When I was pregnant, I had all sorts of ideas and goals about parenting. Some I stuck with, and some went out the window. But one thing that always drew eye rolls, snickers, and, “Good luck with that,” was my decision to use cloth diapers. In the back of my mind, I did worry that it would be too much work. Skip ahead three years later, I have cloth diapered three kids (all at once, too, for a good 10 months). I am here to tell you that you can do it! Here is how some of my worries played out.
The extra laundry
There is no way around it: Cloth diapering will add a few extra loads to your weekly laundry routine. However, I wash my kids’ clothes far more often than I do diapers. Having three kids in diapers, I am still doing the same number of loads of diapers per week than when I had one, but the clothing laundry has tripled. The diaper laundry pales in comparison.
Buying cloth diapers is an investment, so if you’re on the fence about using them, it can be hard to make that cost leap. Remember that you don’t have to go all in. You can buy a few cloth diapers to start with and ease in. We began by using cloth diapers only at home during the day, and therefore started with a small, low-cost stash. Then we started using them at night and eventually ventured out in them.
We built our stash slowly, purchased cost-effective packages, entered giveaways on Facebook, and looked for deals on various cloth-diapering websites. We were also able to resell our newborn diapers and put that money toward the next size up. Also, keep in mind that the diapers can be used for future children — our diapers have carried us through three kids.
Yes, cloth diapers are messier than disposables. You have to come in contact with the dirty diaper to put it in the laundry bag and make sure any poop is rinsed off before going into the wash. It can be gross. But there are ways to make it less gross. For us, a diaper sprayer has worked well. It attaches to the toilet, and we spray the poop off the diaper before putting it in the laundry if the poop doesn’t just shake off into the toilet.
There are also flushable liners available that go over the cloth diaper. The liner and its contents can be removed and flushed away before the diaper goes into the laundry. We don’t use them often, but they’re there if we need them. Again, the messiness of cloth diapering, for me, has been par for the course. I have experienced much grosser, from a week with three kids and one mom having the stomach bug to many, many uses of the Nosefrida. Besides, there will be blowouts and poop contact regardless of whether you use cloth or disposable diapers.
The main piece of advice I give about cloth diapering is that it is not all or nothing. We use disposable diapers if we are taking a big trip, and once our kids started sleeping through the night, we began using disposable diapers overnight. Some people use cloth diapers from the time their baby is born until they are potty trained.
We are lucky here in Boston to have Diaper Lab, a fantastic cloth diaper store right in Cambridge. They offer classes where you can learn about the seemingly overwhelming number of options. I found that physically seeing the diapers and learning how to use them hands on really jumpstarted my desire to go for it, and I am so glad I went for it! It has been a great experience for our family, and I am happy I did not let all the discouragement from naysayers turn me away.