Let’s talk cloth diapers today, shall we? Like why the heck would I choose to deal with cloth diapers when there are so many easy-peasy disposable options out there?
I remember years ago taking a walk with the hubby and we noticed a neighbor had a bunch of laundry out to dry in the sun. Cloth diapers. I don’t think I’d ever really thought about diaper options at that point… doesn’t everyone just use disposables these days? But hubby saw it and said, “When we have a baby, we should do cloth diapers.” I must have agreed because from that point forward my mind was made up. Cloth diapering was the way to go.
When I fell pregnant with Ethan I started looking more into cloth diapers. Ya’ll…there are hundreds…maybe thousands of options out there! All-in-ones, hybrids, pocket, wool, hemp, covers, inserts…what the heck were they talking about? There were so many different types of diapers, so many terms and words I didn’t know and a lot of things to learn. It was SUPER overwhelming for an over-researcher like me.
Today I want to share our reasons for cloth diapering, dispel a few cloth diapering myths and maybe answer some questions if you’ve ever thought cloth might be the way to go for your family. I’ll share what we ended up with, why, what you can expect if you decide to let your babe be a fluff bum (cloth diaper lingo for the puffy diaper bum your lil one has when wearing cloth), why cloth diapering is way better than disposables and way easier than you think.
The basic: WHY CLOTH?
The hubs and I have different reasons for choosing cloth diapers.
His main reason: LESS WASTE. If you don’t know if yet, regular ol disposable diapers take about 500 years to decompose in a landfill and about 5 million TONS of cloth diapers are added every year. Gross. The environmental footprint of disposable diapers is staggering.
With cloth, you buy a set of cloth diapers and wash the dirty ones instead of throwing them away. Ethan’s set of cloth diapers will last him from 3 months to 3 years…and if I take good care of them, they’ll even work for baby #2 in the future. I think 24-30 diapers instead of several thousand is a LOT less waste, don’t you?
SAVE MOOLA. It’s estimated that the average family will spend $2,000-$3,000 in two years per child for disposable diapers. This can be even higher if you choose low chemical, plant based eco-diaper (think Honest Company or Babyganics). In contrast, cloth diapering can cost anywhere from $400-$1000 and can even be used for a second child, saving you thousands. Even when you factor in the energy costs from washing your diapers, cloth wins hands down. One caveat: if you choose cloth diapering with a diaper service the cost can increase to match disposables. You’ll still have all the other benefits, just maybe not save as much money.
My main reasons:
LESS CHEMICALS ON HIS TUSH: Ya’ll, we really need to be paying attention to ALL of the chemicals we are exposing ourselves to these days. The chemical used to make the super-absorbency of disposable diapers is Sodium polyacrylate (also called AGMs), which has been linked to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and can cause allergic reactions. AGMs are also linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count among boys. Most disposable diapers are bleached with Dioxin, which, in animal studies, caused nerve damage, birth defects, increased rates of miscarriages and changes to the immune system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified dioxins as a probable human carcinogen. Of course, big diaper companies will state that such chemicals exist in such small amounts that they don’t propose a risk, but exposure over 2-3 years years? This momma won’t risk it.
(Photo source: Grovia)
NO BLOWOUTS: A friend recently showed me a photo of her one-year-old’s massive blow out. Poop was literally flowing out the back of her diaper like a fountain. If this sounds gross to you, cloth diapers are your friend. I have NEVER had a blow out in a cloth diaper.
BREATHABILITY (aka LESS DIAPER RASH): Cloth diapers are made out of materials like cotton, bamboo and hemp. They are highly absorbent and breathable which means less diaper rash. German scientists also have found that the breathability of cloth helps protect baby boys family jewels, pointing out that babies skin temp in disposables was significantly higher than cloth. They suggested that prolonged use of disposable diapers in infants could be an important factor contributing to the decline of sperm production in adult males. Eek!
QUICKER POTTY TRAINING: I’ve been told that babies in cloth tend to potty train earlier because they can feel wetness more easier than disposable diapers full moisture away. Have any of you cloth diapering mommas found this to be true?
So what kind of cloth diaper do we use?
Like I mentioned before, there are tons of options when it comes to cloth diapering and many people with say that their option in the best. For us, I love to use Grovia Hybrid which is a one-size, 2-in-1 system. What that means is that I have colorful, cute, waterproof shells (the outside of the diaper) that I snap cotton or microfiber inserts into (the pee and poop catching part). If he has a wet diaper and the wetness is only on the insert, I pop out the wet insert and snap a clean one in and he’s ready to go. If he poops, the whole thing goes in the wash (more about that later).
The diaper shells are made to fit from 10 lbs to 35 lbs, so basically his entire diapered life. They have snaps on the front so that you can size the diaper as your baby grows without having to buy new diapers. The diapers are mostly what they call “hook and loop” style, meaning that they go on just like a disposable with velcro tabs (snaps are another option). It’s easy for anyone to do, and our nanny learned our diapering system quickly and has no complaints!
(This happens to be my favorite diaper print. So so cute! photo credit: Grovia)
We also have maybe 5 all-in-one diapers from Grovia (love), Thirsties (love) and Bum Genius (so so) that we use. Instead of having an insert that you pop in and out, the whole diaper is one piece. Many people find all-in-one’s the simplest option especially for grandparents and babysitters.
How many do I have?
I think I have 12 covers and about 22 inserts for the Grovia Hybrids, plus 5 all-in-one’s. This is enough to last me about 3 days.
What about washing and poop?
Before 6 months, lil E was exclusively breastfed so his poops would just dissolve in the wash (same for formula fed babies), so every dirty diaper just went into a wet bag (kinda like a lined laundry bag) until I did laundry. No extra care was needed. Once he was eating solids things changed a little bit as I don’t let his poops go in the wash. We use flushable liners now that go in his diaper so when he poops, the dirty liner just goes in the toilet with the poop. Super easy! If you have a septic system, flushing these liners is NOT recommended in which can you just plop the poop into the toilet and trash the dirty liner.
Ya’ll, I was SUPER nervous about Ethan eating solids because of the whole poop issue but let me assure you that it is not a big deal. My husband AND 17-year old nanny both agree that it’s about as easy as disposables. (Side note: did you know that even disposable diaper manufacturers recommend that you dump all poop on the toilet instead of throwing it in the trash? There’s typically a note on the side of the packaging. All that human waste in landfills puts our water sources at risk. Have you EVER seen anyone dump the poop from a disposable?)
As for washing…well that can be a little complicated to explain since there are a lot of factors so I recommend going to Fluff Love University to read up on it all. Basically, I wash the dirty diapers every 2-3 days because I don’t have a giant stash. Each wash includes a quick cycle followed by a regular cycle with an extra rinse.
Tide is the detergent of choice for keeping cloth clean and avoiding problems like ammonia smells (I learned this the hard way). Essential oils, free and clear detergents and most diaper rash creams are no-no’s because they wick moisture away instead of allowing diapers to absorb (I recommend Beautycounter’s diaper rash cream — it’s cloth friendly and works SO FAST!). After the wash cycles I hang the shells to dry on a drying rack and put the inserts in the dryer. Done and done! It’s really so simple and requires minimal work.
What about night time and travel?
There are many amazing options for overnight cloth diapering…but we haven’t really tried them. E is a heavy wetter at night so we have opted to use disposables for night time and that has worked well for us. We also prefer to use disposables when we travel, mostly because cloth diapers are really bulky to travel with and we usually don’t have access to (or don’t want to worry about) laundry. My favorite chemical free disposable diaper is Babyganics. He rarely leaks in them and they are easy to find just about everywhere.
At this point we’ve been cloth diapering for over a year and we love it. It’s money saving, simple and keeps rashes and blow outs away. I realize cloth might not be for everyone for a wide variety of reasons, but if reading this made you think that you might be interested in trying it out, I’ll include some helpful links below.
• to learn more about the dangers and impact of disposables: https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/dangers-of-disposable-diapers
• washing cloth diapers (and everything else cloth diaper): http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com/
• Grover Diapers: www.grovia.com
• Thirsties Diapers: https://www.thirstiesbaby.com/
If you’re already a cloth diapering momma, why kind of cloth diapers do you prefer? Do you cloth diaper full time or part-time? What do you do for heavy wetters at bed time?
If you aren’t doing cloth but have decided to use only eco-friendly and chemical free disposable options, what brand did you find worked best for you?