CROSSLAKE -- New Year's baby may be wearing something old and new.
Fitted cloth diapers and cloth diaper services are part of many metro area scenes. And a fledgling Crosslake area home-based business is using the Internet to market cloth diapers near and far.
Carrie Espeseth started what she calls a work-at-home-mom business in March.
"I felt like it would be really nice to have these available," Espeseth said of the cloth diapers. After looking for more and not being able to find them, she decided to get into the business of selling them herself.
Espeseth started her own Web site -- www.Cares4UBaby.com. Many customer contacts come from answering questions posted in online e-groups. Espeseth became interested in the business after a trip to the Once Upon a Child store in St. Cloud where she saw fitted cloth diapers with elastic edges and Velcro closures that replaced the oversized safety pins.
"I tried them and they were really easy to use and I ended up saving a lot of money," Espeseth said.
She already had two sons, Cody, 9, and Levi, 8, who were raised with disposable diapers. But Espeseth used the cloth diapers with now 16-month-old Emily.
The 21st century cloth diapers are marketed as easy to use with side benefits for the environmentally conscious.
Espeseth said many customers have concerns about adding to landfills with bulky hard to decompose disposable diapers. Others are looking for a financial benefit or need a diaper without the chemicals found in disposables.
Kris Schmokel, Breezy Point, uses cloth diapers on her 14-month old son. Schmokel switched to cloth diapers after her son developed a diaper rash that resisted treatments.
"He got this diaper rash and it wouldn't go away," Schmokel said. "I tried everything."
A doctor suggested the cloth diapers and Schmokel researched the idea. She bought a few cloth diaper samples, tried them and the rash disappeared. Schmokel thinks her son's rash was brought on by an allergic reaction to chemicals in the disposable diapers.
"It's easy," she said of using cloth diapers. "It isn't any extra work -- it really isn't."
Schmokel said she is doing laundry anyway and ends up washing diapers every two days. She said the adjustment was learning what worked best and which diapers fit properly.
"I don't even miss disposables," she said. "... I don't ever regret changing over to cloth diapers. I wish I would have known about it sooner."
The new cloth diapers are fitted with elastic around the legs and close with a durable variety of Velcro. Waterproof covers with designs like Noah's Ark characters replace plastic pants. And not all diapers are the plain white variety. Diapers can come in patterns and colors.
Diapers can be adjustable from 8.5 pounds to 32 pounds. In three year's time, Espeseth said she estimated disposable diapers cost about $2,000 with cloth diapers and waterproof covers costing about $400 for the same period.
She said it is good to have about three dozen diapers. The cost for many diapers varies from $4 to $6.50 each. And Espeseth said diapers can be used for more than a year. Espeseth buys diapers from makers in Canada and the United States.
Other options include a prefolded diaper in a fleece cover, which is credited with keeping babies dry all night with waterproof layers to prevent outside leaks. Those covers can cost $13.95 each. Espeseth said a family only may need a couple fleece covers for overnight and nap times.
Other accessories include reusable flannel wipes and tote bags.
Espeseth said the clean-up is not as much work as many may think. She puts wet diapers in a four-gallon bucket. Messier diapers are rinsed in the toilet and then soaked in an ice cream pail.
Espeseth washes diapers every two to three days in a hot wash with borax or baking soda added and then a second short rinse with vinegar.
"It's as easy for me as having to take out the extra trash," she said, comparing cloth to disposables.
Espeseth said the clean-up work was less than she expected and said she would rather spend the savings on a date with her husband, for the children, or for special projects or charitable gifts. But she expects the home-based business will remain more hobby than a get-rich plan.
"It's my way of bringing in a little extra," she said. "... For me, I found a really easy way to save money and feel like it's healthy for my daughter."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.