Cloth diapering was something I definitely considered while I was pregnant, but I eventually decided I wasn’t going to do it. I was already so overwhelmed with all the other new stuff – and I had no idea what it was going to be like to have a newborn – so I chose to go with what I knew: disposables. I don’t regret that decision and I’m not entirely certain that I’ll use cloth on a second baby during the newborn phase. Newborns go through a lot of diapers and I’m not sure I want to keep up with that kind of laundry during the first already busy and sleep-deprived weeks.
Despite choosing not to cloth diaper, the idea really lingered in my head. When J was only a few weeks old, he had his first diaper rash that bled. That was the first time after going disposable that I wondered if cloth would be easier on his skin. Even after I cleared up the rash and was more vigilant about using creams, his skin remained red most of the time. He didn’t necessarily keep a rash, but he just had really sensitive skin. Finally, when he was about 5 months old, I decided to bite the bullet. We dropped a few hundred dollars on cloth diapers (the start-up cost is nothing to sneeze at) and returned all of the cases of unopened disposable diapers we had purchased throughout my pregnancy.
We love cloth diapering and will definitely use cloth with any future babies we might have. But it is an undertaking, so make sure you really think about it and do your research before you start buying them. Cloth diapering is expensive (in the beginning) and time-consuming. If you’re not really committed and if you don’t find the method that works for you, you’re not going to be happy.
These are the reasons we chose to cloth diaper:
Fewer chemicals. Since we swapped to cloth, we never have to deal with the constant redness that disposables caused and we rarely have to deal with any diaper rash at all. We do use Honest disposable diapers when we’re out and about and we’ve found that we also have no skin sensitivity problems with those either.
I can only assume it’s the chemicals used in regular diapers that caused irritation for us. I’m not super paranoid about keeping every potentially harmful chemical away from my baby–it’s not possible. And in fact I do use Huggies Overnites (and love them) because all of the others leak for us overnight.
And I use regular wipes. So no, I don’t freak out over every chemical–but I am careful and I have seen what a difference it can make.
Save money. Yes, there’s a bit of a start-up cost, but they can be less expensive in the long run. I say can be because it really does depend on the type of cloth diaper you choose vs. the type of disposable diaper you would have used if you didn’t use cloth. For instance, if you choose to use gDiapers with only the disposable inserts, but you would have used Target’s Up&Up brand disposables if you didn’t use cloth diapers, you’re probably not saving any money. In fact, you’re probably spending more money. If saving money is your main or only purpose for cloth diapering, make sure that’s in the front of your mind when you’re choosing the type of cloth diapers you will use. Also, make sure to choose gender-neutral colors so that you can reuse them with any future babies.
It’s good for the environment. Less crap (literally) in the landfill? Sure, I can get on board with that. But you do have to consider the amount of water and electricity used for washing and drying. If you really want to make an impact, make sure you only wash when you have a full load, use Energy Star rated machines and low-impact detergent, air-dry your baby’s diapers, and reuse the same diapers as hand-me-downs for younger kids (or sell them).
It’s easy. I’m not saying that disposables aren’t easy, because they are. But I do want to point out that cloth diapering is also easy. With an exclusively breastfed baby, you don’t even have to rinse the poop out of the diaper before you wash it. And once they start eating solids, or if you use formula, it’s not a big deal to rinse it. You can purchase a diaper sprayer to hook to your toilet to rinse off the poop.
Or, if your toilet is close enough to the shower, just use a detachable shower head and rinse the poop into the toilet that way. Cloth diapering is intimidating at first, and there’s a lot to learn in the beginning, but it’s really very simple–so don’t let the unknown scare you off!
They’re cute! I admit, I like to try to make my son’s diaper match his outfit when I can. He doesn’t care and it’s not really a “benefit.” But I do think the variety of colors and patterns are super cute!
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- Lesson 42: Diaper rash is a pain in the butt (cabernetandbreastmilk.com)
- Lesson 51: Choosing the right cloth diapers (cabernetandbreastmilk.com)
- Lesson 52: Caring for your cloth diapers (cabernetandbreastmilk.com)
- Cloth Diapers Before Baby, Part One: The Sum of My Research (nerd2point0.com)