Cloth Diapering: Worth the Benefits or Too Much Effort?

Family Matters on 03.13.12
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Photo: Alia Hoyt

A few months ago I wrote a post about the things parents should know about cloth diapers. Since I was totally clueless up until I researched that story, I found it to be quite an informative experience. I'd stuck with disposables with my first two handsome/crazy boys, largely because I didn't realize how far cloth diapers had come since the 1970's when my own mother diapered me. In my mind, they were little more than a handkerchief and some safety pins, which sound like a big ol' mess waiting to happen.

Fortunately, I have a couple of very enlightened friends who guided me down the path to cloth as I was mulling over whether to make the switch with my third little man (see above for a shot of Kenny in his cloth diaper - ain't he cute?) I benefited from their collective years of cloth experience, since both had plenty of insight regarding brands, how many I should buy, what accessories I would need and even how to wash them. One friend even supplied me with a washing protocol of sorts that she had discussed at length with the soap manufacturer. So, if you're contemplating the switch, try to find someone else who has done it first. Picking the brain of an experienced cloth diaperer will help you prepare your supply closet, as well as your expectations on how easy or difficult it's going to be.

Overall, I've found it to be a very rewarding experience. We're saving a ton of money on disposables and it's undoubtedly better for the landfills and my baby's bottom. Still, like most good things, cloth diapering is not without its challenges and quirks. First, I had to overcome my husband's opposition, particularly related to the initial expense. He's a mathematics whiz by nature, though, so once he crunched the numbers he grudgingly got on board. He has even graduated to actually changing the baby's diapers, rather than hovering in the background in fear. He likes the Earth-friendly nature of cloth diapers, of course, but if he can get on board with any effort that saves cold hard cash.

Other than that minor hurdle, it took us all some time to get used to the adjustable diaper covers. Once we experienced a few leaks, however, we became more proficient at tightening them just enough and haven't had a leak or a nasty poop blow-out in weeks. In fact, by my experience, cloth is far superior to disposables when it comes to containing blow-outs.

What's your experience with cloth been like? Challenging or completely worth the effort?

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