Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cloth Diapers: Why use them?

It is so funny to me that things like cloth diapering, clean eating, avoiding chemicals, etc. have become "new agey" when in my mind they are actually very old fashioned. I like to live in a somewhat back-to-nature way, even though I definitely like some of my modern conveniences (hello, deodorant and air conditioning!). I often make this distinction: I am not granola, I'm old fashioned.

My husband and I made the decision several months ago that we would use cloth diapers with our children. That doesn't mean that an occasional disposable won't make its way into the mix, but we definitely decided that cloth diapers would be our main mode of diapering around here.

But why??

If you think it is because I love the idea of handling poop, you are sorely mistaken. I am grossed out by baby poop just as much as the next person. Until about a year ago, the idea of using cloth diapers hadn't even crossed my mind. And I probably would have thought anyone who did cloth diaper was crazy (or loved handling poop).

So why have I decided that cloth diapering is for us? Here are the top reasons

Reason #1: Not Grandma's diapers
When you hear the words "cloth diaper" you may think of these items (or a similar combination)
While I have no problem with plastic pants, diaper pins, and flats/prefolds, these are not what modern cloth diapers look like. In fact, modern cloth diapers are very similar to their disposable counterparts. Want proof?

Here is a newborn cloth diaper (tots bots brand) next to a newborn diaposable (earth's best brand)

Note that both diapers have easy closures (velcro and sticky-tape), both have built-in absorbancy, both are contoured to fit your baby, and both go on the exact same way and will do the exact same job. No plastic pants or diaper pins needed.

In fact, even if one chooses to use prefolds or flats these days, there are modern, easy-to-use diaper closures and waterproof covers that make it very convenient.

Reason #2: Saving money
It costs between $1,400 and $2,000 to diaper with disposables until your child reaches age 2. Even more if you choose an earth-friendly brand. Most children, however, go well past the 2 year mark with diaper use.

In contrast, a cloth diaper stash can cost as little as $100, depending on the type of diaper one chooses to use. A more reasonable amount to expect to spend is around $500 if you want the more modern type of diapers. It is a big initial investment, but those diapers can usually be reused from child to child, and cloth diapers have a very high resale value. You can sell used cloth diapers in good condition on ebay or diaper exchanges on facebook or at diaper swap websites for usually between 40-75% their original value.

Reason #3: Less garbage
Some people think that God's giving us dominion over the earth means we can do with it what we wish, but I see this very differently. God obviously values stewardship, given the numerous stories and parables in the Bible regarding the importance of being a good steward. God has made us stewards of the earth, and to me that means being as kind to it as possible.

Disposable diapers make up a huge amount of the waste that is thrown away each year, and will take between 200-500 years to decompose. 200-500 years! For convenience's sake we are saddling hundreds of years of future generations with tons and tons of garbage when there is a very convenient and nearly waste-free option we could be using instead. That doesn't sound like good stewardship to me.

Also, did you know that you are supposed to flush all baby poop down the toilet, whether it is in a disposable or a cloth diaper? That way it is treated at a water treatment facility and isn't left to seep into groundwater at the landfill. Just check your disposable diaper package:

Reason #4: Control over chemicals
I am not one to believe all the hype about chemical exposure. I don't think eating inorganic food means you will get cancer. I don't think exposure to pesticides or chemical sunscreen is an automatic death sentence. My own grandmother smoked cigarettes for 67 years and is still going strong at 85 (she quit at 79 years old!).

However, there is no denying that we are exposed to more chemicals in our daily lives than most past generations. It is also true that nobody really knows yet what kind of affect this will have on us. Going back to what I said before, I am old fashioned. I just want to eat clean, old-fashioned food, and breath clean, old-fashioned air.

That said, disposable diapers are full of chemicals that are anything but old-fashioned. It's only been the last 30 years or so that disposable diapers have been all the rage, so we don't exactly know what these chemicals will do, or are doing, to our children. I just prefer to keep things simple and not chance that some of these chemicals will harm my children.

You can learn a little about the concerns over disposable diapers HERE. One chemical commonly found in disposables, sodium polyacrylate, was removed from tampons because of correlations with toxic shock syndrome. And we still willingly put it next to our little babies' skin.... yikes.

Reason #5: Ease
One of the biggest reasons people site for not using cloth diapers is a lack of time. Disposables, they think, are just plain easier. I don't blame them. We all want our lives to be easier, not harder. But few people understand the ease of using cloth diapers. Our grandma's were handwashing cloth diapers while caring for usually much larger broods of children than the average person has now.

I was introduced to cloth diapers by a full-time working mom of two who also heads up a few different volunteer organizations and runs a wedding planning business on the side. She definitely doesn't have time to spare, but she cloth diapered both of her children from day one. When I asked her why and how she found the time for it, she said "it really doesn't take much more time".

Caring for cloth diapers is not a huge undertaking. You put the diaper on, baby uses it, you put it in a wet bag or air-tight container until you are ready to do laundry, and you wash it. That's it . There may be an extra step once baby starts eating solids and you might have to shake or spray poop out into the toilet (which you should be doing with disposables anyway). But that is really it.
A diaper sprayer attached to the toilet allows for easy clean-up for children who eat solids or who are formula fed.

Cloth diapering also doesn't require taking out the trash, picking up diapers at the store, etc.

Reason #6: So cute! 
Cloth diapers are adorable. In fact, I have found that this is one of the major reasons many woman choose to cloth diaper. The "fluffy" butt on a cloth diapered baby is just plain adorable. Cloth diapers come in so many patterns, colors, and styles, it can be so fun to pick out the perfect patterns for your collection!

Here is a sneak-peak at my newborn diaper stash (more about it in a future post).
And here are some of my favorite diaper colors/patterns which I have added to my collection for baby
Oh I just can't wait to see all these cute designs on my little one! I know, I know, babies don't need cute diapers. They are just poop-catchers, after all. But it sure is a huge bonus.

Have you ever considered using cloth diapers? Does anyone you know use them?


  1. I have used them part time on both my kids. Now that my son is almost two, I haven't used them on him in a long time as daycare will not allow them, but when we get closer to potty training, we will pull them back out so he can "feel" wet when he goes potty in his diaper. I love using cloth diapers and if I was home with him all day we would most certainly be using them on a regular basis!

  2. Cloth diapering is really getting very fashionable. I'm going to use cloth, as well, but I'm going to switch between old-fashioned flats and modern cloth diapers. I plan to use flats while my baby is still a newborn and see how it goes. Your stash really is adorable - I'm really interested in the upcoming post to see what brands you got.

  3. I've been totally turned off by the idea of using cloth diapers in the past - it just seems a lot more....hands on than I ever wanted to be :) But the arguments in favor seem to really outweigh disposables! You'll have to post some updates on how you like them and what your favorite brands are as you go along (are you trying out a few different kinds to start?). Love that sprayer too!

  4. I used them part time with my 3 children (full time with my first son). Cloth diapers are also better for the skin.
    I try to avoid disposable baby wipes for the same reasons as disposable diapers. I use cloth ones or dry (disposable) ones with liniment (I think I mentioned this in a previous post).

  5. I am using disposables with my newborn just for the first few weeks, as she is not yet 8 lbs (the weight recommended to begin the all-in-ones I have) and she is soiling diapers so often I would be going through my whole stash in a day and a half. I can't wait to get into the cloth though. The styles are just so cute and I love that they are good for her skin and MUCH better for the environment.

    1. Yes I know many people who choose to use disposables in the beginning until their children fit into one-size diapers. It definitely helps keep those first few weeks low stress. Since we hope to have more children, I decided to invest in a separate newborn cloth diaper stash in addition to a one-size stash


I love to fellowship with others and hear what they have to say. I would ask, however, that you be mindful of what you write and try to be uplifting and respectful. Thank you for sharing!