A few years ago, it seemed like everyone I knew was either getting married or swearing that they never would. Now, babies are popping up everywhere as I and my counterparts enter a stage of life during which we are apparently considered ‘grown-ups’ and proper enough to raise small people. Yikes.
My own Baby Girl has just rounded her first birthday and we have also crossed the anniversary of one year of using cloth diapers. Yay! I’m also happy to say that several of my friends are also considering joining us on the cloth diaper train. Cloth diapers have gained a ton of popularity in current years; partially because they are much easier and less of a fuss than what most people think of when they remember old diapers. Not to mention they are cute, save money, are environmentally friendly, and some would argue are much safer for baby as well.
Deciding to use cloth diapers was a pretty easy choice for me. My husband and I have been working on decreasing our trash output for a while – and although we are far from perfect and never expect to be, we have certainly improved over the years. As I have a very hard time throwing away even a several times used Ziploc baggie, disposable diapers just seem like a giant waste to me. Now, don’t get me wrong – I completely understand families who use them and we do use them when we travel. If I were in a different situation or if I’d had Baby Girl a few years ago, we probably would be using them exclusively. But, at this time in my life I choose to use – and love – cloth diapers…
and this is why…
1. Cloth diapers are healthier for the environment.
Babies use 5-10 diapers a day depending on their age. That’s an average of 225 diapers in one month. Just an average. Now, think about how big that stack of dirty diapers is by the time potty-training is all over. Add a second kid. Maybe a third? Holy cats. That is a trash pile that I simply don’t want to contribute to any more than I have to. My cloth diaper stash will fit into a fairly large, but single, plastic tote – and can be used for any other children I may have.
Some do like to argue that you have to use more water when using cloth – and yes, that’s true. But with a high efficiency washer and dryer, as well as a low flow toilet, I would much rather use a little more water than leave behind thousands of dirty diapers that will take 550 years to decompose.
2. They save money.
No joke. At first, cloth diapers seem like a huge investment. At a store like Buy Buy Baby, an all-in-one diaper or even a cover for prefolds will run about $17 at the cheapest. If you consider twenty four the ideal number of diapers to have on hand, the price of $400 to get started can be staggering. Especially when you add on cloth wipes, a few wet bags, and homemade wipe solution on top of that.
However – and I love to say however – remember that number that I said before? 225 diapers in one month? If you were to buy Huggies Pure & Natural 72-count diapers at $19.99, you would spend roughly $60 in one month. So, for the price of just over six months of disposables…you can purchase several years and multiple children’s uses of cloth diapers.
If you shop smart, you can save even MORE. I have found great deals on Zulily.com for cloth diapers, always around $10. Plus, if you are in the KC area, Teeny Greeny is a home-based boutique that not only has great diapers but great resources and sales. This fall I went to their biannual Fluff’N’Stuff consignment sale and scored a dozen diapers for $78 – an average of $6.50 a diaper. Now, I’m terrible at math. But I know that’s a damn good deal.
And, a close friend of mine was able to find some pocket diapers on sale in a mother’s co-op for $2.00 a piece – and when paired with OsoCozy prefolds that I purchased on Amazon at a dozen/$24 – that makes for $4.00 diapers. I have definitely saved a lot of money using cloth diapers and with some research, you can too!
3. Using cloth diapers connects me with my baby.
I’m a stay at home mom. How much more connected do I need to be, huh?
Honestly though, using cloth diapers has made me feel like I am doing something special for my girl. I take the time to wash this most intimate of items every other day. I fold them nicely and stack them in the top drawer of her dresser. Every. Other. Day. Sometimes more often, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious.
Besides, folding diapers is one of Ruby’s favorite chores! She loves digging in the laundry basket and bringing me her wipes, covers, and liners – which I sort and fold…often several times, as she also loves to destroy my happy little piles. It’s become one of our favorite things to do together – and I’m teaching her to help mommy at the same time! Double win!
4. They just feel nice!
The first week that I used cloth diapers on my baby rather than disposables, I was surprised at how luxurious they felt. Her little bum was so soft and snuggly, covered in fabric rather than plastic. I was also surprised that when she was wet, there was no smell. In disposables, I can smell immediately when she pees. Cloth diapers should smell right? Heck no they don’t. Crazy, right?
Poo, on the other hand…well, let’s face it. There is no escaping it, cloth or disposable.
Using cloth diapers is a learning process. The best advice that I can give you is just to dive in and get your hands dirty. Literally. You will learn which styles you like, what size fits your baby best, how many inserts you need at night and how many during the day… Just like being a parent, you will never be prepared. You just have to learn as you go and enjoy the process! Below I’ve compiled some of my most helpful hints.
1. Routine, routine, routine.
I can’t stress this enough. You must get into the habit of washing your diapers every other day – this includes folding them and putting them away. Every now and again, one day will not be the end of the world. Even mommies and daddies get sick, after all. But leaving dirty diapers in a wet bag for longer than a few days will ruin them and create a icky smelly mess for you. It is, unfortunately, a fact. The quicker you create your habit, the easier it will be to keep it.
Here is a great reference for washing your diapers from Teeny Greeny! How to Wash Your Dipes!
2. Buy a toilet sprayer.
Please. Buy a toilet sprayer. I realize this is an additional investment, but put it on your registry and demand someone get it for you! Without one of these, my run as a devout cloth diaper-er(?) would probably have been cut short. These little dealies connect to your toilet and make cleaning a stinky, poopy diaper so much less of a nightmare. This will make your foray into cloth so much better, I promise you.
3. Clean your bathroom often.
Cleaning soiled diapers requires you to dunk them or spray them in the toilet. This makes a mess, even if you can’t see it. After a few days, I know that I can certainly smell it. I recommend using Lysol or wiping down your toilet with Clorox wipes a few times a week. Your nose will thank you.
4. Do not use petroleum based ointments/creams or fabric softeners.
DO. NOT. This is not a preference. Petroleum based diaper creams will ruin your diapers by leaving a residue that will decrease absorbency. If you must use a cream, line your diaper. (When Baby Girl gets a rash, I cave and pull out the disposables…although, in a whole year of cloth diapering she has only gotten one diaper rash severe enough to merit cream! Woohoo! Perhaps another benefit of cloth?)
And most of all, do not give up! Cloth diapers can seem overwhelming at first. Our culture has come to be so familiar with disposables, but cloth can become just as familiar. Not that long ago, cloth was all that parents ever used! If countless generations before us survived without all-in-one pocket diapers and high efficiency washers – certainly we can too! Stick with it and you will reap the benefits.
Have any questions? Please leave them in the comments! I would love to share my experiences with cloth with you!