Yes, I know this has been blogged about before, but what would a green mama blog be without a post on cloth diapering?
I don’t know whether cloth diapering was even on my radar before I became pregnant, but as other moms of my generation know pregnancy leads to googling and googling leads to blogs and facebook groups and parenting philosophies before you have even told anyone you’re expecting! Early on in my “research” I decided that I wanted to cloth diaper, but like many others I wasn’t sure whether it would be too expensive, too messy, or too challenging for me and my partner to manage. Well, I have to say that it wasn’t any of those things, and instead was an easy, affordable option that I believe many other families should embrace.
There are many reasons to cloth diaper, and I think I had them all. Here are a few of the reason why I chose to cloth diaper:
Cloth diapering is cheap. Ok, so yes, there are parents out there who spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on the most adorable poop devices you have ever seen, but for us, it was a very inexpensive option. We chose to buy used, saving us a considerable amount of money. In all, I have spent $300 on cloth diapers and related paraphenalia, and have enough to cloth diaper any and all children I decide to have from birth to potty trained. I also expect to be able to sell these items once I’m done with them for close to what I paid, meaning that diapering my children will in the end cost me the cost of laundry 2-3 times per week. Not bad!
Compare that to the $1000-6000 per child you could spend on disposable diapers depending on brand and duration of diapering, and you’re saving yourself a small fortune. Add to that the use of cloth wipes and the savings is even bigger!
Naysayers suggest that cloth diaper production, shipment and laundering is just as bad if not worse than disposables. There are many sites and blog posts that have done the specific math and comparison, so I’m just going to stick to a brief summary of my experience. Many pro-disposable people assume that cloth diapers are bought new and used for up to 2 children. In my experience, many families (including myself) buy cloth diapers used, and resell them to another family once done. That means that a single cloth diaper is produced and shipped once and can be used for 6+ children. (check out my upcoming post on repairing cloth diapers for a local charity). Additionally, many of these diapering items are then used for other purposes once the diapering abilities are spent.
Laundry is another story. Yes, cloth diapering families have to wash their diapers, and this is done anywhere from every 2 days to once a week. However, many families will do all the clothing, burp cloths, receiving blankets, bedding…in the same load, decreasing the wash differential between cloth and disposable families. Heck, I toss in some of my t-shirts, leggings, and nursing bras as well, saving myself a load of laundry and these items are puked on anyways!
It’s hard to get a good idea of the raw materials that go into all the cloth or disposable diapers made each year, but I think it’s fair to say that given the lifespan of cloth diapers disposables do consume more paper and plastic resources, not to mention all these resources going to the dump after only a few hours of use as opposed to years.
- Ease of Use:
Cloth diapering is easy. Yes, I know, many parents say how complicated or challenging cloth diapering can be, but honestly I found it super easy once I figured out what all my options were. We started cloth diapering within hours of our little one being born. He came home in a cloth diaper, and other than maybe 5 instances where I chose to use a disposable (the first doctor visit, a troublesome rash we were working on…), has been in cloth ever since. There is a learning curve and you have to figure out what works for you and your baby, but this is also true of disposable diapers and parenting in general.
The first few months of cloth diapering I chose to use prefolds and covers because he was going through somewhere around 15 or so diapers a day and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on diapers until I knew I could do it.
We then branched out into covers with inserts, pocket diapers, and even all-in-ones, and vary what we use today by how we feel and what we’re up to. Some days I like to use the organic prefolds, others I like the stay dry features of the inserts, or the ease of use of my all-in-ones which go on and off like a disposable. You can get a good description of all the options out there by checking out other blogs like Dirty Diaper Laundry, All About Cloth Diapers, Maman Loup’s Den, and many more!
The first few months of cloth diapering I found to be super easy. As my baby was exclusively breastfed until about 6 months, the diapers went from his bum into the dry, hanging diaper bag on the side of the change table, and every 2-3 days I would take the whole bag, dump it (diaper contents and all) into my washing machine. My machine would then do most of the work, and I would have nice, clean diapers to either toss in the dryer or hang on the rack or line. Good resources for figuring out the best wash routine for you can be found at Fluff Love University or Padded Tush Stats.
Once our little guy started on foods things became a little more interesting. At the same time we began elimination communication (future post on this adventure to come!) so most of the poop ended up in the toilet, but the stuff that didn’t either fell off into the toilet easily, or we swished it around in the bowl (yes, my hand went into the toilet). Some people like their diaper sprayers or inserts, but this is what worked for us.
Cloth diapering is also very easy for us because we never have to lug large diaper or wipes boxes around, run out to the store to restock, or realize we have to size up at 8pm on a Sunday. We also have had maybe 3 blowouts since he was born, something I know disposable diapering families are familiar with 🙂 Never having to clean out the car seat/swing/highchair/couch has been nice.
Yes, we are only 9 months into this adventure, but so far I would say it has been a very manageable and rewarding experience knowing that I have been able to limit the amount of waste produced by our household and save a ton of money. We even found a daycare that will cloth diaper! Things may get more complicated when there is more than one kiddo around, but in the end it’s just laundry.
I hope that you, too, will consider cloth diapering whether it’s your first child or your last. Please comment below with your experience, questions, or ideas and let’s help #makeclothmainstream.
Some great resources to check out:
- Cloth Diapers I love: Bummis, Thirsties, Flip, Bumgenius Freetime
- Websites: Dirty Diaper Laundry, All About Cloth Diapers, Maman Loup’s Den, Maman on the Trail, Padded Tush Stats, Fluff Love University, Baby Gear Lab
- Stores: Gentle Nest