When my first daughter was born, I was intrigued at the idea of cloth diapers. Our childbirth instructor gave us resources for local cleaning companies and showed us a few types that were available. My grandma however, said “You’re lucky you have disposable diapers and don’t use cloth like I did, we had pins and folding and they leaked all over and you had to hand wash them”
At that time, we did not own a washing machine and the idea of loading dirty diapers to take to the laundromat or my mother in laws did not really sound appeasing, but I knew that we were not going to use regular disposable diapers like Huggies, Pampers or Luvs. I even returned every single pack that was given to me at my shower (sorry ladies!) and opted to look for alternatives.
I slowly made the switch to more and more cloth with each kid.
Why would I go through all this trouble when 95% of the world uses commercial disposables?
I am glad you asked, and even if you didn’t I am going to tell you anyway because I don’t want Huggies anywhere near my kids’ bums.
1. Disposables are toxic!
Because the wood pulp used in diapers is brown, commercial diapers are bleached with chlorine, which causes dioxins, which are known to be carcinogenic.
Those small bits that sometimes come out of the diaper and stick to your baby- those are polyacrylic acid, or sodium polyacrylate.
That is what gives the diaper its absorbent power, and is highly toxic. This chemical was banned from tampons in 1985 because it is linked to TSS.
It causes fever, staph and allergic reactions due to contact and only 5 grams ingested can cause fatality.
There are also 4 different dyes used for coloring, which are known to cause contact rashes and allergies in some babies, plus fragrance or lotions and plastic or latex.
Here is a list of various chemicals emitted from two undisclosed brands of diapers:
These are known respiratory hazards (meaning these diapers may be causing breathing problems in some babies). Do you want your baby breathing that?
There are also heavy metals and phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors.
That reason alone should be motivation to switch diaper brands at the very least, or consider cloth! These chemicals sit on your baby's most sensitive parts and since mucous membranes and the skin are absorbent, that means the chemicals in the diapers will be absorbed into the blood stream.
These chemicals are what are responsible for that diaper rash that keeps coming back over and over again.
2. Disposables stick around forever!
They are disposables- NOT biodegradables.
Even buying the chlorine free diapers without all the chemicals will still leave you with the dilemma of filling up landfills with human waste, unless you buy the compostable ones.
Did you know you are breaking the law when you toss a poop filled diaper in the trash? It is illegal to dispose of human waste anywhere except the toilet and if you look at a pack of Huggies, the directions say to dump the poop in the toilet first and then dispose of the diaper.
I can bet NO ONE DOES THAT.
In 1998 a study was found that diapers make up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1% of our landfill.
And since diapers are relatively new, no one is sure how long they take to decompose, but a rough estimate based on the components of the diaper is 250-500 years or more.
That means the diapers that your parents used are still sitting in a landfill somewhere, along with yours and your cousins, childhood friends, and every classmate you every knew (except the ones still using cloth).
Eww. I mean, gross. That is a whole lot of stink.
We toss cartons of coconut milk and jugs of milk in the recycle bin and banana peels and brown lettuce in the compost to do our part to cut down on trash, so logically, baby waste and trash should be cut down too.
*I will be honest, I do use both cloth wipes AND disposable wipes
-The Knowaste company in Canada is the first to find a way to recycle diapers (and pads and other hygiene products) into plastic roofing tiles. They seem to have started something however because California is starting to recycle diapers.
But, until there is a way for everyone to drop their kid's dirty diaper in with the recycling, diapers in the USA end up in landfills.
3. Cloth SAVES MONEY!
I was so glad I went all cloth with my 3rd child because my husband had returned to school full time and we were living off financial aid, WIA income and my part time income. We could not afford $50-60 per month for diapers. Through my pregnancy, I bought cloth here and there and saved us a ton.
Most people recommend having about 24 cloth diapers so you only have to wash a load every other day or so. You don’t want to go too long between washing because diapers sitting in a pail can stain or reek (or the dog finds them and rips a hole in the side trying to eat them…)
I had around 15 and that worked just fine for us.
Here is the comparison of what we would have saved had we started with cloth (because you can use them with more than one child)
For our first child, we had a mix of GDiapers and chemical-free disposables and cloth training pants. (No cost savings, bought pricer chem-free diapers)
For our second child, 1/2 cloth and 1/2 disposable. (Saved half)
For our third child, 100% cloth. (Saved around $1200 in diapers)
Cloth diapers can range from $5 to $25 each, depending on brand and style. I choose the cheaper ones, bought in bulk off eBay to see how they would hold up and they were fine by me.
When you take a Birth Boot Camp Class, you will get information on cloth diapering covered in the baby care section of class.
If you need more information, here are some additional sites to get you started on your journey to cloth, because there are so many options, materials and the like to choose from. Diapers are not what they were when my Grandma had to pin washcloths on her kids...(Although one Christmas, we forgot all my daughter's diapers when visiting family and we ended up doing just that- my Grandma pinned her good dinner napkins on her.)
And guess what…
This is our stash for BABY #4.
That’s right, we are expecting another baby this December and I will be posting updates through my pregnancy. As of posting this, I am 15 weeks so I am starting to arrange the baby’s area, and organizing diapers. (My sister shared this stash with me, so they were basically free- that is another way you can get cloth diapers!)
I have 23/24 diapers here with bamboo inserts! I am SET...of course, if we have a girl, I will have to throw in a few pink cammo diapers.
So, how do you diaper? Do you use cloth, 'sposies or a mix?
If you use cloth what are your favorite diaper types?