Diapers are a rather mundane part of parenting, if we’re being perfectly honest. Though it’s growing in consideration, the idea of leaving behind the convenience of disposable diapers for the “old fashioned” cloth variety is often met with incredulity and scoffing. Yet choosing to cloth diaper your baby can not only be more convenient but more budget and ecologically friendly, too.
Pre-folds, pins and rubber pants are what most people think of when someone mentions cloth diapers. You know, those old fashioned square pieces of cloth that needed to be folded and then folded gain to achieve any kind of absorbency. They’re like the origami of parenting, except with less interesting shapes and colors.
While those types of diapers certainly still exist, and diapering “purists” may argue that pre-folds are the best and most simplistic option on the market, there are many newer and more convenient approaches to cloth diapering these days.
Don’t be deterred by the rumors that cloth diapering is boring and extra work. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and when it comes to cloth diapers you can take that quite literally.
Cloth diaper terminology at a glance
- Pre-folds: Old-fashioned cloth diapers that must be folded around the baby and secured in place
- Contours: Shaped to baby; also need to be secured in place and require a cover
- Fitteds: Shaped to baby and fastens with Velcro or snaps; require a cover
- Pockets: Cover and stay-dry liner sewn together with an opening at the back creating a “pocket” in which any desired absorbent cloth may be used; fastens with Velcro or snaps
- All-in-Ones: Cover, absorbent insert and stay-dry liner sewn together and fastens with Velcro or snaps
Pros and cons
Not only do cloth diapers give your baby’s skin the opportunity to breathe, but many parents report their child having healthier skin, fewer bouts of diaper rash and more comfort overall.
For those children with highly sensitive skin, you may find that natural fibers are a better match to your child’s needs than synthetic fabrics, and you should avoid detergents with perfumes or dyes, opting for natural detergent to wash your cloth diapers instead.
To maximize your ecological effectiveness as well as protect your baby’s sensitive skin, is can be extremely helpful to wash your stash of diapers on your own, as opposed to using a service. Most diaper services use too many harsh cleaning agents, like bleach, which will only irritate your baby’s skin and end up polluting the earth even more.
Plus, you’re never actually “out of diapers” which means no midnight runs to the twenty-four hour pharmacy and paying some astronomical price for diapers that only leak and create more problems. Just toss a load in the wash and in an hour you have an entire stack of fresh and clean diapers at your ready.
It takes a certain kind of dedication not only to go against the grain, as far as conventional parenting goes, but to reject the slippery slope of familiarity in favor of what’s best for the good of our planet as well as the health of your family.
In the meantime, if you are just dipping your toes into the water, it’s important to keep in mind that perfection is unattainable and every disposable diaper that goes unused is a disposable diaper that has been kept out of the landfills across the country.
Pro-tip: tools to make it easier
- Flushable liners
- Snappi (diaper fasteners)
- Diaper sprayer