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Cloth Diapering 101

What are the benefits of cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers are smelly, gross, and extra work for you. Disposables are quick, easy, and you can toss them in the trash without ever having to look at that poo again.

So why in the world would you even think about cloth diapering?

It’s a fair question.

It turns out,that there are a lot of great reasons and benefits to using cloth diapers. Did you know that the United States alone uses 28 BILLION disposable diapers every year? If you have a child in diapers, disposable diapers account for fifty percent of your household waste. That means that using disposable diapers creates as much trash as the entire rest of your household combined. And get this – disposables can take as long as 500 years to decompose in the landfills. Who knew babies could have such a lasting impact?

When I found that out, I knew that I didn’t want to contribute to clogging up our earth with a bunch of disposable diapers, so I was determined to cloth diaper from the start.

Are cloth diapers really cheaper?

Cloth diapers can save you a lot of money! If you wash and dry your diapers yourself instead of using a diapering service, you can spend as little as $300 on diapering your baby from birth to potty training. Compare that to the $1500 that you’ll spend if you buy name-brand disposable diapers, and cloth diapering starts to look pretty good!

If you build your cloth diapering stash entirely out of the most expensive cloth diapers, the savings will obviously be less. But cloth can still be worthwhile when you consider the benefits for the environment.

Some people are skeptical that all of the extra laundry you have to do with cloth diapers uses so much extra energy that they aren’t really any better for the environment than disposables. It’s true that washing and drying make a negative impact on the environment. If you’re concerned about this, I encourage you to consider hang-drying your cloth diapers instead of drying them in the dryer. The drying process accounts for about 75 percent of the carbon footprint of a load of laundry, so skipping that part has a much smaller impact on the environment!

Are cloth diapers better for baby?

Disposable diapers contain a chemical called sodium polyacrylate, which is the stuff in the diaper that makes them super absorbent. It used to be put in tampons before we realized that it increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome, so they took it out. There isn’t really any evidence to show that it’s definitely harmful to babies (especially since they wear diapers on the outside vs. the way a tampon is used inside the body), but I like to keep my babies away from chemicals as much as possible. You just never know.

There was a study that showed that cloth diapers are definitely better for boys’ reproductive health. German researchers found out that the temperature of little boys’ scrotums were much higher when they wore disposable diapers. This reduces their ability to produce sperm and it can affect them into adulthood!

What do you do with the poop?

It’s actually pretty simple to deal with poop when using cloth diapers. When babies are exclusively breastfed, you don’t need to do anything at all! Breastfed poop is completely water soluble, so you can just toss it into the laundry as is.

It gets a little messier when they start eating solid foods, but most of the time it will still just plop right into the toilet! It’s not bad at all. Some moms like to use a diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet to get everything off, but I’ve never found that I needed one.

How often do you have to change a cloth diaper?

I try to stick to a schedule of every two hours. Much more than that and I’ll start to have leaking issues. Disposables do tend to last longer, but it’s not great for your baby to be sitting in a wet diaper for that long. More frequent changes are best no matter what kind of diaper you use.

How do you clean cloth diapers?

I’ve never found cloth diapers to be that much extra work! I have a changing table in my laundry room, so all of the dirty diapers (and the smell!) stay contained in there. When I start to run low on cloth diapers and/or my wet bag starts to get full, I just throw it into the washer with a pre-rinse before the wash cycle with detergent, and then an extra rinse at the end.

I usually wind up doing two extra loads a week. For me, the worst part of doing laundry is the folding and putting away, and that step is super easy for cloth diapers so I really don’t mind it!

How many cloth diapers do I need?

If you just want to test the waters before you fully commit to cloth diapering, you can get started with just a few diapers. It’s good to have enough for at least a small load of laundry – six diapers or so.

If you decide to continue with cloth diapering after that, you can keep adding to your stash. The more diapers you have, the less often you’ll have to wash. But it’s best to wash your diapers at least every three days, so you don’t need much more than a three days’ supply of diapers. You’ll use about 25-30 diapers in three days, depending on the child.  

Choose cloth diapers!

I’m a big fan of cloth diapers, so I hope I’ve convinced you that they’re the best option for your baby, too! In my opinion the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially when it comes to protecting the environment.

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