the truth about cloth diapering.
I started Florence in cloth diapers at the 6 week mark. I was feeling more confident in my diapering/feeding/mothering abilities (which happens around that time, thank God) and Flo was no longer pooping 100 times a day.
The first day I strapped a lovely cloth diaper on her, I felt so wonderful. Like I was doing something nice for her, smothering her little tush in soft, white clouds, covered in pretty patterns. She felt comfortable enough to poop right away. I was terrified to open that diaper and tackle the contents. I wouldn’t be tossing the diaper into the bin this time. But I unsnapped and did what I could to remove the mess, tossed it in the bin…and realized it was pretty much the same as throwing out a disposable.
After two days, I decided to throw the load of dirty diapers into the washing machine. I am not going to lie—this post is called the truth about cloth diapering, after all—the smell was terrible. Revolting, rather. And at the moment, I asked myself if I could I do this every few days. Could I empty the bin of it’s eye watering, nasty contents? Could I die a little bit inside for 10-20 seconds (the amount of time it takes to transfer the load into the machine and slam it shut). Looking down at my little Florence cooing away on the change table, I decided I could. I love her so much—I even love her smells. I mean, I’m a little worried to leave her cloth diapered bum with a sitter, which these days, happens to be a good friend (thanks Suzi!) I will admit I don’t want anyone else but Jay and I near that stainless steel step can, because when it opens, it’s a bit like Armageddon for your nostrils. So I use disposables on occasion, to make life easier for everyone. One day I’ll take the time to explain the system to our friends and family, I’m sure. When I visit my parents, she’s in disposables, because they live a ferry ride away, and I’m not convinced Jay wouldn’t toss the wet bag of cloth diapers overboard after they’ve sat baking in the car for a few days.
I really do love cloth diapers. The smell is just as bad as disposable diapers in a bin. They all reek, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Whoever invented the Diaper Genie, knows a thing or two about stinky diapers.
I actually enjoy washing cloth diapers, because it’s oddly satisfying. I love to dry them in the sun, letting the natural light bleach them clean. I love how they come out white and fresh, an impossible thought when they first go in the wash. I love the snaps and velcro, the soft micro fleece, the colorful patterns, the way they sit in a neat stacked pile, smiling at me. I’m the person who actually digs through the pile, finding the pattern I like best. When you’re staring at a diapered bum so often throughout the day, it’s refreshing to see it covered in flowers or camouflage or zebra stripes.
Here’s another truth about cloth diapers: I put Florence disposables for overnight. I have some nice big hemp liners, which can be very useful for overnight, however, they just make her bum 10 times larger, and I have trouble finding a sleeper that fits. She also can’t move her legs an inch in either direction. I imagine as she gets bigger, the diaper will get smaller and things will even out nicely. But for now, I enjoy using disposables at night, because they do hold a bit more liquid. Cloth diapers need to be changed more often than disposables. For Florence, this amounts to a minimum of 5 microfiber liners a day. But remember, that could potentially equal 5+ disposable diapers a day, not including any poops, which is a lot. Because I use pocket diapers, I simply remove the insert when it’s full, or when I think it’s full, and slip in a fresh one. I change the actual diaper cover if it’s really wet, but since the diapers are lined with microfiber, the pee is wicked away from her skin so it feels dry.
It took me a long time to wrap my head around all the liner, cover, insert, bamboo, microfiber terminology. But once I figured out what was what, how it all worked, and decided to stick with it (i.e didn’t buy any disposables when we ran out), I realized I loved it.
Why do mums cloth diaper? They are frugal. Their baby has sensitive skin and reacts to the chemicals in disposable diapers. They love the environment. They know that cloth diapers no longer come with giant pins. They don’t like throwing giant bags of waste in the landfill. They like saving money because they’re frugal. Did I mention that already?
Yes, there is water usage and laundry soap to consider, but it’s really nothing. I wash every 2-3 days and hang to dry. I use a very economical laundry soap that’s made locally, which works out to be 25 cents a load for my top loader (15 cents if you have a HE machine). The start up cost of cloth diapers can be a bit overwhelming perhaps, but I jumped right in a purchased $180 worth of diapers, which is all I need. I have 20 pocket diapers that will fit Flo from 8-35 lbs. I have enough liners, about 40. And I know in the cloth diaper world that $180 is very cheap for a full set. I haven’t experimented with other brands of diapers, or other versions. I’ve only used the very affordable Kawaii pocket diapers. I’m open to trying others though.
Finally, although my husband was not initially on board with the whole idea, he has now warmed up to it. But he never does the diaper laundry which is fine by me! I’m not convinced many dads like cloth diapers, but you know what, I don’t think they like diapers in general.