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To Cloth or Not: Why I chose to cloth diaper

January 7, 2012

To cloth diaper or not, that is the question!?  I used to think that disposable diapers always existed until my Grandma told me how she had to hand wash all the diapers herself and hang dry them!  This sounded just terrible and very arduous!!  I always knew that when I had a baby I would just use disposable and call it a day.  However, after a few months of going through disposable diapers like they were going out of style, I began to re-think our strategy.  I did LOTS of research about cloth diapers and discovered how EASY it has become compared to the days when my Grandma used cloth diapers.

In this picture to the left, you will notice the clothespins and cloth wrapped around the baby – this is a pre-fold cloth diaper.  This is the “old-fashioned” way of cloth diapering (like what my Grandma used to use) and what lots of people think of when you tell them that you cloth diaper.  They now have invented “snappi’s” which affix to the cloth and are a LOT easier to use then the clothespins.  This type of cloth diapering is great to start off using and very economical too!

Over the pre-folded cloth diaper is a waterproof cover used as an extra barrier from any wetness or leakage.  This is the cheapest and easiest way to cloth diaper your baby.  However, as the baby gets very wiggly and squirmy it becomes increasingly more difficult to put a pre-fold diaper on and in a correct manner that will hold all the waste in.  So lots of people will move into an all-in-one or pocket cloth diaper, if they haven’t already been using this type of cloth diaper.

An all-in-one diaper includes an open area where you can “stuff” separate cloth inserts into the diaper between the outer and inner cloth  that makes up the diaper.  A pocket diaper is very similar except the inserts are sewn into the diaper and come out when you wash them.  These two types of cloth diapers are very popular because you can adjust the amount of thickness you need to absorb the liquid, as well as lots of them are made to adjust sizes, thus allowing one diaper fit from start to potty training.

For example: During the day, one insert is usually enough to absorb the liquid between changings.  For an all night option, most people will use bamboo and/or hemp inserts to help absorb all the liquid throughout the night.  Both these diapers require the entire diaper to be washed once it is soiled.  There are a few in between types of cloth diapers that do allow multiple uses per diaper.  Also, wool covers are very popular for a night diaper option, however I don’t know much about this one.

1.  Numerous savings!!

It can become really overwhelming when you’re first starting off learning about all the different options out there for cloth diapers but once you figure out what fits your babies needs it’s a great all around savings!   When you cloth diaper you are protecting your babies health, your pocketbook, the environment, enjoying the convenience, and the fun designs too!

The average amount a parent will spend using disposable diapers from newborn to 1 year is $2,577.35 (found from this website).  The average amount a parent will spend using all-in-one diapers from newborn to potty training (and can resell the diapers when done) is about $400 – $500 ($14.00/diaper (incl. inserts) x 30 = $420).  I purchased my diapers from a work at home mom business here in the USA because I believe in supporting people who work hard at their business, care about their customers and their country.  I could have chosen to get a “good deal” by purchasing some cloth diapers made in China for a lot cheaper but I felt that if I was going to make such an investment for my child then I was going to spend the extra money supporting a work at home business with a great quality product.  JustSimplyBaby is where I purchased my entire collection of cloth diapers and would never go anywhere else!

2.  Issues and Benefits

Disposable Diapers – 

  • Disposable diapers are more likely to cause diaper rashes for a variety of reasons
  • We don’t know what effect the chemicals used in disposable diapers have for the long term health of the baby.  Disposable diapers contain super absorbent polymers, petroleum based ingredients and traces of chemicals used in manufacturing
  • Many babies are allergic to the dyes and glues used in disposable diapers and these chemicals can cause quite a severe rash, so just imagine the effects these chemical dyes are doing to the liver and other long term health problems

Cloth Diapers – 

  • Rarely cause diaper rashes (when washed correctly) due to the moisture instantly being absorbed and pulled away from the skin of the baby, thus allowing them to feel dry longer
  • Easily washable and reusable for many years, if taken care of properly
  • Babies usually potty train a lot earlier and easier when cloth diapers are used instead of disposable
  • You can adjust the absorbency amount of the diaper to last up to 12 hours without needing to change the baby for over-night protection

Environment –

  • Disposable diapers take over 500 years to decompose in the land fills – why add more to the already overflowing land fills and save planet earth, one diaper change at a time!
  • Even though cloth diapers require water and soap to clean them, it is a lot less water wasted in comparison to the amount of fumes and chemicals disposable diapers emit for centuries in the land fills

3. Learn lots of tricks about laundry

I was never a very good laundry person.  I just separated the colors from the whites and towels, did the three loads and was done.  I am not a very good person to get out tricky stains without completely ruining the clothes.  But after having to learn about the best wash method for the diapers and the science behind how much soap is really needed, etc. I can now call myself a master laundry woman!

My first lesson was in stains – just lay the stained diapers out in the sun (or any other types of stained clothes) and let the sun do the bleaching naturally.  And it really works!  (Well, except for the few really stubborn stains.)  So, I will do this all the time.  I will usually hang all the diapers and inserts out to dry anyways so they don’t get too beat up by the dryer.  But I always have to fluff them in the dryer for a bit after hanging outside to dry because they get really stiff and the dryer helps soften the cloth.

My second lesson was in the amount of soap truly needed in order to get the diapers clean.  We have a water softener (which is a savior for the hard water that we have in the desert) and!!  I only use a tablespoon of soap to a full load of diapers and that’s all they need!  I use Rock in Green laundry detergent, which was made specifically for cloth diapers and is phosphate free and safe for babies skin.  When washing cloth diapers you have to ensure you don’t use too much soap because that will cause build up and make the diapers less absorbent and may even cause a bad rash too.

My wash routine is: one full cycle of washing with cold water (no soap), one hour soak in hot water and soap, then another full wash cycle (cold rinse), rinse again, spin, and spin once more.  The entire process from start to dry usually takes up a good portion of the day, so I will just wash them on a day that we’re staying home.  It’s SO easy and cheap, I love it!  (I’m sure my wash routine is different than others but no two are identical and this is what I have found that works for me.)

I also have begun to make my own laundry detergent for washing our clothes and I LOVE it!  It’s amazing how much you can save by making your own soap!  I will make a post regarding homemade cleaning supplies soon, so stay tuned!

4. Coconut oil

When using cloth diapers, regular butt paste cannot be used on cloth diapers because it will repel liquid and you will have to strip the diaper (meaning go through a rigorous wash cycle to try and get the paste off the cloth).  After doing some research about what we could use on the babies skin if it looks like a rash is forming or just as a general skin protectant and discovered the wonders of coconut oil!  I purchased a big bottle of coconut oil (found in the baking section of the store) and put it into a few smaller containers to have around the house and diaper bag and we use it all the time.  Coconut oil is wonderful for cooking, your health, your skin, hair, etc.  It has many wonderful properties and I cannot say enough about it.  Unfortunately it doesn’t have that wonderful coconut smell though. 😦  There are other options to deal with rashes while using cloth diapers as well but I have found that coconut oil works just fine for us.

5. Out and About

When we’re out and about I find that cloth diapering is a lot easier to do then disposable.  I will usually just carry a wet bag with a diaper and some wipes and that’s it.  When we’re out and about for a longer period of time I will usually have a diaper bag but for just running errands I just have a wet bag with supplies in it.  I also used diaper liners once in a while, which are a mix between toilet paper and dryer sheets and are put between the diaper and the babies skin to help “catch” things.  So when it comes time to change the diaper you can just gather both ends of the liner and toss into the toilet.  It is a savior at times but definitely not a necessity.

6. Dirty diaper issues

With a newborn, dirty diapers are the story your life!  Actually, until they begin solids it is a continuous fountain of poop!  So what to do with all that gooey poop each time you change a cloth diaper?!?!  Two words: Diaper Sprayer!  We didn’t invest in one of these until about five months but sure wish we did earlier.  A diaper sprayer is a device you hook up to your toilet, it’s like a shower sprayer except it’s a lot smaller.  As much as poop becomes a part of your daily routine, a diaper sprayer will be your lifesaver and best investment ever (next to cloth diapering)!  Your other option is rinsing off the diapers in the sink each time…Y.U.C.K.!

Once they begin eating solids their poop FINALLY becomes somewhat normal and it will just plop into the toilet.  But until that happens, a diaper sprayer is really a necessity.  It can also be used after giving birth as a rinsing device for mamma too.

Also, I’m sure your wondering where the diapers are put until wash time!?!  I purchased a garbage can with a cover and a diaper pail liner that is washable.  So this way the smell is for the most part contained until wash day and then once wash day comes around I just grab the pail liner bag and off to the laundry room it goes to get cleaned!

7. Conclusion

I am so glad that we finally decided to go with cloth diapers instead of continuing using disposable diapers.  The initial investment isn’t really that bad in comparison to the continuous drudge on the pocket book for disposable diapers.  I felt like we were a slave to Huggies in the beginning, always needing to get more and more and ensure we had enough on hand.  Now all I have to do is the laundry if we are running low and we have more on hand!  I enjoy not having that feeling of always ensuring we have diapers.  One less expense off our budget to put towards more important items is wonderful!  And always keep in mind that once you’re done using the cloth diapers you can always find someone who is willing to buy them from you!  🙂

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