Monday, January 3, 2011

Why Cloth?

I was on the phone with a good friend of mine last night. She is about to have her 3rd child and we were talking about babies. I mentioned that I was cloth diapering Liam since I knew she had thought about cloth diapers when she had her first. It turns out that she had actually tried it and it didn't work out for her at all. She didn't know anyone who had used cloth and only had websites to rely on for information. So I am going to write a few blog posts about cloth diapers and how they have worked out for us.

I love cloth diapers. They have worked out fabulously for Liam. But before we get into all of that, I should mention why I chose to cloth diaper in the first place.

Cloth is better for the environment. Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest single consumer item in landfills and make up 4% of all solid waste in the U.S. In households with a child in disposable diapers, the diapers make up 50% of all garbage in that household. It has been estimated that it takes over 250 years for a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill. Even though I used more water, detergent and energy to wash the cloth diapers, disposable diapers require water, chemicals and energy to produce and ship to the supermarket.

Cloth is better for my wallet. Cloth diapers are each fairly expensive. My favorite ones cost about $18 each. I pay a little more for the most convenient diapering systems and cute prints. Even buying the more expensive cloth diapers, I will save more than $1,000 over the time Liam is in diapers even when you take into consideration the cost of water, detergent and energy. If saving money is your main motivation for cloth diapers, you could choose less expensive diapers, buy used cloth diapers and dry the diapers on a clothes line. The savings continue to add up if you reuse cloth diapers for subsequent children.

Cloth is better for my son. Cloth diapered babies have far fewer cases of diaper rash. Liam hasn't had any so far. We used disposable diapers on Liam for the first 2 weeks while he was healing from his circumcision. Twice in just 2 weeks, the absorbent gels broke out of the lining and got all over Liam. I really hated that, especially while he was healing. Have you heard of Pampers' Dry Max? It is a new compound in some of their diapers that has given babies chemical burns. As of this post, it's still on the shelves.

Cloth is better for me. There is evidence that cloth diapered babies potty train earlier and easier than babies who wear disposable diapers. I'll let you know when we get to that point. On Liam, the cloth diapers have leaked a lot less than the disposable diapers he wore. We started out using Pampers and he would have major leaks several times a day. Huggies worked out a little better, though the best fit on him were the Target brand Up and Up. All told, we do less laundry with cloth diapers than we did when he was in disposables because of the diaper leaks.

Cloth is cute! 

There are downsides. This wouldn't be an honest post if I didn't discuss some of the downsides of the cloth diapering. Dan and I change Liam's cloth diapers all of the time, but anyone else requires a little training. My little sister still has a hard time changing him and Liam's pediatrician just lets me put his diaper back on during his visits. My mom got the cloth diapering lesson but hasn't changed any of his diapers yet. The cost savings are also over 2+ years, so you have to spend quite a bit of money up front all at once. We haven't gone anywhere overnight yet, but travelling with Liam will be more difficult with cloth diapers. With our current diaper stash, we can go 2.5 days between washing. Any longer than that and we would either have to have easy access to a washer & dryer or use disposables.

If you have ever considered using cloth diapers on your child, I highly recommend giving it a try. I won't pretend that what works best for me will work best for everyone else, but there's no harm in giving it a try.

I'm going to write several blog posts about cloth diapers and cover a variety of topics. If you have any specific questions, please write them in the comments section and I will definitely answer them!

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