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.
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:
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:
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?