Disclaimer **The following is why we are choosing to cloth diaper. In no way are we trying to bully or make anyone feel guilty for their decisions. There’s already too much of that in the parenting world as it is! We just wanted to answer that why question once and for all**
My husband and I have been questioned many times already about our decision to cloth diaper our son and I expect there will be lots more questions to come on the subject.
A couple of years ago I started reading about cloth diapering and it’s resurgence. Before 1948 when the first mass-marketed disposable diaper was released, there was no choice but to use a flour sack towel, a safety pin, and rubber pants. From what my mom has told me babies didn’t sleep through the night because they were soaking wet and covered in feces — a fantastic reason to be excited about disposable diapers.
But over the years, things have changed in the world of cloth diapering. When I uttered the words “cloth diapers” to my mom, the first thing she said was “good luck”. But with the new styles on the market today, you don’t need luck. You also don’t need to haul them down the river side and bang them against rocks. Hallelujah for the twenty-first century!
There are actually a couple of reasons for why we’ve decided to embrace cloth in our lives. The first and most important reason is our son’s health. I can’t knowingly strap a plastic bag to my sons genitals and let him stew in a toxic waste dump for hours on end. Families love that disposable diapers can last all night and they don’t have to change their child. I can get on board with a full nights sleep, believe me! But if I had a choice (which I do), I also wouldn’t want to lay in my own urine-soaked filth so out of respect for my child, I will gladly wake up and change him if he needs to be changed. That being said, the fabrics used in cloth diapering have made leaps and bounds over the years and are super absorbent and are able to make it through the night. Nowadays it’s common to find diaper inserts made out of hemp, micro terry, bamboo and fleece just to name a few.
The second reason is a huge plus: $AVINGS! Who doesn’t wish they could save an extra $100 a month on something that just gets thrown out anyhow. I personally HATE throwing things out. I’m a quality vs quantity type of person and would rather spend $25 on one reusable diaper than $25 on a package of diapers that end up being thrown out. So far we’ve spent in the neighbourhood of $400 getting set up to cloth diaper. The initial up-front cost can be a huge barrier to getting started with cloth diapering and that’s completely understandable. Organizations like Cloth for a Cause take used diapers, wash and replace elastics, and help families in need get started with cloth diapering. Once you set a family up, the savings that follows can be a real gift.
There’s also cloth companies like Alva and THX that sell diapers that have been made in China (sometimes nicknamed “China cheapies”) and shipped to Canada at a fraction of the cost of some of the bigger, well-known, cloth companies that are strictly made in Canada, USA, or the UK. There’s a whole discussion around whether or not it’s ethical to support these foreign companies, but that’s for another day. When you’re just starting out in the cloth world and don’t know whether or not it’s for your family, these “China cheapies” can be a great option. Also try Kijiji and search online for a local Cloth Diaper group where you’ll be sure to find fellow mom’s and dad’s selling and swapping diapers at a fraction of the price of new. Majority of our diapers were pre-loved by other local moms. As soon as they came to our home, they were put in the wash to get rid of any “cooties”. *If you are buying pre-loved, make sure you take extra care to get rid of any yeast infections living in the diaper*.
Below is a cost breakdown done by Sweet Bottoms Baby.
Another reason why we are planning to cloth diaper our kids is to help the environment. Remember those first disposable diapers that were mass produced in 1948? Well they aren’t expected to decompose until the year 2500 and even then, we won’t be around to say for sure that they have in fact decomposed. That’s a whole lot of poopy diapers in our landfills! I mentioned earlier that I hate throwing things away. Garbage of any kind really drives me nuts and if I can prevent more garbage from winding up in landfills just by switching to reusable diapers, then that’s a win for me!
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering “What about all that water and electricity you’ll use by washing diapers every day!”
Check out these info graphics by Gro-Via that were used for Earth Day to show the amount of water used to wash cloth vs producing a disposable:
I don’t know the validity of this statement but I’ve heard one flush of the toilet uses the same amount of water it would take to do a load of diapers in the wash. When it comes to the use of electricity, we have a High Efficiency washer and dryer, we wash on cold (according to Gro-Via, 90% of the energy used by your washer is to heat the water), and we hang to dry. We’ll already be doing lots more laundry for our new little person so what’s 10 or so more diapers a day?
So that answers the all important why question. Once we are elbow deep in dirty cloth diapers, I’ll answer the how!