Cloth Diapering

I have a confession. I use cloth diapers on my baby. When people ask me about it, I never really know what to say, especially because they are usually looking at me like I am crazy. I fear that justifying my own choice makes me sound self-righteous or judgmental, even though I don’t feel that way. That being said, cloth diapering is one of the best choices I have ever made as a parent. I realize it isn’t for everyone, but I sure wish more people would give it a whirl (see the end of this post for information on how you can try cloth diapering for $15). So, anyway, I usually try to avoid the topic. My standard canned answer is that it’s just something that I felt was right for me and my baby. But I get asked often enough that I thought maybe I could share a little bit more about how I came to use cloth diapers and what it’s really like to use them.

Why cloth?

The most common question people ask me is why did I choose to use cloth diapers instead of disposables. Well, with my first son, I *did* use disposable diapers.  I wanted to use cloth, but apparently my Google-fu was lacking, because the only options I discovered at the time were a diaper delivery service and a weird partially-flushable product called gDiapers. I researched both, determined neither was for me, and went with disposables. I really didn’t know there were other options.

So, why cloth this time around?  Well, I think disposable diapers are gross. There, I said it. One could argue that all diapers are gross. Many people certainly think that cloth diapers are gross. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I personally hated using disposable diapers. I hate the smell of them, even when they’re clean. I cringed when that chemical gel would leak out and stick to my baby’s genitals. I worried about the chemicals in the diapers and hated that the chlorine-free ones were so much more expensive.  Then there was the trash. Every time we would take a bag of dirty diapers out to the trash, my stomach would lurch. Not only did it smell, but I hated the thought of throwing all that poop in a landfill.

When my second baby was on the way, I found myself getting really stressed out about using disposable diapers again, especially considering how much I’ve learned in the last 4 years about the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis and the impact of that on our health. I started looking into cloth again and found that in the last 4-5 years, things had come a long way in the cloth diapering world. Within an hour of browsing on the Internet, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

My mom used cloth diapers and hated the pins…

If you’re still with me, you may be wondering how exactly cloth diapering works. I know moms who considered cloth, but they mentioned it to their own mothers, who horrified them with stories of pins, plastic pants, and bleach-filled pails. Trust me when I say it’s not like that anymore! There are dozens of options when it comes to cloth diapers, and people choose different kinds based on what works with their lifestyle and budget.  I’ll tell you how mine work. I use a type of diaper called an “all in one”.  This means that it has the absorbent layers and the waterproof layer all in one piece, so it goes on and off just like a disposable diaper. I use mainly two brands of diapers, Nana’s Bottoms and bumGenius Elementals. These diapers are so luxurious, made from bamboo velour and organic cotton. It feels great to put these materials against my baby’s skin and know that there are no mysterious chemicals…

Velour diapers sound nice, but tell me about the poop…

Okay, that’s always a big concern. The poop. Here’s the way I look at it. As a parent, you are going to be dealing with a lot of poop. No matter what, you’re going to be changing poopy diapers and wiping poopy bottoms. The main difference is, when you use cloth, you need to get the poop into the toilet. My husband installed a little sprayer contraption on the side of the toilet, and I basically spray the poop into the toilet, then the diaper goes in the diaper pail. There are also flushable liners that you can put inside the diaper, so when your baby poops, it gets on the liner and you just peel that off and throw it in the toilet.  Pee diapers go straight into the diaper pail. We use cloth wipes, too, so they go into the pail with everything else. Oh, and the diaper pail is just a trash can with a waterproof, washable liner.  It’s not filled with any liquid and certainly no bleach.

So, the poop doesn’t sound bad. But what about the laundry???
Laundry is probably the #1 reason people choose not to use cloth diapers. We all have enough laundry to do, especially with a new baby. Who wants to do another 3 loads a week? I just look at it like this. We do a lot of things for our children that we never think twice about. If you just look at diaper laundry as a fact of life, you get over it fast. Plus, many people who absolutely hate doing laundry actually like doing diaper laundry. There’s nothing like a laundry basket full of warm, clean, cotton diapers!!!  I wash my diapers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My routine is like this: Dump the contents of the diaper pail into the washer. Do an initial cold rinse with oxygen bleach. Do a heavy duty hot wash with Tide and use the extra rinse option. Dry the diapers in the dryer with another load of laundry to save electricity.

I’m lucky because I don’t have to commute. It’s very easy for me to throw a load of diaper laundry in first thing in the morning, switch it to the dryer at lunch, and put them away after work. For a working mom with a commute, it is a little tougher. But just like putting fresh food on the table every night, it just takes some planning. Make it a part of your routine, and it’s no big deal. 

I saw a diaper for $25! That’s crazy expensive! I can’t afford it!

It’s true, there is an initial investment to use cloth diapers. You have to purchase 24-ish diapers and some accessories, most of which are optional. In the long run, however, using cloth saves money, especially if you use the diapers for multiple children. Let’s say it costs the average family $2,000 to buy disposable diapers for one child — this is a conservative estimate. You could buy 24 bumGenius Elementals diapers — I’m talking organic cotton, luxurious diapers — for $600.  Estimate another $200 for cloth wipes, wet bags, and diaper pail liners (all of which is washable and reusable for the lifetime of your diapers). And I’ve seen a reliable figure that it costs approximately $400 to do the diaper laundry for three years. That comes to $1,200. Right there you are seeing a $800 savings by using cloth. Of course, bumGenius Elementals are the Mercedes Benz of cloth. You can easily buy all your cloth diapers for under $200 and save much more. Also, if you have two children, that would be $4,000 for disposables but for cloth you can use the same diapers and accessories for both children.
I’m interested but intimidated… I wouldn’t know where to start.

I have had several moms tell me that they are curious about cloth diapers but (a) don’t want to spend the money on diapers they may not like, (b) are afraid the laundry will be too stressful, or (c) just don’t know how to get started. I know cloth diapering isn’t for everyone, but I also know people who are interested and don’t realize that they can actually try it out very easily by doing a diaper trial. Diaper trials work like this: You pay a deposit plus a fee of about $15.  Use the diapers for ~3 weeks, return what you don’t want, keep what you like, and get the deposit back for what you return. This is a great way to find out what diapers you like best, or to find out if you even like cloth diapering at all.  Hate it?  Return everything and you’re only out the $15 fee. Two diaper trial programs I recommend are:
So, there you have it.
That’s it! Why I do it, how I do it, and how you can try it out. I really recommend that if you’re at all curious, you do the diaper trial. Worst case scenario, you hate everything about it and are out $15. Who knows, you may find out it works great for you, too!
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6 Responses to Cloth Diapering

  1. Alicia says:

    Great post!

  2. aime says:

    Awesome post 🙂

  3. PandaBear says:

    I know what you mean about being afraid to answer the question for fear of seeming self righteous. I just don't get why anyone would not want to use cloth, unless their day care would not do it. But you could still do cloth at home. Both my husband and I were cloth diapered though, so it just seemed like the thing to do. I LOVE cloth diapering! It is just so easy. We use cloth wipes too – all those wonderful baby washcloths I got as shower gifts are perfect for wipes! Wipe solution is just tea tree oil, lavender oil, and witch hazel. I actually wrote a blog post about this earlier last week:http://pandazen.com/2011/01/08/cloth-diapers/Did you do one of the trials first or just take the plunge and buy your stash? We built up gradually – some prefolds and some gently used pockets from ebay followed by new pockets and prefolds. I think the total has come to about $400 now and we have a stash at home and at grandmas 🙂 Buying secondhand cuts the cost too – many people will buy them, say its not for me and then resell.

  4. TheDearmanFamily says:

    I like this! And, I know that I seem self-righteous when I talk about cloth diapers…..because I know they are best. Nobody will ever brag about a disposable diaper being better.

  5. Violet Monkey says:

    Great post. I don't have any children, yet, but have already been thinking about cloth diapers…I have heard good things about bumGenuis and Fuzzi Bunz.Oh, and I'm a professional Nanny… so yeah, I deal with a lot of poop on a daily basis. ;)~ PS – headed over here from Kath's site… Hi!

  6. Christine says:

    Hi Violet, welcome to WTFD! I like the organic cotton bumGenius. Hated Fuzzibunz but many (MANY) people love them.

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