I‘m a self-confessed newbie at cloth diapering. I was interested in it from day one of my oldest daughter’s life, but I didn’t know anyone else who did it, and I wasn’t sure where to even begin.
About a year later, a friend of mine told me that she was going to cloth diaper her second, and my now waned interest was rekindled. She told me about a few sites and the myriad of options, but it seemed so overwhelming. All I knew of CDs were that our grandmothers had to use them, many of our mothers had no other option, and when disposables were invented, they breathed a huge sigh of relief.
So I moved on, and finished up my daughter in disposables. With my son, however, I switched to cloth earlier this year. And I now have no idea why I waited so long.
Here are three reasons that compelled me to make the switch.
This was my main reason. Disposable diapers are expensive. If a child is potty trained at 3, he will wear an estimated 8,000 disposable diapers — and buying Luvs, Pampers, or Huggies in their economy-sized packs at stores like Target, Babies R Us, Amazon.com, or Costco works out to an average of $.19 per diaper. That’s an estimated $1,520 per child, assuming I buy the diapers at this economic price every time. If I buy the diapers in a regular-sized pack at a grocery store, the average price is $.24 — that’s a whopping $1,920 per child.
The price range varies for cloth diapers, depending on what kind you choose. But to make things fair — even if you picked the most expensive kind, the all-in-ones, the average price for those are around $18 per diaper. Or if you buy the 12-pack one-size all-in-ones from BumGenius, you’ll pay $203.40 with free shipping. If you also bought a 12-pack of their flannel wipes at $12, and bought Imse Vimse disposable liners five times a year at $13, that totals a little more than $400. You can use these diapers and wipes for every child, too, so you’re looking at barely more than $400 for all your diapering years. If you had three kids in disposables, that’s $4,500.
Sure, you’ve got slightly more water usage (though not as much as you think), and the use of chemical-free laundry soap, but that’s still a small price to pay, especially considering that you can do cloth diapering for much cheaper than listed above. Go with prefolds and wraps, buy them used off Diaperswappers or Craigslist, or even make your own diapers and wipes, and you’re saving money left and right.
I consider one of my main jobs as a home manager to be a good steward of our family’s finances. So for me, going with cloth was a no-brainer.
2. Good Environmental Stewardship.
Photo from Sattler Clothing
I have no idea why, but it never crossed my mind until recently that when I used disposable diapers, I was throwing human feces into the garbage. Officially, the disposable diaper companies say you’re supposed to shake the poop off into the toilet. But how many of us ever do that? In some cities, it’s illegal to dispose of human waste in to our garbage systems. And the World Health Organization says it’s against their guidelines to put it into landfills.
In the U.S. alone, 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in landfills each year, taking around 500 years to decompose. Disposable diapers make up the third largest item in landfills, after newspapers and food and beverage containers–a big deal, since they are a single product, used by a limited portion of the population. Once I started thinking about that, it just didn’t sit well with me. I want to steward well the earth God has given us. And while we still use disposables for long trips, switching to cloth primarily has significantly cut down our contribution to the landfills.
But what about water use? Isn’t it good eco-practice to cut down our household water consumption? Sure thing. But washing cloth diapers at home uses 50 to 70 gallons of water every three days–about the same as a toilet-trained child or adult flushing the toilet five to six times a day. They’ll start doing that once they’re potty trained anyway. If you use a diaper service (a great option for those of you who say you don’t have laundry capabilities in your own home), they’ll use even less water per diaper.
Life is about give and take, and the environmental question with diapering is no exception. For me, though, I’d rather use slightly more water than empty human waste into the garbage.
3. Possible earlier potty training.
Photo from Working Mommy
Back when disposable diapers didn’t exist, the average child was potty trained by 18 months. Now, it’s not uncommon for children to be potty trained at 40 months (3 years, 4 months). Every child is different, of course, and you can train your child earlier in disposables. But because disposable diapers have absorption chemicals that keep a baby from feeling wet, she has less incentive to get out of diapers. A baby still feels wet in a cloth diaper, and she gets uncomfortable faster.
Who wouldn’t want to try out something that might make the potty training process go quicker? I’m curious to see if this will help my son when he’s ready.
There are other great reasons to cloth diaper–less toxic chemicals on your baby’s bum, the amount of petroleum used to simply make a disposable diaper, and less diaper rash are some other common reasons. But these first three were enough to give cloth diapering a go — and I’m so glad I did. Katie has shared her reasons for cloth diapering on her blog, This Natural Life.
Later today, I’ll post two short videos demonstrating the how behind my cloth diapering system — how to put on various kinds of diapers, and how to properly store dirty diapers and then clean them.
What are your main reasons for going with cloth diapers? If you’re still unsure, what are your hesitations? Or if you feel like disposable is the best option for your family, share the reasons why. There will be no guilt-inducing conversations, however, so any comments that hint at a motive of judgment will be deleted.