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Considering Cloth Diapers?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

My story on cloth diapering appeared in the January issue of Parents magazine. It’s called Diaper Decisions, and it’s on page 78 (or you can read it here). If you’re at all considering cloth diapering your baby, check it out. I did lots of research, interviewed lots of experts and boiled the whole topic down to the basics. Which was surprisingly hard. But when I think back to my own route to using cloth diapers, it shouldn’t have been that surprising.

My first pregnancy, I was very overwhelmed at the idea of having a baby. Terrified, even. Not only did I have no clue about what it would mean to my day-to-day life—time, money, work, social life, generally moving about the world—but babies apparently required incredible amounts of stuff. There were lists and lists of things we “needed” to have. I approached each item with skepticism. If I determined we did, in fact, need it, the next question sprang up: Which one? There are tons of strollers out there. Tons of high chairs, bibs, clothes, lotions, burp cloths, toys, cribs, mattresses, changing tables… the list goes on. Each has pros and cons and varying price points. It’s truly exhausting.

Cloth diapers? Especially exhausting. A new parent has no frame of reference. Some people like one kind for reason, others like another kind for another reason. Who knows where you’ll fall? Eventually, I just gave up. There wasn’t enough space in my brain, and the pile of gifted boxes of disposables was growing. I figured they would last me until I could better sort things out.

They disappeared sooner than I imagined, of course, and when they did, I bought more. It felt like the easy choice.

Then a friend gave me a full set of prefolds and covers. I tried them. I stayed with them. After a full wear-wash round, the intimidation factor disappeared. I got it. It wasn’t that hard. I was saving money and helping the environment. Finally. (Edited to add: Possibly helping the environment. Experts disagree as to which is more eco-friendly, cloth or disposable.)

Full disclosure: I did not keep up with cloth diapering. It got more difficult as Roy grew older due to the range of food. Meaning: The poop situation was too much for me and my washing machine. It’s worth noting that this may not have been a problem had I gone with a diaper service. Also, I’m thinking of re-introducing them, as I hear it might aid in potty training. We’ll see.

I do, however, plan to start the little girlie out in cloth diapers—the same ones Roy wore—and continue with them as long as possible.

If you’re thinking of going cloth, here are a few quick pieces of starter advice:

1) Invest in a just few different kinds for a test run. An all-in-one (such as Bum Genius) or two, and a prefold/cover situation. If even a few sound like too much $$ to plop down, know that some stores, such as, offer 30-day trials. Or, buy a few used off Craigslist.

2) Consider a diaper service. If you have that option, of course. If you’re serious about it, it could keep you in the game longer. Diaper services provide the cloth part, and you provide the cover, so you are saving money—up front and by likely not caving and buying disposables down the road. If you don’t use a service, I’ve heard that diaper sprayers (which attach to your toilet) help in the #2 department.

3) You don’t have to go all or nothing. Even in the thick of cloth diapering, we still used disposables at night and for longs periods of time out and about.

Any questions? Advice? Comment away!

Oh, and one more thing…. if you’re going cloth diaper, you might as well use cloth wipes. They’re super soft and inexpensive. Here’s my wipes solution recipe:

2 c water (optional: steep with an herbal tea, such as chamomile)

2 t oil (I use olive, but feel free to experiment)

2 t liquid baby soap

a few drops essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Spray on cloth wipe, or directly on baby’s cute little bum.


Image: Stack of Diapers Isolated on White Background via Shutterstock

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