Hello! I’m Sarah from Glimmersnaps. I’m so excited to share what I know about cloth diapering with you all today. My son is currently 20 months old and we’ve cloth diapered since he was a newborn. I also work at a natural baby boutique that sells most every kind of cloth diaper out there.
The first thing that jumps to most people’s mind when considering cloth is the environmentally friendly aspect. Disposables take far more energy and resources to produce. Cloth is not only more efficient to produce but it can be reused for years and years. My son still wears some of the same diapers he wore when he was a week old. After he potty learns, the diapers will be used again on any children we may have in the future. Used diapers can also be donated or sold or used as rags around the house. Disposables? They sit in a landfill after just one use.
What strikes me is that we don’t even know how long it takes for a disposable to decompose. Estimates say it might be between 250 and 500 years! That means that if you weren’t cloth diapered, your diapers are still out there somewhere. And they will still be there when your great grandchildren are having children.
Some point out that cloth diapering still uses electricity and water for washing. They argue that disposables take more energy to produce but that cloth takes energy to maintain. While it is true that cloth must be washed and dried 2-3 times a week for 2-3 years, cloth users can take steps like maintaining efficient washing schedules, using high efficiency washers, and low heat or air drying to reduce the energy usage. If you have at least 24-30 diapers, you won’t have to wash but twice per week. This really isn’t much more water than a person would use flushing the toilet. The truth is that having a baby will cost energy—after all, you’ve added a new human to the community—but as parents we can help to balance that by using the least amount as possible and cutting back in other areas.
Another environmental concern is the chemicals used to produce disposables and the chemicals that are in them—next to your baby—that make them absorbent. Polyacrylic acid, dyes, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, and Trichloroethyleneare just a few of the chemical additives found in diapers. (To read more about the toxicity of disposables, go here.) So not only are these agents dangerously close to your dear child, but they eventually end up in landfills along with the diapers and the untreated waste inside.
Many people opt for cloth because it’s more economical. Disposables cost about $70 USD a month. This is $1680 USD for two years and—let’s be honest—many kids don’t potty learn right at age 2. And disposable training pants cost even more than the diapers do! Cloth is a bigger initial investment. However, it can be done for $200 USD if you choose the more basic styles. Even if you want high-quality convenient styles, you can get an entire stash for around $600 USD, which is still far less than disposables. Not to mention, you can re-sell your diapers as long as they are in decent condition and recoup some of your investment.
I’ve often said that people start researching cloth for environmental or budget reasons, but they get hooked by their cuteness. Need I say more?
Want to know more?
Perhaps you’re interested in cloth, but you don’t know where to begin. The market is flooded with different brands, styles, sizing options and fabric choices. Here’s a post I wrote last week with more details about your options. You can also check out online diaper forums like the Diaper Pin or DiaperSwappers to get more information or ask questions. If you are fortunate enough to have a store that sells cloth in your area, go! It’s best to be able to touch and feel the different materials and ask questions so you can pick out what’s best for your baby.
Many stores have newborn rental programs that can help get you started. Newborn sized diapers will fit well for the first few weeks, but babies quickly grow out of them. Renting a newborn stash is a great way to begin with cloth.
If you are concerned with washing, some areas have laundry services, but what’s available varies. Be aware that some services may use chemicals like bleach. Ask details about their wash process to make sure you are comfortable with what is offered. Washing at home really isn’t that difficult. It’s best to do a cold soak (I usually do this overnight) and then a hot wash followed by a cold rinse. I use a cloth diaper friendly detergent and half a cup of vinegar. I air-dry some diapers and tumble dry others depending on the fabric. (My stash, like most peoples, is not comprised entirely on one style or brand.)
I hope you will consider using cloth diapers for you little one. My husband was skeptical at first, but now we are so glad we did it. I’ll be happy to answer any other questions you might have in the comments section.
Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your wisdom! I've known for some time that I wanted to do cloth diapering (some day, not soon) when we have kids, but have always been a little intimidated, so this reassures me some! Isn't it easier when it's all laid out for you, no?! Be sure to check out Sarah's very complete guide to choosing the right cloth diapers for your baby on her blog for even more information! And she will also have a post up next week about washing and taking good care of your cloth diapers! I will link to that when it's up.
Catch up with the 31 days series:
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