Cloth Diapering: Initial Thoughts

My friends made fun of me when I first became pregnant because I had lots of ideas for how I wanted to raise my son and how I wanted to run my household once he arrived. Mainly, I did NOT want to use disposable diapers or disposable baby wipes. First of all, disposable diapers are so expensive! The prospect of spending $100+/month just on diapers was just not in our budget, so I wanted to find a way to save money on that. Secondly, they are so bad for the environment! They are not biodegradable and I don’t even want to think about how much human waste is seeping into the ground water from landfills. My friends teased me that I wouldn’t stick with the cloth diapers once I found out how hard they are to use. I still wanted to give it a try.

I was inspired to consider cloth diapers by John & Sherry Petersik of Young House Love. I appreciated how they broke down their cloth diapering experience and from what they described, it just didn’t seem that hard. I also talked to my parents and their generation about cloth diapers. I didn’t know it, but my parents didn’t use disposable diapers with any of my 3 siblings or I — they just couldn’t afford them. Same with my husband’s parents. Turns out, disposable diapering is a fairly recent phenomena. I figured, people have been cloth diapering for thousands of years so I could probably do it, too. We ended up buying the same Bum Genius Elemental One Size All In Ones the Petersiks use, but they are a little too big for our newborn Henry at the moment.

So, my wonderful and generous mother gifted us 6 weeks of a cloth diapering service for the first weeks of Henry’s life. This way we wouldn’t have to invest in newborn cloth diapers for just a short period of time. The diaper service goes more of the traditional cloth diaper route; that is, the cloth diaper with the “rubber pants” over them — today they’re referred to as diaper covers. I almost wish we went this route for our cloth diaper investment instead of the all-in-ones. They’re so easy to use; even my husband, who is a complete diaper novice, has no problems at all changing baby’s diaper.

I can definitely see why some people might prefer disposable diapers. We used disposable for the first two weeks of Henry’s life until we got the diaper service set up. It’s nice to just pull out a diaper, slap it on the baby and throw the old one away. They’re also a lot more compact than cloth so you can bring a lot more with you when you’re out and about with baby. But the cloth diapers aren’t that much more complicated to use than disposable and I find that I need to do a lot more laundry these days anyway, so throwing some diapers in the wash isn’t a lot more effort when I’m already doing laundry. Also, since I am a stay-at-home-mom for the moment (I have no plans to get a job anytime soon, but you never know about life) cloth diapering isn’t a big drain on my time. I can see how a house with both parents working away from home might not be able to cloth diaper, and I don’t even know if daycare centers would use cloth diapers. But for me and my family, it makes sense.

Another thing I decided on for baby was using cloth wipes. Again; I hated the thought of spending money on wipes and sending so much waste into landfills. Since I am handy with a sewing machine anyway and I had plenty of flannel fabric on hand, I went ahead and made a bunch of cloth wipes myself. All I have to do is spray a soap solution I made using Dr. Bronner’s soap on to baby’s bottom, then wipe away the waste. When I’m done with the wipe, I throw it into the wet bag hanging next to the changing table. I usually only need one wipe per diaper change. Once we start using our own cloth diapers they will also go into the wet bag, but right now we have a separate wet bag for the laundry service to pick up. And if you’re wondering about the poop smell, it’s not terribly noticeable (at least, not to me). I won’t go as far as saying that breastmilk poo doesn’t smell like some people claim, but it’s not a terribly pungent or overwhelming smell.

You may be saying, this is all well and good for when you’re at home, but what about when you’re on the go? It’s pretty much the same idea. I have a smaller wet bag I use for my diaper bag, so when I change the cloth diaper, I just throw the soiled diaper in there and then transfer to the big bag for laundry when I get home. I do stock my diaper bag with disposable wipes. I also have some disposable diapers in my diaper bag just in case we run out of cloth.

Anyway, these are my initial thoughts about cloth diapering after our first week of use. I’m sure things will change once we have to wash the diapers ourselves but for now, we’re really happy with our decision to cloth diaper.

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