the most common responses i get when i tell people we are cloth diapering are:
1) oh wow, you’re really brave!
2) oh. nice. *grossedoutgrimace*
which, both of those are actually fair. the thought of “extra” work when it comes to the dirty job of diapering a baby is hardly something that makes people excited. but the amount of work it adds to your day is in reality so minimal that it’s hardly noticeable. and the benefits of cloth diapering (for us at least) are so worth it.
we decided to go with cloth diapers for a few reasons. not all these reasons mean the same thing to every one, or even are the least bit important to anyone. but for those mamas that are thinking about maybe, possibly doing cloth diapers, maybe some of our thought process will help you make a decision one way or another. the first part of my cloth diaper posts is going to go over some of the decision points you want to consider when making the decision of cloth diapers or disposables.
BENEFITS OF CLOTH DIAPERING
cost savings: the biggest reason for using cloth diapers is that i am incredibly cheap. when we were planning, the idea of spending thousands of dollars on something that my baby would literally be crapping into was just too much for me. we registered for and were gifted all of our diapers and covers up through her first year (we may have to buy some bigger size diapers in a few months, but that is a minimal cost). so our upfront costs were negligible. upfront investment can be more depending what type of diaper you choose; we chose the most classic and least expensive cloth diapering method (which i’ll talk about more in part two). however, had we had to purchase all the supplies ourselves, they would have run us about $350, including the diaper pail. if we had gone with disposable, we would have easily already spent around $450 on just diapers (assuming $0.33/diaper x 10 diapers/day x 140 days of amelia’s life), and our cloth diapers will last us through multiple children.
good for baby: babies feel wetter faster in cloth diapers, which means they let you know they need to be changed sooner, which means less time sitting in their own refuse. their sensitive skin is also wrapped in soft cotton instead of synthetic material all day. both of these things are good for minimizing or avoiding diaper rash. in amelia’s five months, she has only had very mild diaper rash, usually related to teething, and never lasting more than a day. bonus perk: cloth-diapered babies tend to potty train earlier, due to that wet feeling mentioned above, and i can definitely get behind less diapering in my life.
green living: this is really up for debate, because i’ve read studies that say that cloth diapering and disposable diapers are equally as bad for the environment; cloth diapers use hot water to wash them, disposables end up in landfills. so basically it’s a pick your poison kind of deal. for us, minimizing the physical trash we would have with a baby was important to us. now that i know how much laundry the cloth diapers create, it’s definitely not as much as i expected, so i’m happy with the direction we went. but this is definitely more of a side benefit that you can take or leave when making your decision.
teeny, tiny, wiggly baby amelia.
DRAWBACKS OF CLOTH DIAPERING
laundry: there is no denying that there is more laundry with cloth diapers. and there are some weeks (especially in the beginning) where you feel like you are washing diapers every.single.day. because you are. and it’s a bit rough. but as baby gets older, diaper laundry stretches a little longer, and you get so good at it that it doesn’t even feel like extra work anymore. we wash diapers every two days now, and it’s second nature to both of us.
learning curve: there is an art and a science to putting on the type of cloth diapers we use, and when you start out, it feels slow. it feels so much easier to just throw on a disposable. but let me tell you, you will change so many diapers in your first weeks as parents, that you will get really good really fast. Mister Man had never changed a diaper before having amelia, and he was a pro by week three.
portability: cloth diapers are bulkier than disposables, and also you can’t, you know, throw them away, so leaving the house with cloth diapers takes a little more thought. you need a wet bag to put the dirty diapers into so you can bring them home. you need an extra cover in the event of a blowout. full disclosure: we usually take disposable diapers with us in the diaper bag because it’s just easier to throw a bunch in there and not take up too much room. my goal for this year is to leave the house with just cloth as much as i can though.
obviously there is a lot to consider when making this decision. and for a lot of people, the ease of disposables outweighs the cost savings of cloth and that’s definitely okay. we used disposables on amelia the first week of her life because we were just trying to keep everyone alive. we compromise and use disposables most of the time when we’re out, and even at night when amelia is having a fit and it’s worth it to save the 5 extra seconds on the diaper change. we’re definitely not perfect!
if you do end up making the decision to use cloth diapers, the next step is choosing what kind of diaper to use, and developing a system for storing and washing the diapers. i wish that i had been able to find a practical example of how to wash cloth diapers before we had amelia, so my next post will include my step by step process for how we store and wash our cloth diapers.
for now, i’m off to feed and change that baby of mine!