Never thought about cloth diapering? Grab a coffee and let's talk. There's a whole new world out there, and for me, it all started with cloth diapers...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why Cloth Diaper?

If you are thinking, "Eeeeewwwww! How gross!" then you need to get educated about cloth diapering. I thought the same thing when someone first mentioned to me that they use cloth diapers. I was very ignorant about them and put up every argument I could think of: they lead to more rashes, you have to change them more often, they are as environmentally detrimental as disposables, and way more inconvenient. Why in the world would I switch? I started doing research, and the picture in my head of the old cloth diapers (you know, the ones we use for burp cloths) and pins quickly faded away. What I found was a slew of mommas out there who knew WAY more about diapering than I could imagine, and they were making their own diapers! To quash the arguments I had previously given- here are the things that I learned:

Myth 1. Rashes. ANY baby who is left in a wet diaper, whether cloth or disposable is prone to rashes. The fact is, babies are more likely to develop rashes in disposables because they do not allow the sensitive areas to breathe, and babies are more likely to react to the chemicals in disposables. Many moms started cloth diapering BECAUSE their babies were suffering constant rashes from the chemicals in disposables that we cannot even pronounce.

Myth 2. You have to change them more often. Well, shouldn't we be changing our babies when they wet or soil their diapers? With disposables we try to get our money's worth  so we leave them on until we can feel the squishiness (you know what I'm talking about) and sometimes until the gel inside is bursting at the seams.

No matter what diaper you use, your baby should be changed as quickly as possible after soiling or wetting. Would you want to sit in a wet diaper all day? Also, if you use a polyester-lined diaper, the liner gives the same stay dry effect as the disposable diaper. The lining of the diaper wicks the wetness away from baby's body, making it a perfect diaper for night time. They can be used during the day as well.

Myth 3. They are not environmentally superior to disposables. This is a common misconception. You would think that using all the water to wash the diapers, and all that detergent (don't you have to use bleach?) would really lower the environmental friendliness of cloth diapering. But it doesn't. To make disposable diapers, MANY trees have to be torn down to make the fluffy wood pulp, bleaching with chlorine gas gives them the nice white color we all like (which produces toxic chemicals), and dangerous chemicals (the gel) are added which has caused many problems for babies. This doesn't even touch on the non-renewable natural gas needed to make the waterproof backing and packaging; and THEN they have to be driven to your local store, right?

Let's look at cloth. Even IF cloth diapers were as dangerous to make, because they are used over and over again, they far outdo disposables in environmental friendliness. You do use water to wash them, but don't you use water to wash your clothes? You don't have to use bleach, and as a matter of fact, VERY little detergent is used to get them clean- 1/2 to 1/4 the recommended amount. Any time you are able to reuse something instead of throwing it away, you are helping the environment. And while we're on the topic, have you read your disposable diaper package lately? Did you know that you are supposed to dump poop from disposables into the potty before you throw them away? Our landfills are not set up to handle the enormous amounts of poop that are filling them up, but our water systems are. If you prefer using disposables, please flush the poop.

Myth 4. Cloth diapers are not convenient. Well, neither are the rashes your baby gets, the asthma caused by the chemicals in disposables, driving to the store at midnight because you just ran out of diapers...for that matter, changing a baby isn't convenient at all! Take it from me, I have two in diapers as I write this and I am changing diapers all day long. There is a little more work involved in cloth diapering, but the benefits far outweigh the extra time.

Since we have already established that we are supposed to dump poop with either disposables or cloth, I will go on to the other things people might find inconvenient: storing dirty diapers and washing them. I use a regular trash can with a lid. Nothing special. And the good thing about cloth is that they don't smell as bad as disposables when they are soiled. Disposable diaper users (I once was one) search far and wide for a diaper "genie" or some other gizmo that will get rid of the diaper pail odor. Honestly, we store our cloth in a trash can in a very small bathroom and you wouldn't know it was in there if I didn't tell you!

As for the laundry, that was my biggest fear. I hate laundry. But when considering cloth, I discovered what I hated about laundry was the folding, hanging, putting don't have to do any of that with the diapers. You can toss them all in a cute basket and store them that way, and pull them out as you need them. The machine does all the work!! With a cloth diaper, you remove it, put it in the pail (dump out any poop), wait until you have enough to wash, and then wash. And no more lugging out 25 lbs. of soiled diapers every week! The only thing I don't like about using cloth: the sticky poops that don't fall off the diaper. We have a hose for that, connected to our potty.

Other benefits of using cloth?
  • They are MUCH cheaper. You will spend over $2,000 for disposable wipes and diapers, and only $200 to $600 for cloth. And the best part: if you hold onto your cloth diapers, you can diaper subsequent children for FREE! 
  • Baby's comfort. I hated wearing pads during my period- I certainly don't want my baby (who spends 24/7 in diapers) to feel the same yucky I felt. Cloth diapers breathe, and are much softer to baby's delicate skin.
  • Potty training is easier. When they can feel the wetness, toddlers are much more likely to want out of diapers. Cloth diapered babies are more aware of their eliminating functions because when they wet, they feel it.
  • They are more attractive. This benefit was irrelevant to me until I had been using cloth diapers for a while. A diaper's a diaper, right? NOT! You can get cloth diapers in so many cute fabrics and colors. Photographers prefer cloth diapers because they are so much cuter, and I agree. Disposables are a dime a dozen (don't you wish?!) and it's rare to find a baby with a cute cloth diaper.
  • For more facts and statistics, visit Real Diaper Association.
Now, if you are thinking, "Eeeeeewww! How gross!" I hope you are thinking about disposables and not cloth. Because it is YOUR baby's poop (which doesn't smell, right?), your baby's bottom, and your baby's environment that disposable diapers are affecting the most. And if you want to do what's best for your baby, well, I think you'd agree that cloth is the way to go.

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