Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning About Cloth Diapering: Pros and Cons

I used disposable diapers with my first. I thought about cloth diapering with him, too, but the up front cost and exhaustion I felt all during that pregnancy deterred me from getting started. After he was born, I just continued with the disposables.

This time, I've decided to give cloth a shot. There is a lot to learn about the different types of cloth diapers now available and the proper care of them. I've decided to to a series of blogs to share what I learn through research and trial and error.

First up, here are my reasons to cloth diaper:

1. Cost. Sure it costs a lot to buy the diapers up front, but over the course of about 2-3 years, disposables cost much more. It's been a few years since I've had to buy diapers, so I'm estimating a little here. It seems like the cheapest boxes I would buy ran about $15 and lasted less than a month. The training diapers he used in the last few months cost closer to $16 and lasted two weeks, tops. My son was 2 years 8 months when he finished potty training. Even if we figure a box diapers lasting a full month and a pack of training diapers lasting two weeks, we get (24 x $15)+(16 x $16)= $616. That doesn't take into account that the number of diapers per box decreases as the size increases, so they don't last as long, or that I couldn't always get the cheapest brand. That also doesn't include disposable wipes. So for me, $616 is the minimum number I have to beat in order to come out ahead with cloth diapering one child.

2. Comfort. Everyone in my little family suffers from eczema to some degree. Personally, I've found most disposable menstrual products to be irritating to my skin and have switched almost completely to cloth. Since the materials in disposable diapers are similar to what's in disposable pads, it seems likely that cloth will be much more comfortable and less likely to irritate my baby.

3. Newer styles of cloth diapers are about as easy as disposables. I got to test some one size pocket diapers while watching a friend's little boy, and found them to be as easy to change as disposables. Those used snaps to close. Others use velcro. For the old-school prefold or flat fold styles, you can use these plastic fasteners called Snappi's. Unless you like living dangerously, there's no need for diaper pins. This is important if you are as clumsy as I am.

4. I can make them. For a DIYer like me, this is big. So far, I haven't made actual diapers, but I've made inserts (soakers) and cloth wipes from suitable materials I already had on hand. Some of the material came from old t-shirts that were no longer wearable and bath towels that had seen much better days. Fun and free or very, very cheap. :-)


To be fair, here's a list of cons:
1. You have to wash them. If I didn't have my own washing machine, this would be a big deterrent. But, I have the luxury of being able to do laundry at any time of day, at home, in my pajamas if I want. Also, Finn had TONS of blowouts with disposables, so I was washing poop covered clothes almost daily until he started solids. (I've heard cloth don't do this as much. *fingers crossed*) Washing poopy diapers won't be much different. If anything, it will probably be less annoying because they are supposed to get poopy.

2. You have to store the dirty diapers. Dirty diapers stink. Some people try to say that they don't if the baby is exclusively breast fed. They lie. For me, though, our trash pick up runs on Tuesdays and Fridays. Assuming someone remembers to take out the trash, that's only two times a week we can get rid of stinky disposable diaper trash. The rest of the time, it's either sitting in a diaper pail or in the trashcan outside baking in the sun. With cloth, I can wash a few small loads per week and keep the dirty diaper content in our house to a minimum.

3. You have to carry the dirty ones with you when you're out. Gross. But, for me, I usually had to find something to do with poopy clothes when out and about due to blowouts. Also gross. I will be testing and possibly making my own washable bags to contain the poop and stink to deal with this. Heavy duty freezer bags also seem like a good possibility to use for this. If all else fails, I may use disposable diapers for the times when I will be away from the house all day. I'm pretty much a homebody, so that won't make too much of a dent in the savings I get from using cloth the rest of the time.

I'm sure there's many more for both lists, but those are the main reasons I have considered when deciding to cloth diaper. Feel free to share your own. :)