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The Cloth Diaper Experiment

You read right. I’ve decided I’m going to take the plunge and give cloth diapers a try. For real.

Some people are probably reading this right now wondering WHY?!
Well, I asked myself that question time and time again when I wondered why others do it, and when I was debating it myself. There’s a few reasons.
For one thing, everyone else is doing it. Ok, not really. In fact, most people I know aren’t. But the people I know who do cloth diaper love it. Well, obviously, otherwise why would they be doing it? Anyway, it’s intrigued me and I’ve thought about it for awhile, and since Lil’ J isn’t pooping quite as much as she used to… I figured now’s a good time to try.
The FIRST reason I thought I’d give cloth diapering a try is for similar reasons to why I wanted to commit to breastfeeding–To save money. Did you know formula cost some people about $100-$400 a month? The higher end is like half my rent! Breastfeeding is saving me some dough yo. And now I actually like it!
So when people said you can save thousands cloth diapering I was like WOAH! Sign me up!! But then I did the math myself and realized by thousands they mean if you use the same small batch over and over again for like 2+ kids (and don’t become addicted like many people do and buy and swap and buy and swap). Compared to buying the oober expensive disposables and change them like every hour.
When we had Lil’ J we were gifted HUNDREDS of diapers. We haven’t had to buy ANY diapers, and we exchanged several cases of newborn diapers and got $70 back! We STILL won’t have to buy diapers for another couple of months. But when I switched the newborn sized diapers out for a case of size 2s and realized that a case of Pampers was only $20 I realized diapers are a whole lot cheaper than I thought and a heckova lot less than my formula savings.
That’s when I began to think I’m not broke enough to switch to cloth diapers. Sure we’d save 40-50 bucks a month, not taking into account the additional energy and water costs. So I’d be saving a bit more than a dollar a day to do 15 extra loads of laundry. Is that really worth it to me? I was hoping it would be along the lines of $100-$200 a month.
People also insist that cloth diapers are more awesome and disposables suck because they have “chemicals” in them.
OMG Really?… But wait, so does EVERYTHING else. Know what I’m drinking right now? A glass of chemicals. Yea… Good old natural Dihydrogen Monoxide. Put down the phone, don’t call poison control. I’m drinking water. Personally, it’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people throw around the word “chemicals” like it’s a bad word. What people may mean to say is “harmful chemicals” in diapers. But I have yet to hear the one they’re talking about.
But then again, salt water is a harmful chemical. If you swallow too much of it, you’re dead. But the ocean is as natural as it comes. We’re all allergic to some things but that doesn’t mean it’s bad for everyone, or that it’ll kill you.
Next…
I also hear the argument that “We don’t know the effects diapers will have on our kids 30 years from now.” Yea? Well we also don’t know the effects using our cell phones while pregnant have on our fetuses 20 years from now, or what HDTV will do to our children when they’re adults, or about the “chemicals” contained in thermos inside our kindergartner’s lunch box that was washed with Dawn soap which was packaged in a plastic container *gasp* plastic!! Are we just as concerned about that?
My point with all of this is to say that I’m not trying cloth diapers because I’m worried my daughter will get leprosy 40 years from now, thanks to my having put her in Pampers. Or that I’m going to save enough money to buy a new car because we’ll be rolling in the dough thanks to the switch. And I’m not going to use those arguments to make myself feel better. I’m going to be completely honest. I’m trying them because I think they have the possibility of being really cool. And if I, of all people fall in love with cloth diapers, you’ll know they must be THAT GOOD and that truly, anyone can do it.
Now I will get back to my original point–The positives to cloth diapers that made me interested in trying them.
For one, I like the way they look. I never let Lil’ J just sit in a diaper. I like to dress her up and change her outfits two, sometimes three times a day. But a plain cloth diaper may be fun to leave her in from time to time. I’ll admit it, they’re cute. It’s like a new addition to her wardrobe that doubles as poop-catchers.
I also like the fact that it IS saving trash. I’m not going to act like I’m not the greenest martian on the planet, I have a LONG way to go. I don’t drive a hybrid, use public transportation regularly (unless you count airplanes) or compost my garbage. But I’m taking baby steps, and cloth diapers are one step in the right direction. I know we’ll use more energy and water washing, and drying them, but I don’t think it compares to the garbage we take up in landfills using our disposables.
I will admit that I think Lil’ J may like them a little more. Not that I give her everything she likes, or buy the most expensive detergents and shampoo cause they’re “better” but let’s face it–She’s a pudge, a rollie pollie, a chunk. She’s a big girl. And I do feel bad when I see the number her diapers now do on her rolls… They squish them all together and I just can’t help but feel that she’ll like the feel of cloth a little better against her bottom.
cloth diaper baby
We’ve never run out of diapers before, so I can’t say I know what it’s like having the “oops we need more diapers” moment in the middle of the night. But I imagine this would keep that from happening.
And ok, $40 a month isn’t a huge savings to me, but it is some savings. And if washing, drying, and reusing them is as easy as people make it seem than $40 a month can go into a college or wedding account for my daughter… Or maybe to reward myself for doing laundry I’ll get her a new outfit every month, and put the rest in savings.
Some of my concerns right off the bat? Well, I’m no Martha Stewart. I don’t do the laundry and starting now won’t exactly be easy. I don’t mind doing Lil’ J’s laundry though, I just hardly ever get around to putting it away. My husband does the laundry, and the cleaning, and since I work 50 or so hours a week, and he’s at home, he does 90% of the diaper changing too.
What does that mean? Well, it means he needs to be on board too. Because, well, he’s a stay at home dad and he’s dealing with the poop. He thinks it’s gross to put poop straight in the washer but I’m telling him he can put it in a pail and I’ll clean them when I get home. He says he’s ok with trying them with me.
I also do worry a little about energy costs. We pay all of our utilities so I’m curious to see how much all of the extra laundry costs us.
When we’re out and about I’ll probably still use disposables. I worry a little about putting poop in my designer diaper bag. I’d rather just throw it away.

I’m also concerned about her clothes still fitting over her ginormous cloth-stuffed bottom.

cloth diaper stash sprout change
But I’m going all out. I’ve got enough Sprout Change diapers (which appear to be good and easy for beginners like myself) to give it a good and honest try, because by golly I’m curious and I think you can’t dog something if you haven’t tried it. …Not that I want to dog it. I’m really hoping we like it.
So, join me on my cloth diaper experiment. If you’re a skeptic, or a lover, follow along. I’ll be giving updates on how it’s coming along.

I’m starting tomorrow with the prep work washing and drying and washing and drying and… You get the idea.


i was thinking about cloth diapering too, but I have enough diapers to last till this kid is 30. I’ll live vicariously through your experiment though.

I swear I only caved and started cloth because they were just so dang cute. I became a total convert, which you know. If I can end up loving it, anybody can.

JosiahsMommy says:

I think saying you aren’t going to use cloth when out and about is probably the most common saying related to new cloth users. I said it too. Then I realized wet bags are cute, and it was easier not to have to switch back and forth from cloth to sposie.

The worry about clothes fitting is also common but unless he was going to bed (we use 2 prefolds for bed time) Josiah’s clothes fit just fine. The diapers smush to fit. Lol.

I really hop you enjoy cloth. I can’t wait to read about your experiment!

I have to admit, I would have the same problem as your husband, about putting poopy diapers in the washer, and having to wipe a dirty bottom is bad enought without having to scrap and clean a diaper before I can even wash it in the washer….Sounds like alot to me.
But like you said you cant dog it til you try it.. Im so glad Destiny is out of diapers.

Good luck
Leslie

Congrats on taking the plunge. There are two of us on our blog and I (Aisha) am not so into cloth diapers but my co-blogger totally is and will be doing it again for her upcoming little one. Can’t wait to read more later.

I really like cloth diapering. Yes, the money saved is beautiful, but the results on my babys’ butt is even better!

Get a diaper sprayer hose that connects to the toilet for the poo messes and don’t sweat the rest. The laundry for one addition baby item is not as bad as it sounds and goes by fast. And smells good when fresh from teh line!

If you don’t like it, you can always switch back and sell your cloth diaps. FWIW, we only use disposables at night for leak factors on my older babies. I was never inclined to learn night cloth diapering for my older kids.

My husband and I started using cloth diapers to save money. You don’t save a huge amount like you do breastfeeding, but I do notice the difference. We also use disposable diapers too if we are going out of town and don’t want to have to take all our cloth diapers with us or if we are just feeling lazy. We would have bought so many more cases of diapers if we didn’t use cloth. The downside is that babies do get a big butt with cloth diapers, but its worth it. The hard part is that there are so many different kinds, colors, and prints of diapers that you can get. We use bumgenius which work well for us. The poop part isn’t bad. You just shake it off in the toilet if it is solid, if not we rinse ours and then put them in the washer. We also learned that you don’t have to wash them 2 times or whatever most recommend. We wash them once with an extra rinse with regular detergent (one he was done with dreft). Don’t use dryer sheets with them or diaper cream because it causes them not to absorb as well. A good page to visit is http://www.cottonbabies.com/ Good luck and enjoy.

I am so glad you’re doing this! I know you know where I stand, and I really do think this is the best way to go. When Jess told me she was going to do this I thought she was NUTS and that she would have to use disposables when she was out. Not the case. Get a wet bag and you’re good to go! It’s so much easier than you think.

1 baby in disposables = 1 TON of trash. Gross.

I hope you love them. Little J seems to enjoy them. And my vote should count for something. I did give her her nickname, after all 😉 AND I designed your blog. 2 points for me. Haha.

Maria says:

Cloth diapers are awesome! We switched when my son was 4 months old, and if I had cloth diapered my daughter, I could have saved thousands by re-using the same diapers.

They are fun, cute and addictive and way easier than I ever thought. This month marks a year of cloth for us! I would much rather wear cloth on my butt. 😉

http://www.change-diapers.com

Katie says:

From Yahoo: Disposable diapers release volatile organic compounds, or VOC. This includes toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. These VOC’s have shown to have toxic health effects on the baby, such as cancer or brain damage in some cases. There is even a possible link between diaper emissions and asthma. There are many studies out on that. The main absorbent filler in disposable diapers is sodium polyacrylate. This chemical can cause respiratory problems as well as skin problems. Almost all disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine. They also have trace amounts of a highly carcinogen byproduct of chlorine bleaching called dioxin.

So yeah, most of us who do use cloth diapers for environmental, economic and health related reasons can easily find and tell you what chemicals are in disposable diapers. You can buy a couple different brands that are chlorine free, at least.

Annette says:

It*should*make potty training easier, and you’re supposed to rinse the poop out in the toilet, just don’t flush the diaper down 🙂

I was not able to do the cloth diaper thing because of day care, but my BF did and she looooved it. And honestly it was never a problem when we were out and about. I think they would have been great for the my 3rd because she was always covered in diaper rash (must have been all those “harmful chemicals”). I can’t wait to hear how the experiment goes!

Tori says:

You know, EBF poo is completely water soluble. Even the hardcore CD’ers know that. You CAN actually just throw it straight in the wash. And that whole argument about putting any poo in the washer, I always like to counter with “if you have a blowout, do you just pitch the whole outfit all the time?”, the answer being “well, usually no, clothes WASH”. So do cloth diapers!

Things that make it easier: flushable liners. I’m not talking gDiapers here, just little thin things that you lay into the diaper that the poop goes on moreso than the diaper. The pee still goes into the absorbent part, but the poo you can just peel off and flush. You know, like poo deserves to be 🙂

A diaper sprayer. I’ve heard these things rock the socks, but I don’t have one. Most people who are afraid of cloth, this is THE thing that converts them. The ones made by CD companies are a little pricey, but there are TONS of do-it-yourself instructions out there on the interwebs.

Flushable/disposable inserts. Now gDiapers are awesome, and it’s about 98% of my stash right now, but there are other ones out there too that I’ve heard are just as great. GroVia has a bioliner, and bumGenius Flip has a disposable insert. All of these can be switched out into different water proof covers too, so you’re not stuck with one type of cover for going out. I have to say, I do agree that tossing the yuck while you’re out is fan-friggin-tastic. But with these options, you get the cuteness of cloth, the disposability of ‘sposies, and usually the landfill saving factor of quick biodegrading materials. If you do go the gDiapers route, make sure you carry an extra swish-stick to flush while you’re out.

And you know, you have my email so any questions feel free to fire away!

BTW, the main “nasty bad chemical” that is in most disposable diapers (minus the more eco-friendly brands like 7th Generation, Natural Baby Care, Earth’s Best, etc.) that the hardcore CD’ers fuss over is chlorine. As in that stuff you bleach clothes with. It’s less about skin sensitivity and more about leeching into the environment after you’re done using the diapers and pitch them. The other thing about them that is environmentally bad juju is the fact that most (even the “green” brands here for the most part!) are made with plastic, and that plastic is made from petrochemicals like oil.

Okay, off soapbox now. 🙂 Sorry this turned out sooooo long!

Jennifer says:

I bet you’ll get hooked 🙂 I was every other day, and air dried all summer. It may take longer in the fall, but they dried PDQ in the Texas summer!

Rania says:

I can appreciate your honesty and real thinking into the reasons why you are trying cloth diapering. I never considered it but it’s mainly because of all the washing you’d have to do. You make some good points and I like the way you think about this. 🙂

Good luck to you in your experiment. I bet after 30 days you’ll probably fall in love with them…or rip it a new one. haha

Look forward to hearing about it!
Rania

Jennifer says:

I have no experience with cloth diapers except for when my mom used them with my little brother and I thought they were disgusting. 🙂 But I do have to say, that is one of the most adorable babies I’ve ever seen and I would love to give her a big smooch and cuddle.

Emily says:

I used to think – helllll no, cloth diapers sound gross. – And now I’m totally addicted. I hate the idea of harmful chemicals on his bum (supposedly they’re worse for boys – fertility issues/cancer – but it’s for real, you should look it up), they’re CUTE, and they’re soft and comfy for Ryan. They’re also way easier than I ever imagined. I had the same thoughts–won’t it be hard to fit clothes over them? Nope. Won’t it be annoying to use them outside of the house? Nope. And we just bought some disposable liners that we might try when we’re out all day… but the only bad part about using cloth outside of the house is having to pack a bunch and keep the dirty ones. BUT as someone above mentioned, wet bags are CUTE too.

I hope you love it and I hope you say you’re saving money, being green, being kind to J’s lil bum, AND making a cute fashion statement.

Good luck!
Emily @ babydickey.com

Olusola says:

You are a woman after my own heart. Everything you said about cloth diapering reflects how I feel about it as well. Since I’m not quite at the starting point yet, I’ll be following your journey closely 🙂 good luck.

O, http://www.mammalooka.com

Mary says:

For me, cloth diapering is mostly because I don’t want to put piles of plastic in landfills. If we weren’t using cloth, we’d go for a local composting-diapers option. We will save a bit of energy by line drying.

Julia says:

you will like it!! you will you will!! i have and for 2 kids it’s saved us alot!!!

wk says:

It seems like just yesterday I was right where you are, and now it’s been about 6 months! Despite all the different benefits, I really think my favorite part of the whole cloth diapering process is putting a fresh, clean, soft diaper on my son and knowing that he’s comfy. It just feels healthier, and I never once got a warm fuzzy feeling from a Pamper.

And don’t worry about the fluffy bum…It is harder to fit clothes over it, but I’d guess it’s easier with a girl! Just put her loose clothes or dresses, or get some babylegs! They are super cute!

Good luck..I hope you LOVE your new diapers! And remember, there’s a learning curve. Don’t get discouraged…you can do it!

I started using cloth on my first son when he was 18 months old. I cloth diapered my second from birth. I plan to use cloth on the 3rd. One thing about cloth is that I just like the diapers. They are nicer. They are quality, and since I buy from a work at home mom, I am helping a mom support her family. We also dealt with a terrible Pampers DryMax rash, so right now I’m as committed to cloth as ever. One piece of advice from me is to get a diaper sprayer. In my opinion, they are worth their weight in gold.

[ker-AND-uh] says:

We started with cloth for all the reasons you listed above and stuck with it because A is so darn cute in them! And…he’s the only one on the block with a colored bum! lol. But when he goes to the babysitter, he’s in ‘sposies. That’s because I got annoyed with having to stay up late [due to my schedule] doing laundry. So he only wears cloth at home or out with us. We love it!

Brooke says:

Cloth is great! I use fuzzibunz. I think its funny that one person commented that when someone says they wont use cloth when they are out and about is such a newbie CD comment. Its true. I said it. Then I realized that there isn’t much difference in putting the diaper in a wetbag to take home and wash then trying to find a garbage can to throw it away in. Oh and did you know its illegal to throw poop in the garbage. YEP. You are technically supposed to throw it in the potty and then throw the disposable away. Seems like the same amount of work and you could just be saving that diaper. lol now I am trying to convince you. You don’t need that! Good luck I hope you love them as much as I do and I hope you convert some of your friends with you. The more main stream CDing becomes the better! Have fun.

Chanel says:

I am excited to see how your journey into cloth diapering goes. I am planning on doing it when I have my next child.

Mama Novus says:

So looking forward to reading your experiences with cloth diapering. I love that you’re taking such a balanced approach (journalist, in your nature, I know! :o) ) to it, and that you’re not necessarily attached to one method or another. I was curious about the actual dollar-to-dollar savings and actual environmental benefit of cloth diapering too, when taking into account the energy usage of washing and drying. I figured maybe line drying as much as possible would be somewhat helpful, but that’s presuming one has the room to do it, and the inventory to wait the extra time between uses. Keep us posted, Mama!

i love actually explain the fears and rationalize with them. as why parents switch diapers.

see i was totally into doing cloth diapers when my son was first born, but i couldn’t find a diaper delivery service in my area and we don’t have a washing machine in my current house so out went cloth diapering (which to be honest wouldn’t work with my monster, he’s king of dirty diapers)

now that i am moving into a nice new huge home and having my 2nd monster this month i registered for some cloth diaper basics to see if it may work

Dana says:

I find you and your ‘parenting skills’ annoying.

Danielle says:

Dana, I find your comment annoying. No one is telling you to sit here and read… No one is forcing you to come back to Jen’s blog.

Why not try and live by this simple rule? If you don’t have anything nice to say… DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL!

So, I just want to say. I’m a cloth diaper-er (word?) and this post, and some parts of it, kind of offended me. “
That’s when I began to think I’m not broke enough to switch to cloth diapers. ” <-- OUCH! That kind of hurt. And there’s a few other parts that I was like ‘eek, that’s a little harsh.’ I like cloth diapers. Mainly because there’s no chlorine in them, and they’re very easy for us. H is 7 months old and has never, ever had diaper rash. Also, it’s easier on me. I don’t like disposables. The mess of him stays better in a cloth diaper. I haven’t had a ”blow out” with poop up his back. I just prefer it. I often defend you, but I just couldn’t this time. I was a little hurt, a little offended, and to be honest, I thought the post was kind of condescending. Not trying to be mean, just my two cents. Good luck with cloth diapering, if you’re not 100% dedicated, you won’t stick to it, so I hope you do! It’s easy once you get into the swing of things. 🙂

@Single Mama I wrote you an email response so you already know how I feel but I thought I should reiterate for the people who I guess were bringing your attention to this post, an anyone else who may have misunderstood where I was coming from…

This post was about ME and why *I* have been back and forth about deciding to cloth diaper. I wasn’t saying “I’m not broke enough and people who CD are broke” I was making a funny statement (or trying to) that was about ME. I’d never want to imply something mean about people who so something different than me simply because they’re different. Plus, we’re not really different if I’m trying it now too 🙂 so I’d be in the same boat.

What I was trying to do in this post was state where y thoughts have been on cloth diapering an where they are now. If my thoughts were where they were a few months ago I wouldn’t even be giving them the time of day. But after looking IMO it more I’ve decided they’re worth a try and who knows… Maybe I’ll love it!

I know many cloth diaper advocated want cloth diapers to become more “mainstream” doesn’t that mean that people, even as skeptical as I’ve been need to give them a chance? I figure it’s better to be 100% honest in my past doubts or else I’ll seem like any other person who loves and raves about them 🙂

Anyway, again I didn’t mean to offend anyone who DOES cloth diaper, I was only meaning to make fun of myself. Obviously I am “broke enough” since I’m giving it a try. Sorry if I offended you! That wasn’t my intention at all. I know I won’t ever make EVERYONE happy though.

Oh and one last thing… If I hate them, I’m donating them to another skeptic mom in hopes she’ll fall in love with cloth diapers! 🙂

sssdawna says:

i just looked at my bestie’s registry and she has cloth diapers on it…i remembered your experiment and now i have to read all about it!

sssdawna says:

i just looked at my bestie’s registry and she has cloth diapers on it…i remembered your experiment and now i have to read all about it!

@Single Mama I wrote you an email response so you already know how I feel but I thought I should reiterate for the people who I guess were bringing your attention to this post, an anyone else who may have misunderstood where I was coming from…

This post was about ME and why *I* have been back and forth about deciding to cloth diaper. I wasn’t saying “I’m not broke enough and people who CD are broke” I was making a funny statement (or trying to) that was about ME. I’d never want to imply something mean about people who so something different than me simply because they’re different. Plus, we’re not really different if I’m trying it now too 🙂 so I’d be in the same boat.

What I was trying to do in this post was state where y thoughts have been on cloth diapering an where they are now. If my thoughts were where they were a few months ago I wouldn’t even be giving them the time of day. But after looking IMO it more I’ve decided they’re worth a try and who knows… Maybe I’ll love it!

I know many cloth diaper advocated want cloth diapers to become more “mainstream” doesn’t that mean that people, even as skeptical as I’ve been need to give them a chance? I figure it’s better to be 100% honest in my past doubts or else I’ll seem like any other person who loves and raves about them 🙂

Anyway, again I didn’t mean to offend anyone who DOES cloth diaper, I was only meaning to make fun of myself. Obviously I am “broke enough” since I’m giving it a try. Sorry if I offended you! That wasn’t my intention at all. I know I won’t ever make EVERYONE happy though.

Oh and one last thing… If I hate them, I’m donating them to another skeptic mom in hopes she’ll fall in love with cloth diapers! 🙂

I started using cloth on my first son when he was 18 months old. I cloth diapered my second from birth. I plan to use cloth on the 3rd. One thing about cloth is that I just like the diapers. They are nicer. They are quality, and since I buy from a work at home mom, I am helping a mom support her family. We also dealt with a terrible Pampers DryMax rash, so right now I’m as committed to cloth as ever. One piece of advice from me is to get a diaper sprayer. In my opinion, they are worth their weight in gold.

I was not able to do the cloth diaper thing because of day care, but my BF did and she looooved it. And honestly it was never a problem when we were out and about. I think they would have been great for the my 3rd because she was always covered in diaper rash (must have been all those “harmful chemicals”). I can’t wait to hear how the experiment goes!

Katie says:

From Yahoo: Disposable diapers release volatile organic compounds, or VOC. This includes toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. These VOC’s have shown to have toxic health effects on the baby, such as cancer or brain damage in some cases. There is even a possible link between diaper emissions and asthma. There are many studies out on that. The main absorbent filler in disposable diapers is sodium polyacrylate. This chemical can cause respiratory problems as well as skin problems. Almost all disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine. They also have trace amounts of a highly carcinogen byproduct of chlorine bleaching called dioxin.

So yeah, most of us who do use cloth diapers for environmental, economic and health related reasons can easily find and tell you what chemicals are in disposable diapers. You can buy a couple different brands that are chlorine free, at least.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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