I have been looking forward to writing this post for some time but have refrained from doing so until I’d ordered my cloth diaper “starter” kit. Well now I have! I cannot wait till my order arrives.
And I have the feeling that a lot of you just went, why the heck would you try such madness? Aren’t babies hard enough? YOU’RE GOING TO BE IN CONTACT WITH BABY POOP!!!!
Lets get real, folks. Poop and babies go hand-in-hand. So do the vomit and the other not-so-adorable messes infants make. These are part and parcel of being a parent. It doesn’t matter if you’re using disposables or cloth, at some point you’re going to touch the good-ol’ gross Number Two.
But it’s old-fashioned, you say.
First off, I’m going to shock the pants off some people. Cloth diapering isn’t like it used to be. It’s no longer the flats or pre-folds and waterproof pants people used to put on their kids, though those can still be used. The art of folding diapers has taken on a whole new dimension, from cool folds like origami to no folds whatsoever. And there are devices out there that can help minimize contact with the dreaded Number Two. But more on that in a bit.
Lets look at the pros and cons:
- Cloth diapers (CD’s) are cheaper than disposables over the long term. Estimates for disposables, per year, run between (very conservatively) $1500-2500 for one child. Although the up-front costs of CD’s is greater, over the 2-4 years it takes to rear and potty train a child, the estimated savings exceeds $2500.
- CD’s may environmentally friends and, often, environmentally sustainable. In reality, disposable diapers are not to just be thrown away! Here’s how to properly dispose of one. Not only are CD’s reusable (even the hybrids), they’re also often made from materials that are easily regrown.
- You know what’s against your baby’s skin. Chemicals in disposables include dioxin, tributyl-tin, and sodium polyacrylate. Livestrong also includes volatile organic and other compounds, including petroleum, a hydrocarbon found not only in gasoline but also asphalt and chemical reagents that make plastics. While not all CD’s are made from organic fibers (i.e. microfiber), many of the places I’ve look tell you what they’re made from and even how.
- You can pick how you want to diaper your baby. (Here’s the challenge acceptance.) From pre-folds and waterproof covers to all-in-ones, all-in-twos, and pockets. You choose how the process works for you. A lot of parents claim they’re just as easy as disposables.
- Due to the breathable fibers used in CD’s, babies are less likely to develop rashes, and may be able to avoid developing allergies and asthma.
- CD’s promote earlier potty training.
- CD’s can be used for more than one child.
- They’re just that darn cute!
- They are an up-front expense, anywhere from $300-$1000 depending on the process chosen and/or how the diapers work for that child. It’s estimated that you need at least 20-25 diapers to start.
- CDing is child-specific, meaning that you have to find what works. This can mean buying new diapers if those already purchased don’t work.
- Due to washing and drying, CD’s still have an impact on the environment. Again, it’s how you choose to go about the process. CD’s require preparation for maximum absorbency, at least 3 washes and as many as 10, depending on the fabric. Also, CD’s generally require specific laundry treatments and different detergents. At times, they may require stripping, a process to get rid of the stench that may build up.
- There is no way around the Ick Factor. Before laundering, you’ve got to handle the mess.
- Out and about? You’ve got to carry dirty diapers back home in wet bags.
- The options can be overwhelming.
- They do take longer to put on.
- Often you have to check on what ointments are good to use with cloth diapers, as many of the traditional brands used to target rashes reduce diaper absorption.
- A lot of babysitters and child care facilities won’t accept cloth diapers.
So why did I choose cloth? First and foremost, my husband and I are looking at the future, not only where we’ll probably end up in the next two years but also about how many children we may have. Despite the up-front costs, CD’s are just more cost effective for our limited salary.
Most of all, I like knowing what will be against my baby’s skin. With more and more information coming out all the time about chemical compounds and the poisons we’re acquiring in our bodies, I like the thought of being able to reduce the amount of toxins that my baby will absorb through their skin. I also hate the thought of disposables bursting–which does happen–and leaking out the absorbency beads or materials used. I like knowing that I’ve made the decision about what’s going on the baby’s skin rather than a company seeking to make a fortune.
Did I mention they’re adorable?
Did the environment come into my decision-making process? Sure. Who doesn’t want to be green? I don’t like the idea of the amount of disposables that end up landfills (with their contents still within them) which then take an additional 200-500 years to break down. I feel like the extra washes (I plan on line drying as much as possible) are a good trade off, especially when there are inexpensive eco-detergents out there specifically designed for CD’s (and my HE machine).
How did I go about choosing what I’d do and what I’d buy? I started as most people do these days and browsed the web. I came across two excellent diaper reviews: the first gets scientific while the second includes a husband’s opinions. Both take a long time to read but are quite in-depth and worth the time if you’re undecided on which direction you want to go and/or what you want to buy. Here’s also another mom’s choice, the why and the how. (She also has a great baby wipes recipe linked to this article in case you’re interested in making your own. Yes, I plan on doing so. I’ve always hated the feel of store-bought baby wipes, and hate how babies cringe when they’re used; plus they dry out skin.)
I also polled my friends who CD. I asked them what brands they prefer and what styles of diapers they use. The overwhelming majority of replies stated they used pre-folds and covers, but most also used a combination of diapers instead of limiting themselves to one type.
I went to websites and researched their products, read what the reviewers had to say. Among them were FuzziBunz, bumGenius, GroVia, Blueberry, gDiaper, Econobum, and cloth diaper-selling websites like Kelly’s Closet (my personal choice), Cotton Babies, Green Mountain Diapers, and Cloth Diaper. My advice: read the reviews, and read a lot!
What did I end up buying? Knowing that I’m not entirely certain of what diapers will work best for my kid, I did what most of my friends suggested. I purchased quite a few pre-folds, most of which are made of Indian cotton but also some which are made from hemp and bamboo (for maximum absorbency) and a few covers. I’m fortunate enough to have a mother-in-law who wants to sew diaper covers, so more are on the way in the mail.
I also queried my husband about what he wanted. I want him to be able to withstand the process enough to be able to stick with it. (The idea of baby poop doesn’t thrill him.) His response: KISS–keep it simple, stupid. So in addition to the pre-folds, I purchased several one-size, pockets, and all-in-ones of various brands (those with the highest ratings and most often recommended by my friends) in order to get us started. I also purchased a snazzy diaper sprayer attachment for the toilet, a necessity according to my husband (and what’s kept at least one of my girlfriend’s CDing).
Are these all the diapers I’ll be purchasing? No. I intentionally bought one or two across many brands in order that I might find what worked for my baby. I looked at sales too. With the pre-folds, it helped keep the costs down, and since I plan on doing a baby shower back home after the baby’s born, it’ll give me time to figure out what works so that I can ask for more of those diapers I love best on my CD registry. I also plan on buying a cloth diapering book to learn more about it.
My best advice to parents considering diapers for the first (or maybe the third) time is to do your research and consider your own personal requirements. Do keep in mind that you will come into contact with urine and poop. It’s inevitable.
So is the learning curve babies give to parents. While it can be frightening, it’s also going to be thrilling. Embrace the fun, accept the hardships, and acknowledge what you can (and cannot) handle. In doing so, I believe you’ll make the best decisions for your family.
Other Helpful Links
Green Mountain Diapers: How to Use Cloth Diapers
Kelly’s Closet: Cloth Diapering Information
Cotton Babies: Cloth Diaper Basics
Dad’s World (Hub Pages): Daddy’s Guide to Cloth Diapers
Dirty Diaper Laundry: Cloth Diapering on a Budget (articles)
Real Diaper Association: How to Switch to Cloth Diapers
My Cloth Diaper Stash: Favorite Budget-friendly Cloth Diapers
The Humbled Homemaker: How to Build a Modern Cloth Diaper Stash–On the Cheap
Diaper Junction: Cloth Diaper Vacations
Kelly Wels Website
Changing Diapers (can be found on Amazon, at Kelly’s Closet, and elsewhere–highly recommend this easy-to-read book!)
NOTE: I do plan on blogging about my experience sometime down the road!