February 24, 2012

Why We Cloth Diaper

(Minus a few dirty and on loan to my SIL)

I have been introduced to so many new worlds since having my daughter, but something that has truly become a passion of mine is cloth diapers. When people find out that we cloth diaper, they look at me like, "Are you NUTS!". But the truth is that today’s cloth diapers are nothing like the cloth diapers with pins and plastic pants that most people think of. So to do my little part in get more info out there, I thought I would share the reasons why we choose cloth and the reasons why we love them.
Disclaimer: As will all diaper talk, there will be discussion of bowl movements. If that bothers you, you may not want to read on J

The reasons we choose cloth:
Jaycelyn - 8 weeks - First Cloth Diaper
Thirsties Duo Diaper - Size 1
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I never really questioned how we would diaper her. We would just do what everyone else does. I can vaguely remember someone talking about cloth diapers and it sparking a thought or two. However, with all the other things that go along with pregnancy it did not go farther than that.
When my little girl was born we naturally used the diapers provided in the hospital and came home to the boxes and boxes and boxes of disposables that were given to us as gifts or that we had purchased on sale. The entire top of her closet was full to the celling of boxes! And our new life began.
 We started attending the breastfeeding support group at Best Beginnings. There were several mamas who cloth diapered and, and I remember thinking, “Wow… those are REALLY cute!”. Then Best Beginnings starting carrying cloth diapers (unfortunately, Best Beginnings no longer owns the store, but the still have the support group at Capital Regional… I cannot express enough how much I highly recommend this support group. Molly and Vicky are amazing). I picked up a Thristies pamphlet and set home determined to find a way to convince my husband.
I did A LOT of research. I knew I would have to really know my stuff to get my husband on board. So I spend literal all day on the computer doing research. Below are the reasons we decided to make the switch to cloth when Jaycelyn was a month and a half old.

  • Chemicals in Disposables
When I was using disposables, I started to really think about all the “stuff” in them. Thinking about the fact that I was putting that "stuff" on my baby's skin really bothered me, so we were already making the switch to Seventh Generation diapers. When I started doing research on cloth, I came across an excellent article that talked about the chemicals in cloth diapers (I wish I had saved the link). I was shocked by what I read. Disposables contain chemicals such as Dioxin which the EPA classifies as high carcinogenic, Tributyl-Tin which causes hormonal issues in humans and animals, Sodium Polyacrylate (the absorbent gel)which was banned from use in tampons in the 1980’s because of links to TSS, and many other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). (Check out this article from LiveStrong.com for more information http://www.livestrong.com/article/111348-chemicals-disposable-diapers/). I know from that article that I did not want these chemicals to come in contact with my daughter’s skin, especially near her genitals. I had a pretty hard time getting pregnant (we had to see a fertility specialist), and I do not wish that upon anyone.
I am not as naive to think that there are no chemicals involved with cloth. In fact Dioxin is a by product of the bleaching process, so cloth diapers will have this as well if the cotton is bleached. But I’m not putting a new dose of it on her every time I change her diaper. This was by far my biggest reason for wanting to cloth diaper.

  • Environmental Impact
My husband and I are very environmentally conscious and when we read in the Thirsties pamphlet that I brought home that it is estimated that it takes over 500 years for a single disposable diaper to decompose we were stunned! And considering the fact that you dispose of diapers in plastic bags, there is no telling how long our daughters poop would be polluting the earth. And speaking of poop in disposable diapers, did you know that it is actually illegal to throw poop away in the landfill? That’s right… you are supposed to rinse out your disposable diapers in the toilet before throwing them away. I never knew that.

But environmental impact is an area of much debate in the cloth vs. disposable battle. Granted it takes water, and quite a bit of it, to wash cloth diapers (although with energy/water efficient appliances, it is becoming less and less). But can it really outweigh the emissions from manufacturing, shipping, and fuel for special trips to the store for disposable diapers? Nearta (a cloth diaper manufacture) has an amazing article on the effects of diapers on the environment chalk full of research (http://www.nearta.com/Papers/DiaperEnvironment.pdf).  And this article from the Huffington post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-grayson/eco-etiquette-how-can-i-c_b_572807.html) that I found courtesy of Mama and Baby Love (see her article on cloth diapers here - http://mamaandbabylove.com/2010/05/16/why-we-use-cloth-diapers/) states that it takes 2/3 of a cup of petroleum for every single disposable diaper made. Unbelievable!

  • Money Savings
Initial sticker shock of cloth diapers was going to be a huge issue with my husband. Cloth diapers are expensive, I will not argue that. But disposable diapers are more expensive. Here is a great article not only comparing the cost of disposables to cloth, but also the various types of cloth to each other - http://www.diaperdecisions.com/pages/cost_of_cloth_diapers.php. And this is what sold my husband. Now to be honest, I have not really saved a whole lot of money. Since we would have used more expensive diapers, I can say I've probably saved about 1/3 my anticipated cost. Buying cloth can be quite addictive. There are so many fun colors and prints and so many different brands to try out. I don’t know if it is my scientific back ground or what, but I love to gather lots of information on topics. So I have tried out tons of different brands and I have quite a large stash. But part of my reasoning behind a large stash is that we plan on having more children. The more diapers you have in rotation, the less wear and tear they receive. Our real savings is going to be with our future babies.
Here is another great article from the Real Diaper Association on why to choose cloth - http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php

The reasons we love cloth:
  • Cuteness
I mean come on… fluffy bums are just plain adorable! I love the colors and fun prints. Just check out these pictures! (sorry for some crappy cell phone pics)

Top - AppleCheecks, Tots Bots, Ragababe, Thirsties
Middle - Thirsties, Grovia, Ragababe
Bottom - Ragababe, Happy Heiny, Grovia, FuziBunz

  • Breathability/Rashes
The leading cause of diaper rash is excessive moister against the skin. So check out this video and tell me what you think? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKpCcUznbaI&noredirect=1

Amazing Right?!
Jaycelyn had one rash when she was in disposables. Considering that she was only in them for a month and a half that could have been a lot of rashes in our diapering days. When we first switched to cloth, she never had rashes. But now that she is teething (she is a very late teether) she will get rashes from what I call “teething poops”.  She has poo in every single diaper and I feel like it burns her. I believe she would have had these rashes in disposables as well, and probably worse.  
  • Convenience
Jaycelyn recently made the switch to whole milk. And for the first time ever, I had to make a late night run to the store because we ran out of milk. Boy did that suck! I am so glad that we breastfeed and cloth diaper so we avoid that! If I run out of diapers, I just threw in a load of laundry. Easy-peasy. Also we don’t have to mess with all those garbage bags of stinky dirty disposables (if done right, your cloth diaper pail will not smell).  Another issue with disposables is storage space. It was insane the amount space just a month’s worth of clean disposable diapers took up. You do not have that issue with cloth.
Also, contrary to popular belief, cloth diapers have less leaks and especially less poop blow-outs than disposable diapers. Jaycelyn had more blow-outs during her first month and a half of disposables as she has ever had in the 16 ½ months of cloth diapering. Another aversion people have to cloth is the idea of poop in their washing machine. But poop in the washer is an inevitable part of having a child. Especially with the aforementioned disposable blow-outs.  I have never had an issue with the poop left over in my washer. You do have to spray the poop out of the diapers once they are on solid food. But remember, you are suppose to do that with disposables too.  
All this being said, whatever decision you make concerning your own child is the right one. But if you’ve even slightly considered cloth, I say go for it. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.
Do you cloth diaper? Ever considered it? Do you have any other questions about cloth?


  1. Great article and very informative. We love cloth diapering!

  2. Such a great post, and what a nice stash you have :)