Being a crunchy in a non-crunchy community, I often get odd looks when I mention I cloth diaper – which is in no means any different from the odd looks about a lot of the things I do – but that’s 452 other blog posts explaining my “odd” lifestyle. After the odd looks come the questions. So I decided to write a couple of blog posts outlining cloth diapering (from my viewpoint) – types, materials, and care and washing.
Why do I cloth diaper?
I have an issue with buying things that are meant to be thrown away. This is also true for garbage bags but its two fold because not only do I have to buy a bag to throw things away, I have to buy a bag to throw away the bag I bought to throw things away in!
This in itself covers a couple of topics – cost and environment.
Disposables are expensive – even the store brands. However, that is not to say that there are not costs associated with cloth diapering. Diaperdecisions.com does a good article breaking down the cost comparison (including energy costs) of cloth versus disposable. So if you factor in energy costs, you’re still looking at savings of over $1,000 using cloth diapers. This is assuming that your child is potty trained by around age 2.
There are also ways to lower the cost of cloth diapers. Line drying will reduce the energy cost as well as looking for products made from WAHMs (Work at home moms). The quality is comparable to brand names and the cost is typically less than commercial brands. If you’re crafty, you can certainly make your own diapers and covers, greatly reducing the cost. The cover and diaper in this picture to the right was made from a piece of fleece from the remnant bin for $2.00, the prefold was from a pack I was given at my baby shower for burp cloths and I had the FOE (Foldover elastic) and snaps in my stash.
The table at Diaperdecisions.com also includes cloth diapering for every size from newborn through potty training. When looking into cloth diapers, I feel it is important to look at the timeframe the baby will spend in a particular size. Does a newborn need 36 diapers AIO (All-in-One) diapers that will fit for a relatively short time frame? For newborns, it may be more cost effective to use prefolds with a cover. You can also look at decreasing the amount of covers since covers don’t need to be changed every time and can be rinsed out and allowed to dry between uses.
Using the data again provided by diaperdecisions.com, using disposable diapers means approximately 6,762 diapers are being thrown away per child. PER CHILD!! That’s a scary thought. I worry about our environment and my, as well as my family’s, environmental footprint. I worry about what the chemicals in disposable diapers and what they are doing to our air and soil quality. I worry about the amount of time it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose.
When I first started researching cloth diapers, I started stumbling across information about the types of chemicals in disposable diapers. Scary chemicals, chemicals with names that I can’t pronounce, chemicals that are harmful. Wanna know more? Read this article, The Diaper Drama by Heather L. Sanders.
My Cloth Diapering Experience
I get excited about cloth diapers. I love when people ask me questions. Why? (Sometimes accompanied with the weird look or a wrinkled nose.) But my favorite question is how. How does it work? Is it messy? But I don’t want to stick my hands into the toilet to wash BM? (Guess what – you’re supposed to shake out the BM in disposables also because it’s illegal to throw human waste into a landfill. Don’t believe me…look on your package of disposable diapers).
I am not the perfect cloth diapering mama. Em was started in disposable and switched to cloth when I found out I was pregnant and I realized I’d have to buy diapers for two. Thus began my cloth diapering experience. Con was my cloth diaper baby. Until he was a little over a year old. Then he started breaking out in horrible rashes. We tried switching from AIOs to prefolds and covers, wool covers, fleece covers, and just letting him wear a fitted with no cover. We tried powdering his bum, diaper rash creams, and we went to the doctor and got super whammy butt cream. I tried stripping the diapers, changing detergent, washing and then rewashing several times with no detergent. Finally, the doctor suggested we put a disposable on him for a couple days to help his bum get cleared up. Instantly his butt cleared up. So we went back to cloth and the rash came back. We tried changing his diet, the rash stayed as long as he had a cloth diaper on. I tried going to disposables at naptime and bedtime and changing him immediately. Nadda, nothing. Back into a disposable, rash went away. I finally gave in defeated and switched to disposables. My lil’ babe is in a mix of cloth and disposables. We use cloth at home but also disposables on longer trips outside the farm. And oddly enough, now that Con is older, he can wear cloth for potty training. Go figure!
My point isn’t to judge anyone who prefers disposables versus cloth. We all have different parenting styles and those are our choices. Each family needs to make choices based upon their lifestyle and what is right for their family and their child (ren) and their individual circumstances.
My goal in is to share my experiences and maybe a little knowledge.