Modern Cloth DiaperingMar 19, 2014 ● By Hood Magazine
Photo courtesy of Finished Vision Photography
When we found out that we were expecting our first child, I started to think about every little thing that would affect our baby. I did my research, both in store and online, talked to many trusted, like-minded parents, and decided that cloth diapering made the most sense for us for many reasons.
Being a professional in the banking industry, it was natural to consider the costs of each choice. When you cloth diaper, you usually purchase about 20 diapers, a wet bag (a moisture and odor resistant zipper bag you use to store dirty cloth diapers when you are away from home) and a diaper sprayer that you attach to your toilet. Those items will cost about $450 right away. That might seem like a big investment, but stay with me and read on. We decided to purchase everything brand new directly from a local store, although there are other less expensive avenues. We knew that if we diapered our child until the age of 2 we would spend at least $2,000 on disposal diapers, and that is assuming they are potty trained by that age. Instantly, we knew we would save money because we were committed to this. It wasn't just something that we were going to try. When you cloth diaper, all children after your oldest are diapered at no cost. We now have a second child and did not spend any additional money to purchase cloth diapers. So now we are set to save the second round of $2,000 for disposable diapers. Just a quick tally on the savings for our household so far: $1,550 for our first child and $2,000 for our second totaling $3,550. I can think of many things I would rather spend $3,550 on!
Saving money was not the only benefit we found using cloth diapers. We have saved many trips to the store to purchase diapers resulting in a huge time savings. There are no late night diaper shopping trips at our house. We simply plan ahead and wash them when we have about five left in the changing table. Time is valuable when you have little ones, and if you could choose between loading up your baby and driving to the store or washing and drying a load of laundry in the comfort of your home, wouldn't you choose to stay home and play with your precious little one every time? Consider the additional amount of cargo you would need to carry into your house after a trip to the store after you purchased disposable diapers. Those boxes are huge, and most parents have the baby carrier in one hand and the baby bag in the other making it necessary to make an additional trip from the car to the house to collect the diapers. We have a very busy life going in many directions all week; anything we can do to simplify, we do it.
Wash, did you say wash? Yes, you do need to wash cloth diapers. This is the part where most people tend to think there is a lot of work involved. Actually, you just use your diaper sprayer that is attached to your toilet, spray off what you need to, and throw the diapers in a plastic tote with a lid until you wash them, which is usually every second or third day. No presoaking is necessary unlike cloth diapers from 30 years ago. I rinse the load of diapers on cold for 20 minutes with no soap and then run them through a hot water cycle with natural soap. We use a natural laundry powder because it doesn't have fillers and dyes. We have a front load washer and dryer, so the energy cost is minimal. If you choose to dry your diapers on a clothesline, you would be able to save that energy cost. Because cloth diapers are washed, your garbage does not fill up with stinky diapers, and the need to purchase a diaper genie is eliminated. This also saves money and time.
How much time does it take to maintain cloth diapers? I am a multi-tasking mama. I usually wash diapers every second or third night. I would estimate that I spend about 5-10 minutes total between spaying the dirty diapers, putting them in the washing machine to rinse, going back to wash, and then drying and putting them back together. We have the pocket diapers with two pieces, including the outer waterproof cover and the cloth insert that needs to be replaced in the pocket after each cleaning. As your child grows, if you have the one size adjustable diapers, you will need to resize the adjustable elastic bands on the waist and legs. This probably takes about an hour when you decide to adjust them. We have adjusted our diapers twice as our second child is using them now and we needed them to be the smaller size again for her.
Cloth diapers come in many styles, colors, fabrics and brands. There are a few stores that sell them locally, or you can purchase them online. I recommend purchasing locally because our stores have good customer service and they are happy to answer questions.
Because cloth diapers are made of soft cloth, not crunchy paper-like material, they are not able to hold the unnatural amount of liquid that disposable diapers can. Have you ever seen those toddlers walking around with a disposable diaper that is so full it is literally making them walk funny? That doesn't happen with toddlers wearing cloth diapers because you do need to change them a little more often. This is actually a good thing because the increased changes and the type of natural cotton or hemp material that is against the child’s skin reduces diaper rashes. Your child is going to dirty their diaper just as often no matter what type of diaper they are in, and most parents would want to change their child’s diaper as soon as they knew it was dirty. We actually haven’t had a diaper rash incident in the two and half years that we have used cloth diapers. No diaper rash means happier kiddos and family.
Another benefit of cloth diapers is that cloth diapered children usually potty train quicker, and you can get out of this stage faster. The reason is because they can feel that they are wet and that is uncomfortable. Therefore, they potty train more quickly.
What if my daycare provider doesn't like the idea of cloth diapers? This can be a tough topic, but I would challenge parents to talk to their daycare provider about it. It would be a deal breaker for me. You are the parent, and need to do what you choose is best for your child, which includes not changing your ways to accommodate someone else. Do not be afraid to look for daycare options that support your choice to cloth diaper. You ultimately want a daycare provider that supports your parenting choices and what is best for your child. Cloth diapers do not take any additional time or energy. They do not need to be sprayed off immediately. They just need to be placed in the wet bag and zipped up until the parent arrives at the daycare that evening. It’s actually easier for the daycare because your child is not contributing to the amount of diapers filling their garbage. Think about why you chose to cloth diaper your child, and decide if you want to find someone who supports your choices.
Etiquette is also an issue with disposable diapers. If you are at a friend or family member’s house and have to change your child’s disposable diaper, it is usually left in their garbage. If you cloth diaper, you take it with you in your wet bag that fits discreetly in your child’s diaper bag.
Here was our list of pros and cons when considering our diapering options:
- Cute colors/prints and styles
- Better for child’s skin
- Reduced or no diaper rashes
- Softer/natural material
- Time savings
- More laundry
- Uncooperative daycare
- More frequent changes – this may equally offset the time savings
Myths busted: The washing machine does not smell like diapers, and cloth diapered children do not walk bow-legged.