Are you considering using cloth diapers for your baby? Here are the answers to the top questions we get when teaching parents-to-be about this diapering option.
What do you do with the poo?
Come on, admit it. This is your biggest question about cloth diapering, right? What exactly do you do with the poo? It’s simple! Shake the solids into the toilet and put the diaper into a washable, waterproof wet-bag. No touching poo, no dunking diapers in the toilet, no soaking them in a tub—and just as fast as changing a disposable. Your washing machine can handle the rest, and the diapers come out fresh and clean. If you’re not on a septic system, you can even use flushable diaper liners made from soft, biodegradable material; just peel the dirties right off into the toilet.
Don’t cloth diapers leak?
Not when you change your baby regularly (as you should no matter what kind of diaper you use). You know what leaks? A blow-out in a disposable diaper. Any seasoned parent who’s used disposables can tell you those diaper explosions require a complete change of clothing. But in cloth that’s all contained.
And what about for overnight? A good-quality, fitted diaper with a waterproof polyurethane laminate or wool cover is all you need for dry and happy sleep, even once your baby starts sleeping ten to twelve hours a night.
Quality is the key. If you want to have a successful experience using cloth, choose a brand with a good reputation. There are many great choices, including Rumparooz, Bummis, bumGenius, Thirsties, Blueberry, AppleCheeks, Nuggles and many others.
Aren’t they smelly?
Don’t they get smelly while they’re waiting to be washed? Remember, you’ve already flushed the major poo down the toilet, so what’s left on the diaper is minimal. Keep soiled diapers in a large waterproof wet-bag with an open top (airflow is your friend here) and there won’t be much odour to speak of. On the other hand, poo wrapped in a disposable diaper rotting in your bathroom garbage can—that really stinks. In comparison, cloth diapers are much less aromatic. You won’t even know they’re there waiting for wash day.
Does it really save you money?
The infographic in the sidebar gives an idea of how much you can save (note that your figures may vary somewhat from these). A set of cloth diapers can cost from $150 to more than $800, depending on the style and brand you choose. Disposables run at least $2,000 per child, depending on how fast your baby gets out of diapers. Even with electricity, water and detergent costs, cloth still wins out, especially if you intend on having more than one baby.
How many diapers do I need? I hate extra laundry.
If you plan to use cloth diapers full time and wash them every two or three days, you need twenty-four to thirty diapers for the first six months. Babies six months and older can get away with sixteen to twenty diapers.
Washing is simply two extra loads per week—easier than hauling your baby to the store when it’s -30 degrees out. You’ll never run out of diapers and you won’t have to carry stinky disposables to the curb for garbage pickup.
Rinse, wash, rinse and then dry in the dryer and you’re done. Use any good-quality, clean-rinsing detergent. Don’t use dryer sheets or petroleum-based rash creams; they’ll decrease absorbency.
There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet that can make simple diapering seem very confusing. Seek out your nearest cloth diaper retailer—they’re the experts—or enroll in a cloth diapering class, where you can see and feel the different types and brands to decide what will work for your baby and your budget.
Most importantly, remember that you don’t need to use cloth diapers full-time. Each time you use cloth, you’re preventing a disposable (and its contents) from entering the landfill. Considering that it takes an estimated five hundred years for a disposable diaper to biodegrade, each diaper counts. Try cloth diapering. You just might enjoy it!
Stephanie Planchak is the owner of Cloth Diaper Kids, a web-based cloth diaper specialty retailer in Grande Prairie, Alberta. A mother of three, she holds a business degree from the University of Alberta, teaches cloth diapering classes to new parents and runs her business from home between diaper changes.