We use cloth diapers. Out of all of the parenting choices out there, that one seems to get the most attention from people. I get a lot of looks of terror in addition to tons of questions about how it works. Mostly, people want to know what possessed me to want to cloth diaper. It's simple really. I like saving money, I like saving the environment, and I like handling poop. Just kidding on that last one. I dislike handling poop, but when handling poop is part of the deal regardless of whether you use cloth or disposables, I decided the saved money and cleaner environment were worth it to me to go with cloth.
I think a lot of the looks of terror I get from people stem from the misconception that today's cloth diapers are like those of yesteryear. You can still use the prefolds that our moms used back in the day, but modern cloth diapers are designed to function with the ease and convenience of disposables. When I began doing research on using them when I was pregnant with Beatrice, I learned that they were just as easy as using disposables, except for the extra laundry part. But I figured there was no way around extra laundry with a baby in the mix, so we decided that we would be a CD family. And we haven't looked back.
The great thing about using cloth is that we never run out of diapers. Unless I forget to do laundry. I have enough to last us 2 days so I'm not washing every day. I wash every other day and it is as easy as doing a regular load of laundry (with an extra rinse cycle or 2). We have HE (high efficiency) machines so less water is used in each load, making our endeavor to save the environment that much more effective. JD often tells me he is surprised how green and crunchy I am underneath all of this J. Crew. I heart trees.
There is a poop factor involved, but that's true with disposables as well. Unless there is a diaper on the market that eats poop or turns it into sparkly glitter, there will always be a poop factor when changing a baby's diaper. The difference with cloth is you have to dispose of it into the toilet after you change the baby. Actually, if you read on the disposable diapers' packaging, there is a PSA about doing the same so the ground water isn't contaminated with your child's poo. I think this is reason enough for people to dismiss cloth diapering altogether, but again, there may be some misconceptions about the poop disposal process. Never have I ever dunked a diaper into the toilet or bucket of water resulting in poop hands, nor have I ever had a washing machine full of poop. Solid poop plops straight into the toilet, cow patty style. Breast milk poop is water soluble and dissolves completely in the rinse cycle, but if that doesn't float your boat, you can invest in a diaper sprayer. This wondrous invention sprays the soiled diaper completely with a high velocity stream of clean water from your toilet's water supply. Softer poo and formula fed babies' poo will need to be sprayed off with one of these handy dandy sprayers too.
Honestly, the saved money is the best perk of the whole thing. Our initial investment was around $400. But that is all we have spent on diapers in 18 months (minus a pack or 2 of disposables for trips out of town longer than a few days) and they will last us the diapering lifespan of all of our future children. That is what sold JD on cloth diapering. When our budget is tight for whatever reason, we never have to wonder how we're going to afford another pack of diapers. We have as many as we'll ever need. Ever.
Cloth diapering isn't all fun and glittery poop though. There are some drawbacks as well. They are bulky. My diaper bag often looks stuffed to the brim - and it is, with diapers. Tiny newborn bottoms look 85 times their size in a fluffy CD. When you're out in public and have to change a diaper, you have to carry the dirty one around too. Wet bags are great for this. And people are often intimidated by anything other than the familiar disposable. I get a lot of anxious looks from the nursery workers at church when they see them for the first time. But after a change or 2, they are old pros and the anxious looks are replaced with questions about how I really like cloth diapering full time.
And I always say the same thing: I really like it. It is easy. It is cheap. And cloth diapers are cute. Really cute.
Newborn cloth diapered baby
Medium cloth diapered baby
Cloth diapered toddler
Cloth diapers are not going to be for everybody. I can see some of the challenges with CDing if your child is in daycare or if you travel frequently. But if you can handle an extra load of laundry here and there and you like saving the planet along with some dough, I encourage you to check out cloth diapering. It has really been a great decision for our family that has proven to be a pretty easy endeavor as well.
For more info, check out the new tab under the header aptly named CLOTH DIAPERS. I have posted detailed directions and suggestions for getting started. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.