I am a bit outspoken and perhaps totally annoying about cloth diapers. I honestly believe there should be a universal movement to use cloth for all of our baby and toddler’s adorable butts. The use of cloth diapers, wipes, napkins, etc. has fallen off and given way to convenience items that are readily available and disposable. This makes me personally conflicted for several reasons; not the least of which being that I recognize the many strains of everyday life that make a cloth lifestyle difficult.
I suppose the next question is, why would anyone be opposed to disposable diapers? Am I against all the great things in life? Do I look down my nose at liquid laundry detergent rather than see it for its life-changing and mind-blowing greatness? To allay any fears that I am ingenuous about my promotion of cloth, I will share a few things with you, one, I live on earth, two, plastics are not biodegradable and accumulation of plastic harms the earth, three, disposable diapers and wipes contain plastics. I can rant about how each diaper is spending thousands of years in landfills with the diapers of hundreds of thousands of other children without a solution, but you get the picture. Cloth diapers, especially those made from cotton and bamboo are natural materials, they are fully biodegradable, though and the average cloth diaper can be used and washed hundreds of times before disposal.
That is my opposition to the current trend, sure, but why do I love cloth diapers? Now I am going to get real, and a little graphic with you. For two years I struggled with diapering my first children, twins, in disposable diapers. We had swaddlers, movers, denim designs, discount brands, you name it, I tried it. My poor babies had rashes frequently, so many disgusting poop blowouts, and nightly leaks all over the bed. I went through thousands of diapers and accompanying wipes and struggled to carry the bag of soiled disposables from the diaper genie to the trash without vomiting at the smell. We spent so much money and time dealing with these issues that when I was expecting my next child I started looking into alternatives.
Discovery of Cloth Diaper History (The Education of Mrs E)
My mother used cloth diapers, as did my grandmother, and her mother before that, so I started by asking my mom about her experience with them. She gave rave reviews, and even told me my aunt used them with her son not that long ago. How did I not know this? These intelligent and innovative women thought cloth were fantastic. Now I felt validated in my mission and set off to learn as much as I could about how this cloth diaper thing works.
I was, like so many others, terrified of the “ickiness” of washing diapers covered in feces and urine. I wanted to figure out how other people handle the mess and how I could convince my spouse to work with me. Cut to: major revelation about poop, I had been handling and washing feces and urine covered items for years. Every time those darn disposable diapers failed me I was rinsing onesies in the toilet and washing feces stained clothes in my own washing machine. But, unlike cloth diapers, those leaks and blowouts were not contained and also ended up on my clothes, blankets, floor, high chairs, carseats, etc.
A note about the “grossness” of cloth diapers: I am convinced I touched less feces and feces stained items in two years of cloth diapering than I did in the last month of toilet training my four year old, perhaps TMI.
Research and Decisions
I read so many posts and reviews, here is a great set of reviews from Zephyr Hill Blog if you are curious, and decided to take the plunge into cloth. After trying several types and brands, I prefer to use the traditional prefold diapers with waterproof covers (I like the Imagine Brand). I purchased mine at Nicki's Diapers (I am not an affiliate of Nicki's Diapers and do not receive any compensation for plugging her site, I just loved the diapers and her amazing customer service.) I used a snappi for a while but lost a few sets of them and decided it was not worth the hassle since the covers kept the prefolds in place. We also purchased some inexpensive pocket diapers that were similar to the disposables and had fun patterns (Kawaii Baby). I did not like the pocket diapers as much because washing them involved touching the end of the inserts, but it really wasn’t that bad.
My cloth diapered child had very few rashes, and really only when she was teething or after eating too many strawberries. I chose to treat the rashes with coconut oil and they cleared up quickly and had no adverse effects on my diapers. I doubled up prefolds for nighttime use and had very few leaks to clean up. And, though I did change diapers more frequently, I cannot recall a poop blow out that had the scope or reach of those I experienced with disposables.
I guess cloth diapering and I really clicked and the extra load of diaper laundry 2x a week fell in with everything else I had to do after work. I am lucky that I had the support of my spouse and my father (who was changing the daytime diapers while I was at work), it would have been much more difficult without their help. Remember those strands of life that make things complicated: work, caregivers, time. It was a process and required shifting priorities for us to work through them.
Adorable Bubble Butt
Now, to the adorable nature of cloth diapers: First, they make tiny babies look like they have enormous rear ends, which is hilarious. Second, they come in so many colors, patterns, and styles. I received compliments on the covers and inquiries about how I found such adorable options. This was definitely not a topic of conversation with the average disposable, perhaps the denim design ones, but those were a gift. Finally, they look so good paired with legwarmers, and what, I ask you, is cuter than a baby in legwarmers??
Affordability of Cloth
I know what you are thinking, now that you googled cloth diapers and saw some of the price tags: how can anyone afford those? I will share something with you, and it is pretty scary, but I spent 572.40 for the entirety of infant through potty trained with my daughter. This figure includes using a smaller infant size diaper for the first three months (which I would not do again- $37 for prefolds, and $33 for covers), disposable inserts I used on vacations (Flip Covers $29.98 and Inserts $29.99), wipes, detergent (which was used for all the family laundry), and wetbags (I continue to use these for wet/dirty clothes). I will now tell you what I spent on disposable diapers and wipes for 3 years: 1476.23 which does not include the diaper genie (it was a gift), garbage bags, trash pick-up, shipping or driving to the store costs, training pants, or the diapers that were received as gifts at our baby shower. A final note for the frugal, there is a rather active market for selling used (clean) cloth diapers, and many people state that they are able to recoup nearly 60% of the purchase price, that is a great return on investment.
Ease of Transition to Potty
I want to leave you with a final thought on cloth, the diapering journey with my cloth diapered child was MUCH shorter (by nearly 2 years). I attribute this to cloth being less absorbent than disposables. Cloth diapers allow the child to feel the moisture or other materials in the diaper, thus they are more connected and aware of the process. I feel this led to an easier communication of the need for a new clean diaper and therefore a faster potty-training experience. This may be anecdotal, but its pretty awesome.
I am glad you stuck with me to the end of this super long post, hopefully it has not become too much of a rant. I promise not to let my love for cloth take over this blog, but I could not leave it out as it is an important conversation about both financial responsibility and environmental stewardship. Do you love cloth diapers or are you ready to explore the possibilities? Let me know in the comments below.
I am a highly opinionated and sassy mother of three and wife to one. I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts to tackle the infuriating obstacles of life using straight talk and humor. If I say it, I mean it, or maybe I am being sarcastic. I like to focus on topics from my everyday life: parenting, cooking, crocheting, and a whole list of other things that inspire my rage.