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Cloth Diapering Mama by Danielle Light

27 July 2010 18 Comments

My daughter turned one last week, and I haven’t changed diapers in a year.

Maybe I should clarify that statement. She’s still wearing the same diapers she wore as a newborn baby – adjustable, one-size cloth diapers. Yes, cloth! Picturing me as a Birkenstock-donning earth mama with hair that could host a menagerie of woodland creatures? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you’d be incorrect. Even among busy, modern families, cloth diapers are making a comeback thanks to increased eco-consciousness and innovations that make them much more convenient than they were for our grandparents.

Why choose cloth? By doing so, you can put a dent in the 18 billion diapers that are thrown away each year in the U.S. Not only does that overwhelming amount of waste require space that could surely serve a more pleasant purpose, but disposable diapers take as long as 500 years to decompose – meaning that had he worn them, even Shakespeare’s diapers would still be nestled at the bottom of a landfill.

I wonder how much they would fetch on eBay.

In addition, the contents of disposable diapers raise concerns for many parents. No, I’m not talking about the contents that the baby deposits, although at times I’ve felt awfully concerned about those, too. Disposable diapers contain a variety of chemicals, some of them proven toxins, to make them absorbent and block odors (but really, who are they kidding?). Like many Born Free moms, I didn’t feel comfortable using a product on my baby that contained potentially harmful substances. Even if the risk was extremely slight, it was enough to motivate me to search for an alternative.

I began my cloth diaper quest with slight trepidation. I didn’t know anyone who currently used cloth diapers, and many people I shared my plans with couldn’t fathom why I would willingly subject myself to them. There were so many choices and I worried that it might be more work than I could handle. Regardless of this, I was determined to give it a try, so I ordered several styles of diapers, practiced on a teddy bear, and put them to the ultimate test on my daughter when she was just a few days old. The results? Cloth diapering was much easier than I’d anticipated, and has even more advantages than I’d initially realized.

If the environmental and health benefits of cloth diapering don’t convince you to try it, the extra cash in your bank account might. While building your cloth diaper supply can have a start-up cost of several hundred dollars, it’s only a fraction of the thousands most parents will spend on disposables by the time their children are potty trained. The relief that comes with knowing you’ll never have to buy diapers again more than compensates for that initial pricetag. Plus, when you’re a new mama who’s low on diapers, tossing a load of cloth ones into the washing machine is infinitely easier than packing up a newborn baby and her accompanying gear to go to the store for disposables. I’ve also found that cloth diapers are far superior in terms of performance. Those things play better defense than an Argentinian goalie – hardly anything gets past them. I can’t say the same for disposable diapers, which I used for the first week and still use in a pinch. In my experience they often failed at their job, so while I didn’t have to wash diapers, I did have to wash load after load of poopy clothes, sheets, and bouncy seat or swing covers, which seemed to defeat the purpose of a throwaway diaper.

Even if you find these reasons compelling enough to consider cloth diapering, you may be wary of the work and mess involved. While my experience with disposable diapering is limited, I truly don’t feel that their convenience justifies their drawbacks. Modern cloth diapers are not difficult to use. Many are one piece and contain velcro or snap closures, eliminating the need for diaper pins and plastic pants. Caring for them isn’t as great a time commitment as you might expect, either. For me, cloth diapering only creates two extra loads of laundry per week, which I find completely manageable as a busy, working mom. Yes, if your baby eats solid food you have to take a second to dump dirty diapers out into the toilet – which is actually recommended for disposables as well, though I suspect it isn’t widely practiced. Sure, that part isn’t fun, but parenting is a dirty job. As moms, we catch spit up in our bare hands and substitute our shirts for tissues in a pinch (or is that just me?). Trust me, dealing with cloth diapers isn’t any grosser than all of the other unpleasant aspects of motherhood.

Interested in trying cloth diapers? There are a myriad of styles to fit different babies and budgets, and it’s best to try a little bit of everything before you stock up on a particular one. You may be disappointed by a diaper you’ve heard rave reviews of, or you might wind up loving something you’d never have considered trying! No one wants to make an investment in something they’re unsure will work for your baby and your lifestyle, and thankfully, you don’t have to. Many retailers offer cloth diaper trial programs that allow you to test out several different brand new diapers, keep what you love, and send back what you didn’t for a refund. You have nothing to lose . . . well, except for those extra bags of trash every week.

Danielle Light is an art teacher and self-described “crunchy mom”.  She lives with her husband Bryan and daughter Chloe in the metro Atlanta area.  She blogs about new motherhood and natural parenting at www.sweetchloelight.blogspot.com.

Have you tried cloth diapering? Leave a comment below with your diapering experiences or other ideas for eco-living. One person will win 2 Formula/Snack Dispensers!

Winner! Angela with the email address: ninem*********@gmail.com

Click “Like” or “Share on Facebook” and leave a bonus comment (“I shared”) for a bonus entry! Good luck! You can also email moms@newbornfree.com as a bonus entry.


  • Amanda martinez said:

    I haven’t tried to CD but recently I have been looking into it. My friend told ke about her experience and how they last just as long as sposies ( I’m also getting the lingo down lol). The hardest part is convincing my fiance but I think I’m wearing him down. Though the fear of cleaning poo our of a diaper at three in the morning does exist, I will have to do it when I potty train anyway, might as well get used to it now :)

  • Amelia Thompson said:

    Love love LOVE cloth diapering as well! This article is a great overview of many of the reasons I love it. Unlike the author, I did experience disposable diapers for a long period of time b/c we didn’t switch to cloth until our first child was 8 months old. And honestly? I have never looked back. And now with our second daughter who was cd-ed from the beginning, I cannot tell you how nice it is not to have to treat all of her baby clothes’ poop stains.

  • Jen said:

    We use cloth full time. There is not one single disposable in the house and I love it! My only regret is not starting it sooner with my first child. There some satisfaction in being able to completely walk by the wall o’ diapers at most stores and know that I’m not going to be paying big bucks for something that is just going to sit in a landfill forever.

  • angela tuttle said:

    I’ve always wanted to try cloth but untill just recently I couldn’t even keep up on normal every day laundr, I have a friend who is giving me a few to try I’m excited for it! I did use G-diapers with my son and loved them! Flushable and compostable!

  • Jessica said:

    We use FuzziBunz part time…only because our daycare doesnt use them. I love them!

  • samantha said:

    I have not tried cloth diapering. Honestly with my first I was not ready for it and her daycare would not CD. I think before the next one I will do some more research and possibly try it.

  • samantha said:

    I shared this on facebook.

  • Angela said:

    I love cloth diapering. At first it was hard to get my hubby into it, and I had a difficult time doing it outside of the home. But then I got a great wet/dry bag for the diaper bag and I cloth diaper everywhere. Next step is cloth diapering on vacation!

  • Melissa said:

    I haven’t tried cloth diapers but have been recently researching them. I can’t wait to try them out on my LO. Disposable diapers are just so expensive and I end up needing the next size up before being done with the last pack. Irritating. That’s for the article.

  • Emily said:

    I wanted to start using cloth with our second, but found out our daycare won’t do them. I’m still tossing around the idea of using them at home, but haven’t taken that step yet.

  • Danielle Light said:

    A note about daycare that I wish I’d mentioned in the post – if your child care provider is hesitant to use cloth, show them an example of what you plan on using. Many people still picture rags and safety pins! I don’t think our daycare had ever had a parent ask about using cloth diapers, but once they saw that the only difference was putting the used ones in a waterproof bag instead of the trash, they were totally on board.

  • Ashley P said:

    The idea of cloth diapering keeps dancing around in my head. I really enjoyed reading your experience.

  • Meagan Jackson said:

    Thanks for this article! I have been debating trying cloth diapering on my 2 month old. It seems like we are ALWAYS buying diapers and they always stink/leak/etc. I’m fed up with them and we have a long way to go!

  • Elizabeth Keller said:

    We had the same problem as a previous commenter had about daycare. They wouldn’t do them, so we have tried using both. It works well having the disposables for emergencies and daycare, and cloth otherwise. I think our best solution to make everyone happy… POTTYTRAIN! I’m pregnant again and would love for baby #1 to be out of diapers by the time baby #2 gets here.

  • Elizabeth Keller said:

    I shared on FB!

  • Katy said:

    I Liked on Facebook!!

  • Katy said:

    I have not tried cloth diapering before…but I do plan on trying it. I bought some G diapers that will fit my daughter in the next few weeks that I plan on trying. I’m not sure what to expect but I do like that it can save us some money!!

  • ana said:

    I am currently cloth diapering my fourth child. It is fun, money saving, and green way to raise your children. We are diaper rash free!

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