Jennifer was asking me some questions the other day about cloth diapers (that’s what we use for Nic), so I decided to do a post about their pros and cons.
Let me start by saying that I never thought I’d use cloth diapers. I’ve always been more “farm girl” than “tree hugger” and the idea didn’t even cross my mind until I saw a friend’s baby in his adorable diaper cover. At that moment, I started asking questions, and I’m glad I did.
Why I Chose Cloth Diapers (The Pros)
- Supporting a local, family business. Instead of giving my money to Costco and Pampers, I’m spending locally with a small family business by using their pre-fold diapers and service. As the daughter and son of small businessmen, this was probably the biggest selling point to me and Shaun.
- Doesn’t cost more. While cloth diapers aren’t less expensive, most calculations put them at about the same cost as standard disposables. (UPDATE: Costs are about even for disposables vs. cloth diapering with a service. If you choose to launder your own cloth diapers, the savings are quite significant compared to disposables.)
- Possible Early Potty Training. Some people say that babies potty train faster when using cloth diapers. This is because a cloth diaper doesn’t wick away the moisture like a disposable. This means babies feel when they are wet and will have a greater desire to potty train.
- Just soft cotton on my baby’s skin.
- Environment. There’s some debate over whether or not a diaper service is better than disposables (because of the trucking and cleaning), but the way I see it, Huggies are trucked all over the country and must use a ton of water to make, so cloth must be better since it doesn’t end up in a landfill (except maybe after hundreds of uses).
- No risk. Our service only makes you commit to one month of diapers. Therefore, if we decided we hated it, we could just stop and switch to disposables.
- Convenience. We never have to go out and buy diapers and we’re never worried about running out. We set our dirty diapers on the porch one night a week, and clean ones magically appear before morning.
- Cute! Have you ever seen a baby in a diaper cover? SO CUTE.
Nic lounging on the beach in his red hot diaper cover.
Why Cloth Diapers Aren’t for Everyone (The Cons)
- Daycare. If your baby will be going to daycare, most won’t take cloth diapers. However, a nanny or in-home childcare will often be open to the idea.
- Some up-front costs. You will need to buy those adorable diaper covers every few months. I think we’ve spent about $150 for covers that will last us until he’s about 7 months old. You’ll also need some Snappi clips (that’s right, you don’t have to fasten them with pins!).
- Tight space. If you’re like Natali and live in an apartment without at least some extra closet space, you might have a hard time finding a place to keep the dirty diapers until pick up day.
- Dirty hands. Since cloth diapers don't suck away the moisture to their core, your hands will get a tiny bit wet during a diaper change. Nothing some handsoap won't fix!
Cloth Diaper Myths
- It’s hard. To be 100% honest, we practiced putting diapers on my childhood teddy bear a lot before Nic was born. I was especially nervous about my husband getting it because he still can’t figure out how to fold dress pants to put them on a hanger. However, we are both now diaper folding, clipping and covering pros! I estimate it takes us maybe 20-30 seconds more to change a cloth diaper than it would a disposable.
- You have to rinse them. Not with a service! This is a huge myth. We take Nic’s diaper off (whether poop or pee) and put it right into a Diaper Dekor. Then we stash the full bags I the garage until our weekly pickup. IN FACT, most people don’t know this, but you’re supposed to rinse disposable diapers! I didn’t even know this until someone posted this to my Mothers’ Club Forum: The American Public Health Association advises (as of 1989) that solid human excrement, even while deposited in a disposable diaper, should be flushed down the toilet prior to disposing of the diaper. Viruses such as polio and hepatitis can be passed through solid waste, and when disposed into the trash can get into water supply. When diaper waste is properly disposed of in the sewage, it is treated accordingly.
- They stink. We handle our poopy diapers exactly the same way we would with disposables. We’ve never had any issues with odor.
I can’t even imagine not using cloth now. It’s just so easy and to makes so much sense. It’s not for everyone, but I think if more people tried it, it would be much more common. If you’re at all intrigued by the idea, I strongly encourage you to check out this website. It has a ton of great info on diapering, including a how-to video! And if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, I highly recommend the Tiny Tots diaper service!