Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cloth: What you need to know before taking the plunge!

Guest post contributed by Caitlyn

Once you’ve made the decision to try cloth, naturally you may wonder, what next? As with any new endeavor, it is important to understand what your priorities or goals are. In other words, what do you hope to accomplish, aside from the obvious purpose of diapers of course. With that in mind, I have a few suggestions based on the underlying reason you are considering committing to cloth.

If your main motivation for switching to cloth is economic, then prefolds are may be an option you'd like to explore. They are the least expensive form of cloth diapering, and are fairly straightforward in terms of use. After preparing the prefolds (via several cycles of washing and drying) you can simply use them in conjunction with a diaper cover, or some other waterproof containment mechanism. Though you will need many of the prefolds, you do not necessarily have to have an equal number of covers, in fact, many are the type you can wipe clean during changes, and only need to switch out in case of a leak.

Additionally, there are many accessories out there, that although they make cloth diapering more convenient, they are not necessities. It is easy to get wrapped up in the absolute plethora of choices and overspend. Thus, you should evaluate what it really takes to diaper baby on your budget and decide accordingly.

According to at least some source, it takes approximately 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. Plus, the use of disposable diapers puts what should be going to the wastewater treatment plant into the ground, thus adding to the preexisting solid waste in landfills.

If the environment is your primary reason for switching, then your purchasing decisions literally run the gamut. Among the prefolds, pocket diapers, hybrids, etc. You can choose not only what is the most convenient, but certain companies are now using waterproof liners that are biodegradable over a term of years. As an aside, I personally prefer pocket diapers when it comes to the laundering aspects of cloth diapers since I’ve found prefolds can be messier and thus more difficult to deal with. (In the scheme of things, however, dealing with cloth diapers and washing them is a minor inconvenience in comparison with the wider consequences you can personally affect.)

In addition to choosing the diaper that’s right for you, you can also consider the environmental impact of the detergent you are using. Because only certain detergents are considered “safe” for cloth diapering, you can choose among those that are biodegradable, and take it one step further by using that detergent for all of your laundry.

Additionally, you can purchase a drying rack or laundry line to dry your diapers in the sun, rather than using a dryer, further decreasing your environmental impact.

Overall benefits to baby
I like the juxtaposition of imagining whether you would prefer to expose yourself to a complex concoction of chemical crystals and gels or organic cotton, fleece, or suedecloth. Especially when making this decision for your baby, it seems the choice is obvious: those materials which are the closest to nature and involve less potential toxins and potential for chemical reactions. Many moms tout the far lesser rates of diaper rash with their little ones, whether due to chemical reactors, or the fact that disposable diapers may be changed less often because of their enormous capacity to absorb.

Potty Training
In addition to the other seemingly “too good to be true” claims of cloth diapers, there is that babies who are cloth diapered potty train on average a year earlier than their disposable diapered peers. This is because babies who are cloth diapered are more likely to feel “wet” than in disposable because the moisture is not completely wicked away, (although there are microfiber diaper liners that do remove the moisture) they thus feel uncomfortable, and the concept of what is going on becomes clearer sooner. There are even cloth diaper potty training pants when your child enters that phase.

(Additionally, just one of the benefits of a diaper like Knickernappies, is the side snaps, which make the diaper more difficult for a toddler who doesn’t quite understand the purpose of a diaper or why they need it, but still enjoys taking it off anyway, occasionally creating disaster. My 20 month old, for example, has been able to remove disposable diapers, cloth diapers with aplix closures, and even a cloth diaper with snaps in the front, but she has not once been able to take of her Knickernappies!)

Thus, as with anything else related to child rearing, or really life in general, figuring out what you hope to accomplish can help steer the direction your cloth journey takes.

Bio: Caitlyn is a stay at home mom/attorney. A newcomer to the cloth diapering world, she has two girls, Isabelle (3), and Maya (almost 2), with baby brother due to arrive this May. Her website is


myricksl6 said...

Thank you for posting this! I really want to try cloth diapers with my next baby but I really didn't know where to start and this article is great!!!!

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