After spending an absurd amount of time on research, we decided to go with cloth. I'd heard about Mother Nature's Diaper Service, but I didn't understand how it worked. So, I'm here to break it down as simply as possible, because our experience with them was wonderful.
(Sidebar: Did you know that Yelp filters reviews? There are tons of great reviews for Mother Nature's, but they've all been filtered out, because the reviewers don't have many/any other reviews on Yelp. You can find all of these reviews HERE.)
First, you need to know this:
Rick, the guy you talk to (I think the owner?), is so friendly and helpful. A smiley face/exclamation point/have-a-good-day kind of guy. Trust me, when you are feeling like a giant idiot about how to put a diaper on a tiny baby, you will appreciate this. If you have questions, send an email or call him, and you'll hear from him within a day or two at most. If you don't know you need fewer diapers or that you might need another size, he will leave a note on your bag of diapers asking if you want fewer diapers or another size. That's right. He'll ask you if you'd like to save money by getting fewer diapers. I've never had any issues with billing, going on vacation, or last-minute change of plans.
Here's how it works:
You call or send an email, tell them what you want, and they arrange to drop it off around your due date. You don't pay until you call them and tell them your baby was born. So, you can have everything ready to go when the baby gets there and not worry about paying a lot if you're 2 weeks past your due date. We got the diaper pail (Nicki's Diapers sells the same pail for quite a few more dollars) and the most diapers possible in the beginning. On a certain day of the week, they leave a large blue plastic bag full of clean diapers on your door. You take the diapers out of the blue bag, put the blue bag in your diaper pail, and you're set for the week. When you get your first pack of diapers, there is a great bit of helpful information (when to change sizes, how to fold, etc.) included in the pack. They stick a money envelope on the bag with the amount due for the month.
The diapers are pre-folds, which, if you're new to this, means they are square or rectangular (depending on your baby's size) cotton diapers. You fold them into thirds and put them into a diaper cover. When you change a diaper, toss it into the diaper pail. No need to rinse or anything fancy. On the dedicated day (or the night before), you take the blue bag of dirty diapers, knot it like a trash bag and put it on your porch. Then, like magic, a new bag of clean diapers appears bright-n-early. We set a phone alarm to remind us to take our diapers out the night before, which was generally super-helpful.
Questions I had:
* Cloth wipes or disposable? We have a little trash can for disposable wipes, because washing a load of cloth wipes seems silly to us.
* What kind of covers to use? You can rent covers from MN's, but we bought our own in case we have other babies some day. We bought a few one-sized and a few small-sized, because the one-sized swallowed our once-tiny baby. If you use the kind with PUL lining (we had a lot of Nicki's Imagine brand. They worked well and are cheap), if your baby's diaper is wet, you will not have to wash the cover with each change. That's nice. If your baby fills the diaper cover with poo, you rinse it and toss it in the hamper.
* Does it stink? Surprisingly, not really. Our baby is breastfed, and the accumulation of poopy diapers only smells a bit funky when you open the pail lid. Keep it closed, and you're fine. Also, MN's will supply you with deodorizing disks, and they do help a bit to mask the stink. But, I promise, there is no stink when the pail is closed.**
Our baby has officially outgrown all of her small-sized adjustable diaper covers, and we inherited a bunch of pocket diapers & inserts, so we've decided to make the switch to washing our own diapers, since we're washing the covers each time we change her anyway. I'm sad to abandon such a great community resource, so I want to spread the word!
If you have questions about cloth diapering, check out Nicki's Diapers! And if you're overwhelmed, contact me, and I will try to help!
**Now that the wee one is pooping people food, the stink is super-stinky. When her poo is flushable, we flush it, and that helps. Otherwise, we just find ourselves washing diapers a bit more frequently. You could also use a sprayer, I guess, but I just don't like playing around so much with poo...