In today’s economy, people are trying to cut back on their expenses. For families with tiny children, the issue of cloth diapers comes into play. Technology has drastically improved the process of cloth diapering, and there are significant savings to be had. We estimate that with two children in diapers, we are saving about $45 a month when all is said and done. Some people have challenged us on that figure saying that it would be more if we used name brands like Huggies or Pampers, but I don’t think that it would be a real figure, because if we were using disposables, we would be purchasing off-brand diapers, and so the $45 a month is a true figure for us. This takes into account the extra laundering costs as well as the initial investment in the cloth diapers. The actual savings vary from family to family, depending on what kind of diapers you use, how many children use the diapers, and how often you use cloth verses disposables. In our home, we like to think of disposable diapers as akin to disposable dishes, convenient for special occasions, but not for every-day use.
There are several options available for cloth diapering. diaperpin.com offers very valuable information on the subject. The method we prefer is to use Chinese prefolds combined with covers. The one disadvantage to the Chinese prefolds is that Peter outgrew the smaller size at around 4 months and didn’t really fit into the larger size until he was 6 months, so we used flat diapers in that period in between, which wasn’t terrible, but it involved more folding. Now we use the flats as back-up. Helen is 6 months and we have managed to keep using the prefolds with her. The covers are where we have spent the bulk of our cloth-diapering budget, but they are so much more convenient than plastic pants, we feel that it is money well spent. We like the Bummies wraps for covers, and after trying both we prefer the velcro over snaps. I hear that Thirsties and Nappies are also very nice. We bought all of our diapers from clothdiaper.com We have ordered from them six times and have always gotten our order very quickly. Their prices were by far the best we could find on the internet.
There are so many different factors that influence the choice of how to diaper your children. Rather than address the debate head on, I will simply share the factors that influenced our decision to use cloth.
Of course there are reasons to not cloth diaper too. If you are debating the switch, make your own pros and cons list and go from there.
There are almost as many ways to wash the diapers as there are people who use cloth diapers. Some of them are explained at The Diaper Hyena. We knew that we wanted to use cloth diapers before we became parents, so we invested in a washing machine that has a heat sanitizing option. What a great investment that was! I would go so far as encouraging you to do cloth diapers as an excuse to get a new washing machine. We also use the sanitize option with our towels and mildewed clothing and it works wonders. Aside from taking care of the inevitable number twos (which are greatly diminished through elimination communication ), laundering cloth diapers is a breeze. Of course, there is the issue of needing to close the laundry room door while they are being washed. They don’t always smell pretty!
Two words: The Snappi. The snappis come highly recommended over diaper pins! They’re so easy to use, and the older women in my congregation who have seen me use them are jealous that they didn’t have them when they had their little ones. I just place the baby on the diaper, fold in both sides, wrap over their bottom, and then I unfold it at the top and fasten with the snappi. Wet bags There are cute washable bags out there to put soiled diapers in while you’re on the go. We just use a gallon sized zip-lock bag. We recycle bags we have used for food. I like having a sealed bag because it cuts back on odor and keeps surrounding things clean.
Mini-showers Also known as bidets, they attach onto your toilet and spray clean water. I want one!
Cloth wipes At first I used disposable wipes I had received at baby showers, but I found that cloth wipes are much easier to use with cloth diapers because you don not have to separate them when you’re done. They just go in the pail with the diapers! You can buy them, but we have found that torn up white T-shirts work great.
I have to confess that we do use disposables with my son at night. At around 18 months he became a deep sleeper at night, and although he usually wakes up dry, when he doesn’t he was getting a diaper rash. This problem stopped when we put disposables on him at night. Also, my husband tells me that if anything were to ever happen to me, he would immediately switch to disposables because he doesn’t want to wash them. I am okay with this. There are advantages to disposable diapers too, and I like to use them when we travel because I don’t want to wash them on the go. I listed my emotions as a reason to use cloth diapers. Emotional reasons are also a valid reason to not cloth diaper. But I love cloth diapers, and I know many other people who do. They have come a long way from the flat diapers, pins, and plastic pants that were traditionally used. Cloth diapering can be a lot of fun! My advice would be to look into it with an open mind and decide if it is something that could benefit your family and your circumstances.