Our choice to cloth diaper is a personal one.
When we found out I was pregnant, we talked about raising our little bug naturally and in sync with how we choose to live; cloth diapers and all! That’s not to say that I frown upon using disposables, we use them overnight and sometimes when traveling. But we decided to be committed to at least doing it during the day. It’s about balance, but also about being cognizant of our environment and what we put on our bodies.
We started cloth diapering Caelan around 3 1/2 weeks, after his circumcision healed, his umbilical cord stump fell off, and when we felt comfortably settled into life with a newborn (if that’s possible).
It’s honestly incredibly easy and no where near the work I thought it would be. In retrospect, we could have started even earlier. Caelan has no clue what he’s using, and I feel that I’m doing my part to reduce waste and keep chemicals off of my little boy.
Is it really better for the environment?
Cloth diapers have way less of a negative environmental impact. We throw away 20 billion disposable diapers annually in the US alone. The average baby uses 7,000 disposable diapers in a lifetime and each diaper takes 500 years to decompose. Ew. Cloth diapered babies, however, need about 20-40 diapers. Total.
But cloth is expensive!!
Up front, yes, but overall, no. Parents spend a lifetime average of $2,000 on disposables, while cloth totals just a few hundred.
But are they better for my baby?
Cloth diapers use less chemicals/additives. Disposables are often bleached with dioxin, which is classified as a possible carcinogen, and contain sodium polyacrylate, a gelling substance that is linked to asthma and decreased sperm count. Because of the natural materials in cloth diapers (organic cotton, bamboo, etc), they are safer, softer, and allow the baby’s ‘area’ to breathe better, allowing for less diaper rash.
We have the GroVia hybrids, which use a waterproof shell and either a disposable insert or a reusable insert (soaker pad) to absorb the stuff. I normally use the reusable insert (along with an additional biodegradable disposable liner to separate solids) and save the disposable inserts for long outings and travel. We own enough to diaper about half time (6 shells and 12 reusable inserts), but I plan on buying more so we can move closer to full time cloth diapering.
Just like you change a disposable. Take the diaper off, clean baby, and rediaper. If there is no solid waste, I simply change the reusable insert, add a new liner, and seal up the diaper shell. For solid waste, I also change the shell if it gets dirty.
How’s the laundry situation?
I’m asked about this all the time. You think there’s going to be all this nasty laundry, but there’s not. Before washing, you’re supposed to rinse or shake off any solid waste from the insert. Or, if that doesn’t sound appealing, you can cover the reusable inserts with the biodegradable liners that I mentioned we use. The biodegradable liners get thrown out and are about the size of a wipe, creating way less waste than an entire disposable diaper. The rest gets laundered and no, there’s not a bunch of shit in your washing machine.
As parents, we all make the choices that work best for our family. For us, this is what works!
Share your (cloth) diaper journey with me… don’t let me be the only crazy one!
Infographs from grovia.