Cuties in Cloth
When I first suggested that I wanted to try cloth diapering, my parents, and my husband, lost their minds. My parents seemed to think that this was an inconvenient and outdated practice and my husband's argument was that it's just plain smelly.
The truth is that I can't blame them for being confused by my desire to use cloth diapers. When I first discovered that there were modern women who were using cloth diapers, I was shocked! I figured that it had to only be the poorest of the poor who used cloth diapers, or those who were very environmentally conscious and courageous enough to go through the extra "hassle" I felt was associated with cloth. Then I began to seek out more information, and the more I discovered, the more amazed I became!
Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers
In my research, I uncovered several solid reasons to use cloth diapers over disposable diapers. Whatever your feelings on earth-friendly products and whatever your income, you should still be able to find a good reason to use cloth on this list!
Disposable Diapers Contain Harmful Chemicals
My research shows that disposable diapers include trace amounts of Dioxin, a toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process applied to disposable diapers. This chemical is a known carcinogen and is known by the EPA to be the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.
Another chemical found in disposable diapers is Tributyl-tin, known to cause hormonal problems in both humans and animals.
Finally, the absorbant "beads" in disposable diapers contain a similar chemical to that which was used in super-absorbancy tampons and which is associated with toxic-shock syndrome!
On a personal note, I don't need to research to know that my own children have experienced allergic reactions from disposable diapers, including allergic rashes and yeast infections.
Disposable Diapers are Worse for the Environment
Unlike cloth diapers, disposable diapers are thrown away, and often the fecal matter is disposed of improperly. In a household with one child in diapers, disposable diapers take up up to 50% of household waste.
Cloth diapers are reusable in more ways than one. Mothers who sew their own cloth diapers are often recycling other items, including t-shirts and flannel pajamas. Old towels can be used as soakers instead of being thrown away. Then, when the child is no longer using diapers, the diaper is recycled into a cloth for house cleaning purposes!
Cloth Diapers are More Comfortable for Baby
As a society, we have stopped thinking about what is more comfortable and best for our children and have begun to opt for the "easy" option. We bottle feed so that we don't have to be "inconvenienced" with nursing or with expressing breast milk, we put our children in disposable diapers, we feed packaged baby foods, we allow ourselves to be convinced by doctors to vaccinate our children and more.
Babies aren't convenient. In fact, they are often very inconvenient. You have brought a small human into the world, and it is time that we begin to think about what is best for that small human.
Cloth diapers generally have a better fit than disposable diapers. Additionally, they are made from real cotton (and occasionally nylon) fibers. Disposable diapers, no matter how high the quality, are made from paper.
Disposable Diapers Might be Less Convenient
Depending on your perspective, it might be more convenient to use cloth diapers! You will save yourself "diaper runs" when you have used the last disposable and your baby will never have to wait in a wet diaper while you rush to the store to make a necessary purchase. Disposable diapers cannot be reused and therefore might be considered less convenient.
Cloth Diapers are More Economical
In today's economic climate, who wouldn't want something that is more economical? While the up-front cost of purchasing cloth diapers is higher than the purchase price of a package or two of disposable diapers, the long-term cost of choosing cloth diapers is lower than electing for the more costly disposable diapers.
Different Types of Cloth Diapers
There are several different types of cloth diapers. A good "stash" includes some of each, depending on your budget.
Prefolds are the diapers that most people think of when they think "cloth diapers." These will require a diaper cover, diaper pins or snappis. This is the most basic of the cloth diapers and can usually be found at a very fair price and are readily available.
Be careful, however, when purchasing prefolds. During my pregnancy with my daughter I looked into the prefolds sold at Babies R' Us and discovered that they were not diaper service quality (DSQ). Diaper service quality diapers are preferred!
Fitted Cloth Diapers
Fitted cloth diapers look and work very much like disposable diapers, and will therefore be familiar to parents who have used disposable diapers in the past. These diapers help to contain leaks and messes better because of the elastic at the legs at at the back of the diaper.
These diapers provide much of the convenience of a disposable diaper without the environmental implications. They are more comfortable for baby and fitted diapers are a very economical choice!
Pocket diapers are another popular option, and one which I simply love. These diapers must be stuffed with a soaker of some kind, with Chinese prefold diapers often being the soaker of choice. There are specially made liners for these diapers or you can even use old hand towels, proving just how economical the cloth diapering option really is!
Using Pocket Diapers
All in One Diapers
All in one diapers (AIOs) will be the most familiar type of diaper to users of disposable diapers. These diapers include the soaking part of the diaper and the outer cover in one piece. The outer cover is usually made of a waterproof fabric (such as PUL) and the liner is a soft and absorbant fabric against baby's delicate skin!
These are often a favorite amongst fans of cloth diapering!
Caring for your Cloth Diapers
There is no way around it: Your cloth diapers are going to need to be washed. You might choose to use a diaper service, but you are probably going to want to wash your diapers at home. There are steps that you can take to avoid stains on your diapers as well as the odors associated with very small children.
Storing your (Soiled) Diapers
You have two options for storing your soiled diapers: Dry or wet pails. Dry storage is recommended due to odor issues associated with stagnant water.
You will need to purchase a pail to use for your diapers. I like to use something that helps to keep odors from escaping into the household environment, so I like to use something that has a lid. Baking soda can be sprinkled over the diapers in order to help to neutralize odors.
Washing Cloth Diapers
This might be the point that you've been dreading: "All" the extra laundry. But the truth is that with one baby, you should only be needing to wash your cloth diapers once every two days, and the process is simple!
No more than two dozen diapers should be washed at once. This helps to ensure that the diapers are cleaned thoroughly as well as to prevent pilling. Make sure that all diapers are open and velco fastened. Double-check to ensure that any liners are removed from the diapers before washing!
Run a cold rinse cycle on the diapers. If you have a pre-rinse cycle, use that, or skip the wash and go straight for the rinse. This will help to lift the stains out of your diapers.
Once your diapers have rinsed, do a hot wash with a cold rinse. You must select your detergent carefully, as chemicals will irritate your baby's skin! Bi-O-Kleen is a good option. See the links below for a chart that lists the various options you have for washing your baby's diapers. You should use a fraction of the detergent that you would for a load of family laundry.
Once the diapers are clean and odor-free, it is time to move them out to the line, or to toss them into the dryer! When hung on the line your diapers should be triple-hung to prevent them from becoming dry due to fast-drying methods. Line drying has many benefits including sun bleaching!
Making Your Own
One of the things that I love about cloth diapering is the fact that you can recycle older clothes in order to make something new. In this case, diapers. There are several patterns available and these can be found on Ebay and on cloth diapering websites, all for a cost. You can, additionally, create your own pattern for your diapers!
I have included links with resources for making your own diapers below as well as some cloth diapering resource sites.
Additional Cloth Diapering Resources
- The Diaper Jungle
This site is an enormous resource site for cloth diapering and includes a vast array of articles. I am especially interested in their page with resources for making your own cloth diapers, which includes free patterns for you to use!
- Cloth Diapers and more for Natural Babies!
This site sells natural baby products, including cloth diapers and baby carriers, but also includes several articles on the subject of natural parenting, and may be of interest to those interested in cloth diapering.
- Cloth Diapering on a Budget | The New Homemaker
I found this article very reassuring as I struggled to work out a budget for diapering our next baby. If you are concerned about the initial cost of cloth diapering, this article should help to ease your fears!
- Diaper Pin - Cloth Diapers, Tips, Reviews and More...
The Diaper Pin includes articles and testimonials with tips for cloth diapering, but what I like best about this site is that they have a very busy and active forum -- always a good sign!
- Make Your Own Cloth Diapers (From Recycled Clothes) | ThriftyFun
This page will show you how to make your own cloth diapers out of recycled materials (clothing). One of the most economical aspects of cloth diapering is the fact that they are entirely recyclable!
- Detergent Chart for Use in Cloth Diapering
This is the promised detergent chart. It is very important when washing diapers that you choose your materials very carefully as most detergents contain chemicals and many can cause a breakdown of the fibers in the cloth.
- The only way to change diapers is one baby at a time. Real Diaper Association.
This excellent site provides many ways to get actively involved in helping other parents to learn about the benefits of cloth. The site includes a list of forums, cloth diapering testimonials, and reasons why cloth works for individual parents.
Cloth is Just Plain Cute!
Whether you are the proud parent of a baby boy or a baby girl, or if you are still expecting, cloth is just plain cute! "Fluff" can become quite the obsession, however, so as you begin this journey into the joys of cloth diapering that you will likely never have enough cloth diapers to meet your own crazed addiction! Cloth is cute, and little baby bottoms covered in cloth make baby look quite stylish!
I hope you have found this article informative and interesting, and that you will consider giving cloth diapers a chance!
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