While reading a(nother) parenting book recently, I came across a line that I couldn’t decide whether it made me angry or made me want to laugh.
The author said something along the lines of, “Cloth diapers are such an enormous added burden that I recommend using disposables until the child’s first birthday.”
You guys. That is just so laughably untrue.
I can personally attest that cloth diapering is not a huge deal. Seriously!
Before I had Lydia, I had already long established I would use cloth diapers. Disposables were out of the question. I just couldn’t justify the expense and the atrocious damage to the environment, especially now that there are so many easy cloth diapering options.
My family was supportive, but I could tell my Mom wasn’t so sure at first. She didn’t want me to overburden myself with work.
Her memory of cloth diapering is very different from mine, of course: she remembers the big sheets of flannel that had to be meticulously folded every day, the diaper pins and the plastic pants. I remember her having to slosh those sheets of stinky, poopy flannel around in the toilet before tossing them with a wet thump in the diaper pail. Ugh.
Remembering this, probably, she’d subtly hint every once in a while that maybe I should give disposables a chance.
You guys, I repeat: cloth diapering today is not the way it was for your mom.
But a lot of people still assume it’s too much work. A friend of mine recently laughed and said, “I’m too lazy for cloth diapers.” But the good news is: I’m pretty lazy, too! And it’s still not a big deal.
I thought I’d walk you through my cloth diapering cycle, to help you see how simple it really is.
Actually, I’ll cover that in my next post; first, I wanted to briefly explain why I find that cloth diapering is really not that big a deal.
The Hardest Part: Choosing!
By far, the hardest part of cloth diapering today is deciding what system to choose. The dizzying plethora of options can be downright debilitating.
Just surveying all the various choices was almost enough to make me want to give up before I even started. Do you want to go with fitteds, pockets, prefolds, or all-in-ones? Sized or one-size? Snap or Velcro? New or used . . . or even homemade? Do you buy from a brick-and-mortar store, or online? Some people have diaper services available to consider, too.
Once you’ve decided those things, you have to choose the material – cotton, organic cotton, or hemp? What about prints? What brands are the best? Do you want to add disposable liners or inserts to make cleanup easier?
Goodness! It is OVERWHELMING.
But please, don’t let that stop you. If you want, just start with a small batch to get you started, until you’ve figured out what you like best.
I have a couple of initial tips, when it comes to choosing diapering systems:
- Don’t go with cheap-o department store brands (available at places like Wal-Mart, Sears, or Babies-R-Us). They’ll leak, they won’t last, and they’re poorly designed. Just don’t. Trust me.
- Cloth diaperers invariably LOVE talking about cloth diapers. So if you know someone who uses them — even if you barely know them — talk to them about it. Ask for their advice. They’ll love it. You might not be able to get them to shut up.
- If you’re doing E.C., you probably want the least absorbent diaper, so you can feel the wetness and change your baby’s diaper right away. I know this goes against common wisdom. (Prefolds are good for this, BTW.)
Why Cloth Diapering is Not a Big Deal
Okay, a lot of people don’t know this, so I want to spread the word: for the first six months, while your baby eats nothing but breast milk, cloth diapering is a cinch. Here’s why:
The urine of breast-fed babies is odourless. The poop has a bit of a smell, but it’s not offensive. And the best part? The poop of breast-fed babies is completely water soluble, meaning you can just toss the dirty diaper into the diaper pail as is. This takes no more effort than a disposable diaper. Later, you dump the whole pail into the washing machine without any special treatment. Done and done.
(The runny, yellow poop of breast-fed babies does tend to stain quite a bit; but just because a diaper is stained, doesn’t mean it’s not clean. No one’s going to see the inside of your baby’s diaper. Don’t worry about it. You can bleach them in the sun when your baby has outgrown them, and periodically in between, if you want.)
After you introduce solids (at around 6 months), the poop needs to be removed before washing. Still no big deal (mostly). Sure, it’s stinky now. But it can usually just be plopped into the toilet and flushed. (Technically, you’re supposed to do this with disposables, too. It’s pretty sad to wrap up that totally biodegradable waste in non-biodegradable wrapping, to go sit in a landfill for a few millennia). If you need a little extra oomph to get it off, you can easily install a diaper sprayer onto the side of your toilet (more on this in my next post). But you don’t even need that for the first 6 months or so.
And if you practice part-time elimination communication, as we do, you will have to deal with very few poopy diapers. Except during her newborn stage, I have probably had to deal with, on average, one to four poopy diapers a month.
I also want to highlight the fact that blowouts are a lot less common with cloth diapers. Anyone I’ve talked to who uses cloth diapers can attest to that. You know how everyone has a story about how their baby blew poop all the way up to their necks? Yeah. That has never happened to me. The TWO times Lydia got poop on her clothes, I was using a disposable diaper.
And finally: diapering is diapering. One is not grosser than the other. Either way, you’re dealing with poop. But I must add that I find cloth diapering decidedly less smelly than disposables. They get washed every other day (instead of sitting in a garbage can for a week), and there are no plastics or chemicals or weird scents involved (IMO, disposable wipes = the ultimate stink).
Want to know our family’s super-simple diapering system? Stay tuned!
This post ended up being uber-long, so I decided to give you the details of my diapering system in a separate post (coming tomorrow).
Also, in case you weren’t already convinced that cloth diapers are a better choice in terms of cost, environmental impact, and your baby’s health, check out this post: Why Cloth?
I also really appreciated this FAQ page from our local cloth diaper store, Sweetheart Diapers.
Any thoughts or questions? Are you a cloth-diapering queen, and want to add your own suggestions for choosing a diapering system?