Like most people born before 1990, I was a cloth diaper baby. My parents folded a rectangular cloth, safety pinned it as tight as they could and put a plastic cover over it all. Then they prayed it wouldn’t leak.
It’s 2013 and I am a cloth diaper mama. They’ve come a long way in a generation and let me tell you, I love them.
I knew I wanted to cloth diaper before I had kids. I saw them in action on my niece and immediately knew they were for me. However, I didn’t start Eleanor in them right away. We lived in Hungary when she was born and planed to move back to North America several months later so I didn’t want to deal with shipping them over and then hauling them back. And I seriously doubted our Soviet-era washing machine was up for the task. So I used disposables for the first five months. Shortly after returning state-side I bought 12 cloth diapers and never looked back.
There are so many reasons to cloth diaper. For me, the big ones are:
- Cost – Getting a full supply of cloth diapers will cost about $600 while disposable will run around $2,000+ per child (there’s no credible research on this but the consensus is cloth is cheaper)
- Health – Cloth babies are much less likely to have diaper rash and are not exposed to the increased risk of asthma, cancer and infertility present in disposables
- Environmental issues – Disposables are hard on the environment, both to produce and decompose
- Cuteness – I think cloth bums are adorable
Yes, I do several more loads of laundry a week. Yes, I sometimes get frustrated when I’m folding diapers at 10 pm. Yes, I use some disposables. But knowing that I am doing what’s best for my babies, wallet and the environment outweighs the cost.
One of the main reasons I’ve heard for not using cloth is it’s seems like a lot of work. It does take up some of my precious little time but it’s not as intensive as it may seem. An extra three small loads of laundry a week hardly makes a dent in my time budget.
There’s also the ‘gross factor’. Okay, I can see where people are coming from here. Occasionally, it is gross but not that often. I use liners to make cleaning up solids easier. I’ve had extremely messy disposables as well so it just goes with the diaper territory.
I use Oh Katy, an all-in-one pocket diaper with snaps. They fit from newborn to toddler and are going strong with baby #2. I had some bumGenius and Gro Via passed on to me and while both are fine, I prefer Oh Katy (they’re also cheaper). The bumGenius have Velcro fasteners which are nice for a quick change but get caught on clothes, the carpet etc. I’ve had several snaps break (they’re replaceable) and Velcro gets worn out so it’s a moot point when it comes to durability. After a couple of years the elastic around the leg gussets weakened and my mom (bless her soul) replaced them for me. I made cloth wipes by sewing two pieces of flannel together and I make a cleaning solution. Neither of my kids had issues with diaper rash but when Edward was tiny I put a thin layer of coconut oil on his tush to protect it from the moisture.
I wash diapers about every other day, any longer and they start to smell like ammonia. I strip them every few weeks and do an overnight soak as needed. I hang dry them in the sun whenever I can because it acts as a natural bleach, reduces smells and is less taxing on the elastic. On days that I don’t wash it’s just like using disposables.
Edward wears disposables at night and when we go on trips. Because he’s a boy and there’s increased risk to his family jewels, he wears 7th Generation. They’re more expensive but I feel it’s worth it. Eleanor wears a chlorine-free generic brand to bed.
As great as I think cloth diapers are, they aren’t for everyone. Some babies are more prone to diaper rash when wearing cloth. Their skin is irritated by detergents or aggravated by moisture. Or they’re heavy wetters and need to be changed frequently. Disposables are better for them. Some parents simply don’t have the time, are able to afford disposables or just don’t want to do it. And that’s fine. How you keep your baby’s bum clean should not be a moral issue and no one should be made to feel inferior for their choice.
Cloth diapering is a world all its own and here are some of my favorite resources to help you get started:
Cotton Babies – general info
Zany Zebra – general info
Diaper Net – I linked this one above. It explains the risks and disadvantages of disposables and sites its research
If you have or will soon have a little one, I hope you consider cloth. Please ask questions in the comment section or send em an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Do you cloth diaper? Why or why not? If you do, what advice would you give a mom starting out?