In my experience as a mom (14 months to date) the general consensus about cloth diapers seems to be that they are either for hippies or for moms with way too much time on their hands. I am neither but in the last month I made the switch. Yes, we are now a cloth diapering home, although over a year into the diapering experience. Better late than never I suppose!
Can someone please explain to me what all the fuss is about? Cloth diapers are EASY. I can’t believe I didn’t use them from the beginning but it just seemed like so much work, so messy, so old-fashioned. For the past year we’ve used a combination of gdiapers (a flushable disposable diaper) and regular disposables. Gdiapers require a cloth outer cover in which you lay a new gdiaper insert each time you change the baby. They worked really well for us but are quite expensive (30-40 cents per diaper depending on where you buy them).
I was inspired to make the switch after reading my last issue of Mothering magazine, which had a cover story about cloth diapering. The article made it sound so simple plus pointed out the environmental benefits of cloth and the toxic chemicals present in disposables. I called up my local diaper service, TideeDidee, to find out the costs involved and discovered I would actually save several dollars a week using cloth, even with a diaper service. No extra laundry, no dirty diapers to rinse (with diaper service you just throw the diapers into the bin, no rinsing required), plus I found out my gdiaper covers would work so there were no additional cloth diaper covers to buy. I figured I had nothing to lose, I could always cancel the service and return to my old system if I hated cloth.
It’s been a month of cloth so far and both my husband and I agree it’s just not that hard. I can fold the cloth insert, lay it in the gdiaper cover and velcro it all shut (no safety pins required) around Grace in the same amount of time it takes me to unfold a disposable. The diapers don’t smell thanks to a little air freshener the diaper service provides, and the diaper delivery man (woman?) comes and goes unnoticed every Friday morning, leaving us a new pile of freshly washed white diapers.
The environmental difference between cloth and disposable has been debated for years, but it turns out the U.S. studies that equated the impact of both received funding from diaper making companies such as Procter and Gamble. I prefer to base my decisions on unbiased research and all the environmental groups websites I read, such as Treehugger, support the use of cloth diapers. Even with the use of a diaper service, cloth diapers use less energy. Some argue that the diaper service is more energy efficient than washing at home since the service uses large industrial washing machines and dryers to wash many more diapers at a time.
The final clincher for me to make the switch though was when I read that many children potty train up to 6 months earlier with cloth diapers. The technology used in disposable diapers is so advanced the child never feels wet, but with cloth diapers they are aware much sooner of their own bodily functions. The thought of getting Grace out of diapers weeks or months earlier made me want to dance in the streets. The sooner she is potty trained, the better for me and for the planet. I’m glad I made the switch and wish I had done it earlier.