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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Truth about Cloth Diapering

To Cloth or Not to Cloth?  That is the big question.  I'd like to share the truth about my experience with using cloth diapers (3 years and counting) in order to help you answer this 0 age old question (get the joke?).  Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I am not anti-cloth diapers, I just wish someone had told me the truth about some of these advertised cloth diapering benefits and how benefitical they really are.

You Save Money!


  • Here's some quick math
    • Cost of a cloth diaper varies but let's assume you are not buying the cheapest ones because you want them to last, and you are buying one size diapers to simplify the math.  You will need 20+ to last and minimize diaper laundry
    • So let's say conservatively $15 per diaper x 20  = $300
    • Disposable diapers (let's go with size 3 since most kids will be in this size the longest)  $45 for ~200 diapers
    • $300 could get you ~7 boxes of diapers = 1400 disposable diapers
    • 1400 diapers would last less than a year
  • So you do end up saving money on diaper purchases (not accounting for electricity and water usage for laundry)
  • Obviously the cloth diapers could be more expensive and you might want to get more diapers
  • However you will need to put in a big initial investment right at the beginning to build up your stash
  • You real savings will come when you use the same set of cloth diapers for your next child
  • Truth #1:  Your cloth diapers might not last till/through/to your second child.  I have a couple of popular "brand name" diapers that started falling apart within first year of use
  • Truth #2:  Like shoes & purses, you will always want to buy more cloth diapers because of new colours/prints/model/brand regardless of how many you already own. That's additional cost that you will not incure if you are just using disposables.
  • Truth #3:  If you want to avoid some diapering grossness (you will find out below), you might want to use disposable liners.  These are like super durable toilet papers that you line your diapers with, so when there is a #2 mess, you just throw away the liner holding the mess (most of it anyway) so that your diapers are not filled with poo when it's time to wash.  These liners are about $7 per roll of 100 sheets.   
  • Truth #4: Other cloth diaper accessories include wetbags, pail liners, diaper sprayers.  They all add up to the initial cost. 

You Save the Environment!


  • You'd think this one is simple right?  You throw away disposables, and you don't with cloth.  Environment saved.
  • Truth #1:  Well this one at least applies to where I live.  Our city actually takes in disposables as part of compost collection.   So disposable diapers don't actually go into landfills, they are turned into composed soil! 
  • Truth #2:  Using cloth diapers means you need to do extra laundry.  You are using hot water and electricity to do diaper laundry at least twice a week.  What about the laundry detergent, is it envionrmental friendly?  I do not know the significance of the environmental impact is from diaper laundry but I know it is definitely a -minus regardless of how small/large it is.
  • Now obviously if where you live do not have a compost program that collects disposable diapers, then more likely than not you are saving the environment by using cloth diapers.

You Save Time & Hassle!


  • Truth #1:  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, it is always more hassle cloth diapering than using disposable.  Some might say "oh you need to go to the store to get new box of diapers every so & so weeks".  But that's it!  With disposable, you just buy it, open it, use it, and throw it away.  With cloth diapering, it's never just that.
  • Truth #2:  Dirty cloth diapers are gross
    • Sure dirty diapers are gross even with disposables.  But with cloth, it's a different animal
    • With #1s it's not too bad, you just take it off and throw it in the hamper
    • With #2s that's when things get hairiy, especially if it's a messy one.  Even with a liner, you still need to peel it off the diaper, somehow wrap this toilet paper thin liner that is now filled with poo and throw it in the trash.  Now you still have a poo cloth diaper which you have to put into the hamper.  Wait till it's time for laundry...
  • Truth #3:  Doing diaper laundry sucks
    • You need to do diaper laundry at least every 3 days
    • When you do it, you need to open your pail/bag to throw the dirty diapers into the washing machine, and you get punch in the face by the 3 day old pee & poo diaper ammonia smell.  On a worse day it might make your eyes sting.
    • On an unlucky day, you might get an eyeful of a 3 day old poo diaper that is full of dried up baby poop stuck to it.  Those are especially haunting.  I hope you have a good gag reflex.
  • Truth #4:  Setting up cloth diapers takes time
    • This is actually what I enjoy the most about cloth diapering.  You diapers are fresh, and hopefully white, and they are all ready to be soiled again, well almost ready anyway
    • If you have pocket diapers, you need to stuff the inserts into the diapers
    • If you have prefolds,  you need to fold the inserts
    • If you have all in ones, you still need to sort and put the diapers into your change table/basket
    • And remember, you do this every 2-3 days
  • Truth #5:  Cloth are less reliable than disposables
    • No matter how high quality your cloth diapers are, they will not be as absorbant as disposables, which is understandable because you are comparing a piece of fabric/cloth to chemicals that expand when wet
    • Sure you can add additional soakers/inserts to increase absorbancy, but you will also be making the cloth diaper even bulkier than it already is compared to disposables
    • Regardless on which brand of diapers and the type of diapers are used, I have always have more leakage with cloth than with disposables.  And I am not the only one, many cloth diapering Moms I know also face the same problem
    • The only way to avoid leakages and accidents is to change more often, around every 2 hours or so.
  • Truth #6:  Cloth diapering at daycare is an uphill battle
    • To be honest, this is with anybody else that will end up taking care of your baby
    • Every parent does their cloth diapers differently and there is always a learning curve.  That means you will have to spend extra time teaching them how to put on the cloth diaper properly, how to dispose of the cloth diaper to your liking, and maybe even how to wash the diapers correctly when needed
    • Especially with daycare, try to tell them that they need to change your baby's diaper more often than the 10 other lilttle screaming babies.  And that they need to put the dirty diapers into a wetbag and keep that wetbag somewhere for the whole day until you take it home at the end of the day.  And that they need to put the diaper on snuggly but not too tightly.  And that they need to throw away the poop filled liner instead of putting it in the wetbag with the diaper.  They will love you.


So.... Why Do I Still Use Cloth Diapers


  • The main reason is savings.  I still buy disposables to use at night and for when we go out (absorbancy issue) but it is definitely significantly much less in spending compared to buying disposables for every diaper change.  
  • I am not a tree hugger but I still feel that I am saving the environment somewhat, as I am not the cause of additional garbage (plastic bags that disposable come with), recycling (diaper box), and composting (disposable diapers).
  • Last but not least, I am stubborn.  I made this conscious (amid not most informed) decision to use cloth diapers, and I made this investment in getting my diaper stash, I am going to use them until the diapers fall apart, and nobody can tell me otherwise.


So here's my wobbles of wisdom on cloth diapering.  I hope you find it helpful with making an informed decision!  Let's face it, as a parent you will be changing 3000-5000 diapers for each child.  That's a lot time spent changing diapers!

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