When I had my first child, cloth diapering really wasn’t in my lexicon. I live in a relatively rural area, and no one locally was using or selling cloth diapers, to my knowledge. I didn’t see blogs or Facebook posts advocating cloth diapering. The only knowledge I had of cloth diapers at that time was the image of a 1960s mother pinning a white tea towel onto her baby’s bottom. If someone out there was using something different, I was ignorant to it.
Flash forward about three years, and I had another little baby, and cloth diapering was all the rage. Advocates praised its cost effectiveness, its compatibility with sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle choices, the “cute factor” that “fluff” gives to babies. These same individuals made a lot of claims about monetary savings, health benefits (better for baby’s sensitive skin, less exposure to harmful chemicals and materials compared to disposable diapers), how the energy usage in production and laundering of cloth diapers pales in comparison to the damage that disposables do to the environment.
I listened to these with a mixture of interest and skepticism–I’m usually pretty wary of anyone who claims they have a magic cure for various ailments and issues. However, I realized that our family was heading in a direction where we were at least attempting to make more conscientious and sustainable choices in our lives, and we were desperately looking for ways to become more frugal and less reliant on big box stores and shopping malls.
I would contemplate making “the switch” from disposable diapers to cloth, and I was met with a couple of obstacles. First, the initial cost was daunting. Often, modern cloth diapers (which are WAY different now that that 1960s mama I mentioned earlier) are rather pricey, at $15-30 a pop, and when I did the math, I figured I would need at least 20 diapers, maybe more, depending on my little girl’s age at the time.
Second, my husband was very nervous about taking the plunge. He’s not as into the “hype” surrounding the “green” craze, and he was even more worried about the cost involved. Plus, we rarely struggled with diaper rash, and we had resources for cheap disposable diapers via discount stores and warehouse clubs, so, in his mind, and even mine, why rock the boat?
When my toddler was 20 months old, I had the opportunity to snag a small stash of pocket diapers at a discounted price, so, with the hubby’s blessing, I decided to try cloth diapering on a part time basis. I was so nervous. I felt like I was taking some huge dive off of a cliff–when you’re a parent, and something works, and it keeps you and your baby happy (and sleeping well!), you’re nervous doing anything that might break routines.
Fast forward three months later, and we’re still rocking the cloth diapers. We’ve added to our stash, and we’re at just under 30 diapers. A vast majority of our diapers are pocket diapers, cloth diaper waterproof shells that have inserts that you can stuff into the cover and customize to your baby’s needs. We do have a few prefolds and covers, and we have an “all in two” (where the inserts are attached to the shell, with no need to stuff), but I have found we really prefer pockets. We’ve tried almost all of the “cloth diaper safe” detergents and have spent a pretty penny finding one that eliminates diaper stink, and after all that, we ended up using “unsafe” powdered Tide, with great results (each person’s needs are different, and many can ONLY use the CD safe detergents, per diaper warranties and sensitive skin issues). We have experimented with diaper creams and different types of liners. We have realized we must still use disposables at night and during long travels, as that is the only way to enable our Princess to sleep through the night or to stand riding in a car seat. But the most important lesson that I have learned is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing–we started very late in the game (20 months of age), we only cloth diaper part time, and that some things work for some families, and some don’t. And I think, had I known that lesson earlier, we might have started cloth diapering sooner!