Have you ever been just a little curious about cloth diapering? Maybe you have wanted to try it out, but don’t even know where to begin. Is it possible the sounds of “reusing a diaper” just sounds so weird? After 3 months I can honestly say that I have grown to LOVE cloth diapering and the journey, despite a couple bumps.
It makes me feel like I am making a difference by using and committing to cloth diapers for my little one.
With cloth diapering, there is so much that can be said. There are different types of diapers, different brands, different wash routines, and issues that come up. For the sake of time, I am just going to share with you our journey so far (3 months in) and I will share the resources I used that helped me make my decisions for our cloth diapering journey.
Diapering is Not Black or White
I want to first add a transparent disclaimer that we did not start cloth diapering until after our little one was 2 months old. I have no excuse other than the idea of cloth diapering was daunting and seemed like it would be difficult (it really isn’t).
Cloth diapering is not black or white, which is beautiful. We got our feet wet by only cloth diapering at home. If we leave our little one with someone or if we are out for an extended period of time, we will use disposables because of convenience. Just because you choose to cloth diaper does not mean you cannot use disposables. Whenever possible, we use eco-friendly or chemical conscious diapers for our little guy. This means our disposable diapers cost more than the generic brand, but to limit the exposure to toxins it is worth the money.
My Reasons for Cloth Diapering
I decided to cloth diaper well before my little one was born. At first my decision was based around the chemicals that are in disposable diapers. Most, not all disposable diapers have been bleached in order to make them white. Eeeew! Dioxins, sodium polycrylate, dyes, fragrances, and phthalates are some of the ingredients credible scientific researchers have found in disposable diaper brands. Dioxins are made up of hundreds of different chemicals and the most toxic, TCDD which was in Agent Orange are listed amongst those different chemicals.
There are dyes, fragrances, and other absorbent type chemicals in disposable diapers. Chemicals that are known to cause cancer and be hormone disruptors. I was overwhelmed by the information and it pushed me to look in to cloth diapering more.
The Cost Savings
Depending on where you look and how you do the math, there are different figures out there with the average cost for disposables vs cloth. These numbers are also affected by the type of disposable used (eco friendly vs mainstream) and the type of cloth diaper used. However, for the sake of simplicity I have found a couple of figures from RealDiapers.org that I will share with you.
Disposable diapers cost about $62.50 per month, $750 per year, or $1,500 over the full time a child is in diapers. Buying cloth diapers for one child can cost as little as $300. Dividing those costs by two children then adding energy and detergent costs to wash diapers at home, the total cost of cloth diapering one child is about $450 over two years, which averages $18.75 per month or $225 per year.
There are many factors that go in to both cloth and disposable diapering figures, but cloth diapering including washing (detergent, water, energy, etc.) is significantly cheaper than disposables. Especially when you factor in multiple children in a family or that cloth diapers can be resold and used by another family.
As I researched I became fascinated by the statistics surrounding the environmental impact of disposable diapers. One child creates about 2000 pounds of diaper garbage over the course of two years. From farm to factory to consumer, disposable diapers create 2.3 times more water waste than cloth diapers. Disposables use 3.5 times more energy, use 8.3 times more non-renewable raw materials (like oil and minerals), use 90 times more renewable raw materials (like tree pulp and cotton).
While there are many reasons to choose cloth diapering, the health, financial, and environmental part of diapering was enough for me to take on a little extra laundry each week.
How to Start Cloth Diapering
Now that I have shared with you my reasons for cloth diapering, let me share with you a little bit of my journey and the resources I used to figure this all out.
Committing to Cloth Diapering
This first step seems kind of like a no-brainer, but hear me out. If you are considering cloth diapering, I encourage you to make a FIRM decision for yourself. As soon as I started to communicate to others that we would be cloth diapering I was met with a TON of criticism and opinions. MANY people told me that they tried cloth diapering and it didn’t work, many people looked at me as if I had two heads, and MANY people made me feel insecure about choosing to do both cloth and disposables. I could feel the mocking and eye rolls behind my back. I almost felt as people were waiting for me to fail at it, which only lit the fire more to make it happen for the health and finances of our family.
So my advice, make a decision. Empower yourself with the information as to why you DON’T want to exclusively use disposable diapers. Whether it is chemical, financial, or environmental for you, arm yourself with the facts and information.
Decide on the Type of Cloth Diaper You Want
Fluff Love University and Cloth Diaper Science is hands down the best resource I have found for cloth diapering. There are several different types of cloth diapers and you will want to choose what works best for you. Here is a page that covers the different types. I recommend starting with a couple and seeing what you like best.
For us, I decided to go with pocket diapers. I also chose to pick up a couple All-In Ones. I have an all-in-one from Smart Bottoms that I DO NOT like using, but I know other people that only cloth with that brand and type because they love it. So it really is about preference.
You will also want to try a couple different brands. I have Nicki’s Diapers, Alvas, Smart Bottoms, and Imagine. So far my FAVORITE FAVORITE brand is Nicki’s Diapers. I will continue you build my cloth diaper stash using Nicki’s Diapers. The pocket diapers have an opening on both the front and the back. I love that the snaps on the front allow you to snap the diaper securely after you roll it up to put it in the pail waiting for the wash. Imagine diapers don’t allow for this. Alva and Nicki’s also have cute prints and solids to choose from.
Research and Establish A Wash Routine
Okay, so this is usually where people will say they had to quit cloth diapering. It’s no surprise that the washing of human waste would be a make or break type of thing, right?
First, if you plan on or you are exclusively breastfeeding diapers are MUCH easier to clean as they do not need to have solid waste removed. My little one has not started solids yet, so I have only dealt with breastfed baby poop.
Side note, if you are pregnant now and wanting to breastfeed exclusively I recommend taking a look at my post sharing 10 tips for breastfeeding past 6 weeks.
Second, you will want to repeat after me “It’s okay to fail a few times”!! I have had stinky diapers, had a wash routine go wrong somewhere, and ended up having to bleach soak my diapers to completely reset and disinfect them. It happens. It’s okay, but make sure you have help.
If you are on Facebook, add yourself to the Fluff Love & CD Science Group. They will help you with a wash routine and help you troubleshoot if needed during your journey. There’s also a page on their website on how to wash diapers. A wash routine is established by evaluating your detergent choice, machine, and water hardness. There’s also an index for troubleshooting.
Like I said we have not started solids yet, so updating this post or a new post will be in order with an update after we start solid foods.
Have Fun with Cloth Diapering
You’re going to get poop on your hands, you are probably going to need help with your wash routine a couple times. Heck, you will probably have to ask your Mom and your husband to smell clean diapers to see if she smells anything funny. I had to! 🙂 It is going to happen.
I took our journey slow! With this being our first little one in diapers, I felt like it was going to be a learning experience and I wanted to master it, not quit. I started on a week when I knew we would be home. I watched Youtube videos on “how to put on a cloth diaper”, and I committed to adding a load or two a week to our laundry routine.
Cloth Diapering Extras
In addition to having a cloth diaper stash, you will need a few extras for daily cleaning and storing.
First, you will need to decide on wipes. For me it is easier to use cloth wipes instead of disposable wipes. I just tuck them in to the dirty diaper and wash everything together. You can buy flannel or cloth wipes online or you can use baby wash cloths. I use baby wash cloths I get from the Dollar tree in a 4 pack for $1.00. I have about 30 of them and use them with a cloth wipe solution spray.
You will want to have a way to get your cloth wipes wet before wiping bottoms. I have been using Honest Company Soothing Bottom Wash Spray . The bottle has lasted me more than 3 months of bottom washing. You can also make your own cloth wipe spray solution. There are so many recipes on the internet, but here is a simple one that I use.
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 organic chamomile tea bags steeped in boiling water
- 2 teaspoons sweet almond or apricot oil
- 1 Tablespoons Unscented Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
If you are in a pinch, you can always use water wet cloth wipes or disposable wipes. I love Water Wipes for disposable wipes. They are gentle enough that I can use them to wipe my little one’s face and body, too.
You will want a place to put your diapers. Wet bags are GREAT for storing dirty diapers between washes in your home and on the go. We use an Ubbi Diaper Pail and reusable diaper pail liners like these or these inside the diaper pail. I just wash the diaper pail liner inside out when I was the diapers and hang dry it with my diaper covers. I always have two so I can use one while I am washing the other.
A on the go wet bag is a great idea, also. You will also want two for the same reason. One to wash, one to use. I received a couple Skip Hop Wet Bags as a gift, but these Alva Wet Bags or Planet Wise work. When on the go don’t forget your wipe solution and cloth wipes, or you can use disposable wipes when you are out and about. I also love this Skip Hop portable changing mat. It is easy to take your diaper supplies in and is compact. Everything you need is in one place.
Myths Around Diapering
Some of the things I was told was that it would be a ton of extra laundry. It isn’t more than two, MAYBE three loads of laundry a week. I wash my main wash (you learn this on the website or in the group) with other loads of laundry, so really it isn’t an EXTRA load just a bigger load.
I have yet to have a blowout with cloth diapering and have ONLY experienced blowouts with disposables. I have had one leak in three months, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t get leaks. Leaks happen for different reasons and can be solved by relying on the resources I listed above.
Cloth diapering is environmentally friendly, even with the added water in your wash. When you calculate the amount of raw materials that go in to disposable diapers, the extra water and energy used for cloth is insignificant. Most people forget that disposable diapers take a lot of resources (trees, fuel, chemicals, manufacturing) just to make it to the store shelves.
Cloth diapering has an initial cost investment upfront, but in the long run is cheaper to use and can be used on multiple children. I also like to point out it is not all or nothing. Choosing to cloth diaper does not mean you cannot use disposables too. If you are a working parent, maybe you only cloth diaper at night and on weekends. Even in small amounts cloth can save you money and resources.
I hope you found this post helpful sharing my experience this far with cloth diapering. I find cloth diapering fun, even though we have had a few issues along the way. There are always disposables as backups, so don’t let the idea of cloth diapers overwhelm you. I also think it is important to surround yourself with people who will support you on the journey.