I think one of the most surprising decisions I've made as a parent is choosing to cloth diaper (or "CD"). A few years ago, I probably would have snubbed my nose at the option and wouldn't have even considered it. My first introduction to cloth diapering was - you guessed it - through blogs, and as I saw the topic pop up more and more often, cloth diapering stopped being this weird, "hippie" thing to do, instead it seemed smart and well, normal.
There are a few reasons why someone would cloth diaper:
- Going green - you're keeping thousands of diapers out of landfills. Simple as that.
- Avoiding chemicals - keeping weird, unknown substances away from your baby's butt gives some parents piece of mind. I mean, I don't know what those 12-hour Pampers have in them to absorb so much pee, but it's so amazing it's got to be unnatural. Sometimes, I want to weigh Eli's diapers before and after, just to see the difference.
- To save money - There's no exact number out there, but the general consensus is that cloth diapers save parents on average $2,000 - $4,000 per kid. That's a lot of bones. I'll dig into the 'how' of these numbers in a second.
So how much exactly do cloth diapers really save parents?
Uhh, I'm not sure.
Whomp. Whomp. Sorry!
That $2,000 - $4,000 is a range because the exact number depends on what kind of diapers you would use (for example: Wal-Mart brand vs. Seventh Generation), how many cloth diapers you purchase and at what price, and how long your child goes until they are potty trained, among other things. But even if you go with the low-range, 2k is a nice chunk of change that I'd rather spend on a vacation.
Of course, I know someone will raise the question, what about the price of water, electricity and detergent? Mike asked that question too, and the good news is that paying to wash the CDs is still a heckuva lot less than buying disposables. This post goes into crazy detail, but to cut to the chase, on average it's about $150 per year to wash and dry cloth diapers (including detergent) using a top-loader. It'll be less if you have an HE machine, air dry your diapers, or choose a cheaper than average detergent.
Finally, keep in mind that CDs can typically be used on more than one child. Depending on the quality of CDs you purchase and how you take care of them, you should be able to reuse your stash on subsequent children. I air dry all our cloth diapers, in part to save on electricity costs, and to help them last longer.
As I "went public" with our decision to cloth diaper when I was pregnant, I can't tell you the crazy amount of varied reactions I received. Some people praised my decision, but most just thought I was nuts. Pretty sure they thought I would be clothes-pinning together burp cloths and hand washing the poop off with a washboard and lye. They had no idea how far CDing had come. For the record, I don't believe I touch any more poop when Eli is cloth diapered vs. when he's in disposables. While I'll go into how I cloth diaper in another post, I think this was the number one most common misconception when people heard I was going to CD - they kept asking me why I'd want to touch so much poop.
And to that I say, "Why, whatever do you mean? Don't you like touching poop? I LOVE touching poop!!!!"
Um, NO. C'mon people. Fist off, I DON'T WANT TO TOUCH POOP ANY MORE THAN YOU DO. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY ASKING ME THAT?
Second, as soon as you become a parent you realize that while you may not like it, touching poop is your new normal, so you'd better get over your poop-phobia real quick. The other day I walked all over town with a big yellow poop splatter from a blowout all over my pink shirt because I wasn't home and didn't have a new one to change into. And since I'm sure you are wondering, yeah, I rocked it - I looked gooooood with that poop all over me.
Typically when I show people the actual CD and explain that I don't touch poop any more than with disposables, they're a little more "comfortable" with my decision. Other times, people have been dead set on fixating on the poop and how much work CDing must be. And that's fine. In the end, all that really mattered was that my husband was on board and we made the best decision for our family. Yes, they're a bit more work than disposables, but for us, that was okay. I was willing to trade the work for the other benefits of CDing, but it's totally a personal decision that each family has to make for themselves. I completely understand why someone might not want to CD - and if I was still working, I'm fairly sure we wouldn't be.
While I've only been CDing for two months, I can say that I'm happy we took the plunge - and Mike's happy too. He was actually one of the toughest people for me to sell on CDing, but in the end I was able to win him over. In my next post, I tell you how I did.