Myths: Cloth diapering is difficult. Disposables are better. Cloth leaks. Cloth causes rashes. You have to use pins. You have to touch poo. You have to use a wet pail.
Truth: Cloth diapering is easy. What is difficult (frustrating and disgusting too) is cleaning liquid poop off your baby’s back and legs, the inevitable result of using disposable diapers, but more on this later. Cloth diapering is not “a huge amount of work” you will not have to “touch poop” or “swirl diapers in the toilet” or use those crazy sharp pins which you will just end up poking yourself or baby with. Nope, cloth diapering is simple and only amounts to about 2 trips down to the laundry room a week - which, with a new baby in the house, you’d be doing anyway.
Truth: Disposable Diapers have clever marketing
Marketers have convinced 2 generations of parents that disposables are the better, in fact the only choice. As a result, parents everyday are choosing to purchase an inferior product for more money.
Disposables leak, they are more expensive than cloth, they put chemicals close to your baby’s skin, can cause rashes, and they are polluting our earth at an alarming rate. But, hey, you can throw them away. That’s the big plus, right? But, where exactly is “away”? The garbage bag at the end of the driveway full of stinky diapers doesn’t just disappear into thin air once a week. Where does it go? Once pristine land is now a place for us to store our used diapers. Nice. If “away” were your backyard, would you really use disposables? I doubt it.
So really, you are paying more money for a leaky diaper that pollutes the earth. But they don’t mention that in the commercials - nope, its all about ‘side gathers” and “velcro tabs” and cartoon characters. They are just trying to sell a product. But you do have a choice.
There are options out there that are safer for your baby and reduce your impact on the environment, for example: chlorine free diapers, biodegradable diapers and, of course, cloth diapers.
Truth: No leaks!
Disposables leak, leak leak and get poop and pee all over your baby and their clothes. No matter how hard the commercials try to convince you that they have “leak guards”, they still leak. Do you want to regularly wipe poo off of your kid's back and legs? I don't. The true solution to leaky diapers is to use cloth. In my experience, cloth diapers rarely leak. In fact, the only time we have had a leak problem is when the cover was not put on properly - which is easily remedied next time around - disposables however, will continue to leak no matter how you put them on.
Truth: Less Rashes!
Disposables are made to suck up a huge amount of liquid, as a result, they are constantly pulling moisture away from baby’s skin. This causes dry skin, which leads to irritation. Secondly, the chemicals used to bleach the fibers in the diapers are extremely harsh, not to mention the petrochemicals used in the “liquid sucking crystals”, or the added fragrances to hide the smell of the chemicals. These chemicals on baby’s skin are the cause of many rashes. Cloth diapers are soft, chemical free (especially if you get unbleached cotton ones) and do not cause dryness. Critics will say, cloth diapers can cause rashes by keeping moisture on baby’s skin. Are these people the ones who let their kids run around all day in a wet diaper? That’s disgusting. When the diaper is wet, change it. There, no rashes. Also, for nighttime, you can get liners to go inside the cloth diaper that keep the wetness away from baby’s skin and add more absorbency to the diaper.
Truth: No Pins!
Forget images of your mother stabbing herself in the finger with those giant diaper pins. Those are gone. We don’t use those anymore (unless of course you like to stab yourself, then by all means go ahead and use them). Today we have the “Snappi”! Its a rubber T with plastic grips on each end that snags the diaper fabric and keeps it taut. The grips are placed on the diaper over each hip (where pins would go) and the bottom one goes on the crotch area. Super fast, super easy, super safe. Some diapers even come with snaps or velcro, so the Snappi is not even needed.
Truth: No Touching Poo!
So the first thing people will say if you mention you are considering cloths is “Oh, you’ll have to rinse them in the toilet - that’s disgusting”. Well, that IS disgusting and I have no idea why anyone would ever do that. You simply don’t have to, so why would you? Baby poo, especially breast-fed babies, has the consistency of yogurt (or waterier) and rinses out quite easily IN THE WASHER. No need for toilet swishing. Unless you really really want to stick your hand in a toilet full of poo. Oh, that’s so gross. Later on, when they are on solids and have solid poos, you can take the diaper and roll the little balls off into the toilet. If you really really want to rinse them in the toilet, nowadays they make these little sprayer nozzles that hook up to the water line leading to your toilet, which lets you hold the diaper with one hand and spray a stream of water on the diaper with the other. To me, this is just as disgusting as swishing, since the spray could splatter the poop all over the place. So, here’s what you do: take the poopy diaper, put it in the pail. Ta da!
Pails should be lined with a nylon diaper bag. When full, take the bag of diapers, bring it to the laundry room and turn it inside out into the washer. Leave the nylon bag in the machine to get washed. You don’t even have to touch poo when you are putting the diapers in the wash! Yay!
Truth: No Wet Pails!
Diaper pails should be big enough to hold 3 days of diapers (about 30) and lined with a nylon bag. The nylon bag is used to transport the diapers to the laundry room and gets washed with the diaper load and hung to dry (not in the dryer). Some people use what is called a “wet pail”, which is a diaper pail (sans nylon bag) with water/vinegar or water/baking soda mix at the bottom that the diapers soak in. To me, this is just a breeding ground for bacteria and a super gross accident waiting to happen. Again, just like the toilet swishing, its totally not necessary. The poo washes out well, without the wet pail method. Don’t worry about stains on your diapers. Sometimes, there will be stains, but they are diapers. I once asked a lady at a diaper store about how to treat stains, she said not to worry about stains since “ no one is looking at the inside of your diapers”. She was right. Stains come and go. Who cares.
Hopefully this post has addressed some of the common myths surrounding cloth diapers. I'd love to hear your comments!
See my next post for more on How to Cloth Diaper!
For more information on cloth diapering facts check out this website.