So many people, when they hear the words "cloth diapering" wrinkle up their noses in disgust. I know what they are thinking. My mom used to have a wet pail full of soaking diapers in our bathroom, and I thought it was the grossest thing ever.
When I had my first baby, my mother tried to convince me to cloth diaper. All I knew about were plastic pants, Gerber prefolds and pins. I thought about the pail, and I said, no thank you!
Fortunately for me, I did listen to her advice about breastfeeding, and even better, she gave me her first edition copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It was so conversational, so encouraging, and so helpful, of course I would breastfeed -- and I did! Thank you mom.
I used disposable diapers with three children, and found myself considering cloth with my fourth child after following a link a friend posted in her blog. These were cloth diapers? But they are so cute! And it seemed like so many of my friends were using them, how hard could it really be?
This began days and days of internet research. I didn't stop until I'd read every FAQ, every how-to, every article I could find on cloth diapering. I had to know everything and I had to know it now.
Many friends recommended that I just buy a few diapers to "try it out." What the uninitiated don't realize is that cloth diapers have a very high resale value, so even if I'd bought diapers, used them for three months, and sold them, I would still be ahead of the game.
However, I am an all-or-nothing kind of woman. I am feet first or no feet. I am not a toe dipper. After all this research, I decided I was doing as much if not more laundry as I would if I used cloth, because disposable diapers leak and blow out, and I would rather just wash diapers and save myself the hassle and expense of disposables.
I admit, what pushed me over the edge, however, was the cuteness. Who knew that cloth diapers would be so cute? My last child was a girl, and I was all about the cute. Cloth offered whole new frontiers of cute. When was the last time you saw a beautiful photoshoot of a baby only wearing a disposable diaper. You didn't. They are wearing cloth. Why? Cloth looks better. This is what I'm sayin'.
I waited for our tax return to come in, and when it did, I switched entirely to cloth. I still had 3/4 of a case of Huggies I was planning to continue to use, switching back and forth until the sposies, as the cloth diaperers call them, were all gone. However, my often colicky high needs daughter was so happy the first time I put her in cloth, I never looked back. I ended up giving those diapers away to a friend!
Think about it, what would you rather wear? I believe that onesies were invented to help parents grip their babies and not have to touch paper diapers while they do it. If you have ever held a baby wearing a paper diaper only, you know how unpleasant it feels. How must it feel to them? My daughter enjoys wearing bamboo velour, fleece, and organic cotton against her baby skin. This is something I hadn't even thought of when I switched -- her comfort. Cloth babies really are happier!
Okay, you say, that's all great. They are cute and comfortable. They don't leak. I'll take your word for it. But -- what do you do after the baby, you know, dirties them? First of all, forget the nasty wet pail of old. Dry pail is the way to go. A dry pail is a waterproof hanging bag or pail/hamper/dedicated garbage can. When the baby is young and not eating solids, you can just throw the diaper into the pail straight from the baby. When you have a load worth, just carry everything to the washing machine, dump everything in, throw your hanging pail wetbag in after, and wash away.
If your baby is eating solids, there may be an extra step. Still, I am here to tell you, my daughter is over two years old and I have never ever never put my hands in the toilet or wrung out a diaper sopping with toilet water. I never will, either.
Many mamas swear by a diaper sprayer. This is a contraption you hook into the water supply leading to your toilet. It looks like a kitchen sprayer. Angle the diaper over the toilet, spray the waste into the toilet, voila, the poop is gone.
I was enchanted by the idea of a diaper sprayer, and like I said, many love theirs. However, my house was built in 1932 and our plumbing is not totally modern. My husband installed the sprayer and water leaked everywhere. Note, this will not happen to you unless you live in an ancient house with ancient pipes and have a husband who writes for a living and has no interest in improving your plumbing so you can have a diaper sprayer.
Not to be defeated, I looked for other solutions. For a long time I used flushable rice paper liners. I love, love, love them. You lay them in the diaper and when you change the baby, you carry the diaper to the potty, let the paper and everything on it slide beautifully into the toilet, and flush your cares away. If you don't flush the liner, bonus -- it is washable! You can re-use them several times before they finally fall apart, if you haven't flushed them first.
I got lazy, however, and tired of putting the liners into her diapers. Also, her movements became more solid and easier to dump without the aid of the liner. I also figured I preferred for her bottom to be touching bamboo velour, not wet paper. So, I got myself a cheap one-piece spatula. I keep it in the bucket with the plunger under the bathroom sink. When I get a diaper that won't just roll into the toilet, I take the spatula, scrape the diaper into the toilet, rinse the scraper in the toilet, wipe it off on the diaper or some toilet paper, and flush my cares away. I never touch the business end of the spatula, and I periodically spray it with disinfectant or wipe it with a Costco wipe. (Not environmentally friendly, but they are very effective!) I love the spatula solution. It suits my
lazy personality lifestyle with four children and a business.
If you don't have children yet, you may find this entire discussion revolting. However what you may not realize is when you become a parent, you have to deal with body fluids and wastes. Body fluids made you a parent, and body fluids will be part of your life for a very long time. Whether you use disposable diapers or cloth diapers, you will be dealing very closely with all of them. Your life will include lots of vomit, pee, poop, sweat, blood and tears. Why not deal with them the most effective way possible? I used to spend lots of time soaking baby clothes to remove baby poo stains. I have had to take carseats apart by the screws and wash entire beds of linens after blowouts. After I switched to cloth I actually had to remember to change my daughter's clothes, because they didn't get dirty any more. My laundry actually decreased!
While I'm at it, why not consider cloth wipes too? They were a no-brainer for me. You just throw them in the pail with the diaper, they wash with the diapers, they come out clean and ready to use again. Sometimes when I am feeling industrious I make up some wipes solution with baby soap, essential oils (like tea tree and lavender) and maybe some olive oil. Sometimes I use Indigo Baby spray, it makes excellent wipes solution. Sometimes I just grab a few dry wipes, get them wet under the tap and then use them to change the baby. Easy!
The only difference I can see between cloth diapering and disposable diapering, since I have done both, is disposables smell much worse due to the chemicals and perfumes contained in the diapers, cost more, always have to be budgeted for, leak, and have to be dragged to the curb once a week to add more garbage to the landfills. Cloth diapering allows me to breeze past the entire baby section of the store, thumbing my nose at all those companies who used to take all my money. Cloth diapering is more comfortable for my baby. I never run out of diapers. They are cuter, and thus more entertaining for me and now for my baby. She is old enough she has favorites and loves to choose the prints she wants. Cloth diapering is more environmentally friendly. Cloth diapering makes me feel self-sufficient and connected with my children and with the women who went before me. Even if all my cloth diapers are dirty, I know how to fold a t-shirt and use it as a diaper while I do the laundry. (I have never had to do this, but if I had to, I know I could!) Instead of dragging the diapers to the curb, I carry them to my washing machine. I don't wash cloth diapers. My washing machine does. And it hasn't complained yet!
After I learned about modern cloth diapering, and how it really works, my question went from, "Why cloth diaper?" to "Why wouldn't I cloth diaper?" Honestly, my greatest regret is not learning about and using cloth sooner. I have four children and still have never had the satisfaction of cloth diapering a newborn. I think that is why I love goodmama. I get to cloth diaper so many babies this way.