We haven't always cloth diapered. In fact, prior to my last baby (Adria, now 2 1/2) when I envisioned cloth diapers, I seriously envisioned a prefold with metal safety pins, all held in to place by good ol' rubber pants. And, I'm not even sure I've ever seen a pair of real-life rubber pants, but that's what I had in my mind. Leave It To Beaver days.
Little did I know that these aren't the days of my momma's cloth diaper. Things have changed. Cloth diapers are not only not scary...they are wonderful. And cute. And addictive.
One day, in the earlier part of my pregnancy with Adria while I was meandering through a baby fair, I came upon the display of a diaper service business. The lady was nice and the information was profound. I took the information and then I went home and researched it. I knew soon thereafter that we were going to be cloth diapering. My husband- the doctor and also a man of convenience- surprisingly didn't bat an eye...once it was explained to him that he would not have to wash them.
THE BENEFITS OF CLOTH DIAPERING
- Avoidance of the chemicals that are found in most disposable diapers...Bleach, chlorine, 'superabsorbent' gel, dyes, and fragrance.
- Environmentally friendly:
Cloth dipes are much less of a strain on Mother Earth than disposable dipes. If you do a bit of research, you'll find the more than 200,000 trees each year are lost due to the manufacturing of disposable diapers for babies (in the U.S. alone!). In addition, it takes 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil every year to make diapers. It's estimated that disposable diapers require 20 times more raw materials, two times more water and three times more energy to make than cloth diapers. Pure cotton, bamboo, or hemp are much friendlier for Earth Momma!
Also, cloth diapers equate to reduced waste in our landfills. It's thought that disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose in our landfills (though we don't know how long, exactly). Think of all of the diapers your little one goes through each day...now each week...each month...and each year. Yep, that's a lot of diapers. Cloth stays out of the landfills!
- Less diaper rash.
Why? Refer back to the first benefit discussed. Yep...no artifical chemicals and dyes means nothing to irritate baby. Also, because cloth diapers have none of those 'superabsorbent' gel beads or lining to soak up urine for hours, it does require more frequent changing. This is a good thing, I swear! This also attributes to less incidence of diaper rash.
If you haven't already checked out some styles and prints of cloth diapers, do it. But prepared to become obsessed. There are many different styles, colors, sizes, and prints. At my shop, Betula Baby (who I run alongside the Tidy Tush, a local diaper service), we keep it simple and carry Thirties, Rumparooz, and Alva.
LET'S TALK MONEY
Being the owner of a baby boutique, I of course love to help out moms and dads support their cloth diaper addiction. But even with all the fun and funky prints and accessories taken into consideration, cloth diapering can equate to SAVING money! I did a quick online store price eval and found that it's pretty average for mid-range diapers in a value pack to be about .25 cents each. If you cloth diaper and choose to wash your own, the yearly cost of diapering can be significantly less than those disposables. If you're like me and choose to use a a diaper service, it still ends up being slightly cheaper (though, depending on where you live and the price of your service, it could end up being about the same or slightly more. BUT- refer back to the aforementioned benefits of cloth diapering. My vote is- it's still worth it.)
Our local diaper service is Tidy Tush and the yearly fee is $900. For $900 you get all the pre-folds that you need, tote bags for pick up and drop off, and the luxury of getting your diapers freshly and beautifully laundered and delivered right back to your door. And, if you're blessed like me, your very own lovely Tidy Tush diaper lady is also included and at your disposal for all of your diapering and baby questions. ;-)
THE HOW TO'S (Let's not make mountains out of molehills...it's pretty uncomplicated. Really.)
Remove diaper from baby.
Put the diaper in the diaper pail or wet bag. Yes. Nastiness and all. (No worries, you have a get out of jail free card until about 6 months or whenever you begin solids. Then the turds come.)
Put pre-fold diaper insert into diaper cover. Snap (or velco) shut.
Put dirties out on porch on diaper day.
Ok...there's my regimen. That was easy!
But what if you choose to wash them yourself? Then continue on.
4. Throw diapers (and wet bag, if you use one) into wash. Wash twice on Heavy Duty (some choose to use a bit of bleach, some don't and just use a basic detergent), and if all is well and no ammonia smell is present (then that calls for a simple vinegar soak, if so), then put through another cycle, but with no detergent or bleach. This is the in-depth rinse cycle, getting the diapers agitated, spinning, and rinsing in just plain water. Repeat again.
5. Dry. (Some hang dry, our 'diaper lady' puts them in the dryer.)
ISN'T IT COMPLICATED TO CLOTH DIAPER?
(Yeah...no. If we can do it, so can you!)
There are many options when it comes to brands and types of cloth diapers, but we keep it simple and use two things: A waterproof cover (Thirsties, Rumparooz) and a cotton pre-fold. Put the pre-fold inside the liner and wa-la! You've done it.
Why do I personally prefer covers and prefolds? Well, because it's less bulk for the wet bag and less wash (even if I don't technically wash them myself, I still care.). Unless the baby has pooped or seriously messed up the cover, it is easily wipeable and then made new by a fresh pre-fold.
So...for all the moms and dads who are shocked or fascinated or even curious about cloth diapering, now you know. We aren't the most 'crunchy granola', we don't exactly have oodles of spare time on our hands (if you know us, this statement is funny...), and we don't particularly like extra poop exposure or extra work...but, WE LOVE CLOTH DIAPERING, for oh so many reasons!