It’s been a more than three year relationship – me and cloth diapers. I know, my son (and only child so far) is only 2 ½ and he’s been potty trained for several months. The obvious question is why am I still obsessed and why would I start this love affair before my son was even born?
Because cloth diapers are awesome.
There are a variety of reasons I love them – benefits to the environment, health of my little guy, cost, cuteness and the network of moms it has introduced me to.
I decided before I was even pregnant that cloth diapers were to me. Anyone who knew my twin sister and me five years ago would have said, “Sarah will definitely be super green mom – cloth diapers, wipes, homemade baby food, and all that green stuff. Not Abbey. She’d never do that.”
Well, flash forward a few years. My little guy cloth diapered until he was potty trained and a crunchy hippie baby complete with an amber teething necklace and my nephew is in sposies and living the more “traditional” baby lifestyle. Neither is a better way; they are just different. And far different than anyone who knew us a few years ago would have ever expected.
I first started to consider cloth diapers as a way to save money. Some people’s initial interest is the environment, some is the health factor and some don’t care about any of that and just think they are adorable. Well the cost factor got me started but all the others sucked me in.
Even before I understood how they worked I’d made up my mind I would do it. My mom, who cloth diapered my sister and me out of necessity 32 years ago, thought I was crazy. She was thinking it would involve safety pins, poked skin, plastic pants and stinky bins of dipes.
These aren’t you moms (or grandmothers) cloth diapers. The “modern cloth diaper” can be almost identical to disposable diaper, yet it is completely reusable. There are several different types of diapers and I won’t go into all of them; just know there are some that are as simple as disposable.
What I did was explore what diaper types there were; I visited stores to actually put my hands on them and attended a Cloth Diaper 101 class. I also talked to my sister-in-law who also used them; she was the only person in “real life” that I knew who cloth diapered at that point.
Once I figured out what I liked I started to purchase one per pay period after I got pregnant. I did have to stop myself from buying them before; but I was pretty superstitious and didn’t want anyone to buy anything until after we were pregnant.
I chose mostly pocket diapers but had a variety of different brands. And even after I had my stash well built up I had a hard time not looking (and in a few cases) buying diapers. I even bought one after Miles was potty trained – it was an adorable owl diaper. I couldn’t resist. My only other diaper need, and I am talking need, not want, is a newsprint diaper. I am still waiting to find one within my price range.
Here’s a quick list of why I love my cloth diapers:
Environment – An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used every year in the U.S. with each baby using an average of 2,788 diapers a year. That’s a TON of diapers in the landfill. And if you read a diaper package it says that all fecal matter (the baby poo) should be put in the toilet before it goes in the trash can. But how many of us actually do that with disposables? I’d say that number is extraordinarily low. That means there’s lots of poo in our landfills.
Cost – The total cost for one year of diapers, by some estimates, is more than $550. I’ve seen much higher too. And we use cloth wipes too, so that saves us an additional around $300 for the baby years. And of course there is some cost associated with cloth dipes. The upfront cost, if you were to buy all at once, can be a little overwhelming. But you can get a good stash for about $350. You can spend even less or much more. I spent about $300 but did it a little at a time.
Health – Disposable diapers are so absorbent because they use chemicals. They use traces of dioxin, a toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is banned in most countries; not the U.S. They also contain TBT a toxic pollutant that is said to cause hormonal issues. The super absorbent polymer uses a similar substance that was linked to toxic shock syndrome with tampon use in the early 1980s. I know the majority of kids use disposables and have NO issues, but knowing that Miles wasn’t exposed to those things constantly for two years was a comfort to me.
Cuteness – They are just so gosh darn cute! What is more adorable than a baby with a fluffy cloth diaper booty? There are so many cute patterns and colors. It is so easy to get sucked into the cute factor.
Potty-training ease – Before Miles’ second birthday we had already started potty-training following his lead. And just a month after that birthday he had the hang of it. We are still working on naptime and nighttime but for the most part have the potty thing down. This is much earlier than all of my friends with little guys or gals Miles’ age. They say cloth diapered kids get the hang of it sooner and easier than those in sposies.
Introduction to healthier lifestyle – An unexpected benefit of my cloth diaper choice was the introduction it gave me to a much more natural lifestyle. One choice has led to another. I’ve met lots of like-minded mommas through all this.
With all that said, my kid’s booty has definitely been in disposables. When we travelled (other than to my moms) we used disposables. We went through a phase where we used them overnight. We used them the handful of times we struggled with diaper rash.
Of course there are some challenges – more laundry, some effort to prepare them for use and sometimes there are struggles with leaking/finding the right fit/absorbency. But we decided the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
So my quick little post about my obsession turned into a big long post. That’s what happens when you are really excited about something.
Anyway, please post questions or your thoughts about cloth diapers. I LOVE to talk about them, obviously!