Why We Chose Cloth Diapers, Part 4

This is part four in a series in which I discuss why my family uses cloth rather than disposable diapers. Part one was on the environmental impact of both diapering systems. Part two presented research on the health concerns of each system. Part three included information on the cost of each system. Today’s article is about the convenience of cloth vs. disposable diapers.

Convenience

Regardless of whether cloth diapers may be healthier for children, better for the environment, and significantly more affordable than disposables, some parents may be wondering more about the relative convenience of each diapering system.

Disposable diaper advocates usually cite convenience as a major reason to use single use diapers. Once the diaper is soiled, you simply drop it in the diaper pail or trash can. That assessment is not entirely true, though, since parents should flush all solid waste whether they use cloth or disposable. (1) Realistically, few parents take time to shake the solids into the toilet from disposables.

So why do cloth diapers have the stigma of being less convenient? The primary reasons are laundry, travel away from home, and ease of use.

Laundry

Personally, I had the most difficult time with laundry immediately after our son was born. Learning how to be a mother isn’t always easy, and finding time to run downstairs to start the pre-wash or hot wash cycle was rarely convenient with round the clock breastfeeding or marathon bouncing/burping/walking sessions. But as soon as we got into the swing of parenthood, the extra two to three loads of diaper laundry each week has been barely noticeable. And in the warmer months, I actually enjoy going outside to hang the laundry to dry on the line.

For parents who do not have the time or energy to wash extra laundry, diaper services provide incredible convenience. Every week a little gnome comes to pick up your bag of dirty diapers and leave you a bag of fresh ones. Truly magical and no less inconvenient than sorting recycling. (2)

The “burden” of laundry or sending your diapers off to a diaper service is balanced somewhat by never having to remember to run to the store for diapers, not to mention having to haul them to the car and then into the house. Cloth diapering parents also save on garbage bags and trips to the trash can outside.

Travel

As far as travel, day trips are no problem with cloth. Today’s cloth diapering parents are equipped with waterproof “wet bags” to store wet diapers in, and many cloth diapers are no more bulky than a large disposable. We use a regular backpack instead of a diaper bag. It comfortably holds at least five diapers, wipes, our personal items, snacks/water, and a few toys. I am no worse off carrying cloth than I would be with disposables.

For longer trips I may switch to disposables if we will not have easy access to laundry facilities, but we still use cloth during weekends at my parents’ house – it’s no big deal for me to do a load there if I need to.

Ease of Use

Most people may be accustomed to disposable diapers, but the plastic and tape are no easier to use than the snaps, Velcro, or Snappis that adorn today’s cloth. Diapering with cloth is easy.

The most popular cloth diapers are fastened with either snaps or Velcro tabs. Parents can choose to buy diapers in different sizes as their baby grows, or they can purchase “one size” diapers that grow with the child. A one size diaper has more snaps that enable it to fit a six month old as well as it does a sixteen month old. And forget pins – if you use prefolds and covers, don’t worry about sticking your baby. One of the greatest inventions for cloth diapers is a small plastic piece called a Snappi. It has teeth that grip the diaper and keep it from falling off.

Conclusion

My husband and I chose cloth based on all of the factors I’ve looked at in this series. I knew that we would take care to launder the diapers in the most environmentally friendly way available to us, we were willing to invest a little extra time in return for the reduced health risks and lower cost of cloth, and we have also been happy with the convenience of using cloth diapers (nor are we so hard core that we refuse to be flexible when the situation warrants using disposables).

Another bonus for me? Cloth diapered baby bottoms are adorable. No matter what type of cloth diaper you buy, there can be little argument that cloth is cuter than the character-laden plastic. You can spice up any kind of cloth with dye or appliqués, or you can find adorable prints and patterns new or used.
Ultimately, the choice between diapering systems is a very individual decision for each family. Hopefully, one of the primary considerations is the health and well-being of the child, which is what I had in mind when writing this series. I would be happy to answer any cloth diapering questions you have, or at least refer you to someone who can.

One More Potential Benefit of Using Cloth

Cloth diaper advocates assert that children who wear cloth are diaper free earlier on average than their peers in disposables. (3) This might be because children in cloth can feel when they are wet, whereas disposables tend to hide the wet feeling. If this is true, it would be a great convenience to cloth-diapering parents to have their child out of diapers up to a year earlier than if the child wore disposables.

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Guest Blogger Bio: Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama to an amazing son. She and her hubby practice natural parenting (also known as attachment or responsive parenting) and try to live consciously. In other words, they believe in natural birth, exclusive/extended breastfeeding, delayed/selective vaccinations, cloth diapering, no circumcision, a family bed, healthy eating, and “going green” as much as possible.

On Code Name: Mama, Dionna shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler. Please take a moment to subscribe to her RSS feed for free updates.

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(1) See “Even with Disposable Diapers, Poop in the Potty,” http://sonyasf.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/even-with-disposable-diapers-poop-in-the-potty/
(2) “The Joy of Cloth Diapers,” http://www.mothering.com/green-living/joy-of-cloth-diapers
(3) I have not seen a scientific study that establishes this assertion. See “Cloth Diapers Made Simple,” http://www.westonaprice.org/Cloth-Diapers-Made-Simple…Promise.html; “Why Use Cloth,” http://www.diapernet.org/whycloth.htm
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11 thoughts on “Why We Chose Cloth Diapers, Part 4

  1. I NEVER thought (or wanted) I would do CDing. I never knew how far they’ve come. When I heard about the whole Pampers scandal and how they just planly did not care what their diapers were doing to these poor little babies, my heart sank. P&G makes Pampers and they also make Luv’s which was the only brand we could use with our super soaker. Nothing else worked very well. So I knew my friend did CDs and I asked her how to care for them and just a few simple questions. She explained EVERYTHING to me and totally got me started. That is my reason behind CDing.

  2. hands down…the environmental impact is why i choose to CD, but reading the info you have present (thank you) just reiterates my decision! :)

  3. Mamapoekie – wow, burning disposables? The thought makes me shudder, what a stench!

    Sheri – we mainly use Fuzzi Bunz now, but when our son was smaller we used a combination of prefolds/fitteds. We liked the FB more after he was mobile.
    There are SO many choices of cloth diapers. Secondhand diapers are a blessing for people who want to try several styles out before committing to just one.

    • Dionna, I agree that second hand cloth diapers are great to find what you like best! I have actually saw people giving them away for free on Craigslist.org many times! Even if you purchase them 2nd hand, they are very cheap.

  4. I had always known I was going to use cloth, even before cloth became back in style, and before I met my hubby. I have always dreaded the environmental impact of disposables and wasn’t all too keen on putting my child in a chemical laden plastic thing all day all night.
    Our living situation made going cloth seem even more logical (diapers are scarse and extremely expensive, plus in Cameroon, we had to just throw them in the pit in the back yard or burn them once a week. I can assure you, that is not encouraging to be wasteful, maybe everyone should give that a shot, it’s a very educational experience).
    Strangely, I find it much easier to convince poeple to use cloth diapers then it is to have them be peaceful parents

    • Mamapoekie, disposable diapers are expensive! I have heard people in the past say cloth diapers were expensive. While it may been like a bit to get started, it is only a ONE time investment, instead of weekly like disposables!

  5. What diapers did you choose to use? The people we work with get overwhelmed when trying to choose which type of diaper to use. It is really great the way you have so thoroughly presented the information here.

    • Hi Sheri,
      There are so many “brands and “types” of cloth diapers! The good thing about it, is your bound to find the best cloth diapers for you! I personally love my Fuzzi Bunz .

    • I agree with Tara – there are tons to choose from, it totally depends on budget and personal preference. When our son was really little (up to about 5-6 months), we mainly used diaper service quality prefolds and covers. Once he became more mobile, we have preferred Fuzzi Bunz (the kind with inserts and snaps).
      If you have a natural living store in your area that sells cloth diapers, they’d probably be willing to do demonstrations of the different diapers available.

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