This post is contributed by Smart Bottoms' guest blogger, Bekki Godwin.
Okay, so I have a confession. I hated cloth diapers in the beginning.
We started using disposables when baby girl was born for the convenience and to ease ourselves into parenthood. After all, we were new parents with this little bundle of joy that never slept and ate around the clock. We were overwhelmed. To us, the idea of having to wash diapers and spray poop (yes, we talk about poop in normal conversations like non-parents talk about their day at the office) was just one more thing to add to our world that had already been flipped upside down. But we were so wrong.
I had the idea that I wanted to cloth diaper my babies since before I was even pregnant. My husband got on board after I had talked about it so much and he finally just gave up trying to reason with me. He is just as much an addict about cloth diapering as I am now and we couldn’t picture ourselves using any other method. Is there a learning curve in the beginning? Absolutely. The baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual but luckily your cloth diapers do, and you will find yourself surrounded by the most wonderful community of like-minded, cloth diapering parents. Seriously, these people are the best! They will help you through any problems with cloth diapering that you may have and the retailers who sell the diapers are even more helpful because they are from small businesses and their customer service is phenomenal and personal. I would like to see the big box stores that sell disposables answer your diapering questions at all hours of the day and night. So back to my idea of why I decided to use cloth. Well, for starters, I am environmentally conscious and I saw this as a great opportunity to do my part and save the plant. Cloth diapering reduces the impact of non-biodegradable trash that ends up in landfills and harms the ozone layer.
Generally, a cloth diaper stash is about thirty All-in-One diapers, or a combination of covers and pre-folds or pocket-style diapers. So, for one baby, all you need is thirty diapers and if your diapers are well maintained, they can cycle through another baby. On average, a baby will go through 5,000 disposable diapers in their lifetime! Or, just thirty between birth and potty-training. All those disposable diapers cost money too. We are a one income family at the moment so our income is not disposable. With a one-time upfront cost, we never have to buy diapers again. I’m going to use the estimate of $23/cloth diaper (which is on the high end) x 30 diapers in your stash = $750. Diaper a baby their whole life for only $750?!?!? Sign me up! When a disposable diaper on average $0.20/diaper x 5,000 =$1,000 but then you have to take into account all the packs that you don’t end up finishing because baby outgrew them, diaper brands that didn’t work on your baby’s bum, diapers that leaked and caused outfit changes, and frantic trips to the store because you are out of diapers, the cost is actually much higher. With cloth diapers, you can easily size up by changing the snap setting and it allows you to use the same diaper from birth to potty-training (depending on the type of diaper and size of baby). With cloth, most inner materials are organic cotton or a cotton blend that is super soft on baby’s bum and always chemical free. Plus, you always have diapers in your home ready to use them, just remember to wash every other day.
Washing diapers is not at all what I had envisioned, but then again, cloth diapering isn’t what most people envision. When I announced to friends and family that we were going to use cloth diapers instead of disposables, they had images of the old cloth diapers our grandparents used with the fancy folds and safety pins. I don’t even know how to use those things. The new cloth diapers have an aplix (Velcro) close or a snap close (similar to the snaps you find on baby onesies). This isn’t your great-grandma cloth diapering over here, this is modern parents of the 21st century who want convenience and ease of use, and cloth diapers are certainly that. Washing is even easier. I simply pull out the diaper pail with the dirty diapers and dump it in the washing machine, add some detergent, and go about my day while my machine cleans the diapers. Simple as that. I don’t even have to touch the diapers! Breast-fed poop (yep, here we go talking about poop again) is water soluble, meaning you don’t have to rinse it and that it will wash clean in your washing machine. Formula poop is a little trickier since you have to spray it with a diaper sprayer into the toilet or dunk and swish in the toilet to get the poop off first before washing. Again, not having to touch the poop. When baby starts solids, you have to spray or dunk and swish poop but for us, we are able to just plop the poop right into the toilet and flush it away where poop belongs in the sewer system, not the landfill. Ploppable poop will make you happy, I promise. And if spraying or dunking isn’t your thing, there is a great invention called disposable diaper liners that you simply line the line with and then lift out with the poop on it and flush the poop away (be sure to flush poop and throw away liner to avoid clogging your toilet). These are super handy for traveling or when out and about running errands or if you just don’t like spraying and dunking like me.
Another must have for traveling is a wet bag. These little bags will become your best friend. They hold your dirty diapers and keep the smell and moisture out of your diaper bag so there is no leaking. They also work for holding wet swimsuits, soiled clothes, muddy shoes, toiletries when traveling, toys for kids when out of the house, the kitchen sink, and so much more! Traveling with cloth is not difficult. I actually prefer it because we have had zero blowouts with cloth diapers. We had so many when we used disposables when baby girl was a newborn and that one time we thought it would be easier to use disposables when traveling and baby pooped out of the diaper all over her and the car seat and we were only halfway through our drive…
Now that we have talked about the logically points of why cloth is better, let’s talk about the illogical. They are cute. The end. It seems silly and you will say to yourself that you don’t need any more diapers but then a cute new print comes out and you must have it. I fell down the rabbit hole and got sucked in but it is so worth it! I enjoy diaper changes so much more because I can pick and choose the diapers that coordinate with her outfits. And not to mention, in the summertime I don’t even put pants on her because we live in a warmer climate and I like to see the cute bums. My daughter even enjoys picking out which diaper goes on her. Anything to make diaper changes more enjoyable because who seriously enjoys changing diapers?
Cloth diapering may seem like a hassle in the beginning and just reading and researching it may seem overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you! It is easier on your wallet, better for the environment, you support small businesses, it is chemical free and better for baby’s bum, they are cute, and so easy to use! We have been doing cloth for over a year now and I cannot imagine it any other way. My husband loves it and he loves the prints too and is very happy with our decision to be a cloth family. We will certainly be starting with cloth for our next baby at birth since we have such a love and passion for it and encourage our friends and family to consider making the switch. Cloth diapers are a better alternative to the future revamped from the past for the modern parent.
Bekki is a 26 year old mom to Hailey and dog mom to Parker. She is from the Chicago suburbs and currently living in San Diego, California, pursuing her PhD in Epidemiology and Global Health. She enjoys hiking and outdoor sports, long walks through Target, keeping Starbucks in business, road trips to National Parks, and conserving the planet. She just celebrated five years of marriage to her husband Chris, a cloth diapering and babywearing supporter and member of the U.S. Navy.