When my wife, Emily, told me she wanted to use cloth diapers rather than disposable ones on our yet unborn baby, I was skeptical. Never having changed a diaper in my life, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. Though I had no experience changing diapers, I assumed that using disposable diapers was much easier then cloth. Disposable diapers were…disposable! You take them off and throw them away (along with whatever has been deposited inside of them). With cloth diapers not only would I have to clean the baby, but I’d have to clean and save the diaper!
Emily knows me well. Her primary argument was not about how cloth diapers are better for the environment (though they are). It was about how much money we would save. Disposable diapers are expensive and babies go through a lot of them. Reusable cloth diapers only have to be purchased once and then the only costs are detergent and your water bill.
So I gave in. Why not give it a try?
Fifteen months later I can say I am glad we did it. Not just for the money we saved (though Emily calculated how much we spent compared to how much she estimated we would have spent on disposables and we did save at least a thousand dollars), but also…okay, mostly for the money we saved. I also like producing less trash. We used disposables for the first month or so and I was amazed how much additional trash I was putting on the curb each week!
I’m not going to lie: cloth diapers are hard work. We purchased enough to last for a couple of days. So every other evening after we put Junia to bed we would have to put a load of diapers in the washing machine. One cycle on cold, another cycle (with an extra rinse!) on hot and then into the dryer (or on the washline, before I cut it down by accident with the hedge trimmer, which is another story). On a good day if we started the diapers in the evening we’d finish the process by lunchtime the next day. On a bad day we might end up with a naked baby on the changing table and all the diapers sitting in the dryer in the basement!
Emily and I are blessed to have the sort of jobs that make cloth diapering a bit easier: she teaches at a Cyber School, so she works from home, and I work in campus ministry so my schedule is flexible enough to allow me to stay home during the day and go to campus in late afternoons. If both persons in a couple have to go back to work shortly after the baby is born cloth diapering is probably more difficult, though I imagine if they really wanted to do it, it could be done. But if one person plans to stay home with the baby full-time, or if the jobs are flexible enough, I would highly recommend cloth-diapering (have I mentioned how much money you will save?).
Cloth diapering does not need to be all or nothing. Some people who cloth diaper do so regardless of where they go or how long they are there. When my wife and I have been out of town with the baby for a few days, we go disposable. I am sure cloth diapering could be done in such situations: you’d just have to find a place to wash them…and not mind carrying a bunch of dirty diapers with you.
Carrying dirty diapers was my biggest hang up. If I am taking Junia somewhere and it is likely she’ll need a diaper change, I’ll put a disposable on her. My reason is simply that I don’t want to carry dirty or wet diapers with me. I like to bring home less stuff then I take with me and shoving a dirty diaper (in its own bag, of course) into the diaper bag is a hassle. Emily often gives me a hard time…mostly asking, “what’s the big deal?” I have to admit that the more used to cloth diapering I have gotten the more comfortable I have become with doing it while out. Now I am willing to cloth diaper if one change will be needed (but there’s no way I’m carrying TWO dirty diapers around with me…wait, I did that yesterday!).
So if you’re soon going to be having a baby, I encourage you to look into cloth diapering. There are not cloth diaper stores on every corner, but if you want to do it you can find the resources you need. Do some research, discover if it is for you.
(Did I mention you’ll save money?)
I also heard kids who cloth diaper potty-train faster because cloth diapers do not soak up the pee as well and are thus more uncomfortable. I am not sure if that’s true, but I’ll let you know!