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Friday, March 11, 2011

The Ick and Eek of Cloth Diapering: A post for the skeptics

Do you know of a friend who might like cloth diapers if they knew it was SO EASY? Send this post their way!
Cloth diapering may not be for everyone, but I firmly believe that cloth diapering is definitely for MORE people than there are people actually using cloth diapers. I think when many people think of cloth they think of pinning and folding, being elbow deep in poop, etc. I was disgusted with the thought of cloth diapering two years ago...but once I found out the real facts behind cloth diapering, I decided to give it a try and I have not turned back since.

In a recent Padded Tush Stats survey, 88 individuals responded and indicated their reasons for being intimidated by cloth diapering. In this post, I will break down those responses and will also give some pieces of advice that they have for disposable diaper users who may want to give cloth diapering a try.

Let’s cut to the chase: poop is gross. Many people I have encountered (including myself two years ago) don’t want to deal with the poop of cloth diapering. 32% of survey respondents felt that the poop was the most intimidating factor of cloth diapering. But the fact is, there are so many things that make your interaction with the poop just as much as interaction with poop when using disposables. You have a few options for dealing with the poop:

* A flushable liner: these kind of look like dryer sheets. You lay them on the diaper. When it gets soiled, you simply dump the liner into the toilet and you are done with it.
Bummis Bio-Soft Liner, Large
* Breasfted baby: If your baby is exclusively breastfed (so not on solids or formula), the poop actually dissolves in water. So you can actually just throw it in your wash. I know that sounds gross. Just TWO WEEKS ago I thought this sounded gross. But when I sprayed my newborn baby’s diaper, I saw how it dissintegrated immediately and how a rinse in the wash would do just as much.
* Diaper Sprayer: A diaper sprayer hooks on to the side of your toilet. When you have a dirty diaper, you simply spray it out over the toilet and that’s it!
Mini-Shower - Bidet & Multi-Use Hand Held Sprayer

This too is another intimidating aspect of cloth diapering that really is more simply than it seems. 27% of survey respondents said this intimidated them at first, and many indicated in their comments that it really was easy once they figured it out. Here are some things to consider:

* Wet Bag: you can store cloth diapers in a “wet bag.” This is a zippered bag lined with waterproof material. you just throw soiled diapers in it and it traps in the smell (mine even has a little fleece patch you could drop essential oils on). On laundry day, you just throw the unzipped wet bag in the washing machine. No need to TOUCH those diapers!
 Kushies "On the Go" Wet Bag, 2 Pack, Large

* A lot of people “ick” over the though of it being washed in its own poo. Most cloth diaperers actually do a rinse on the machine first to get the “ick” out of there. Then they do a normal wash.
* The actual washing of the diaper is kind of like following a recipe. You may follow the recipe, and based on how it tastes you would tweak the recipe (hmmm, a metaphor involving “tasting” something probably isn’t appropriate when talking about poopy diapers!). So you can start with a basic washing machine, and then based on whether your diapers still stink or if you have issues with pee not absorbing, then you can tweak it by adding more rinses, adding more detergent, adding less detergent, etc. For this, you can go to diaperswappers.com and post your question/concern and people will answer your question immediately

Pinning/Folding, etc
When I heard about cloth diapers, I assumed they were just burp rags pinned on a baby. 10% of survey respondents felt intimidated by cloth diapering because of the pinning and folding. The fact is, cloth diapers are so modern. In fact, many look just like disposables in structure, only they are covered in cute patterns. Yes, many cloth diaperers do pin diapers, but you don’t have to! There are plenty of easy-to-use diapers.
Kissa's One Size All-In-One Diaper, Chocolate

8% of survey respondents felt that cost was an intimidating factor when it came to cloth diapering. This could be because of the initial cost investment for cloth diapering. People also try to compare cloth diapering costs with the cost of diapering with disposables using coupons. With all of the amazon deals on disposable diapers going around lately, it is difficult to truly claim that cloth diapering is CHEAPER than disposable diapers. You can get both cloth diapers and disposables for steals, but it is important to consider four things about cloth diapering before you decide:

1) Multiple children: If you are diapering more than one, then it is difficult to argue that disposables are cheaper. You can do the math, but many have and find that it simply is cheapest to do cloth
2) Resale value: Cloth diapers can be resold and you can get back a portion of your money (the amount depends on the kind of diaper and the condition of the diaper). If you buy diapers used, then you get even more of your original “investment” back
3) Cost of washing diapers: Many people who chose cloth do not factor this into their decision. Some cloth diaperers do not factor in this cost, but it is important to consider. It is helpful to look up your machine and look up estimates of cloth diapering using that machine. I love this post that breaks down the cost of diapering realistically, and accounts for washing.
4) Diaper type: Costs of diapers vary greatly. You can stick with flats/prefolds, which are very inexpensive, or you can go for all in ones, which are basically a cloth version of a disposable, and they are a little more expensive. What type would work best for you? It would help to try out a small variety first. I initially went for prefolds and found it was too much for me, so I now do all in ones and all in two’s. I did the math and it turns out I am still saving money by doing this (given my current situation).

Test it out
Cloth diapering may be difficult for people with different life situations and I don’t want to ignore that. There may be many people who might face a few more challenges. Disposable just might be the best option for your situation, but I highly recommend you give cloth a shot. There are several cloth diapering trial programs that cost you VERY little money. Here are some recommendations:

Sew Crafty Baby has a trial program where you can purchase 3 diapers and send them back with a 90% refund.
Green Diaper Demos has a trial program. You can purchase 1-10 items and if you don’t like them, you get 80% back (or, if you get halfway through the stash and find you don’t like cloth diapering at all, you get 100% back). You do have to pay for shipping back to them. If you chose to ship back and buy more diapers, then you get a 90% refund in the form of store credit. My favorite part about this program? If you spend more than $75 on your trial package, you get a FREE wetbag and FREE wipes and you do not need to return them if you decide you don’t want to cloth diaper!
Jillian’s Drawers also has a trial program. With this program, if you change your mind, you are only out $10 (plus shipping back to them. This program costs $159.94.

What to try?
I asked survey respondents to tell you what they would suggest you start with. The top pics were:
Bumgenius Pocket diapers
bumGenius One-Size Pocket Diaper 4.0 Artist Series Snap Retail Therapy
Bumgenius All in One Diapers
bumGenius One-Size Cloth Diaper 4.0 - Noodle - Snap
Fuzzibunz Pocket Diapers
Fuzzibunz One Size Diaper, Apple Green, 10-45 Pounds

One thing that MANY survey respondents recommended was to talk with people who cloth diaper. They can help you pick what might work best for you. Don’t know of anyone? DiaperSwappers is a great community where you could ask questions.
Here are some other sites to check out:
Diaper Facts: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
Washing Cloth Diapers: http://realdiaperindustry.org/guide-to-washing-cloth-diapers

I asked survey respondents if they had any advice for people considering cloth diapering or to tell you how they got over their fears. Here is what they said:

My husband wanted to cd the whole time but I believed the old school horror stories about them but my son started having problems with disposables and that's when we switched. when he was 2 months old. I fell in love with cloth diapers then and cant get enough of them!!!! All the stories about the washing and pins and folding are no longer true. It's so simple and I cant think of a single down side to using cloth now!!

Knowing that there were things available that make dealing with poop a lot easier- like disposable liners, diaper sprayers, etc. Also just doing it and seeing that it wasn't that bad made a big difference. But the diaper sprayer was key to overcoming my fear!

Reading blogs and watching youtube videos helped me see that it wasn't scary. I also found many moms in my area who use cloth. Having a support networks helps to answer my questions.

Its just easy...it washes out clean when they're newborns and you use liners or a diaper sprayer when they're older.

Savings are incredible!!  I figured I couldn't go wrong to just give it a try.

Once I started cloth diapering, I found that dealing with the poop wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!

Realizing that all I had to do was stick them in the washer, add soap, wash once on cold then once on hot, stick them in the dryer and out came these clean reusable cloths that required no soaking or scrubbing.  The "ick" facter was gone, and my baby doesn't get diaper rash.

Discovering that it could be just as easy as disposables (pockets, aio's, etc).  Though in the end, I went with prefolds anyway because I did my research and realized it's not that hard anyway and I'd save a ton of money.

Just decided I was going to have to do it because we needed to save the money with another on the way there is no way we could afford disposables for two.

Because I fully believe that dealing with snotty noses, pee, poop, vomit, and just about each and every bodily fluid your child can produce comes with the territory of simply being a parent. You are going to deal with your child's poop either way- cloth or disposable- so why not deal with poop while helping the environment?

It is just part of our routine and it really is simple! It only takes like 5 mins out of my day to throw everything in the washer and then the dryer. SIMPLE!

Just buy a few of some different brands or styles and see what you like best.  Also, buying a couple allows you to try it, change into a cloth diaper and see if that is something you could do.  For me I found that just doing that I was sad when the cloth ran out and I had to get more.  I also liked having all of the same stash.  It was easier for day care, dad and grandparents to know how to do them.  Trying to teach them all the styles was impossible.  They all liked drybees because they are just like disposables.  I did fitteds and wool too but that would have confused them terribly.

1. Cloth diapers hold their value well. If you try cloth diapers and decide you don't like it, you can easily recover most of your investment.
2. Cloth diapering really is easier than you would imagine!
3. Find a cloth diaper store that offers a trial package. A trial package gives you the opportunity to try a wide variety of diapers to see what works for you and your baby.

Honestly, it’s easy. not nearly as scary as everyone makes it out to be, and you save a BUTT load of money :)

Try it, you wont know how easy and economical it is till you have given it a shot. also try more than one kind of diaper till you find what it best for your family and lifestyle. for example in my home we use bummis covers with prefolds and fleece liners, but when i drop the baby off at the sitter her diaper bag is full of all in one diapers or prestuffed pockets and a wet bag for the sitter to toss them in. if the poo bothers you get a sprayer for the toilet and a pair of rubber gloves.

Don't be afraid to use cloth and disposables. The diaper police won't arrest you if you use disposables at night!

Don't be intimidated! It is SO easy! Seriously....I HATE doing laundry...but it takes me all of FIVE MINUTES to do the diaper laundry!! Throw 'em in, add soap, close. Toss in dryer...toss in laundry basket. Or toss them over a laundry line. Easy as could be!!!

Borrow some from a friend to see if you like it.  And give it time.  It does take a while to find the cloth diaper love.

Take baby steps.  We used a lot of disposables in the beginning - it was just too overwhelming for me with all of the sleep deprivation and other things that come with being a new Mom.  Then we started using cloth diapers a few times a day, and it quickly turned into all day!  Do what feels comfortable to you!

Buy the diapers, try them for two months, if you hate them you have lost nothing but time because they have all ready paid for themselves, if you love them they will now start paying you back.  Imagine your budget $100 or more lighter every month.  Kinda makes parenting more affordable, now diaper your next child for free, BONUS!!!

Don't get stuck in feeling intimidated.  Actually TRY it, then decide from there.  No one says you have to buy a full set of diapers.  I got a 2 pack of gDiapers at babies r us (because I didn't think I'd like it) and I haven't looked back since!


  1. Hi! My name is Melissa. I'm the owner of Lovely Pocket Diapers and I can't thank you enough for this post! Ever since I started cloth diapering and selling my pocket diapers I've seen so many skeptic! I have tried to explain all of the wonderful info and tips in your post, but I never feel like I've convinced all of them. I can't wait to share this info going forward! Also, the reason I started my business was because I couldn't find a truely affordable diaper that worked well. I wanted to make cloth diapering a possibility for everyone. So I began working with a manufacturer and am able to buy in bulk and pass the savings on. Our diapers are $7 and $7.50 each. Some of the lowest prices around and they're truly lovely! We also have a return policy, so please mention us to anyone complaining about the start up costs! We have the same goal... More in cloth!!!
    Thanks again for this! Love it!!

  2. This was a great post and I especially enjoyed the surprise of my baby girl's (photo #2) 15 seconds of video fame in her Green Line diaper.
    - Trisha

  3. Ha ha, I hope you liked that! Thanks again for sending the pics to use. That one was adorable!


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