How We Cloth Diaper – Pros and Cons

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Whenever I discuss cloth diapering with someone who is totally sold on disposables, they are always surprised to hear that I don’t think of it as extra effort at all. Maybe it is because this is our first baby and we don’t know any better!

All the same, I think there are several benefits to cloth diapers that actually save us time and effort:

  • I would have to get a part time job to support our diaper habit. According to Babycenter.com, we would have spent in two months on disposables what it cost us to buy our entire new cloth stash (including covers). I know that cloth diapering can get expensive too, but we made it work for under $150 at the outset.
  • We do not have to live with a mountain of diaper packages (or stinky garbage bags). In our neck of the woods, it is at least 35 minutes to get to our preferred grocery store – and 15 minutes to the dump. Needless to say, I try to minimize the frequency of these trips. The sheer mass of a month’s worth of disposable diapers (let alone wipes) would take up space that I’d rather use hoarding other things. And keeping that stinky garbage around is definitely not an option for us!
  • Wet pants awareness. We were floored that little bitty Miles was going through as many as 40 diapers a day when he was first born. Thankfully this number has consistently fallen as his bladder continues to grow, but he will still not sit quietly in a wet diaper. Our hope is that this will translate to easy potty training when he is ready to head down that path.

Over a year of cloth diapering, we have only experienced a few cons – but they are worth mentioning.  Happily, there are ways to mitigate each of these cons.  I have noted our workarounds here too 🙂

  • Supply and demand can be tricky business.  When Miles was going through our whole diaper stash every day, we had to be very careful not to run out!  We figured out that as long as we had six diapers left before starting the wash we were all set.  But a long day out (like our first hike) often left us planning to stop somewhere with a washer & dryer before heading home.  We made it through with 48 diapers, but you might need more depending on your travel plans.  You can read more about our traveling experience here.

Make it better: Order as many diapers as you can afford.  Covers are less important, but lots of covers is nice too.  For us, I think 60 flats and 10 covers would have been extravagantly wonderful – but there were a million other things to spend money on.  What we had (48 flats, 6 covers) was more than enough.

  • Folding diapers is a PAIN sometimes.  There are times (like tonight) where folding diapers is just not an exciting thought.  At the same time, it is not as time consuming as I thought.  In fact, like any repetitive task, it can be quite meditative.  The folding experience will depend on what kind of diaper system you choose.

Make it better: Try out a bunch of different folds until you find one that works for you.  Flat diapers require the most folding.  Buy prefolds and you may be able to avoid folding altogether!  We did not go with prefolds because of the cost involved, but they look like a great option.

  • All of a sudden, laundry is a science.  Hard water, high efficiency, enzymes, residues… the list goes on and on.  You can get diaper washing advice from an infinite number of sources, but the truth is this: like so many other aspects of parenting, the only right answer is the one that works for you.  So depending on your diapers, water, washing machine, laundry detergent, and baby, results may vary.

Make it better: As I mentioned previously, diaper washing advice is all over the internet.  The most helpful resource for me was the free info included with my first order from Green Mountain Diapers.  Wherever you might find your info, make sure you do some research on diaper stripping, laundry detergents, and the best method to use with your washing machine.  And keep some coconut oil on hand for the inevitable rash – though we have never had anything worse than a little redness!

So let’s face it – diapering (or not) can be a smelly business no matter how you slice it.  Disposables, cloth, AIO, EC, or any other solution to baby poo will make you wrinkle your nose at some point.  The best you can do is find a system that works for you.

What is your favorite (or least favorite) aspect of your diapering system?

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