There are a lot of decisions to make when you have a baby. From birth preferences to sleep methods, it takes a combination of intuition, research and trial-and-error to figure out exactly what works for you and your baby. But there was one thing I was certain about before even becoming pregnant: we would cloth diaper our baby.
I have always tried to live more on the green side, so to me cloth diapering was a no brainer. But the people around us weren’t so sure. When we told everyone we’d be using cloth, we got a lot of eye rolls or questions of the are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-that variety. Some of the biggest reservations came from our own parents who cloth diapered us. But cloth diapers have come a long ways since then.
When I told my mom, she had visions of diaper pins and wet pails. I’m happy to report I’ve never used either of them. With disposables being so “convenient,” many people wondered why we would choose a diapering system that would be so “messy.” Well, we’ve now had three kids in diapers and let me say, we’ve experienced plenty of convenience and little mess along the way.
For us, we use cloth because of frugality, environment, health and simplicity. While my initial decision had to do with environmental reasons, I soon realized just how much money we could save. I recently did a rough tally of the costs we have put into our diapers and accessories so far. Our first potty trained at age three-and-a-half (that’s another blog post for another day), our second trained at two and our baby is six months. Our total cost for our pre-folds, covers, diaper pail liners, rice paper liners, etc. has been around $600. And, the small-sized pre-folds and covers are still in great shape, so I’m about to sell those. In other words, not only have we saved thousands of dollars, but now we will be getting some money back.
As for health, I am comforted by the fact that the chemicals used in disposables are not constantly against the skin of my babies, especially when their skin is so sensitive and when not enough time has passed to fully understand the possible effects they may have. We also choose to use cloth wipes wetted with just water for similar reasons.
Some may think it’s crazy to say cloth diapers are simple. While it does take some practice, once you get the hang of things, changing a cloth diaper takes no more time than a disposable. As for the clean up, nothing special has to be done when the baby is exclusively breastfed. It all gets washed out in the washing machine. Once the baby starts on formula and solids, the poop needs to be disposed of in the toilet. We choose to use flushable rice paper liners that catch the poop and is easily dumped into the toilet and flushed down. But, did you know that it is advised that poop in disposables also be flushed instead of being put into landfills and causing potential contamination? So technically, that’s shouldn’t be considered an extra step for cloth users.
To those who are on the fence about cloth, I say just give it a try without totally committing. We used a cloth diaper service for the first few weeks with our first. Once we knew we wanted to continue, we bought our own stash. If no diaper service exists in your area, many online cloth diaper stores offer trail packs.
As with any parenting decision, listen to your heart. You will probably have plenty of people around you who won’t understand why you’d choose cloth. But hopefully as more and more people see its benefits, cloth will become the norm and not the exception.