You caught me! Guilty as charged. I have only ever used disposable diapers. I had a couple of stressful moments during my first pregnancy and the last thing I could face when my son was born was cloth diapers. Once our wonderful surprise baby girl arrived soon after while Holden was having MAJOR separation anxiety I was in full survival mode. With that being said, my hat is off to parents who have chosen to use cloth diapers but it is not for everyone. I have broken down my picks and skips for both parents using disposable and cloth diapers with the help of two “green baby” experts. 1: my wonderful sister-in-law, Meghan Fowler and 2: Simply Green Baby in Oakville, Ontario www.simplygreenbaby.com
I asked Meghan to describe her experience with cloth diapers first hand to help parents to understand the rewards that come with going the cloth diaper route:
Our reasons for deciding to go cloth on Ethan’s bum were several, with the main ones being: 1) We think they are an more environmentally-conscious choice; yes, yes, they use more water, but water is largely a renewable resource, and I (the one in charge of washing the diapers) try to be clever about wash loads so as to minimize water usage. I’m personally more concerned about filling landfills and about the byproducts of synthetic diaper production than I am about water usage. 2) I’ve heard that most babies get less rashes in cloth diapers than in disposables (plus, Marcus and I like the idea of our little dude’s tush being covered by natural fibers) and 3) despite a big investment up-front, we are saving a whole lot of money long term (like… over the course of, say, 2 kids’ diaper-lives, we will save thousands of dollars. Seriously, thousand with an “s”!)
Based on my research, going cloth was going to be thumbs up on (nearly) all fronts. How did all that theory fare in the real world of poop and pee?
Ethan is 4 months old now, and has been sporting cloth diapers for about 3 months… and our idealism has been richly rewarded! Though not without its hitches, our cloth diaper journey has been a largely positive one. I attribute that mainly to excellent advice from friends and vendors, and excellent diapers. Marcus and I use a combination of Bumgenius 4.0 diapers (amazing for our heavy-wetter at nighttime when stuffed with the microfiber inserts and 1 extra hemp soaker), and AMP diapers (one size and AIO, used mostly with bamboo or hemp trifolds and boosters).
Honestly, I would not recommend starting a newborn in cloth diapers. Pampers Swaddlers in newborn size are awesome, and seriously, who needs to be troubleshooting cloth diaper leaks with their newborn baby at 1, 3, 5 and 7 in the morning? Not me. Survival and sanity are the name of the game for the first few weeks with baby, and being a die-hard environmentalist at that point would have come at too high of a price. Anxious and overtired moms aren’t serving their babies well staying in that state.
I say starting at one month when sleep is less elusive and the baby is big enough to fit the cloth diapers well is the way to go. When I first attempted putting Ethan in cloth at 3 weeks or so, he leaked everywhere, and the stress of figuring out “what works” for him was tooooo much. He was too small for the diapers, and frankly, I was wayyyyy too tired to be fussing about leaks, so I waited a bit before trying again. Round 2 was a resounding success, however. Well, mostly. Where in the first place the leaks were mostly due to him being too small for the diapers, any leaks after the 1 month mark could generally be traced to the mom and dad variable: we needed to be changing him sooner or stuffing his diaper more full. And we needed to be assuring that the elastic bands were directly against his skin, without any liners peeking through. Once we worked that all out, it became progressively smoother sailing. We are now at the point where we actually feel pretty pumped about the diaper topic, and can change the little squirmer with relative ease (aided by duct tape and bungee cords to keep him flat on the change table……. only kidding!). Leaks are rare and, when they happen, usually very preventable in retrospect (read “our fault”). The only thing that can thwart us now is the infamous baby blow-out. But that is due to no weakness in diaper or parent. No cloth and no disposable can thwart the blow-out: it is a formidable and treacherous foe, destined to yellow many a sleeper (and maybe even leak onto an unsuspecting mom or two….). Sigh.
Oh, and did I mention that Ethan’s killer bad (bloody!) diaper rash of the first month cleared up right away when we switched to cloth? It did.
Meghan Fowler is an incredibly talented photographer based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. You can check out her work at www.bluebirdcreative.ca
Some other recommended cloth diapers and products are from Grow Via which can be found at Simply Green Baby.
Ask every parent and they will probably tell you that Pampers Newborn Swaddlers are the best for your newborn, but once your little one gets a bit older you may have to explore different brands depending on gender, size and skin sensitivity. It all depends on your little one.
Regardless of which route you chose to go, one thing you will definitely need is a great diaper pail. Two fantastic options are the Diaper Dekor Plus and the Ubbi Diaper Pail.
The Diaper Dekor Plus pail is a great choice for it’s variety of colours and sizes.
The Ubbi diaper pail also comes in a variety of colours as well you can purchase an eco friendly washable liner.
My son never had bad diaper rashes but when my daughter Beau was born she would very easily get a diaper rash. Most of the time my favorite diaper cream, Sudocrem would easily do the trick. But then every once and a while Beau would get a brutal rash. I am not talking a rosy tush, I mean a full blown open weeping and bleeding wound! I tried everything and then a very smart doctor told me to combine Sudocrem and my mother’s choice: cornstarch. Put the Sudocream on first and then cover it in cornstarch… magic!!!
Diapering Skip: a wipe warmer. I don’t want to sound cold, (no pun intended) but it is a nice idea in theory to use nice warm wipes on your newborn, avoiding crying during changing and then BAM, real life hits! You are enjoying getting out to the shopping mall, your two week old needs to be changed and you are trying to juggle everything in the bathroom when the cold wipe touches her bum and she howls. Its better to get your wee one used to cold wipes in the comfort of your home so that when you are ready to venture out she isn’t shocked.
I hope this registry picks post helps you navigate the world of poop and pee pee. Remember, whatever diapering journey you choose to take, just make sure it works for you and your little poop machine!