Cloth Diapering-The good, the bad, and the stinky

Have you seen the adorable cloth diaper covers out there? They’re so cute you almost don’t need adorable outfits for your young one. Growing up, my parents used cloth diapers so I was familiar with the idea of washing diapers as part of daily life. Since I have 2 sisters that are significantly younger than I am, I came to motherhood with a fair amount of cloth diapering experience.

Parents who choose cloth diapering get a lot of benefits. Cost savings for a start. For well under $500 you have all the diapers you need for your baby’s entire lifetime. (Compared to roughly $100/month to buy disposables.) Reuse the diapers if you have a second child or give/sell your used diapers to another family when you’re finished. I personally enjoyed never having to make a late night trip to the store for diapers. And it felt good knowing I wasn’t putting a bunch of petroleum products into landfills that no one is ever going to clean up.

But cloth diapering has its challenges. There is a learning curve regarding leakage. The cover has to fit just right and you have to be really careful about small bits of the diaper sticking out of the cover. And, of course, you have to do more laundry. No one likes that. Probably the worst part is spraying poop off the diapers. (To be fair, the American Public Health Association recommends disposing of fecal waste in the toilet regardless of the type of diaper used, most people don’t know these recommendations and just include it in the trash with the rest of the disposable diaper.)

Photo courtesy of Kiley Kozel

Photo courtesy of Kiley Kozel

Here are a few things we did to make cloth diapering more successful:

1.     We allowed ourselves to use disposable diapers in certain situations. For example, during the first month when we were still deer-in-headlight new parents and when we traveled out of town. When he got older and slept longer, we had to use disposables at night.

2.     We had enough diapers to make a full load. No more, no less. We never had to do more than one load of diapers at a time, but we also maximized the number of diaper changes between loads. If I remember correctly, we had to a load every three days.

3.     We had a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet. You can buy a premade one or find a tutorial on how to adapt a kitchen sink sprayer. (We still use the sprayer to clean out the kid potty.)

4.    We considered the style that worked best for us. We used the hybrid diaper system with a pre-fold insert. I knew I wouldn’t take the time to assemble the pocket diapers. For me, it was worth spending the few extra seconds at each diaper change to fold the insert, but that might not be the best choice for other families.

In the end, cloth diapering was successful enough that we plan to do it again for baby #2. Probably much the same way, but we might experiment with different insert or fabric options.

Check out some cloth options and fun activities at The Great Cloth Diaper Change this weekend. Saturday, April 26, 2014 10-12. Hosted by Amber Sky.

If you used cloth diapers what were some tricks you used to make it easier? If you gave up, what was your biggest challenge?