Okay, so if you are like me, at one time or another you have thought that cloth diapering is either…
a. way too challenging and totally not worth it (up to my elbows in poop?! No thanks.)
b. only for hippies who have dreadlocks and smell like patchouli
c. only for those overachieving moms who have a ton of extra time on their hands and apparently also have something to prove
Although some of these may be true… I am here to tell you that you have likely been led astray by these common misconceptions! Cloth diapering is awesome, and easy, and totally cool… even if you hate the smell of patchouli… I know, I was just as shocked as you are! I’ve learned quite a bit through trial & error, and I’d like to share some of my simple cloth diapering basics, tips, & tricks with you, so you can get ahead of the game!
Last year I was hanging out with some good friends who I only get to spend time with every so often. The mamas were all sitting together talking about the latest happenings of life and babies, and I quickly came to discover that all of these ladies and their husbands were using cloth diapers and loving it!
um, how did I miss the memo?!
Granted these friends probably lean slightly more towards the flower-child side of the hippie spectrum…
but seriously, these are normal, full-time working moms and dads who have made a commitment to waste less and save more, and had somehow found themselves enjoying the ins and outs of cloth diapering!
I really was surprised as we discussed how some of them first chose cloth because it saved them money, or they simply made the commitment because they did not want to contribute to the incredible and insurmountable waste that disposable diapers create.
Did you know it takes an estimated 250-500 YEARS for disposable diapers to decompose?! (source)
After hearing from them about how easy (yes, easy) it is, and how much they enjoy it, and how they will never go back, I have to admit that I was still a bit skeptical… but so very curious. This curiosity and the encouragement and help from these friends and other online support resources (that I’ll get to) was really what kept me going because I was seriously so overwhelmed when I began to dig through the tons and tons of information there is out there and discovering there are countless options when it comes to cloth diapers.
The truth is, that although I am probably a little crunchier then I care to admit… well, frankly, I just didn’t know if I was crunchy enough for cloth
I decided to take it one day at a time and not put too much pressure on myself. If I wasn’t crunchy enough for cloth, it was okay, and I could come to grips with not being able to be part of the cool cloth-kidz club… but because of a few reasons, I really found that it was worth it to endure the learning curve and persevere through the challenges.
These were the guiding reasons for our family’s choice to use cloth diapers…
1. consume less, and stop contributing to a massive amount of waste
2. natural or less-toxic fibers for baby (disposable diapers can be hazardous to your baby’s health)
3. save money
Even in the small amount of time we have left until our little man transitions into toilet training, we will still save money by using cloth diapers. Personally, we were spending about $40-$45 a month on disposables…
I spent a total of about $300 for all the cloth we needed, and honestly could have spent less. Projecting that we will begin potty training around 2 1/2 years, that alone would be a savings of at least $100. If we had started earlier we could have had a savings of at least $1000! That’s pretty significant in my book, especially considering the other non-toxic benefits & sustainability of using cloth… and I can totally use these very same diapers for future kids, and/or re-sell them for a little money back!
Speaking of re-sell… some of my favorite diapers were actually purchased from moms who were “re-selling” them at a discount. There are several groups on facebook where you can partner with other parents and get exactly what you want, often for really great deals! For instance, I got 15 of our favorite label/type of brand spanking new diapers for only $110!!
Being able to buy second-hand was something I really appreciated in this process because when making the decision of which brands to choose, I wanted to make sure that the brand’s values aligned with ours for fair labor practices, sustainable & non-toxic fibers being used, and supporting local labor if at all possible. I wanted to be sure that the companies I choose to support are worthy of my support. I was able to purchase second-hand and continue our commitment to purchase second-hand clothing for some of the labels I could not confirm lived up to our requirements for purchasing new.
How we got started…
Ok, so first off, you need to try some diapers to figure out what works for your baby. There are a gazillion different brands and models of diapers, and they will all fit and work just a little bit differently. You’ve got to try some out just to get a feel for them.
Trust me when I say that picking out which kind of diapers to use is the hardest part of cloth diapering, and once you get past this little hurdle, it’ll be much smoother sailing.
The best resource I came across that made this first step so much easier for me was doing a diaper trial through Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique.
Do just a Little bit of research beforehand to decide whether you want to try All-In-Ones, Pockets, All-In-Twos, Etc… like I said, there are a gazillion options.
Before I did the trial I was sure I would want to use All-In-Ones because it just seemed like less work, but after trying them all, my family settled on pocketed diapers, which I would have never expected. I was seriously so grateful for the option to do a trial because if you don’t even know what you want it can get expensive to try things out without being able to return them.
The Sweetbottoms Baby trial is cool because you can try all different kinds of diapers, wear them, wash them, and return them if you don’t like them for a refund (you get a little bit higher percentage refund if you choose to go with a store credit). This was a critical step for me, because I could not afford to just try a bunch of random diapers and hope for the best without having any kind of prior knowledge and know-how and never trying them on my kiddo.
CLICK HERE to check out the Sweetbottoms Baby exclusive cloth diaper trial.
(P.S. they pretty much always have discounts and specials running, so be sure to check those out too!)
Once we nailed down the type of diapers we wanted to use, there was the matter of doing the thing. You know… actually living up to my new-found crunchdom.
What almost made me give up…
One word… poop. The first time I had to deal with a blow-out youknowwhat in a cloth diaper I thought I might lose it (I should add that at that time I was not properly equipped ). I just kept thinking (through the gagging) “I am a nurse, I can do this…” but you know what… the truth is… it’s gross. We started this cloth diapering adventure when my son was about 20 months. So it wasn’t like I got to adjust slowly to a toddler sized poo.
Anyways, all of that to say that I did survive, and realized there were just a few things you need to assure that poo is not such a problem, so you can master the whole cloth diapering thing and keep your crunch-card! 😉
Cloth Diapering Tips & Tools for the crunch-challenged
Get a diaper sprayer… you NEED a diaper sprayer.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. We bought this relatively inexpensive diaper sprayer on Amazon.
But if you want to go for the Cadillac version, you could go for something more like the ones below…
Seriously you guys, you can attempt to do the whole poop thing without one of these, but I Do Not recommend it. This will make your life so much easier and less messy, trust me.
Get a super good wet bag.
Or, at least something to house and contain the diapers and their scent until wash day. I bought two of these Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bags and highly recommend them. They are worth the little bit extra in investment cost. They truly contain the smell and are completely water proof. I throw them in the wash with my diapers on laundry day, and have two so that I can rotate them. They get washed at least once a week, and still look like new! Get one of these. Seriously. The hardest part here will be deciding which of their fabulous patterns to choose from 😉
Use a detergent that’s safe & effective for cloth diapers.
Or at least check your diaper’s warranty on using other kinds of detergents. Not all diapers are created the same, and there are all kinds of schools of thought on how detergents with certain ingredients can harm the cloth or not get it good and clean. I’ll be honest, I would probably be cool being lax with this, but I haven’t risked it yet. I only have one bottle of detergent left that I’m making my way through until I’m forcing myself to make my own… ’cause I like to torture myself and require myself to do homesteaderish things for the sake of sustainability and maintaining my Proverbs 31 facade. 😉
If you want, you can absolutely make your own too, in fact, Mommypotamus has a fabulous recipe in her E-book DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes.
My Favorite: Molly’s Suds. Maybe it’s just the cute little pink scoop that comes with the package, or maybe it’s the subtle fresh scent and super-duper cleansing power of this detergent, but I Love It, and I know you will too!
This is probably one of the more expensive options, there are probably cheaper alternatives, but honestly I just buy this one because it’s easiest for me right now and I get a great discount by purchasing it through our co-op… you can buy bulk for a discount through the Molly’s Suds website.
A few other good options are…
Cleaning is pretty simple. This is my process…
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
1. Toss ’em all in the washer for a quick rinse/soak on warm
2. Set to wash on hot with a double-rinse at the end (add in detergent)
3. hang diapers to dry, throw inserts & my wet/dry bag in the dryer
I have a rotation schedule of washing every Monday and Thursday for our diaper stash of about 28 diapers.
And, last (and, really first) of all… Grace.
I hope I’ve been able to encourage you at least a little through this post, knowing that cloth diapering really can be easy and is SO worth it. Just remember to be easy on yourself. You’re not always gonna feel like using cloth, and that’s okay! Sometimes you’re gonna use disposables… like vacations… and naptime… and Mondays (just sayin’)… and that’s okay! This does not have to be an all or nothing endeavor! The point here is really just to cut down on cost and waste, and enjoy it 🙂 Once you see your baby’s booty in cloth, you will be hooked, I promise! Some say it’s even a little addicting, but I wouldn’t know anything about that (ehem) 😉
So, what do you think?! Are you crunchy enough for cloth?! I wanna know!