When people find out I have two babies in cloth diapers I often get sympathetic looks or hear, “Wow, that must be a lot of work,” type of remarks. Sure, it is safe to say that I get my fair share of fluff love every day, but no sympathy is needed. I’m very happy with our set up and don’t mind the “work.”
I do think, however, that there may be a little bit of exaggerating going on when trying to recruit others that are considering the dive into cloth life. I would like to expose three of these exaggerations or cloth diapering “myths” that would have been helpful for me to understand beforehand, not so I could have made a different decision, but so that I could have better prepared.
MYTH 1: “CLOTH DIAPERING IS PRACTICALLY FREE.”
I can’t count how many times I have heard or read this. “Once you buy your start-up diapers you are done spending money,” I have seen. Or, “You will save thousands of dollars,” is a pretty convincing line. It is true, you will save some money using cloth. You may even save a thousand dollars over the course of years and multiple children, but it certainly has not turned out to be free or anywhere close to it for us. Here are some things you still might want to budget for:
If you have your own machine and pay utilities, you might not notice how much diaper laundry is actually costing you. We, on the other hand, pay with quarters for each load, and it adds up rather fast! In order to launder properly (which I talk about HERE) you really ought to do a pre-wash cycle and then a full wash. That, for us, translates to 2 full washes since the settings are limited on our apartment’s shared machines. Diapers are laundered 3+ times a week. So far that is paying for 2 wash cycles and 1 dry cycle, 3 (or 4) times a week. (This alone puts me well over $40 per month.) You will also need proper detergents. If you have even remotely hard water, you will need to keep stocked on a water softener.
So far we have spent about $600 on these over the past 18 mos, though I will say that we could have lived without a few of the items. The cloth diapering world has really taken off and has plenty of shiny, snazzy accessories to offer. At a minimum you will need something to store soiled diapers in until laundry day and a waterproof bag to carry soiled fluff on the go, but there are many other extras available to make your experience a little easier or more successful:
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- An entry-level diaper pail
- Air tight diaper pail and pail liners to go inside
- Wet bag (to keep in diaper bag)
- Extra boosters/soakers for extra absorbency (night-time, heavy wetters, etc.)
- Diaper sprayer
- Splash guard to use with sprayer
- Flushable liners (to make dumping solids a bit less messy)
- Reusable wipes
- Wipe juice
- Cloth-diaper friendly creams (coconut oil is our personal favorite but this is really handy & less messy in the diaper bag )
- Fleece liners to be used with prescription or non CD friendly creams
- A bigger diaper bag because cloth takes up a lot of space!
- More diapers. I don’t know anyone who stuck with just their original stash. Whether you decide to try a different brand, realize you need more diapers, or just find a new cute shell you really want your baby to show off, it is highly probable that CD mamas will buy more at some point.
MYTH 2: “CLOTH DIAPERING IS JUST AS EASY AS DISPOSABLES.”
Let’s be clear: going cloth doesn’t have to be difficult, so I see the some truth in this myth. A little bit of practice really can turn the process into a relatively simple one. Modern cloth diapers are designed to be practical. Getting them on and secured with snaps or velcro closures sure beats the old safety-pin approach. There are also great tools that make storing & cleaning soiled diapers a breeze. In my opinion, throwing a bag of dirty diapers in the washing machine is just as easy as throwing a bag of dirty diapers in the dumpster, and folding/putting away clean cloth is as easy (or easier) than running to the store for more disposables.
So, where’s the myth? Well, my friends, cloth diapering is not hard, but the naked truth is that it’s not as intuitive or quick of a process as using Pampers would be. For the following reasons I’d have to deduct a few points on the ease scale:
- BABYSITTERS: So far we haven’t had much success leaving cloth with babysitters. No matter how much we explain or prep/leave the right stuff out, getting them buttoned tight enough, stuffed with the right soakers, or used with the right creams seems to be an ongoing issue.
- DIRTY DIAPERS: Wet cloth diapers are a synch –just toss them in the soiled bucket (which is just as easy as discarding a disposable). Then there are the dirties. If your child leaves behind pretty solid waste, dumping it might potentially be a quick job. My 1-year-old daughter’s diapers, on the other hand, are rarely that much of a picnic. It isn’t “hard” to dispose of the unwanted goop and rinse it out, but it generally isn’t a 5-second task like ditching loaded Huggies would be.
- THE PILE UP: Unfortunately it is not always practical to spray/rinse a dirty diaper right after the deed is done. It’s gross, I know, but it’s also reality. Many times a soiled diaper gets set on top of our toilet and put off until nap time when I can spray in peace.
- LAUNDRY: Diaper laundry takes place about 3 times per week, and many of the shells aren’t supposed to go in the dryer. I don’t mind living in the laundry room or stringing diapers up on the line, but I know many moms that aren’t excited to pencil “unnecessary” laundry in.
MYTH 3: “CLOTH DIAPER BABIES DON’T GET RASHES.”
I’ve heard it –You’ve probably heard it: Since cloth diapers don’t have all of the chemicals that disposables do, babies are far less likely to get diaper rashes.
Hmmm. Well, you could imagine my surprise, then, when my daughter, Clementine, spent 5 months with seemingly incurable diaper sores. I won’t go into too much detail now, but I will let you know that after every natural remedy I could find, 2 pediatricians, 1 infectious disease specialist, 1 dermatologist, and 6 cycles of antibiotics that didn’t work, I was ready to turn over the cloth for good.
In a last ditch effort, I threw myself at the World Wide Web again to do even more research than I already had, desperately seeking answers. Guess what? I found them. The problem did lie with my cloth diapers and how I was washing them, and the solutions were simple and cheap. Within a week her rash was gone and we were truly loving cloth again.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Cloth is great and has wonderful perks for you, your child, and the environment. Sometimes cloth costs more money than you originally think it will. Sometimes it takes more work or time than you might have planned on. Sometimes it takes trouble shooting to be successful. That is reality, and I’m prepared for and happy with that.