Look at these glorious, earth friendly cloth diapers, gently drying in the sunshine! They’re so beautiful, especially because each one represents hundreds of chemi-ridden disposable plastic diapers that I spared from the landfill where they would haunt my hapless offspring like an indelible karmic poop stain for the rest of eternity!
Just kidding. If you’re someone who rolls your eyes and feels alienated by the holier-than-thou smugness of cloth diapering parents, rest assured friend, I do not blame you.
To the outside observer, cloth diapers are at best intimidating — at worst ridiculous. Why would any mother in her right mind voluntarily choose to return to the labor-intensive drudgery of cloth when Science has gifted us with the pinacle of diaper high tech — the Mighty Pamper?!? It’s like someone’s handed you an iPod and you’re saying, “Oh no thanks, I’m perfectly happy with my gramophone.”
On the other hand, dirty diapers are basically an infant’s sole export for the first two plus years of their lives. (Unless you’re practicing “elimination communication,” in which case, Psychic Mom, I salute you!). Our bouncing bundles of joy cycle through an insane number of diapers — we’re talking 80 DIAPERS A WEEK! If like me you wrestle with your fair share of eco-guilt, then the prospect of depositing a smelly mountain of 10,000 soiled plastic pants into the landfill (per kid!) to sit intact for centuries makes you feel a little queasy.
On the other other hand, some parents consider the alternative — saving, soaking, washing, drying and reassembling each and every dirty diaper by hand — even more barf-inducing. And to you, I say, have no shame! Staring down the barrel of parenthood is frightening enough without having to endure each other’s judgement and disapproval. (Still, perhaps you should give compostable diapers a try?)
Once I looked into the cloth vs. disposable diaper debate myself (aside from a little dizziness at the overwhelming number of options and info) I emerged a firm cloth convert. Because hear this: a lot of the old associations we have with cloth diapering — the sinister diaper pins, the massive inconvenience, the general disgustingness of it all — are either outdated or simply myths.
For me, the decision to at least TRY cloth was a no brainer. In addition to the environmental argument, which I think I’ve made my point on, here are a few more reasons to give cloth a shot:
1) COST! Reusable diapers are just that — reusable. Reusable as in a one time purchase that ensures you’re stocked for the rest of your kids’ diapered lives. Reusable as in no need to make midnight runs to Safeway to to shell out for Pampers when your stash inevitably runs dry. For a compelling price comparison between cloth and disposables, check out this link.
2) CONVENIENCE! That’s right, I said it, cloth diapers are more convenient than disposables in a few key ways. Convenient when you consider the reduction in blow-outs (parenting slang for just what it sounds like), diaper rashes (cloth is gentler on baby bums than plastic), and potty training (anecdotes abound of cloth-diapered kids transitioning off diapers much faster than their plastic-wrapped counterparts). And of course, as mentioned above, I think it’s pretty convenient to strike disposable diapers off your weekly shopping list. Plus, if you decide to go with a diaper service, while marginally pricier than DIY-ing it (but still cheaper and/or comprable to disposables) you sidestep the whole laundry issue. After little Dragon is born, we are going to give this local service a shot for the first month plus pick up a few brands to try at home and experiment with which method we prefer.
3) CUTENESS! Cloth diapers are adorable. They come in a rainbow of colors and patterns and give your baby an irresistibly Beyoncé-like booty, which marginally redresses the painful reality of constantly having to deal with this kid’s poop.
I could go on, but this is well trodden territory on the blogosphere, and I figure I should acquire a few months of hands-on experience before adding my voice to the fray. In the meantime, if you’re considering cloth and you want to learn more, check out the following useful links:
Lazy Mom’s Guide to Cloth Diapering (parts 1, 2 & 3!)
A Year in Cloth Diapers (giving lotsa advice on which brands to buy)
• On Where the Sidewalk Ends, mom blogger Valerie is happily diapering her third baby in cloth. She shared the money-saving tip to buy diaper “seconds” (diapers with slight imperfections that do not affect the function) on DiaperSwappers.com — the community boards of which she says just so happen to be an invaluable resource for answering your thornier diaper questions.
• Jillian’s Drawers is an online cloth diaper shop selling almost every cloth diaper on the market, along with accessories, advice and resources for cloth diapering parents. Word of warning: cloth diaper companies have devised an entire dictionary’s worth of annoying, confusing and conflicting vocabulary to discuss the different features of various diaper brands, so I would brush up on your know-how with the above links before diving into the overwhelming world of cloth diaper commerce.