April 2, 2013 by Ellen V
This post has been a long time coming, but since people ask us all the time why we cloth diaper, I thought I’d finally get it out there.
Let me just start by saying that we totally understand why a person would choose not to go with cloth. There are lots of factors that go into the choices we make, especially when it comes to our children, but for us, the longer we have stuck with cloth, the less we can imagine a closet full of disposables!
I began thinking seriously about one day using cloth diapers with our children when my good friend Jen was pregnant and totally excited about her discovery of gDiapers. Jen has this awesome way of getting me excited about just about anything she’s excited about, so she filled me with intrigue from that conversation. It wasn’t until a year later that I was pregnant and looking into my diaper choices seriously, but that conversation definitely stuck with me. After that, I paid much more attention to what other people were putting on their babies’ bottoms, and it was certainly influential in our ultimate decision to try cloth diapering.
We have dozens of reasons why we started cloth diapering, and lots more reasons why we continue. The most compelling reasons for us are, as follows:
1. Cost The astronomical price of disposable diapers is the number one reason we got serious about undertaking a cloth diapering adventure. There’s all sorts of cost break downs out there, but no matter how you slice it, cloth is definitely cheaper. We got a few diaper covers as gifts and used a few gift cards and credit card rewards to cover the upfront cost, so even that didn’t hit us too hard. If cost is a factor for you, I wouldn’t hesitate to shop large consignment sales or resale websites. Lots of people try cloth diapering and give up quickly or try a few brands and end up with one they love, so there are lots of people out there trying to get rid of cloth diapers that are barely used. If we ever need to add to our stash, this will definitely be the way we go.
2. Environment I think we would have found a way to make ends meet and buy disposable diapers if it weren’t our concern for the environment. The amount of diapers that end up in landfills every year is atrocious! Add to it the nasty chemicals in most diapers (especially the brands we can afford!), and we were convinced that the environmental benefits of cloth diapering added to their value. Some out there argue that the water used in doing all that extra laundry negates any impact cloth diapering has, but I just don’t believe that’s true.
3. Side Benefits Like most babies, Jane’s skin is somewhat sensitive, but she has had almost zero diaper rash. In fact, the only times she’s ever battled any kind of diaper rash have been after long car trips when she’s been in–guess what–disposable diapers. A gentle detergent on soft cloth without the chemicals of disposable diapers have been good to us! In addition, Jane seems to be already moving toward good signs for toilet training. Because he diapers allow her to feel some wetness, she can tell when she’s wet and even hold it when she wants to. We’re hoping for an easy time when toilet training comes! And, finally, there’s the cuteness factor. Come on, those little cloth diapers are adorable!
Of course, there are a few scenarios in which I would be hard pressed to cloth diaper. If I didn’t have in-home laundry, I’m not sure we could do cloth. Diaper services are a little beyond our budget, but they might be the ticket for someone who doesn’t have access to a facility to launder diapers in their home. Also, care givers certainly have to be on board. Some day care centers will cloth diaper for you, but many won’t. If Jane was in full-time childcare at a place that wasn’t open to cloth diapering, we probably wouldn’t go back and forth from disposable to cloth. That’s just the honest truth. We have been majorly blessed to have caregivers open to supporting us in our choice to use cloth diapers.
We give ourselves a few breaks, enough that we can’t say we exclusively cloth diaper. Jane uses one disposable overnight. This has been helpful in sleep training, as I couldn’t give myself the excuse that she needed to be changed. Now, the habit is so entrenched that we’ve decided that the quarter or less a disposable diaper costs is worth the piece of mind. As I mentioned, we also give ourselves a break when we take long trips. A car ride over an hour long usually means disposables while we’re traveling, as it helps us stop at least a little less frequently. Typically, we take a large stash of cloth with us for when we arrive at our destination. The first and only trip we’ve taken where Jane was in disposables the entire time was when we went to Texas in February. For me, it simply wasn’t worth the hassle of bringing a big stash of cloth diapers across the countries. These are the times for which disposable diapers were made.
What makes our cloth diapering successful?
- We committed, up front, for at least one month to exclusively cloth diapering, except at night. When we brought Jane home from the hospital, we gave ourselves two weeks to adjust to just having a baby before we worried about diapering. This allowed us to use up the disposable gifts and take homes from the hospital and get into a routine. After our two weeks were up, we both swore up and down that we would keep Jane in cloth, including on trips outside the house. I think this commitment, and our encouraging one another in it, really sealed the deal on our choice to cloth diaper. The rest is just a bonus!
- We invested time and money up front to set ourselves up for success. We did some research and bought enough supplies that cloth diapering really could be successful. We were mentally invested but also financially committed to making sure cloth diapering worked.
- We perfected our wash routine to keep our diapers in good, lasting shape, smelling clean, and without any residue or build up. Since everyone’s water and washing machine is a little different, everyone’s washing routine will be a little different. A couple months of committed trial and error, though, went a long way for us.
- We made sure our other caregivers were on board, including Jane’s regular nanny. Almost every single babysitter has been more than willing to help us with our endeavor to cloth diaper.
- We think about the future which we hope includes siblings for Jane, but at the very least can include some resale value (or at least a donation to like-minded friends!). This will stretch the value of our diapers exponentially. The more uses we get out of our cloth diapers, the better for our wallets and for the environment.
- We’re open to tips from people who’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have! On my wish list right now is a diaper sprayer, which I think will make my life awesome. I’m not afraid to call or email customer service if I’m having a problem or to stalk the forums to see what advice is out there.
We haven’t done everything perfectly, of course. I might have shopped around a little more when choosing brands to diaper with, if I could do it all over again. We’ve been very happy with our diapers, but I get a little pang of jealousy when I babysit my friend’s baby with her all-in-ones. It certainly took a long time to get a washing routine down that I was happy with, and I know it didn’t need to take as long as it did. But all in all, we’re so happy with cloth diapering that it’s mostly love that I share!
We hope we have been able to encourage others, too. We have a few friends who are new parents or are expecting, and I am always so delighted when I overhear Eric telling the guys what a good experience we’ve had. If that’s not telling, I’m not sure what is.