Decisions is a series dedicated to the choices we make in our lives and the factors that led us to our given resolutions. We welcome guest posts to this series to hear about how you’ve tackled a life decision. Email your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In today’s post, Leslie talks about why she chose to use cloth diapers and the reasons two other mothers did the same (and in some instances, didn’t).
As soon as I say I use cloth diapers, I get a bunch of questions from parents and non-parents. Sometimes I get a good ol’ fashioned scoff, especially from the 60+ community. The most common questions is “Why?”
The first reason that always pops out of my mouth is the environment. The number of diapers that one baby uses in their first 2.5 years takes up a lot of space in landfills: 3,800 diapers according to a Mother Jones article. I don’t want to make that kind of impact on our world.
Next: Money. It is cheaper in the long-run to use cloth. According to the BabyGearLab research on cloth diapers, you can spend $2,100 on disposable as opposed to $300 on cloth. If you need to be swayed either way, give the article a read and test one style out. In my case, I chose to use the Flip Hybrid system.
I’m no die-hard cloth-diaperer either. I keep disposable diapers on hand for those days when I am too lazy to wash the cloth diapers or we happen to be out all day. I also use disposable diapers at night. I’ve never had them leak like the cloth ones do. I still try to be environmentally conscious with them and try to buy Nature Care or Honest. (Once again, BabyGearLab has you covered on which brand you should buy.)
I wasn’t the first of my friends to try cloth diapers. We asked two of our friends a bunch of questions on the subject, and here’s what they had to say.
Meet the moms:
- Andrea, mom to two toddlers, who is a running fanatic, television addict, and Midwest resident
- Lauren, mom of a 2-year-old, who embraces New England life and opts for cloth diapers, baby-led weaning and co-sleeping
Why did you decide to use cloth diapers?
Andrea: We wanted to diminish the environmental impact of diapers. There are other benefits to cloth as well. They are more natural and very cost effective, but the main reason was kindness to Mother Nature.
Lauren: I looked at cloth diapers when I was pregnant, mostly because I wanted to reduce our environmental impact. Babies use up an awful lot of stuff, and I figured this was one way to make a small impact. Then I realized how expensive disposable diapers are! Cloth diapers really do save a lot of money in the long run. That’s how I convinced my husband. Plus, they are super cute.
Tell us about the start-up costs and the long-term expenses of cloth. What brand/diaper system do you use?
Andrea: I use Thirsties. It’s not a one-size system, rather it’s two sizes. It was about $350 for each set. And then you have the costs of special detergent and diaper cream. Those have to be cloth-diaper safe. Disposables are pretty expensive, and since we are having more than one child, it made financial sense to use cloth. You can definitely find cheaper brands and systems, but we liked the quality and sizing of Thirsties.
Lauren: I bought a lot of different kinds of diapers to try, and bought them a few at a time while I was pregnant so that the cost was spread out over time. I bought some new, and some used (mostly from diaperswappers.com). I think I spent about $400 initially. Since then, I have bought and sold many diapers as I tried out different brands and styles to figure out what I liked best. My favorites are BumGenius pocket diapers and Flip covers with prefolds and flats.
When I’m done diapering babies, I hope to sell what is still in good condition to get some of my money back. You can’t do that with disposable diapers 😉
Is it gross to clean up poopy diapers?
Andrea: Yes, it is gross to clean up poopy diapers, be they cloth or disposable. It’s not so bad when they are EBF (editor’s note: that means “exclusive breastfeeding”). It gets pretty nasty when they start on solids, and now that Wilhelmina is two-and-a-half, her poops are the worst. We’re hoping to get her potty trained pretty soon though.
Lauren: Short answer: Poopy diapers are gross no matter what kind of diaper is containing the poop. Long answer: Cloth diapering has made me feel more prepared for dealing with the general grossness that comes with motherhood. I’ve never had to throw away a blanket, toy, or item of clothing due to various bodily fluids that have touched it, because I know how to launder it so that it comes out all clean.
Andrea: Yes. I’m not as die-hard as some others. We use them at night and on errands/trips.
Lauren: I use disposables when we travel for longer than one or two nights away from home.
How much extra laundry do you have to do because of the diapers? Does it take extra effort?
Andrea: One extra load. There is so much laundry with Dave (my husband) and I and the kids that I barely notice it.
Lauren: About two loads per week. It’s not a big deal. Very minimal effort required once I got into a routine. There’s really nothing to fold so it doesn’t take nearly as long as clothes laundry!
What about diaper service for cleaning? Is that a thing?
Andrea: Yes, that’s a thing. Never tried it, but I know some people like it. Some people don’t like the idea of poop in the washing machine. But I got over that pretty quick because with babies and kids, it is inevitable that poop is going to end up in your washing machine.
Lauren: It is a thing! But I don’t use one. The one that I’ve heard of near us is $25 per week. That’s a lot of money for something I can easily do at home for a fraction of the cost! Plus this way I own my diapers and can save them for my next baby, or sell them to recoup some of the cost.
What would you tell parents who are considering cloth?
Andrea: It’s a little extra work, but it made sense for our family. There are a lot of diaper options out there, and something else might make more sense for another family.
Lauren: It’s not hard! Buy a few different brands and styles to figure out what you like. Don’t be afraid of prefolds. Buy good overnight diapers when your kid starts sleeping through the night–they are worth the cost!
Andrea added one note of caution: With Wilhelmina, our daughter, we ended up going away from cloth diapers during the time she was learning to sit up. She is a very small kiddo (always in the 10th percentile for height and weight) and she had trouble sitting up around the extra bulk of the diaper. We switched to disposables and she sat up without trouble. I am not mentioning this as a deterrent, only stating our experience. Overall we have been happy with them.
Lauren says the quality and vast amount of information from Green Mountain Diapers was really helpful for getting started.
P.S. Did you know parents in China use split-bottom pants and skip diapers all together?!
Photos courtesy of Lauren and Leslie