Cloth Diapering: It is Easier Than You Think!
Cloth diapering is a great way to save money and the planet – and it’s healthier for your baby too! Before you start picturing yourself wrist deep in a toilet rinsing poop out of a diaper, or accidentally stabbing your baby with a diaper pin, let me reassure you that cloth diapers have changed a lot since the days when your parents and grandparents were doing it. Pins and plastic pants are a thing of the past, as are diaper pails filled with bleach water for soaking. You don’t even have to do anything with your poopy diapers until after your baby starts solid food, and even then there are a variety of hands off methods for removal.
As someone with almost 10 years experience working in the cloth diaper industry running a diaper service and natural parenting store, and who has cloth diapered three kids, I can tell you that it’s really not nearly as hard as it seems. There are several styles of cloth diapers, and while many people still choose prefolds and covers (the old fashioned style you fasten onto the baby, but with a Snappi fastener instead of pins) there are also options that go on just like a disposable diaper and close with snaps or Velcro, but are simply washed instead of being thrown into the garbage. The average baby will help approximately one ton of diapers make their way into the landfill between birth and potty learning.
Benefits of Cloth Diapering
By choosing cloth, you can spend hundreds of dollars instead of thousands. If you take good care of your diapers, you can also reasonably expect to be able to use them on more than one baby. I even have a few that made it through to our third child! Even starting after your baby is already here can save; a set of cloth diapers is usually similar in cost to roughly six months worth of disposable diapers. Babies who are cloth diapered are exposed to far less chemicals, and you’re in control over what those are through your detergent choices. Cloth diapered babies also often potty train earlier because they are more aware of when they go, and they generally experience less diaper rashes too.
One of the best things about cloth diapering is that it is not an all or nothing choice. You can cloth diaper your baby part time, many families choose to use cloth at home but disposables when out of the house or at daycare (though more daycares are willing to use cloth every day) and that’s a perfectly valid choice! Every time you use a cloth diaper, you’re keeping a disposable diaper out of the landfill and saving money as well!
How to Learn About Cloth Diapering
The best way to learn about cloth diapering is in person, where you can see and touch the diapers and ask questions. Googling can quickly be overwhelming, and there’s also a lot of bad advice out there, like anything on the internet. I recommend taking a class or connecting with a friend who cloth diapers at the very least. Also, like everything, you get what you pay for when it comes to cloth diapers. You can find inexpensive, direct from overseas options online as well, but these diapers are often not compliant with safety testing regulations (untested diapers have been found to have lead in the snaps!) and infringe on intellectual property of American manufacturers, as well as being significantly lower quality. Choosing to support any of the many family run small businesses that make their diapers here in the USA is a far better choice for many reasons.
If you decide to cloth diaper from birth, you’ll need two sizes (possibly three if you choose prefolds) before your baby is out of diapers. A newborn set, which will usually fit up to about 15 pounds, and a “one-size” set, which begins to fit around 12 pounds for most babies. Don’t let the labels on these diapers fool you — one size diapers will not work well for newborns, no matter what weight they list as the lowest range. There are almost no baby items that work from birth to age three or four with only one size or level, and it’s pretty amazing that cloth diapers manage to do it with only two!
Diaper Services Can Help
There are also a variety of options for those who are hesitant to invest in set of newborn diapers and even for those who don’t want to wash their own diapers but want to cloth diaper their baby. Newborn diaper rentals are a great and inexpensive way to get a set of diapers to use for the newborn period. Cloth diaper service is the perfect option for busy professionals or those who just don’t want to do the diaper laundry themselves (though it’s really not bad at all — I promise!), you can put your dirty diapers on the porch once a week and they’ll magically be replaced with a bag of fresh, clean diapers to use for the next week. Many families will also choose diaper service for the newborn period and then switch to washing their own diapers once their baby is big enough for the one-size diapers. Diaper Service is generally on par with the cost of using disposable diapers, or can even be cheaper than disposables if you have multiple children in diapers.
Where to Buy Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers can also be purchased secondhand if you’re on a tight budget. They can be found online of course, but I recommend buying them in person at a consignment sale or picking them up from a local seller so that you can see (and smell!) them to be sure they’re really in good shape. Finally, there are also cloth diaper banks available for anyone in need, and we have a local chapter of Share The Love right here in Pittsburgh! You need only qualify for WIC to be able to qualify for this program. If you’re looking to buy new, shopping small (locally or online) is always the best choice in my somewhat biased opinion, but cloth diapering is also becoming more mainstream and they can even be found in some big box stores now.
Cloth Diapering = Convenience
Truly, cloth diapering is something that everyone should consider. It’s an easy way to save money and the environment, and while the idea of it may seem overwhelming at first, in the end it’s just a couple of extra loads of laundry a week, which I personally always found more convenient than having to go to the store to buy diapers.
Many of the things you use while cloth diapering also have life after potty training: prefold diapers are some of the best rags ever, wet bags are great for containing anything messy or damp from bathing suits to gym clothes, cloth wipes are excellent small rags and diaper pail liners are great reusable trash can liners, just to name a few. Remember, it’s not all or nothing, and it’s not nearly as hard to do as it seems when you’re trying to research it all. Don’t be scared to give it a try!
Article by Judy McAuley, Owner of Happy Baby Company, home of Green Cheeks Diaper Service.
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