I resisted cloth diapering at first. I think I resented the fact this thing that people said was SO great and important and essential and that you must do if you care about the environment or love your baby at all (this of course was not what people were saying, but what my defensive ears were hearing), was financially inaccessible to me.
The typical cloth diaper is around $18… for ONE diaper. Yes. Even before I knew that newborn babies need about eleventy gazillion diaper changes per day, I could see how that would add up to an up-front investment I wasn’t prepared or able to make. Maybe if I’d had more time, but I wasn’t hip to cloth diapering in advance of pregnancy, and I was already planning to use all the savings I could muster toward extending my maternity leave (being self-employed), not buying $18 diapers. PLUS, I had to keep working after he was born and I figured with the baby in daycare 5 days a week, what was the point of spending all that money if he was going to wear disposables to daycare?
What I wish I’d known then:
1. There are cheaper ways to cloth diaper that are a little easier & cuter than a used, safety pinned prefold with some nasty plastic pants over it.
2. You don’t have to go whole hog. You don’t have to buy 24 diapers “to get started” like a lot of sites tell you, you don’t have to cloth diaper full time to make it worth it, and it can be a gradual process. Every time you use a cloth diaper you use one less disposable, remember that.
3. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Part of what put me off, and what puts off many people I imagine, is how insanely complex the whole cloth diapering world looks from the outside. It seems like you have to master a whole new language (aplix? gussets? AIO? OS? WTF?) and oh my god the accessories… the diaper sprayers, the homemade diaper sprayers (like I don’t have enough to do, I’m going to master homemade plumbing apparati?), the wet bags, the dry pails, the detergents, the dryer balls…. Listen. You can get super involved if you want to, but you DON’T HAVE TO, I promise, cross my heart.
It’s true that once you start, there is something weirdly addictive about cloth diapering, like getting tattoos or eating Doritos. But it is not necessary to get your PhD in Fluffology just to use cloth diapers, and if you want to keep it simple and not spend a lot of money on the extras, trust me, it’s not only possible, but easy.
In a nutshell, I used Flip diaper covers with either inserts or prefold cotton diapers for a year. That cost me a total of roughly $100. That’s four diaper covers (one was on sale), 6 inserts, and 2 dozen prefolds… past the newborn pooparama stage that would usually get me through two days (ie, I would do laundry every other day). We still used disposable at night, at daycare, and when I got behind on laundry. If any family felt they had to choose between not cloth diapering at all and doing it on the cheap, I would urge them to go that route, because you WILL save money: think about it, $100 worth of full time disposables will get you through, what, two months?
I don’t believe in scare tactics or shaming people into making the same choices as me, so no, you are not a bad person if you use disposables. Your baby’s ass will not be chemically burned and fall off if you use Pampers. If anyone gives you grief about filling up the landfills with Huggies, I say ask them if they drive a car or eat meat (if they say no and no to that, just go with “nyah nyah nyah boo boo” and drop it).
The reason to try cloth is not because you’re a bad parent if you don’t, but because you might really like it. I’ve never met anyone who tried cloth diapering and then was like, “aw, this sucks, forget it” (at least, not anyone who’s used modern diapers… it’s true lots of grandmas recall cloth diapering with horror). I’m sure they’re out there but they’re a definite minority. And if that many people like it, I figured many months ago, it’s probably worth trying… so I did.
A recent contest win at a local store called Baby Junk (LOVE this store! and you can order online) gave me $50 to spend on diapers, and my husband encouraged me to spend $50 more to support the business, so I branched out from my usual diapers and decided to try a variety of brands.
In coming days I will review Flip (my old standby), Thirsties covers, BumGenius, FuzziBunz, Charlie Banana, Kissaluvs, and GroVia. The reviews will be works in progress so I’m going to add a tab at the top of the blog where you can access them anytime. There are lots of cloth diaper reviews out there but what I’m going to give you is simple reviews, not a lot of jargon, plenty of photos of my kid actually wearing the diapers, and easy pro & con lists so you can judge for yourself.