Green Living

why i cloth diaper

IMG_3929.jpgWHY on EARTH would someone cloth diaper??

The very question I get regularly and that I even asked myself in the first weeks with my first child. I have many people remark “I could just never do that”, “I don’t want to touch poop”, “it seems so gross”, or “I don’t have time”. All very valid thoughts – all of which I considered when making the decision to switch to cloth. So, I thought I would write a post explaining the benefits of cloth diapering, why I do it, and how!

Benefits of cloth diapering

Cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly

Did you know that on average, a child will go through 6,500 – 10,000 disposable diapers before potty training? That is over 3,000 lbs of waste PER child.

What are the effects of this? In America, disposable diapers are the 3rd largest consumer waste in landfills – adding up to roughly 7.6 billion lbs of garbage yearly.

It takes about 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. That means, a disposable diaper worn by William Shakespeare would STILL be decomposing in the ground today. The amount of time it takes to decompose in combination with the sheer amount of diapers and human waste dumped in landfills pose a threat to our environment in every way – anywhere from contamination of ground water to the release of greenhouse gasses.

Many people will be a nazi about recycling and biodegradable materials in the home, but fail to realize that the NUMBER one impact they are making on the environment may be the use of disposable diapers.

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Credit: Modern Natural Baby

Cloth diapers are more friendly for your wallet

The average child goes through 5-7 diapers a day. The cost of disposable diapers & wipes depending on brand, will range from $75-$100 per month, ~$1000/year, a whopping $3000-$4500 PER CHILD before potty training.

In the area I live, it is common to have 4-6 kids on average. That can add up to $12,000 – $30,000 on diapers ALONE! That could buy you a new car in cash… be a down payment on a house, or pay for years of family vacations.

The average price of cloth diapering materials is $250 – $800 for enough diapers to last you several years and multiple kids. Just some food for thought!

Cloth diapers are significantly less toxic

The skin is the largest organ on your body. A baby’s skin is extremely absorbent of surrounding materials. Did you know that by wearing disposable diapers, you are exposing baby’s skin to 50 different chemicals? Each of these chemicals is not only making contact with skin, but also being absorbed into the body, 24/7, for the first 2-4 years of life.

Here are just a few:

SPA (Sodium Polyacrylate) – toxic if ingested, will kill a child with only 5g, banned from tampons because it was causing toxic shock syndrome, and causes a myriad of health problems when exposed to rats

Dioxin – a KNOWN carcinogen (causes cancer), causes birth defects, and is banned in most countries

Phthalates – endocrine (hormone) disruptors, which can cause hormone imbalance, thyroid problems and infertility

Heavy Metals – stores in the body, can lead to infertility in males, and compromises brain/organ health

Other toxins found in diapers that are known carcinogens, skin irritants, or cause respiratory distress and life-long health problems:

M-xylene, p-anisaldehyde, ethylbenzene, styrene, isopropylbenzene, dipentene, m-methoxybenzaldehyde, methyl cinnamate, toluene, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, trichloroethylene, 1-methylcyclopentylamine, 1,2,3-trimethlcyclopentane

* You can research the above chemicals yourself on the Toxipedia website if you’d like, here.

Why would anyone cloth diaper?

Well, if the above information doesn’t convince you that cloth diapering is a great alternative to the use of disposable diapers, here are a few personal reasons I like to cloth diaper:

  • They are sooooo cute. Who can be mad at changing poop when you’re looking at your favorite pattern? Also saggy paper bums are gross. Just sayin.
  • They are the safest and most comfortable option for my child (prevents rashes, soft, good fit, etc)
  • They are easy on our wallet for a 1-income student household – I can spend my money on things that are more important to me
  • They are more absorbent (in my opinion) & are better at preventing blow-outs because of the secure elastics.
  • They make me feel like a good human kind of like recycling & adopting puppies makes us feel like good humans (haha)

How to cloth diaper

Unfortunately cloth diapering does require a learning curve. It’s not quite as simple as getting a pack at the store and slapping them on baby. Just like any good thing, figuring out the right cloth diapering solution for your family will require some research and trial/error. I will provide some resources that really helped me to get started cloth diapering as well as the way I approach it for my family. I also have some tips & pics from some of my favorite local cloth diapering mama’s!

  1. Do your research! Here are some great websites that have helped me learn where to start and everything I need to know:
  2. Pick a style that works for you!
    • AIO – All in Ones: Everything is in one diaper for you to put on baby
    • AI2 – All in Two: Everything in one, but is adjustable with snaps or a slot
    • Pocket: Has a pocket for  you to put your own choice of “insert” (absorbent layer) inside
    • Fitted and Cover: Looks like a cloth version of a diaper, but needs a cover over it
    • Prefold/flat and Cover: A piece of cloth that you fold on baby, pin, and then put a Cover over
  3. Find a brand you like
    • There are tons of brands, ranging from inexpensive ($4-$5 per diaper) to expensive ($25-$40 per diaper). Depending on your taste, budget, priorities and baby you can find one that is perfect for you.
  4. Join a community
  5. Buy some diapers!
  6. Buy some accessories
    • There are several different “accessories” you can get to make cloth diapering more simple, more fun, and less of a chore. Here are my “must-have” cloth diapering accessories:
      • Wetbags – hanging waterproof bags to hold dirty diapers
      • Travel wetbag – to carry clean/dirty diapers in my diaper bag
      • Diaper Sprayer – attaches to toilet and sprays off poop if needed
  7. Find a wash routine that works for you
    • Don’t over complicate it. I have found it’s best to use a conventional detergent (as “non-toxic” as you can), and a normal amount you could use with the same size of laundry.
    • Usually 2 washes in a row and a rinse are sufficient
    • You can dry “most” items except covers and wetbags will wear more quickly in the dryer vs air drying
    • Wash every 2-4 days
  8. Practice, experiment, and have fun!
    • It took me about 1 month to figure out what brand and style of diapers I liked as well as the fit that worked for my child. I also had to adjust my wash routine and get some accessories over time to make cloth diapering more enjoyable. It was well worth the “experiments”… And here are some tips that helped me out!
      • Buy a used diaper in each style and brand you think you might like and try them on your baby to make SURE you like them before investing. You can buy on Buy, Sell, Trade pages on Facebook or on Facebook Marketplace.
      • Try different materials to adjust absorbency. You can try microfiber, hemp, cotton, bamboo, and more.
      • Don’t be worried to try the less expensive option. You will see lots of pricey things online, but I have found using things like flour sack towels from walmart or old t-shirts/blankets can easily be used and are often equally or more absorbent.
      • Find an experienced friend who cloth diapers and have them on speed dial.

How we cloth diaper

 

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We really like using Pocket diapers. They are the easiest and least expensive for us, as well as having adjustable absorbency which I like for my heavy-wetter! Some of my favorite brands are really inexpensive. I like Alva ($5 each) and Mama Koala ($8 each) the most. I also boost my absorbency by adding flour sack towels in with the microfiber insert that comes with them.

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We wash our diapers every 3 days and it takes about 3-4 hours for them to go through the washing machine and dry. All I have to do is click buttons! Then I fold them which takes about 20 minutes (an episode of the office, hehe).

It is truly that simple! I have loved cloth diapering, and have honestly never had a day that I even considered buying disposables again or quitting.

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What other mama’s have to say about cloth diapers

Some cloth mama friends in the Utah county area share some of their expert tips, favorite brands, and cute pictures of their “fluff bums” for you to enjoy!

 

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“Find a buddy to help you with getting started, and have a good wash routine!”

– Alyse Powell

 

 

 

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“Smart bottoms are our fave… and Grovia AIOs… I loooove hemp boosters for overnight.. specifically Thirsties brand… you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Dunk and swish is an awesome cheap method! Several wetbags are awesome! And not every brand of clothing fits cloth bums!”

– Shaena Ashcraft

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“My advice would be to try a few different styles and brands to see what you like best! My favorite brand is blueberry.”

– Jessica Walters

(If you want to read her blog post about cloth diapers, you can see that here.)

 

 

 

“Hmm I would say that the most important thing is proper care of cloth diapers because they totally fall apart and stop working if you don’t take care of them. Don’t put covers in the dryer and use the cleanest conventional detergent. I used my homemade stuff and it really messed them up after long term use. I like the AIO Bum Genius for when baby is about 2-12 months.”

– Lauren Cook

“My number 1 tip would be to buy enough diapers to last a few days. We have used the bum genius 4.0, 5.0, Trend Lab snap-ins, and the Trend Lab insert style. Personally, despite them being a little bulkier, I would go with the Bum Genius diapers.”

– Robyn Fontanet

“Use liquid tide free n gentle, never put any PUL in dryer, invest in quality diapers, don’t stress if you don’t use them 100 percent of the time. We use Motherease and Sandys.”

– Kim Wagstaff

 

I hope this helps you get started on you cloth diapering journey! Feel free to comment any advice, tips, or favorite hacks and brands to share with me and other friends who read this.

Xoxo

*coming soon – edit’s to include newborn cloth diapering how-to’s

 

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1 thought on “why i cloth diaper”

  1. This was SUPER useful! I’ve been looking at cloth diapering and it’s reassuring to hear someone say they like the cheaper brands like Alva. The diapers from Alva look so cute and I just cannot see spending 30 dollars and upwards on a single diaper, no matter how nice! Thanks for the great and informative writing!

    Like

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