I started a post about cloth diapering but it got to be way too long- so Part 1 will focus on cloth diapering overall and Parts 2 and 3 will focus on my specific experiences with it. There is a TON of information out there about cloth diapering and these posts will just skim the surface. The internet can be really overwhelming on this subject. I’m by no means an expert, but if you want to chat further about this, send me a message and I’ll tell you what I know or point you to someone who can help!
I started researching cloth diapering while I was still pregnant. I was intrigued by the thought of them, but they really sounded like they’d be a pain. When a friend passed on some cloth diapers to me, it sealed the deal- with no need to purchase anything, I’d be silly not give it a shot.
Just one problem. I didn’t know how to actually use the diapers she gave me. They were freaking confusing, and even after she demoed them to me I was still a little lost. Luckily, another friend pointed me towards a local business called Itsy Bitsy Bums. The owner was so helpful in helping me figure things out.
So why did cloth diapering intrigue me in the first place? There are very clear benefits to cloth diapering. I have found that most people start cloth diapering for one of these reasons, with the other two being nice little perks:
- Better for the Environment: Even when you consider the extra laundry, cloth diapers are better for the Earth, something that appeals to this former Earth-Savers-Club founder and president. Depending on the kid and how often they’re changed, each baby goes through roughly 7,000+ diapers before they are potty trained. Not only are disposables staying out of the landfill, but the resources that go to make all those disposables are not getting used. And biodegradable disposables? Marketing ploy. They won’t biodegrade in landfills.
- Better for the Budget: Cloth diapers are expensive up front. The price can vary greatly depending on how many and what types you get. In general, the easier they are to use, the more you will pay. But even if you get the high-end ones, you will save money over the long run. This website does a good job explaining the cost savings, which they estimate to be about $1100-$1500 per kid, not including the extra laundry costs. If you plan to diaper multiple kids, you can multiply that savings! You can also save money by purchasing used cloth diapers, and you can get some of your money back by selling yours when you’re finished with them.
- Better for Baby: Now I know bazillions of babies wear disposable diapers and they are just fine, but disposable diapers are full of chemicals. This website does a good job explaining them. Of particular concern are dioxins, which are on the EPAs list of highly carcinogenic, and sodium polyacrylate, which was removed from tampons after being linked to toxic shock syndrome. Also, babies who are diapered with cloth tend to have less diaper rash and usually potty train earlier.
So why didn’t I immediately sign up for them? Because I thought cloth diapering had many draw backs as well:
- Gross Factor: I thought you’d have to get a little too close to poop. I thought my washer would be disgusting. So far, neither one of these things have been true. I don’t get any closer to poop with cloth diapers than I do with disposables. I can’t tell you how a washer works, but I can tell you that I have no left over residue or ickyness after doing a cloth load. That being said, my baby is exclusively breastfed right now, and breastfed poop isn’t that gross. It’s also water soluble, so I don’t have to rinse the diaper or do anything to it- I just throw it in the bag. Once they start eating solids, you do have to get rid of the poop. You just shake it in the toilet. But really, isn’t poop in the toilet way less gross than poop sitting in your trash can? They also make sprayers that attach to your toilet to rinse the diaper, if necessary. Once you get the solid poop out, you just throw the diaper in the bag and wash as normal. If that still weirds you out, there are diaper services that will pick up your diapers and leave you with clean ones each week. However, in my opinion you lose a lot of the advantages when you go with a service.
- Inconvenient: I will be honest- this is the main drawback of cloth diapering. But it is not nearly as bad as I thought and the advantages make the slight inconveniences worth it, to me. The inconvenience comes in two forms- the extra laundry, and being out and about. The laundry takes some time, but now that we have a baby we’re home nearly every night and it’s not like I actually have to do much with the diapers. It adds six minutes to my day. (That’s a guess. I didn’t really time it). How often you have to do laundry depends on how many diapers you have. The other inconvenience I anticipated is being out and about. This is not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. They make these things called wet dry bags. You just bring one with you and throw your dirties in it. Easy. I started with a couple of bags and liked them so much I bought a couple more. The bags can go right in the washer with the diapers when they are dirty. I have a big one that I keep at home and use in place of a diaper pail (also reducing the need for trash bags/pail liners). And it doesn’t stink. When you’re done with the diapering stage of your life, these bags can be used for the pool, the gym, etc. Even if you do find it to be a pain while you’re out, you can still cloth diaper most of the time and use disposables while you’re out. You don’t have to cloth diaper exclusively to realize the benefits. When it comes to daycare, I wanted a daycare provider that was open to cloth diapering- and was blessed to find one that was not only open to it, but used it on her own kids. I wanted the person who cares for my kids to hold many of the same thoughts I do when it comes to sustainability, and I hope I have found that person.
I had my baby and spent the first few weeks learning how he communicated and getting adjusted to my new life. I didn’t even really think about cloth for those first few weeks- we started using them around six weeks. Next time I’ll tell you how things went when cloth entered the picture!