Cute little babies sporting these adorable cloth diapers are popping up everywhere, and you’re wondering if it’s as easy as it looks in the pictures. I mean, what do you do with the poop? There are whole blog posts dedicated to this topic!
As far as cloth diapers go, we have seen a renewal in their popularity. Today’s cloth diapers are not your mother’s cloth diapers from the 70s and 80s with safety pins and rubber pants. These cloth diapers are fun, trim fitting and covered in super cute prints.
If you’re thinking that you might like to give cloth diapering a try, but you’re not sure where to start or if you’ll be able to manage it, then this blog post is for you!
Cloth Diapers & the Environment
When considering different ways to reduce your environmental footprint, using cloth diapers is one of the best choices you can make. If you think about it, you go through 6-8 diapers per day, or 2190-2920 per year, and assuming you diaper your child for three years, that’s 6570-8760 diapers per child, and if they stay in diapers longer than three years, that number goes up accordingly. That’s a lot of diapers sitting in landfills and using up precious resources during the manufacturing process. The cost of diapering one child is close to $3000.00 when you consider the additional cost of wipes! That’s pretty hefty! By using cloth diapers, you play a role in reducing the amount of waste produced in both manufacturing and disposing of single use diapers as well as saving yourself a substantial amount of money.
Cloth Diapers & Your Budget
If you have a tight budget, you can get yourself started cloth diapering for as little as $150.00 by looking for used, and if you prefer not to purchase your cloth diapers used, purchasing a set of diapers that last you about three days between washing is still substantially less than the cost of buying disposable diapers for three years or more. A great resource for finding your cloth diapers at a bargain is Kijiji.
How to Choose a Cloth Diaper
As far as choosing what type of diapers you’d like, this will come down to preference and budget. For example, prefold diapers are the most budget friendly. These diapers are a big rectangle of absorbent fabric that you fold themselves into the shape of a diaper, and then after clipping the diaper, cover it with a waterproof layer. While this option is the most economical, the diaper is quite bulky, and not as trim as other options.
Another option is the fitted diaper, which is similar to a pre-fold, however the fabric is cut to fit the baby more trimly, and usually has snaps allowing the diaper to be sized from birth to about 30 lbs or so. You would purchase a supply of the fitted diapers, and then several waterproof covers. This is a great option because you can add an insert to the diaper itself, and increase the absorbency. I like these particularly for overnights or outings of a few hours in length.
Pocket diapers are by far the most popular diapering system. Pocket diapers consist of a folded absorbent insert placed inside the pocket and then you can put the diaper on the baby in the same manner as a disposable diaper. These are by far one of the most trim and easy to use diapers with minimal learning curve. However, the diaper shell is not absorbent, so you need to change baby more often than if you use a fitted diaper. The pocket diapers are available sized, or “one-size” with a variety of snaps to adjust to baby’s fit, usually from about 8-35 lbs. One size diapers are a great way to save money, as you can use them from birth until toilet training! Another great feature of a pocket diaper is that you can add extra absorbent inserts for more time between diaper changes.
The most costly, but also the most convenient cloth diaper is called an All-in-one, and this diaper is just as it sounds, the absorbent core is sewn inside the waterproof shell, and you simply put the diaper onto the baby and then change as you would a disposable diaper. They are convenient, with almost no learning curve. One downside is that they take much longer to dry and they do not have customizable absorbency. With the other options I’ve mentioned above, you can separate the components and hang them to dry and they take significantly less time to dry than the All-in-ones.
Your choice will be based on several factors such as how much money you wish to spend on diapers, how much time you want to dedicate to folding and stuffing, and how much learning you want to undertake in the matter.
Washing Cloth Diapers
Washing diapers, especially those of a newborn breastfed baby, is truly easy. (The discussion on poop is usually about older babies.) Simply keep your diapers in a bag until wash day, and then wash them regularly. You want to do a prewash using about half the amount of detergent and a shorter wash cycle, and then wash again using the full amount of detergent as well as a full length cycle. Fluff Love University has a very detailed explanation on how to wash cloth diapers, including a break down on HE vs. Standard machines. (Please note that while they are an excellent resource for cloth diapering, Fluff Love University does not make any claims of being an eco-friendly website. If you’re looking specifically for Eco-Conscious options, bear this in mind on their website.)
Detergent for Cloth Diapers
Unfortunately, when it comes to household products, including laundry detergents, manufacturers are not required to include the ingredients on their packages. This can make it a bit tricky when it comes to choosing the best detergent. With that in mind, there are a few guidelines you can look for. Look for detergents that are free of synthetic fragrances and dyes, phosphate free, phthalate free, plant based, biodegradable, free of 1, 4 dioxane, or even better, voluntarily list their ingredients on the bottle. A few great choices include Seventh Generation and Eco-Max. Remember: this is a wish list!! Do your best! It can be very difficult to find a detergent that fits all of the specifications and you may find this discouraging. As I’ve said above, environmentally conscious choices are not all or nothing! You are making an amazing positive impact on the environment cloth diapering in any way! Consider what is realistic for your family and your lifestyle!
Cloth Diapering Wipes
Cloth diapering at home and using disposable while out is still a positive step towards helping the environment. Making your own wipes is not necessary if you don’t have the desire, you can use disposable, although the reusable ones can be as simple as wet washcloths and a bar of soap. The Honest Company and Seventh Generation have great options available.
Eco-Friendlier Disposable Diaper Options
If you’re not interested in cloth diapering, but you still want to make more eco conscious choices, here is a great chart from the David Suzuki foundation comparing and contrasting the Eco-Friendlier disposable diaper options available. This handy chart doesn’t endorse brands, but simply makes it easy for you to see which diapers have the most eco friendly features such as: being chlorine free, biodegradable or made from renewable resources.
Now that you have a better idea of the positive impact cloth diapering can have on the environment and your wallet as well as sense of how easy they are to care for, download my free guide below to find out the specifics of what you need for a basic start to cloth diapering!
Join me for my Facebook Live broadcast on Friday September 15th at 5pm EST where I’ll show you my own cloth diaper setup and what has worked for our family!