Friday, July 5, 2013

Why We Cloth Diaper (and love it!)

     I had always been interested in the idea of cloth diapering before Tessa came along (I'm a bit of what you might call a treehugger), and was pretty sure I wanted to at least try it. So when I was pregnant I did a TON of research, got my husband on board with the idea, and we took the plunge. We started cloth diapering Tessa when she was around 4-5 weeks old and haven't looked back since (the only time we use disposables is when we're going away overnight or longer). I absolutely LOVE cloth diapers and can't see myself doing anything else for any of my children. Here are the top ten reasons we chose cloth and love cloth:

1) Cost savings
     Once we compared the cost of cloth to the cost of disposables we were both convinced. The savings alone was reason enough for my husband to agree that we should go with cloth. I've had people tell me that what we spent on our "start-up" diaper stash (24 diapers, wetbag and pail) is what they spend on disposables in 6 months. Our stash will last until Tessa is potty trained and can then be re-used when baby #2 comes along. We had Tessa in disposables for her first few weeks and with every diaper change, I felt like I was literally throwing money in the garbage, especially when she filled the diaper minutes after it was changed.

     Some people may argue that the money you save on diapers and wipes goes instead toward extra water and electricity to wash & dry your diapers. Not true. Since starting full-time cloth, I wash a load of diapers every other day in our high-efficiency washer. The diaper shells are hung to dry and the liners take maybe 20 minutes in the dryer on medium heat (or when the weather allows can also be hung outside to dry). I've compared our before and after water & electric bills and have seen virtually no increase in our consumption.

2) Environmental impact
     There's no questioning this one. A newborn goes through anywhere from 8-12 diapers in a 24 hour period (sometimes more) and those diapers go straight to the landfill, after only a couple hours of use. Fun facts:
  • Over 4 million disposable diapers are thrown out EVERY DAY in Canada alone. That's almost 1.5 billion diapers per year. And that's just Canada!! source
  • It may take anywhere from 250-500 years for a diaper to decompose in a landfill. The diapers you use today for a few hours each will outlast you, your baby, AND your baby's babies!! sources here, here and here
  • In households with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste. source
  • It takes huge amounts of wood pulp, water, and petroleum to manufacture disposable diapers. sources here and here
     We only have one planet and it's my personal conviction that we all need to do what we can to preserve it. To me, cloth is the logical choice from an ecological standpoint.

3) They're easy
     The belief that cloth diapering is more work is a myth. Modern cloth diapers are designed to be easy to use and have velcro and snaps instead of having to fold and pin diapers like our mothers and grandmothers did. Yes, you have to do a few extra loads of laundry each week, but really, it takes minutes to throw a load of diapers in the machine and turn it on. I also don't have to worry about running out of diapers in the middle of the night or having to remember to buy more every few weeks, since I always have at least half my stash washed and ready to use.

Extra inserts and diaper pail lined with wetbag
     A lot of people think that cloth diapering is gross. In my personal experience, cloth is no messier than disposables, at least not with a breastfed baby. Their solid waste does not need to be flushed as it is water-soluble, it simply gets thrown in the diaper pail like all the other diapers and dissolves in the wash. Once baby is eating solid foods their poops do need to be flushed down the toilet, which I agree is yucky, but there are ways around this - either a diaper sprayer attached to a toilet, a special scraper designated for poopy diapers, or biodegradable flushable liners can be used. (As a sidenote, did you know that you are actually supposed to remove solid waste from disposable diapers too? (source) Our landfills are not designed to handle fecal matter, and it's possible for any viruses or bacteria in the baby's poop to seep out of diapers and into the soil & ground water. (source) Now that's gross!! So, to use disposables properly as the manufacturers say to and as law requires, you'd have to handle poop too!)

4) I trust my diapers
     Speaking of gross, I'd much rather scrape a bit of baby poop into the toilet from a cloth diaper than have to clean it off my baby's back and neck when a disposable diaper has failed to contain it. In the 6 months that Tessa has been in diapers, I've had exactly ONE up-the-back poop blow-out and it was when she was wearing a disposable. I feel totally confident that all poopy messes will be completely contained in her cloth diapers, whereas when she is in a disposable, I'm nervous the entire time.

Homemade reusable wipes and solution
5) Cloth diapers are toxin-free and gentle on delicate baby skin
      Would you like to wear paper or plastic underwear all day? I can't imagine it would be very comfortable. I think cotton, bamboo and other soft fabrics are much more comfortable and gentle on a baby's skin.
     Also, disposable diapers contain fragrances, dyes, and chemicals (tributyl-tin and sodium polyacrylate (the gel substance that absorbs moisture), and possibly traces of dioxin, a known carcinogenic source). The diaper maufacturing industry is self-regulating, and manufacturers are not obligated by law to reveal to consumers what components make up their diapers. (source) Since my baby is going to be wearing diapers right next to her skin 24 hours a day for about 2+ years, I prefer that they be as chemical-free as possible.

6) No diaper rashes
     Tessa has yet to have a major diaper rash, and I credit the gentle, moisture-wicking fabrics of my cloth diapers. Also, due to the fact that cloth diapers need to be changed a little more frequently, it's less likely that she'll be sitting in pee or poop for hours on end, thus, fewer rashes.

7) She doesn't stink
     Anytime I've had Tessa in a disposable, I can tell almost immediately when she's wet or dirty by the smell alone. Maybe I have an extra sensitive nose, but I never smell her pee or poop in cloth and that makes me happy.

8) Variety
     When it comes to disposables, they're pretty much all the same. I know parents have their favorites based on cost, fit, and how well they contain messes, but from what I can see, there's not a lot of difference from one brand to the next (maybe this is my lack of knowledge of disposable diapers showing here...). When it comes to cloth, there are SO MANY options to choose from, it's actually overwhelming at first. There are different styles (all-in-ones, pockets, prefolds, fitteds, hybrids), different fabrics (microfibre, cotton, bamboo, hemp), different closures (velcro or snaps), different sizing options, not to mention the hundreds of colors and patterns to choose from. Each brand has its own unique features and selling points, and you can really customize your stash based on your baby's needs.

9) Doesn't have to be all or nothing
     Even part-time cloth diapering saves money and is good for the environment. It may be intimidating to jump into the cloth diapering world with both feet, but you don't have to. It's so easy to start small, by buying just a few diapers in a variety of styles to give it a go before committing fully. Even if you decide you like it, you may not want to cloth diaper full-time. I know people who do half and half and find that this works best for them. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

10) Cuteness factor
     Okay, maybe this one is a bit of a stretch, but I think that poofy cloth-diapered baby bottoms are just so stinking cute! All my diapers so far are plain colors, except for my swim diapers, but there are some ADORABLE patterns out there. It's so much more fun than plain old white!

      I want to be clear that my intent is not to make anyone feel guilty for not choosing cloth. These are simply MY reasons for using cloth diapers. As you see, I'm pretty convinced that they're the best! But I realize and completely understand that they may not be the best for everyone, and someone could just as easily write a post with their top ten reasons to NOT cloth diaper (I would actually be interested to read it!). To each their own. Parenting is all about making the choices that you feel are best for your baby and your family. For us, that's cloth diapering.

     Parents, do you cloth diaper? What are your reasons for choosing cloth? On the flip side, what are your reasons for NOT choosing cloth? Leave a comment...I'm interested to hear both sides!


  1. Great post, Nancy. Lots of good info here. I'm a non-parent but am considering cloth diapering for myself after reading make a strong case.

  2. We cloth diapered for almost 2 years until I returned to work. I did disposable for night and when we went out of the house for extended periods of time (mostly for convenience). I used a soak pail for the diapers and only did one load a week. I also made my own diapers so they weren't fancy but they worked!

  3. FYI: My husband has a few reasons for not wanting to cloth diaper. I'l' share them with you

    1. Upfront cost
    2. he thinks they are messier (having to clean soiled matter into toilet)
    3. the poop goes through the washing machine (?is this bad for washing machine)

    I'm still trying to convince him otherwise!

    1. 1. Yes, it's an investment up front and looks like a lot compared to a box of diapers, but is way cheaper in the long run.
      2. The cleaning poop into the toilet can be messy. We're just getting into that as we've just recently started solids, so I don't have a ton of experience with it yet, but we've started with buying the flushable liners (yes, I know, more waste, but I think for us it will just be a temporary thing until her poops are a little more solid, then we'll go to some kind of scraper). The liner lays on top of your diaper and holds the poop but doesn't absorb liquid, then you just pick the whole thing up, put it in the toilet and flush it. I still think this is less messy than having to clean poop off baby's back when you have a blowout, but that's a personal preference.
      3. If you have a blow out diaper, there will be poop on baby's clothes that goes through the wash too. Breastmilk poop is completely water soluble and dissolves. I've had no issues so far. Once baby is on solids, the majority of the poop will be going into the toilet, so very little should be getting into the washer. If your diapers are getting clean, your washer is clean. You can also clean your washer regularly if it's a concern.
      I will say that you will probably want your husband completely on board before starting, otherwise you will likely end up doing all the diapering by yourself! Good luck!! :)

  4. We love our cloth diapers too! And I agree I can't stand the smell of dirty or wet disposables (although we certainly still use them on occasion for various reasons) the urine mixed with whatever chemicals are in the diapers is awful- especially with Huggies. That smell bothers me the most

    1. Totally agree with you Jen! Thanks for reading!

  5. You did an excellent job summarizing so many great points!I will definitely share this post with friends who are considering using cloth!

  6. Awesome! I've thought about cloth diapering, but I just don't want to do laundry all the time. lol

  7. We are cloth diapering people too, and the cuteness factor definitely factors in!

  8. I've been looking at both the AMP duo and GroVia hybrid. Have you tried either and found that one works better?

  9. Hi Sara! Yes I've tried both and of the two I prefer the AMP duo - very soft lining, pretty patterns and colors and the super absorbent bamboo liners are fantastic. Although I do like that the Grovia shells can be used without an insert as a swim diaper. My personal all time favorite diaper is still the Bum Genius 4.0!

  10. yay!
    I'm so glad to see that you are a cloth believer too.
    We are absolutely sold, and have already begun to stash up.
    You're right, they just make the most sense all around.


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