’t want people looking into cloth diapers to see my site and all my stats and be overwhelmed. I have a “New to Cloth Diapering” page with definitions, as well as some recommendations that I have based on my experience trying MANY different diapers, and on the overall consensus of my survey respondents. I want people to know they can come to my site and at a quick glance, check out my MASTER table to compare how different diapers work with different baby types (chunky, rash prone, heavy wetter, etc). Whew! What a tangent, but I just HAD to get that off my chest. But I LOVE that Kelly shows a wide variety of cloth diaper websites, so that you can look at different places to make an informed decision. She also gives a brief overview of cloth diapers. I would love to see more WAHM companies on the list, but totally understand that she can’t include everyone.

So there ya have it, there’s my review. I am so excited to see a comprehensive cloth diapering book out there that talks to people who don’t know all of the lingo of cloth diapering. I am definitely excited to pass this on as a great baby shower gift. I was still struggling with the fact that this is may be forcing cloth diapers too much, plus I don’t want someone who has already decided not to do cloth to feel like my gift is a waste! That is why I plan on also enclosing an Amazon gift card with this message:

"I hope you will enjoy this book as a neat guide to cloth diapering. I have enclosed a gift card to Amazon, which carries a large selection of cloth diapers. But if you choose not to cloth diaper, you can also buy disposable diapers, baby clothes, or even massage oil so your loved one can rub those tired feet! I’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have. Best wishes and hugs!"

I was provided a copy of this book by Kelly Wels, but all opinions in this post are honest.

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