The Dubious Diaper:
In the United States, plastic diapers are the third largest landfill contributor. A standard plastic diaper takes over 200 years to decompose, and that’s just a guesstimate since plastic has only been in existence for about 100 years. Every bit of plastic ever produced remains on the planet since it is inorganic matter it doesn’t truly decompose. Rather, when it breaks down over time, the plastic molecules are released into the environment and they are toxic. If this illustration isn’t really hitting home consider this- if you are a new parent and you were disposable diapered as a baby the plastic from your diapers are still sitting in a landfill, unchanged other than the decomposition of your bowel movements!
There are specific laws prohibiting the dumping of human waste in landfills for risk of water contamination. While disposable diapers say to scrape the feces off before disposing, virtually nobody does it. As a result, disposable diapers and their contents are responsible for tens of thousands of tons of waste per year. In addition to the waste of disposing plastic diapers, there is also the matter of the pollutants that are generated in the production of plastic, including that of fossil fuels for production and transportation. Extrapolated over the generations, it’s easy to see the grave impact this waste will have on the environment.
Plastic diapers are not only dubious for their environmental impact, they are also linked to higher rates of diaper rash, yeast infection, toxic shock syndrome, and skin irritation. These inorganic fibers rubbing against the most sensitive of behinds is very unnatural. With an increased rate of rash and irritation there is an increased use of creams and salves, many of which are petroleum-based. The skin is incredibly absorbent, so much of what is going on baby’s behind is also going in baby’s body.
Why Go Cloth:
Cloth diapers are a great option to reduce waste, avoid skin irritations, and save money. When taken care of correctly, a set of cloth diapers can be used on multiple babies, saving a great deal of money. You have the upfront cost of the diapers for baby #1 and then using them on future babies is a freebie! Since they are made of natural fibers, that will safely decompose over time, making them an eco-friendly option. Many manufacturers offer organic cottons diapers as well. Once the last baby is done with the set of cloth they can be used for rags.
Now, my baby is small, like petite. In addition, she took her first steps at 7 months and was walking by 8- she’s VERY mobile. I didn’t experience any leaks with cloth diapers until she started running all over the place. Even now at 11 months (and zipping around quick as ever) she rarely leaks. Less leaks = less mess and fewer ruined outfits.
What About Washing:
Cloth diapers should be washed within a couple days of use in order to avoid acids in urine from damaging the integrity of the fabric (in addition to getting rid of diaper funk!). Diapers that have been “dirtied” should be sprayed in the toilet with a diaper sprayer.
Some people may argue that the money you save with cloth diapers soon vanishes when you pay utility bill. I have found this is not the case. I monitored our utilities after our daughter was born and noticed virtually no increase- we are talking cents here. So not only is cloth the best way to care for your baby, it is also very budget friendly.
Cloth diapers shouldn’t be washed with commercial detergents. Detergents that are safe for cloth diapers are free of astringent chemicals, degreasers, fragrances, and bleaches. While there are cloth diaper safe detergents available, I choose to make my own. Making your own detergent ensures quality safe and effective ingredients for all your laundry. In addition to it’s washing effectiveness, it’s cost effective as well. It costs pennies per load. Plus, as long as you have the ingredients on hand you never have to worry about running to the store to buy more- you just make it! ((((Insert link))))
Cloth diapers do get tough stains- I mean think about what they are used for! The best bleach in the world doesn’t come out of a bottle, it comes out of the sky. The sun is a perfect bleach for cloth diapers (and any clothes really, especially your whites). Not only does the sun bleach out stains but also kills bacteria and odor. Best of all- it’s free and totally eco-friendly. Hang diapers outside immediately after washing to get the most benefit. I wash my baby’s clothes in the morning and hang them outside on the line facing the direction that gets the most sun. They are beautifully white every time!
If cloth diapering still intimidates you, remember you have many options. Aside from countless brands there are also several different styles (and adorable patterns). Here is a brief overview of some of those options:
Traditional cloth (pre-folds):
Traditional cloth diapers are the kind held together with the safety pins on the side. Now, they typically go by pre-folds. You would fold these and put them on baby. These diapers are not waterproof. They require wool or plastic briefs or a “shell” to go over them. These are in most cases the least expensive option.
All-in-one cloths (AIO) are the most similar in form to disposable diapers. The waterproof shell and absorbent fabric are all connected. When baby wets the entire diaper is taken off and set aside to be washed. Most AIOs come apart in some way- either a snap on pad or a stuff-able insert/liner is added for absorbency, to make washing easier, and drying faster.
All-in-two cloths (AI2) are like the prefolds in that they have a waterproof shell. They are similar to AIO because they have an insert. The difference is that the AI2 inserts are designed to be waterproof so that the shell can be reused (so only the inserts get changed.)
I exclusively cloth diaper and have used each of these types of diapers in different brands. For inquiring minds here is my review:
Rumparoos AIO: Of all the cloth diapers, I felt this line had the most innovative design because of the double gusset and the way that the insert that gets stuffed snaps to the outer insert. However, this type of cloth is by far the bulkiest diaper I own. While Berkley is quite petite, I doubt that is the only reason she looks straight out silly in this diaper! This is my favorite bedtime diaper. I don’t know if it’s possible for her to leak with it on. This big ol’ diaper is everywhere!
Fuzzybuns AIO: this is a classic stuffable diaper. I have this in two sizes, the small and the large. Both fit Berkley but they’re adjusted around the waste differently.The gussets were not quite so tight and on the one diaper lost it’s elasticity, making it prone to leaking but that still doesn’t happen often. I like that these are a little more trim. Berkley moves around in them quite well.
BumGenious AIO: The adjustability on this diaper is really great. Also, it has the strongest hook and loop (aka Velcro) of all the hook and loop cloth diapers I have seen and used. Unfortunately the placement of the hook and look isn’t really attractive (but that’s just my opion), I’m happy to sacrifice the vanity of the diaper because I know that Berkley can’t get it off. The inner liner is soft and absorbent but not very thick.
Swaddlebees Simplex AIO: The only reason I have this diaper is because my husband saw the pattern and couldn’t leave the store without it! While it’s a littl bulky I lover the absorbency. This is a very trusty diaper, never a leak! The best part however is the way the pocket stuffing is designed- it’s attached. This makes my laundry so much easier. When I wash the diapers it’s a matching game to stuff the pocket insert or snap in the AI2 liners so that the diapers are ready to go when I need them. But not with this one! The liner can be stuffed in the pocket or flipped to the outside with a fleece fabric for quicker absorbency.
Grovia AIO: I had the Newborn AIO and now use the regular AIOs. I love them both. They are by far the trimmest cloth diaper of all the ones I’ve tried. Berkley is able to move and shake in these best of all. My only criticism is the snaps don’t seem very forgiving and I could imagine a baby growing out of them before being potty trained. Luckily Berkley is tiny so I’m sure they will adjust to fit her until she is potty trained. I try to use these during the day when Berkly is running around but I trust their absorbency for at night as well.
Grovia AI2: I have these in both snap and hook and loop (Velcro) closures. Before Berkley started walking these never leaked but I’ve found that they bunch up a bit after she’s been running about. Even with the bunching they are super absorbent and rarely leak. The gussets did not really hold up- lost elasticity.