Jun 302007
 

There was a time when this blog was called “Diapers and Music”. That’s why there still is a pile of diapers on he piano in my masthead. Since that days of diapers are long gone in this family, I don’t think about them very often. (And some time this year there will be a new picture on the blog, I promise.) But then I read Crunchy Chicken, prompted by the Just Posts. And I thought about “low impact” again. I started using dish towels instead of paper towels for my (almost) daily swish through the bathrooms. I tried out HagRag-pantyliners. Very comfy (and so smooth), and she sent me one with guitars on it as a sample, can you believe that. She doesn’t even know I’m a musician. And I ordered a mooncup, which has yet to be tested. (I opted for a mooncup instead of a diva cup because it came from the UK instead of the US, so it arrived faster and I didn’t have to pay tax on it, and it came 10 € cheaper.)

But I wanted to write about cloth diapers. I only realized how much I care about them when my husband’s cousin had a baby a couple of weeks ago; she took all the baby stuff I had left and when I forgot that the cloth diapers were still sitting in a closet in my bedroom, and told her I’d bring them over, she just made a vague noise and shrugged it off. And since then I have been wanting to force the cloth diapers on her. And to persuade her to use them. But I can’t. And I know perfectly well that most of the people reading this blog don’t have children of diaper age, or are well set in their ways. Nonetheless I’d like to tell you why I like cloth diapers so much:

1. They don’t smell as much.
Really. When my son went to play group the teachers there often didn’t realize that his diaper badly needed changing because there was not that much stink. On the other hand, when – for travel reasons or such – I had to use disposable diapers I kept thinking that he had a poopy diaper when in fact he hadn’t.

2. You don’t need to haul immense amounts of diapers home from the super market.
And

3. You don’t need to pay insane amounts of money for diapers.
When I first contemplated the cloth-or-not-cloth-issue I stood in the diaper aisle of the grocery store thinking, “Oh, they aren’t that expensive.” And then I started to do the math. Let’s take an average of 4 diapers a day for 2 1/2 years, and let’s say one diapers costs about 25 cent (which it doesn’t in the grocery store, I just found a discount price on the net right now), and then you’ll pay 912.50 € for diapers. At least. (That would be 1.234.25 $. But then I don’t know the cost of diapers in the US.) And I know that washing things also costs money, and cloth diapers cost money, but not that much. Which brings me to the next point:

4. You often can get used cloth diapers very cheap or for free.
Most of the diapers I have been using for years were given to me by a friend. She used them for about two weeks and was very glad to give them away. I have bought some new diapers over time because some were worn out, and I have been using disposable diapers from time to time, but the money I spent was nowhere near 900 €.

When I was pregnant I read tons of books about pregnancy and babies. In one of them the author said, “Imagine yourself on the balcony, folding nice clean diapers with your baby in a sling, while everybody else is stuck in a traffic jam because they have run out of diapers and have to get new ones in a panic.” I thought she was a little cuckoo. But really, some of my fondest memories of my son’s first year indeed involve me hanging up or folding diapers while carrying him in a sling. Of course I don’t think that much about the days when I had to do everything wearing him in a sling while he screamed on top of his lungs, and I had to rush around, sterilizing my milk pump and washing diapers. (And I am a sling fanatic too. Not that I practiced Attachment Parenting, but I really have to stop myself from pressing a sling on every new parent. It literally saved my life. I even volunteered to teach people how to use them. If you’re anywhere near Munich, drop me an e-mail, come to my house and I’ll show you.) I seem to be a bit of a missionary at heart. Sorry.

5. Cloth diapers are better for babies with sensitive skin.
My son developed a rash every time we went on vacation and he wore disposable diapers more than two days in a row.

So now about the things that people don’t like about cloth diapers:

1. You have a bucket of smelling, dirty diapers sitting around all the time.
Yep. True. Make sure to get a small bucket with a fitting lid. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to swish them in the toilet though. Or iron them. You don’t even have to touch them after changing, or soak them. Just get a laundry net, hang it in the bucket like a trash bag, roll the used diapers up, and put them in there. Close lid. When the bucket is full, take it to the washing machine, grab the net, close it, toss it in the machine – well done. You have to clean the bucket once in a while, though. Think of it as training for when your child uses the potty.

And really, a diaper bucket doesn’t smell more than a cat litter box. And trash cans with disposable diapers in them smell too. Unless maybe you use those thingies that wrap each and every diaper in plastic, and really how environmental unfriendly do you want to get because of a little poop smell?

2. Your babysitter, day care person, or some such, won’t know how to use them.
Well, most people can be trained. And there are cloth diapers that work like disposable ones. The only two things people have to keep in mind are: a) don’t throw the cloth diaper away, and b) most types of cloth diaper require a kind of cover since they are not water-proof per se. In our family the challenge was to prevent my babysitter from putting a diaper cover on my son when for some reason or other she had to use disposables once in a while.

At first when my son was in play group (without mothers), I put him in disposables to make it easier for the teachers. But since they never changed him anyway, I just put a little plastic bag in his backpack with a fresh cloth diaper and a big handwritten sign saying: “Please us this diaper. Please put the diaper cover over it, and please put the soiled diaper in the plastic bag.” Voilà. No problem.

3. It is too complicated and time consuming.
Again, look at this:

or this:

4. They leak when the baby gets older.
Well, yes. I almost gave up when my son was about nine months old. Then I bought a couple of extra layers like these:


And there was – no more leakage.

5. But who wants to do all that laundry?
Come on. You’ve got a child. You’re doing laundry all the time anyway.
I was surprised at the amount of laundry we had after having a child. And I only changed his clothes about twice a week or so. Since then I made peace with the five loads a week concept. (Of course now I have less laundry than when I still had to wash the diapers. That’s true.)

Have I forgotten something? I stole all the pictures from the excellent shop “Wickelkinder” by the way. I can only recommend it. For Germans anyway. What do you think about cloth diapers? Have you tried them?

  24 Responses to “Cloth Diapers”

  1. We thought about cloth before the first wee one was born, but eventually decided to go with disposables. Landfill vs water/bleach/electricity costs and emissions turn out to be roughly similar acc to a couple of studies we looked at, and, well, to be honest, I didn’t like the bulky look of cloth ones or the extra hassle.

    But that’s just me. 🙂

  2. We thought about cloth before the first wee one was born, but eventually decided to go with disposables. Landfill vs water/bleach/electricity costs and emissions turn out to be roughly similar acc to a couple of studies we looked at, and, well, to be honest, I didn’t like the bulky look of cloth ones or the extra hassle.

    But that’s just me. 🙂

  3. you are SO right. we didn’t use cloth and i so regret it, for the planet, for me, for M…all of it.

  4. you are SO right. we didn’t use cloth and i so regret it, for the planet, for me, for M…all of it.

  5. I did not use cloth diapers but I don’t use paper towels.. so it is a scratch in regards to the planet.

    I am not planning on any more children but I can tell you that the twenty year old cat that lives in my house uses alot of newspaper because she misses the litter box… a lot.

  6. I did not use cloth diapers but I don’t use paper towels.. so it is a scratch in regards to the planet.

    I am not planning on any more children but I can tell you that the twenty year old cat that lives in my house uses alot of newspaper because she misses the litter box… a lot.

  7. i loved my cloth diapers, even my husband and babysitters had no problems with them. I try to press them on all my friends, as well. Things I would add to your (fabulous) list of why to use cloth: The elastic on the plastic pants kept the poopy leaks in, so less poopy leaks! No questionable chemicals up against my precious baby’s reproductive system (what exactly is that gel that can absorb so much, and how could it possibly be food for you?) We used a diaper genie, which contained the smells. Disposable or flushable liners keep the chunks of poop out of your washing machine. No bleach needed (in fact, not good for the diapers! I didn’t care about stains, but if you do, line dry them. the sun will bleach them). i bought diapers used on ebay, or new at comfybummy.com

  8. i loved my cloth diapers, even my husband and babysitters had no problems with them. I try to press them on all my friends, as well. Things I would add to your (fabulous) list of why to use cloth: The elastic on the plastic pants kept the poopy leaks in, so less poopy leaks! No questionable chemicals up against my precious baby’s reproductive system (what exactly is that gel that can absorb so much, and how could it possibly be food for you?) We used a diaper genie, which contained the smells. Disposable or flushable liners keep the chunks of poop out of your washing machine. No bleach needed (in fact, not good for the diapers! I didn’t care about stains, but if you do, line dry them. the sun will bleach them). i bought diapers used on ebay, or new at comfybummy.com

  9. I had cloth diapers, and they would have been fine, but I couldn’t figure out how to get them out of the pail into my front loading washer without a lot of dripping mess.

    A real visual reminder of just how many disposable diapers I have used is in my storage. Diapers come in good, reusable boxes with handles, and there are tens of them.

    Even diaper service, where someone else does the laundering, is pretty reasonable. Hmm, why didn’t I try that?

  10. I had cloth diapers, and they would have been fine, but I couldn’t figure out how to get them out of the pail into my front loading washer without a lot of dripping mess.

    A real visual reminder of just how many disposable diapers I have used is in my storage. Diapers come in good, reusable boxes with handles, and there are tens of them.

    Even diaper service, where someone else does the laundering, is pretty reasonable. Hmm, why didn’t I try that?

  11. So you would recommend the hagrags? I managed my skin sentitivity problem last month with special organic cotton pads, but would certainly be interested in something like that instead. I’m wary of the mooncup, again because of my problem.

  12. So you would recommend the hagrags? I managed my skin sentitivity problem last month with special organic cotton pads, but would certainly be interested in something like that instead. I’m wary of the mooncup, again because of my problem.

  13. I fondly remember a friend of mine who was very young and a bit of a hippie hanging diapers on the clothes line and spraying them down with a hose.

    I hate the thought of all that plastic with no-where to go.

    I am immediately checking out the hag rag site. I have been searching and searching for something like this in SA – to no avail.

  14. I fondly remember a friend of mine who was very young and a bit of a hippie hanging diapers on the clothes line and spraying them down with a hose.

    I hate the thought of all that plastic with no-where to go.

    I am immediately checking out the hag rag site. I have been searching and searching for something like this in SA – to no avail.

  15. Ewe, I think the landfill is worse and especially if you get used cloth diapers or use them for a second child.

    In Germany some cities give you money to help with the buying of cloth diapers so that there’s not as much trash.

    painted maypole, thank you for mentioning the advantages I forgot.

    sober briquette, when you don’t soak the diapers they are only slightly damp. And then you use your net and don’t even need to touch them. And diaper service is very reasonable only it wasn’t available where we live.

    And I can definitely recommend the hagrag pantyliners. I just got my package today. And they are so cute! And comfy. Ahem.

  16. Ewe, I think the landfill is worse and especially if you get used cloth diapers or use them for a second child.

    In Germany some cities give you money to help with the buying of cloth diapers so that there’s not as much trash.

    painted maypole, thank you for mentioning the advantages I forgot.

    sober briquette, when you don’t soak the diapers they are only slightly damp. And then you use your net and don’t even need to touch them. And diaper service is very reasonable only it wasn’t available where we live.

    And I can definitely recommend the hagrag pantyliners. I just got my package today. And they are so cute! And comfy. Ahem.

  17. Thank goodness I do not have to worry about diapers anymore.

  18. Thank goodness I do not have to worry about diapers anymore.

  19. We went the cloth route, with a diaper service. I loved it. And as for the balance that ewe talks about, I understood that washing the diapers in bulk the way they were with the service tipped the balance the other way. There is even a service in our city that delivers all the diapers by BICYCLE!!!! Sadly, we were out of their delivery area, but I considered meeting them at the edge of the area just to be a part of such a wonderful thing.

    I’ve had a Keeper (sort of like a Diva Cup) for nearly 10 years and LOVE it and Hag-Rag-like cloth liners. I have to admit I’ve been looking for better liners as the ones I have aren’t great…maybe I’ll check the others out.

    Excellent guide to cloth diapering for the newbie!

  20. We went the cloth route, with a diaper service. I loved it. And as for the balance that ewe talks about, I understood that washing the diapers in bulk the way they were with the service tipped the balance the other way. There is even a service in our city that delivers all the diapers by BICYCLE!!!! Sadly, we were out of their delivery area, but I considered meeting them at the edge of the area just to be a part of such a wonderful thing.

    I’ve had a Keeper (sort of like a Diva Cup) for nearly 10 years and LOVE it and Hag-Rag-like cloth liners. I have to admit I’ve been looking for better liners as the ones I have aren’t great…maybe I’ll check the others out.

    Excellent guide to cloth diapering for the newbie!

  21. We ARE a bit at different ends of the time spectrum now, aren’t we? Diapers we once used became dusting towels…and have long since disintegrated! It’s all good. Congrats on the Script Frenzy! Is that like NaNoWriMo? I’ll have to look it up. Whatever…getting that many words on paper deserves much praise!!

  22. We ARE a bit at different ends of the time spectrum now, aren’t we? Diapers we once used became dusting towels…and have long since disintegrated! It’s all good. Congrats on the Script Frenzy! Is that like NaNoWriMo? I’ll have to look it up. Whatever…getting that many words on paper deserves much praise!!

  23. A former cloth diaper user here…came here from OTJ!

    Cloth diapers were so great! I started them with son #2, wish I had been more open minded when son #1.

    It’s the same as with menstrual cups (I’m a Diva user myself) if people can get out of their paradigm over diapers and periods, it isn’t what they think it is.

    But lots of people want to stay in their paradigm and play that game, so I guess that’s just fine too.

    But I’m glad I didn’t!

  24. I had a cloth nappy baby – another plus is that she toilet trained very easily as she had never had that “sitting in carp” experience – always knew when her bodily functions were functioning…

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