What People Picture When They Think Of Cloth Diapers
What It’s Actually Like
Seriously, guys, the cloth diapers on the market today are one of the best-kept secrets in parenthood. They are not your grandma’s diapers.
I could break down my cloth diaper routine, but I think I’ll save that for a later post. This time around, I’m going to clarify why I cloth diaper. These are the pros and cons that I’ve noticed most (starting with the pros, so you won’t get burnt out on the cons and stop reading).
Pro Number One: Moolah
This is by far the most compelling reason, for me, to cloth diaper. I’ve never found a decent disposable diaper for less than a quarter apiece. (I found a brand that went for 13 cents apiece – but honestly, I may as well have used a piece of cardboard for all the comfort and absorbency that thing offered.) You can find a used cloth diaper on eBay or diaper swap forums for as cheap as $5. This means, in order for a cloth diaper to be as cost-efficient as a disposable, it needs to make it through at least twenty diaper changes. That’s gonna take two weeks, max. If you buy a more high-end brand like FuzziBunz, BumGenius or Charlie Banana, you might pay as much as $25 per diaper. Yeah, that number sounds outrageous (and it is a little steep), but it’s a hundred changes. You’re still saving buckets of dough.
At birth you’ll need about eighteen diapers (and may end up doing the laundry daily sometimes). If you buy a solid one-size diaper, that stash will get you through potty training. Say you buy Charlie Banana (my personal favorite) in six-packs. That will cost about three hundred dollars.
You’ll need at least two waterproof diaper pail liners (we use this one), and at least two portable wetbags (this one). A toilet bidet makes cleaning up the poopy diapers much, much easier (trust me on this). This BumGenius model goes for about fifty bucks – we installed our own and paid about the same, but I have a friend who did her own and spent $10. Another good addition is cloth wipes (why not, if you’re using cloth diapers?). I didn’t spend a penny – I cut two old receiving blankets and one old shirt into pieces. Then there’s the cost of laundering – I’ve heard from fifty cents to a dollar per load. Plan on doing the laundry at least once every two days.
At most you’ll spend about $700, from birth to potty training. That includes a batch of brand-new high-end diapers, a toilet bidet, wetbags and liners, and laundry expenses.
Disposables run, on average, about $60 to $85 a month. So if your child potty trains at two and a half years old, you’re looking at about $2200, total.
That’s three times as much!
… Why don’t more parents know this?!??
Pro Number Two: Garbage (Or The Lack Thereof)
I don’t need to elaborate on this, I’m sure. It’s not uncommon for a newborn to have five to ten poopy diapers a day, and that’s not considering the ones that are just wet. Even now, my eighteen-month-old goes through at least five diapers each day and often many more. Picture the pile of diapers accrued in two and a half years. It would be nice not to have to throw all that away, right? Even if it’s just for the slight benefit of extra space in your trash can (and less trips to the curb).
Pro Number Three: No Diaper Rash (That’s Right – NONE!)
In the six months before starting cloth, my son has annihilated no less than ten bottles of diaper cream. The poor guy’s bottom was nearly always red and sore, often with open sores and often with serious pain. The magic bullet? Cloth diapers. When I found out I couldn’t rely on diaper cream, it was almost frightening enough that I backed out. Thank heavens I didn’t. My baby’s bottom is blissfully smooth since the switch.
Con Number One: Reluctant Babysitters (And Some Reluctant Daddies)
I have yet to find a babysitter who’s been excited to face cloth diapering. It’s pretty easy to explain, though – at changing time, a cloth diaper isn’t very different from a disposable, and with the waterproof bag, it’s no more difficult. An added kick: if it’s an older woman (or man) watching Kiddo, they’ll often claim to know exactly what they’re doing (they have done it before, after all) – only to be totally flabbergasted by the cushy new models. This always ends with a fun conversation. “It’s all one piece? No pins? They can do that?”
Con Number Two: Maintenance
In my book, this applies mostly to velcro. I hate taking care of velcro, even though some moms swear by it. I use diapers with snaps. There’s also the need for cloth diaper safe detergent. You can’t use diaper rash ointment with cloth diapers, and in time your diapers will of course wear out – holes, thinning, elastic breakage, stitching ripping out. Just like with clothing. Two months in, I’ve already taken a sewing machine to one of my diapers. (I did buy used – and it’s worth the price break.)
Con Number Three: Yes, You Have To Clean Up The Doo-Doo
There’s no getting around the cleaning factor. It’s not as gross as most people figure, so give me a chance on this! But … yeah, washing them isn’t my favorite way to pass twenty minutes. Here’s the breakdown: change it just like a regular diaper, then take the yucky one to the bathroom. If it’s just wet, take out the insert (more on diaper construction later) and dump it in the pail with your wipes. If it’s … you know, the other kind of yucky, spray it down with your bidet, which is no fun and takes some practice, but is far more efficient than dunking (that’s what Grandma did, poor gal). Then into the pail. On wash day, the whole pail liner comes out, you empty it into the washer and throw it on top. A cold rinse-spin, then a regular cycle. You can line dry or use your dryer – if you use your dryer, take the outer parts out fifteen minutes into the cycle. They’ll be dry by then.
A quick breakdown:
If I’m willing to launder diapers, bother with maintaining them and deal with the weird stigma people have about cloth diapers, I can drastically reduce my garbage output, eliminate diaper rash entirely and spend a third of what I would have on disposables.
And that’s no contest, in my book.