Cloth diapering: it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing
Five years ago last month, I made my first cloth diapering purchase—a stack of premium pre-folds and a couple covers. Even though our cloth diaper stash has been retired for quite some time now, I still have fond memories of the time my daughters spent wearing their cute cloth diapers.
It might seem strange that a person whose children are no longer in diapers is so passionate about encouraging other parents to try cloth diapers; there really isn't a rational explanation for my advocacy, other than I believe it can be a wonderful way to care for children while also reducing landfills.
A common hesitation about switching to cloth diapers is the notion that you have to use only cloth diapers all the time. But if we examine the hurdles faced by parents who want to cloth diaper, a part-time approach to cloth diapering just might be the perfect solution.
Common barriers holding parents back from cloth diapering?
1. Choosing the right kind of cloth diaper is too overwhelming.
There's an abundance of diapering products available today. We've come a long way from pinned pre-folds and plastic pants! Which makes it easy to get overwhelmed by all of the choices.
Photo by moohaha
Once you get a feel for the different cloth diapering systems, resist the urge to make the switch to cloth all at once. Instead, buy just one or two diapers before making a big purchase. Some retailers will let you order a trial package to test out the various systems to see which works best for you. Or, shop gently-used diapers on Craigslist or a local buy-sell group.
Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to the cloth diapering learning curve. And if you decide not to switch to cloth after all, you can keep the one or two diapers you purchased on hand for middle-of-the-night and out-of-diapers emergencies.
2. My child is in daycare and our care provider doesn't allow cloth diapers.
If you'd like your baby to be cloth diapered but your care provider resists, take an actual cloth diaper to your care provider. When people see how cloth diapering is similar to diapering with disposables, you might be surprised how easily minds are changed.
If your care provider still refuses to use cloth diapers, take heart—part-time diapering is still an option in this situation. You'll still save money on disposable diaper costs and limiting the number of diapers in the landfill.
3. My partner/co-parent isn't on board with using cloth diapers.
Again, a visual aid can come in handy. Many people still imagine the cloth diapers that our parents used on us and don't want to fumble with pins and diaper pails filled with bleach. Show your partner the kind of diaper you're interested in, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
If, on the other hand, your partner is still hesitant to make the switch, make arrangements for that parent to have access to disposables when your child will be in his or her care. It's important to respect the preferences of each parent, and diapering shouldn't cause a rift.
4. I can't find a good solution for nighttime cloth diapering.
Okay, I confess—I added this one based on my own struggles when our daughters were in diapers. Neither of my girls slept through the night until they were well into toddlerhood, and more often than not, I would nurse them back to sleep (sometimes several times a night) when they awoke.
This made it difficult to deal with cloth diapers at night. Frankly, I was too tired to change diapers all night long—I tried every conceivable system recommended for nighttimes.
Eventually, I surrendered that we were going to use disposables at night. It precluded us from being full-time cloth diaperers, but it was the most workable solution for us.
Sometimes we parents feel we've found the best ways to care for our kids, and when we can't do the best all the time, we feel defeated. Extend yourself grace, and remember, there is nothing wrong with taking a "sorta" path to these matters. Trust me on that one.
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