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.
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.
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…
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.
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.