I Heart Cloth Diapers

cover_2I have an article about cloth diapering in this month’s Mothering magazine.

It’s 5,000 words long.

It’s sort of impossible to imagine how anyone could have 5,000 words to say about cloth diapering.

But I did.

And I actually could have written 5,000 more.

I don’t even know that much about cloth diapers.

I must be a cloth diaper freak or fanatic or obsessive or something.

But I’m not. Well, not really. Well, okay, maybe I am. Well, okay, maybe I wasn’t before I started researching the article (which Peggy asked me to write. I was going to tackle something way simpler: circumcision) but now I am. Expert, no. Eager and interested cloth diaper user and part-time EC’er, yes!

So this week I’ll be devoting the blog to cloth diapering. (Except I need to find time to squeeze in a post about 6-month-old babies as Leone turns six months in two days). We can get back to the vaccine debate and the hate mail (remind me to tell you about the crazy phone calls I’ve been getting. James: “I think you need to un-list your office number, for awhile anyway”) another time. But for now it’s all cloth all the time.

I heart cloth diapers.

I want you to heart cloth diapers too.

In my next post, I’ll write about getting started with cloth. Also up this week: traveling with cloth (I’ve done it twice now: to Chicago and NYC).

But for today, here are five things you may not know about cloth diapers:

1) They’re adorable: The new generation of cloth is so stylish that mamas are putting their babies in cloth for the chic factor alone.
2) They make good Halloween costumes: Get this JamTots jaguar print cover and you have an instant Bambam costume.

3) You can wash them on cold: When I first used cloth diapers ten years ago I had no idea how to wash them and I dumped in loads of bleach (I cringe at the thought now) and washed them on hot. You don’t need ANY bleach. You don’t even need hot water. We wash pee pee diapers on cold, using this make-it-yourself laundry detergent from Frugal Kiwi. James calculated that we spend about 2 cents a load on the detergent, which is mild and unscented. Though when I interviewed Betsy Thomas, co-founder of Bummis, for my article she mentioned that sometimes babies get diaper rash because of detergent residue if the diapers are washed on cold, Leone has never had a rash and we’ve been washing her diapers on cold since she was born. (The poopy diapers we wash on warm.)

4) You can buy them cheaply or get them for free: The start-up cost of cloth is a deterrent for many a new mom and dad but you can buy secondhand cloth diapers cheaply at your local consignment shop (they’re pricier on the Web). You can also get inexpensive seconds from diaper services. And you can even find free cloth diapers from other cloth diapering moms. With my first, I got a bag of diapers from a friend who was a cloth diaper fanatic, I mean enthusiast, and made some herself. She had tons of extras and was happy to share. When Leone outgrew the size small Bumkins we were using, I loaned them to a friend whose baby is a few months younger. A couple weeks ago on a Mama’s E-mail List I’m on someone gave away a bazillion Fuzzibuns. Tell people you’re looking for diapers. Sign up for Freecycle. Talk to cloth users and see if you can beg, borrow, or steal some.

5) You don’t have to use them all the time: I know a mom who tried cloth for two days and then gave up. She had a tiny newborn. She was a new mom. She was overwhelmed. But cloth doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. As I wrote in my article, if you only use one cloth diaper a week, you’re still keeping 52 diapers a year out of the landfill. That’s a lot of landfill space!

Are you/were you a cloth diaper user? If you’re using cloth, what do you like about them? If you’re not using cloth, what can we do to inspire you to try them?

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17 thoughts on “I Heart Cloth Diapers”

  1. Thanks for writing such a comprehensive diaper article. I loved the troubleshooting section. I have some friends who have quit cloth because they have heard the water and electricity consumption doesn’t make them “that eco”. Now I will hand them a copy of this article that so clearly spells out the health, economy, and ecological values of cloth diapers.

    I ? cloth diapers too!

  2. When I had my first baby, I was completely and totally obsessed with cloth diapers too. Isn’t it funny how they inspire such obsession and love? And the diapers that are out now are even nicer than the ones I had back then. But what’s not to love – they are so adorable and can be reused (I’ve used some with all four kids now) and best of all, in my mind, they are very much compatible with elimination communication :-). I’ve seen EC’ers turn to cloth, and cloth users turn to EC – they make a great combination, as I wrote in my article on EC following yours! And it makes cloth an even better choice when you see how they make EC easier as well as make cloth diapering even more eco-friendly – even if you don’t do either full time.
    .-= Christine at Origami Mommy´s last blog ..Happy May Day =-.

  3. I used disposables (gasp) when my kids were babies but it seems cloth diapers have come a long way. I remember babysitting my cousin’s son when I was in high school and they used cloth. It was pretty nasty, involving huge pins and smelly plastic pants.

  4. I too avoided cloth diapers because I remembered my sister’s experience, which as Brette described involved cumbersome pins and diapers that never quite fit right. Now I don’t have any little ones in diapers but I love these new cloth diapers–they look so much easier to use!
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Cinco de Mayo Time! Homemade Tortillas & Sopes =-.

  5. Yes, these new cloth diapers are awesome. I had my babies in a suburb of Versailles, where cloth diapers were not an option. In those days, the USA offered services to bring them to your door. That might have been available in Paris, but not in the burbs. I remember buying cloth diapers when I was first pregnant, and then giving up. I will pass this info on to my pregnant daughter-in-law. Thanks!
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..What We Have Or Don

  6. As “everyone’s favorite aunt” and a some-day mother, I’ve had lots of conversations with friends and family about cloth vs. disposable. It’s been especially interesting to hear couples doing research and making that decision together. I know lots of expecting moms who are going to really appreciate your article! I’ll definitely be telling people to pick up this month’s issue of Mothering.
    .-= Jesaka Long´s last blog ..50/50 Post: He

  7. I think it’s great you are writing about this. I’m VERY curious to know how you got 5000 words out of it?! I wish I’d read them, though, before my daughter was born. It was then, in that new mom stupor, when I was like,”Cloth what?” I wish I’d had a good friend who could have showed me those ropes…. It’s a great service that you are providing.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..What are your turn offs and turn ons? =-.

  8. I always associated cloth diapers with a big mess, a big bother and really, thought they were rather impossible. Children are long out of diapers now, but I do wish you were writing about these when they were in diapers. You likely would have changed my views!
    .-= Sheryl´s last blog ..Brain-Healthy Spices You Should Be Using =-.

  9. I’m so old that paper diapers had not been invented yet! And we did have those yucky crinkly plastic pants that went over the diapers( and sometimes held a flood of liquid)! Although I washed them from time to time, I succumbed to a diaper service when I had two in diapers and one in trainers all at the same time.

    I turned against paper diapers when I saw them blowing around an ancient pueblo in northern Arizona. Sometimes there IS no landfill.
    .-= Vera Marie Badertscher´s last blog ..May Travel Literature Giveaway =-.

  10. That photo of the jaguar print diaper cover is adorable! Almost makes me want to say, “sign me up!” But I have a ways to go before I need to make that choice. Jennifer, I also like your point that you can use cloth AND disposable diapers and know that you’re still making a positive impact on the environment even if you can’t commit to using cloth diapers all the time.

  11. About six years ago some friends of ours put cloth diapers and a diaper service on their baby registry before their son was born. I realized they were the first parents I knew who had done this. Wow, right? We didn’t have babies but I like to think that had I, I would have gone the cloth diaper route as well.
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..One Woman’s Truth: Placing Her Baby for Adoption =-.

  12. I (mostly) used cloth diapers with both my boys. I was always so happy to add less to the landfill problem. I didn’t use cloth when traveling, though, and when we moved when my second was 18mos old we fell into the disposable habit and never quite got back into the swing of cloth.
    .-= Kris´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

  13. I, too, love cloth diapering. I have to be careful because I could easily enjoy spending loads of money on all the cute cloth diapers out there- even though we spent very little on our prefolds and have everything we need. We use disposables when we travel (especially long car rides- Tye gets super fussy when she’s wet, and the car rides are hard enough…), but I always feel guilty about it even though they’re more “natural” disposables. Looking forward to hearing how you travel with cloth!
    .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..Did you know… =-.

  14. Wow, here’s a post that takes me on a trip down memory lane. As with all things baby related, I think the more moms & dads can be encouraging without being didactic or zealous about their choices and pushing them on others the better chance you have making converts to cloth, which we did use, but not all the time.

    I’m way passed this stage but the whole judgment thing around the early stages of parenting really bugs me. I switched to disposables at night pretty quickly because, frankly, I’m a bitch on wheels if I don’t get enough sleep and I was blessed with a big baby boy who quickly went long stretches (4-5 hours) between feeds — trust me, I’m not boasting, we had other stuff to deal with. And waking up every 2-3 hours to change a wet wee one seemed insane after that initial sleepless couple of months.

    But that’s just me, and what worked for my family. I wrote one of my first features for a national mag on the cloth vs. disposable debate — a very, very long time ago & the science at the time seemed to suggest that environmentally speaking it was pretty much a wash. Wonder what the current thinking is.
    .-= sarah henry´s last blog ..Farmer Jane: Females in the Fields =-.

  15. Nighttime cloth diapering has come a long way, I guess! I’ve diapered both my boys for the past few years and I refuse to change diapers between the time they go to bed and the time they get up in the morning (once they’re past the pooping-at-night stage, of course). Which means the baby’s in cloth for 11-12 straight hours – no leaks and no rashes. How do I do it? Check out these amazing tips compiled from experts – actual parents! – by the Real Diaper Association: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/100/100-campaign-travel-tips.php
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Cloth Diapering in North Carolina =-.

  16. As for the science suggesting that it’s a wash environmentally-speaking, disposable diaper companies did a great job of interpreting the results to benefit themselves. The truth is, the studies showed the HIGHEST IMPACT cloth diapers slightly overlapping with the LOWEST impact disposable diapers. This page better explains it, with a link providing a lot more details analyzing the studies available: http://whatawaste.info/but-i-heard/
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Cloth Diapering in North Carolina =-.

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