The other night was the end of an era: I sold my cloth diapers to a pregnant friend. I retained a couple for reasons of nostalgia, but for the most part, the cute pocket diapers, colorful covers, inserts, and handy all-in-ones are no longer in my house. As with most things about the passage of time from a mama’s perspective, I am both happy and sad about this.
When I got pregnant, to cloth diaper or not cloth diaper was a serious consideration. I looked at environmental impact. I looked at cost. I looked at convenience. In the end I am so glad I chose to cloth diaper my son, and I encourage anyone who is remotely interested to look into it.
Cloth diapering (CD for short) looks different today than it did a generation ago. My brothers and I were stuck in white, rectangular, sometimes ill-fitting cloths with safety pins at either end. They still make those, if you want to go old-school. Today the CD world offers options such as all-in-ones, all-in-twos, pocket diapers, and fitteds, most with really cute colors and designs, and either snaps or Velcro. No safety pins!
There is a lot to know, especially in the beginning. The learning curve can be overwhelming, especially for a new mom who is dealing with, ya know, being a new mom. What do you do with the poop? What’s a pocket diaper? What do you do when you’re out and about and have to change a diaper? Here are two websites I found incredibly helpful, that broke things down in a straightforward manner, even when I was just in the consideration phase. And I referenced both throughout my cloth diapering journey.
I mentioned poop above. Make no mistake, you are going to be up close and personal with it. I scraped mine off in the toilet, sprayed it down with a diaper sprayer, and stored it in a special bag until I could launder it (some people use a pail). But there was something I appreciated about the process: being able to closely track the make-up of my baby’s bowel movements, especially when there was a concern.
What was the most surprising about CDing was the nights. My son was a very heavy wetter at night, and at first I was hesitant to use them. I would use disposables instead. But one night I decided to go for it. To my surprise, there were no leaks (which hadn’t always been the case with disposables). Having the option to add an extra insert at night was helpful.
My biggest frustration with CDing was finding a system that worked for us. My son is very fair, and, as such, had very sensitive skin as a baby. Every so often a rash would appear. Finding a diaper cream that worked for him took some trial-and-error (most commercial diaper creams are not suitable for CDs, as they either cause material breakdown or will leave a stain). I also experimented with diapers that were made from different materials. Once I found a system, however, I got in a groove, and we were just fine.
The thing I liked most about CDs? Hands down, the eco-friendliness.
I also liked the money that cloth diapers saved. You pay more up front, but I’d say I probably saved $200 or more per year over using disposables. And cloth diapers tend to hold their value. I purchased many of mine used (some on Craigslist, some through Facebook sites), and then sold them for almost what I paid. (Some people purchase a CD system, like Grovia for instance, and have all Grovia diapers. I bought a hodge-podge of diapers. That way if something didn’t work for me, I could try something else). I also liked a certain convenience CD have: I didn’t have to run out to the store in the middle of the night or in preparation for a storm. I had everything I needed right there. There is also a community around CD which I enjoyed, even here locally. Finding like-minded people to buy and sell diapers, and ask questions of was valuable.
And may I just add: there is nothing better than hanging cloth diapers out to dry, and letting the sun bleach them.
There is something very satisfying I found about CDing. In a weird sort of way I miss it. I hope you find the same satisfaction with it.