T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cloth Diapering...Yes and No

About a month ago my neighbor called me. Her voice was frantic on the other end of the phone. "I desperately need to talk to you. I need some cloth diapering advise." She had switched her two year old daughter to cloth because she was having such severe diaper rash. She's expecting a baby in the next couple months so she was not ready to pursue potty training for fear of regression. Hence, she opted for cloth. Since the switch, her daughter is significantly improved. And we've worked out her very simple diapering issues. 

I had not even spoken to her about cloth diapering except she once saw me change Bebe Sister and she wanted to see the diapers I use because they look different. Cloth diapering is just part of our lives. And a very happy part. But I cannot help but wonder if there are other folks out there that see cloth diapering as some strange often scary practice. I will also say, cloth is not for everyone and it is certainly not my intent to alienate some of my dearest followers by writing this. We are all parents and in this experience together. 

However, I cannot help but feel the need to share some of our experiences in case there are others out there like my dear neighbor who might be overwhelmed or even confused.

1. Cloth is less expensive. Yes AND No. It really depends on the type of disposables and cloth. If we were to purchase disposables (which we have not in about 10 months), we would purchase chlorine-free. These cost at the very least $0.25/diaper. If we continued that for 2 1/2 years (the average length for kids in disposable diapers) that's about $1875 spent in diapers. There are complete cloth diapering systems starting at $100 and can go all the way to about $500. These would work for the duration of the child's diapering days which would likely be less than 2 1/2 years since cloth kids usually potty train sooner. However, we've invested in what I consider some fancier diapers so our start up expenses have been closer to $750. There are some added expenses with laundry soap and energy/sewage consumption but I consider these minor. If we went really fancy with the diapers, we would probably hit the $1875 mark but initially our intent with cloth diapering was to save money. And indeed we have. If on the chance we decide we want to add a third child to our family, we already have plenty of diapers and start up costs would be zero. 

2. There is more laundry with cloth diapering. Yes AND No. I do on average 2-3 loads of diapers/week. However, in the past 10 months, I've only had to change Bebe Sister's clothes or the bed sheets due to diaper leaks or blow outs about 4 times TOTAL. I don't know anyone else who can say that! So, that saves on some laundry related to diapering issues. Secondly, I already do 6-8 loads of laundry  per week (not including diapers) so I have to say adding the simple laundering of diapers to the regimen, hardly noticeable.

3. You have to touch more poop with cloth. Yes AND No. Babies are messy - period. Diaper changes are no different. I don't care what kind of diaper you use, eventually you'll get poop on your hands. My hands do sometimes get dirty when dumping the poop into the toilet. However, if you look at a disposable diaper package, it actually says you're to be dumping solids into the toilet before disposing of the diapers. Not many folks know that. Technically, solid human waste is not supposed to be disposed of in the trash. Regardless, I'd say, it's equally messy no matter what diaper choice. We don't, however, have a stinky trash can or diaper pail. That is very nice.

4. Cloth diapered babies get more rashes than those in disposables. Yes AND No. With cloth, our daughter has had 1 bout of diaper rash. With disposables, she would get regular rashes. This is not to say that cloth cannot bring rashes, too. It can, especially if the diapers are not changed frequently enough or if they are not washed properly. But for us - our son who wore disposables had chronic diaper rash. Applying cream was part of the diapering routine. With our daughter in cloth - we haven't purchased cream since she was born and only used the cream we had on hand a couple of times. 

5. Cloth diapering is difficult and complicated. Yes AND No. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. There are all-in-one diapers that are just like disposables except they go in the wash rather the trash. There are also more complicated diapering systems with a menagerie of inserts, soakers, and fabric options. There are also several different types of fastener options - snaps, velcro, pins, or snappies. We have tried all these options and have a couple different set ups. My mom watches the kids when I have school. Her arthritic hands cannot work snaps so we use velcro (also called hook/loop closure). She also gravitates to the "girly" colors and prints, too (a good excuse to have those one hand)! I like to use "fitted" flannel diapers with a wool soaker when we're at home and pocket diapers for nights and outings. T Rex Dad is good with any and all options.

For us, going cloth has been one of the best things we could have done for our daughter. I only wish I had known about it sooner. So this is me telling you so you don't miss out like I did. 

Plus, it is a good excuse to post some cute photos of the kids getting into the diaper laundry - a very favorite activity.

Bebe Sister clutching a prefold. You can see one of the flannel fitted diapers on the far left - a gift from blog follower mitchsmom.

Bebe Sister catching some air while she and big brother T Rex toss the laundry. She's wearing a bib from blog follower JKMommy.

Was any of the information presented here interesting or surprising to you? Do you or anyone you know use cloth diapers with their kids? Has this impacted your thinking on the matter?


Emily said...

I love when you post about diapering! I go back and forth on this issue often. I love reading your thoughts. I, too, use chlorine free diapers on my baby...but would love to get cloth diapers...even if I only use them occasionally.

Your information is always most interesting!

Have a great night!

JKMommy said...

hee hee - cute bib! :) And I love the "catching air" part - wow, she's incredibly mobile! :)

I think you covered the cloth topic quite well. We also started cloth MOSTLY to save money but (ahem) have gotten a tad sidetracked by all the "fun" diapers... however, I think we're still under the $500 mark so ... I guess that is still better than disposables. Well, we did sposies too for a bit at first so we probably spent another $100 there... I will be so much more prepared the next time around.

Love how you show the Yes/No side of each issue. I think this will help newcomers who might be scared. :) Don't be scared, mommies!!! :) Join the fun!!

Katie said...

Thanks for another good article on cloth diapering. We're hoping to have our son out of all diapers very soon, and there aren't any signs pointing towards having another child (although baby fever is pretty strong in me right now). If I had known about cloth diapering, I may have done it, but I'm so close to the finish line now that I think it would only add cost. :-)
By the way, I know I've told you this before, but you're amazing with the way you juggle school and family. Kudos!

angie said...

For some children, I think cloth diapering is THE ONLY way to go because of skin irritations with disposable diapers. There are so many other benefits, too. I never used them, but would consider them if I ever had any more kids. Which I'm not. :)

Kim said...

I admire you so much for using cloth diapers and I enjoy your posts about it too. I know I should be going that route and I was going to switch when Naveen was born but the sleeping has made me become even more lazy than usual and I fear that I stayed with disposable because it is easier. I often feel ashamed of the garbage I am putting into our earth.

I too LOVE thrift stores and stay tuned for a post of my finds!

Jenners said...

I think it is great that you are putting this info out there to provide an informed and balanced view of cloth diapering.

septembermom said...

This is important information for moms to consider. I wish that I was more serious about looking into cloth diapers when my babies were born. Cute pictures too!

zombiemom said...

Thanks for this! My sister is pregnant with triplets and can't wrap her head around not only spending a ton on disposables but throwing away that much waste in one household. She has accepted hand-me-downs for most of her big items, and plans on putting the cloth diapers she's picked out on her baby shower registry. I may be asking you soon which ones you prefer so we know which ones to look at!

Nina said...

I learned something new, I did not know we needed to clean out the pooh from the diapers before disposing. LOL.... Doesn't matter anymore, my diaper days are over as my babies are growing older.