When I was pregnant I did a lot of research on everything. One of my favourite topics was cloth diapers. I really liked the idea of cloth diapers and using them seemed to fit with our lifestyle and values – I could imagine that people would say – “BK and S use cloth diapers? Yeah, I can see that”
But we ended up going with disposables – Huggies natural fit – until The Goose was well over a year old. I’m OK that we waited. We have busy lives and getting adjusted just to the baby seemed like enough of a struggle. However, if I had to do it again, knowing what I know now, I would have done cloth from the start.
Here are some of the things that deterred me from choosing cloth, and why these objections really aren’t such a big deal after all.
1. Cloth diapers make a lot of Laundry.
This was a big one on a few fronts. The Goose’s arrival created a lot of laundry, especially since we couldn’t bring ourselves to reuse a blanket if even one corner of it got wet. We quickly learned to just let the burp cloths dry out and reuse them a couple to times throughout the day.
Knowing what I know now, this period when there is a lot of laundry anyway is a great time to start with cloth diapers. We live in an apartment with laundry in the basement, so it doesn’t matter if we run 1 or 3 loads, it takes the same amount of time.
That’s another part that deterred me at first, not having laundry in our suite. I really didn’t want to be the neighbor with the poopy laundry – but when she was very little, there were a lot of pooped on clothes, so I was that neighbor anyways. We haven’t had a single neighbor complain – any comments have been very positive. Plus, it doesn’t harm the machine or leave any mess or anything.
I simply take the diapers down to the laundry room right in the diaper pails, then I wash the pail in the wash basin.
2. Cloth diaper pails stink
When The Goose was born we lived in 360 foot studio apartment, and stayed there until she was 4 months old. I couldn’t see putting a stinky diaper pail in that small of a space.
Now, our cloth diaper pails live in our tiny bathroom – which is the exact same size as it was in the studio apartment. I don’t ever notice their smell. Here’s what we do . . . We have two small storage bins, the kind with locking snap tops and handles. They fit under the sink and one gets the dirty cloth diapers day 1 and day 2, the other gets dirty cloth diapers day 3 and day 4. I don’t do anything special about the odor, I simply put baking soda in the bottom and pour in some vinegar and water to soak them the night before I do the wash. I don’t use a diaper bag, I just wash the pail – it doesn’t get very dirty.
The only smell that you’ll notice is the ammonia from the urine. Vinegar will neutralize the ammonia, but without it – the ammonia will just about knock you over.
**Afterthought** I’d about 6 months since I first wrote this post and I’ve made a slight change. I don’t add the baking soda or the vinegar, or do the soak the night before. I simply put the diapers in the pail (rinsing the poopy ones first) and try not to get knocked over by the ammonia. The smell doesn’t linger and they come just as clean in the end.
3. Cloth diapers leak
Newborns explode out of disposable diapers and new parents aren’t likely to wrap disposable diapers as tight as they really need to go around those little newborn frog legs. So the Goose leaked a lot.
The Goose’s cloth diapers are very good at stopping leaks. We use simple Chinese prefolds that take a lot of fluid. Our covers have gussets at the legs and they hold in the poops. The only time we get a leak with cloth diapers is if we don’t do up the diaper tight enough or if we leave her too long without a change – the same with disposable diapers.
In fact, we’ve had a lot more trouble with leaks in the disposables. We don’t buy cheap diapers, we use Pampers or Huggies, but even within those brands there are different types, unless we use the top of the lines we get leaks. To be honest, I simply have too much to think about to remember whether it’s baby dry or cruiser or something else that works.
4. Cloth diapers require special clothes
I still hear this from people and on cloth diaper websites. We made the switch to cloth diapers after The Goose already had all of her summer clothes. There were maybe one or two pairs of shorts that didn’t end up fitting, but most did. They certainly have a bit more bulk, but the new cloth diapers aren’t too bad.
5. You use a lot more water, detergent, and bleach with cloth diapers
We do one extra load of laundry every 4 days. We use one extra 1/4 cup of detergent to do this. We don’t use any bleach, but we do go through a jug of vinegar a week for both soaking the diapers and adding to the rinse cycle. Our diapers are unbleached organic chinese prefolds – no bleach used at all.
**Afterthought** Now that The Goose is 2, I do one load of laundry each week and I’ve stopped using vinegar, because I found I could cut that step without noticing a difference.
So, although disposable diapers definitely served us well, I wish we would have made the switch a lot earlier.