Cloth Diaper Dropout: Why I Quit Cloth Diapers

I confess a lot of things on this blog. A Lot. But there's one thing I haven't shared and I feel like I need to come clean, so let's get right to it: I quit cloth diapers.

You may have noticed from some of the photos here on the blog or on Instagram. I haven't been hiding it, but I haven't necessarily made a public proclamation of the state of how my son's bum is covered either. Since I've written quite a bit about cloth diapering here on the blog, I figure I should tell you all about this decision as well. I have to be honest, as I was researching cloth diapers, I didn't find a lot of negative feedback about them. And while I wasn't necessarily looking for it, I also didn't find anyone who had quit them either. (Although I'm sure they are out there.)

Often, blog posts about the hows and whys of cloth diapering are from moms who are SOLD OUT, LOVE THEM FOR LIFE, CLOTH DIAPERING QUEENS OF THE UNIVERSE. It's a crazy world and I know a lot of wonderful, wonderful people who are cloth diapering champs, almost viewing it as a hobby - and I say, more power to them! But for me, I was never "sold out" on cloth diapers. I wanted to try them out on my firstborn. And I did like them. I liked how they looked. How they were good for the environment. And most of all, how much money they saved.

And I'm happy to say, I have absolutely no regrets with them.

But today, I have sold every last one, and I now identify with the disposable-diaper-momma camp.

So here's what happened.

Around a year old, Eli really struggled to adjust from formula to cow's milk. He started having around 12-14 dirty diapers a day and they were horribleterribleawful. Like, the worst things you've ever smelled or seen. It took a while for me to figure out that it was the cow's milk proteins that were causing it, so this went on for about 3-4 weeks. During that time, I switched over to disposables. It was just easier to be able to roll up a diaper and throw it away, then spray it off - and because he was going through so many diapers, do laundry every. single. day. Plus, my husband sorta insisted if he was going to participate in the diaper changes.

And really, that's what started me down the path to become a cloth diaper dropout. When I became pregnant with my second later that month and Eli's "digestive issues" cleared up, I knew it was time for me to go big or go home with cloth diapers because I'd be having two in cloth in just nine short months - which meant I would need to nearly double my stash to accommodate them both.

I chose to go home.

So, from someone who really liked cloth diapering, but was never crazy-sold out for them, here's my honest take on them and why I quit.

Cloth diapers definitely have a lot of pros - and most all the reasons I chose to do them in the first place still stand today: less environmental impact, a huge cost savings, looked adorable on Eli (when not covered in clothing), he never once had a diaper rash in cloth, and they were honestly fairly easy to do, both at home and on-the-go. I know the main barrier to entry with cloth diapers is the cleaning/dealing with poop, and here's what I'll say. Everything before one year, was really, really easy. Breastmilk washes out easily without even needing to spray, so really it wasn't much different from disposables when he was exclusively breastfed.

Around 10 months I began introducing more solid foods with Baby Led Weaning, and that's when I started noticing it becoming a bit - well - not fun. Not counting those three or four weeks where Eli was "abnormal" for a bit, there were still definitely days when it was pretty nasty to spray off a cloth diaper as he transitioned more and more to solid foods. Doable? Totally. Enjoyable? Definitely not. It wasn't every time, but every once in a while, there's this "moment," you know? Where you're just wondering what in the heck you were thinking. But they're not that often.

A few unexpected things also happened that I wasn't prepared for. First off: I was surprised by how much brain power it took to cloth diaper. Disposables are pretty brainless. Choose your brand, put them on and see how they fare. With cloth, there are a million things to consider, ways to stuff/line/size/wash/dry/strip them. If you're having issues, like repelling, or have a heavy wetter, etc. It can take a lot of research and trial and error to figure it out. Eli was a heavy wetter and slept through the night at 13 weeks. He was waking up soaked, even with two hemp inserts. Everything online said to, "Buy this!" or "Buy that!" then test them out to see how they worked. But my main reason for using cloth was to save money - so "testing out" three or four $20 inserts that I couldn't return, didn't sound like a good plan to me. I felt like at times, it was just one problem after another and while I came into it with gusto to figure it all out, it started wearing on me and eventually, I just wanted a stupid thing like diapers to take up less room in my brain. Is that bad?

The other thing was the cloth diaper bubble butt. I knew it would be big, I really did. But I didn't realize how big my son would be. Then add a double stuffed cloth diaper for a heavy wetter, and it made dressing him and his chubby thighs nearly impossible. I had purchased lots of cute clothes ahead of time for him and he couldn't wear them. I'll be honest and say even with a disposable, things were tight, but adding a cloth diaper made it out of the question. And even when I did find clothing that fit, I didn't love the look. It's vain and a very small thing that wasn't the deal breaker for me, but I want to be completely honest and say, that's something that did end up bugging me and eventually played (a small part) in my decision to quit.

When I started toying with the idea of stopping, I asked my husband what he thought - if he cared what we did going forward. And he didn't care at all. He was never that big a fan of cloth, a good sport, but not a fan - and I knew he had only agreed to do it because it was something that I wanted to try. Plus, I let him know that we wouldn't be out any additional money either. I knew I could sell our cloth stash for what I purchased them for since I got them all on super sale, which was one of my selling-points to him in the beginning.

So since it wasn't priority to him, and we had room in our budget to use disposables exclusively, that's what we did.

And I have to say, it's so great to not have to think about diapers any more. I don't have to think about laundry, or stuffing, or sizing or anything else. Diapers are just diapers, ordered with a click of a button on Amazon and disposed of in one quick walk to the trashcan out back.

So there it is, all laid out. I know I don't have one super-good-awesome, that-totally-makes-sense reason. But all together, that's ultimately what made my decision to switch.

I can't tell you how many times people told me I was crazy for cloth diapering, who looked at me with big, sorrowful, shocked eyes and told me I was nuts and would regret my decision. But the thing is, even though it may look like they were right - they're still wrong. I don't regret it at all and I'm so happy I did it for a year. It really wasn't bad and I would still recommend cloth diapering to someone who's interested in them - but also be very open and honest about our reasons for stopping.

So if you're considering them, don't let this post completely sway you against them. I think it's important to look at both sides of the cloth diapering camp - not those that do them and those that don't. But those that do them and those that no longer do. 

People who've never done them will say a lot of negative things about them, but they really don't know anything except that they think poop is gross. (Annnnnd they're right about that at least.) I know plenty of mommas that truly do love cloth and have awesome experiences with them - so there's truth there, and you may be one of them! For me, I could definitely see myself continuing to cloth diaper if I needed to, no problem. But because I don't have to, I'm not going to. I wouldn't say I had a bad experience with cloth at all, but, I also wouldn't say I had a great experience either. I'm not hot or cold to cloth diapers - I guess I'm just lukewarm.

I'm a proud supporter of both cloth and disposables - and proud to have been in both camps. 

No regrets. 

14 comments:

  1. I have a 6 month old and stand firmly in both camps! I use Fuzzibunz perfect size cloth which are amazing because they are not huge at all. I use them all day, and I use disposables at night. I felt guilty about it at first but now I have just realized it really works for us. I plan to continue using these until she starts solids (or as long as I can handle the changing poo!) but won't stress about using disposables after that point. I have 10 smalls and 12 mediums, so not a big investment at all but even if I only use them for 8-10 months with each baby I have still saved so much money on disposables. Plus, thousands of diapers from landfills :-) Each evening my hubby just tosses the diapers into the wash while I feed baby and then I pull them out and hang em up. They are dry by morning. I definitely don't think you have to be gung-ho one way or the other!

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  2. Oh, I completely agree that you don't have to be sold out one way or another! I think it's really healthy (and probably much less stressful) to be flexible. I used a disposable with Eli at night for a while too. it was just too frustrating to have him wake up, simply because he was wet - a disposable was definitely worth a full night's sleep. And you're right, no matter how long you use them, they still save money and the environment, so it's a win! I'm glad you've found a great solution for your family. Thanks for your comment!

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  3. Thank you for this, Laura! We're recent cloth diaper quitters with our nine month old for various reasons and it's really nice to hear that others have struggled with them, too. I can't bear to part with our stash quite yet (so silly of me!), but I would love to hear about your process in selling them to others.

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  4. I agree with everything here! I managed about 6 weeks with my 2nd before finally throwing in the towel. I couldn't seem to get those things clean! I sold them off and was much happier for it. Like you, I think it's a great thing but it wasn't for me.

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  5. Exactly - I'm still a fan, but it just wasn't the best for our lifestyle. Glad to hear you've got it figured out for what works best for you. No regrets!

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  6. I totally get not being ready to get rid of your stash. While I stopped at 13 months, I wasn't ready to actually sell them until three or four months later. I've had a few questions about how I sold them, so post coming soon!

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  7. I am a big fan of cloth diapers, but we use both. I think a lot of people think it's either all or nothing, but we use what works best for us in the situation. I could not find a nighttime solution for my heavy wetter and didn't want to go crazy with the wool covers and what not that people recommend, so he's in disposables at night. We also use disposables sometimes when out for the day or traveling it really depends on the situation. What really helps is I work full time and the babysitter is very much on board with cloth diapering. We have a good routine where I put the dirty diapers in before I leave for work and she takes them out. Plus she sprays way more diapers than I do. It is also 80+ degrees year round where we live, so my son is pretty much in a diaper all the time, so it fund have him in cute cloth prints. Also we don't have to deal with cloth issues...sometimes he'll wear a pair of shorts, but never pants. Lastly, my son is now 14 months and never had any milk issues when switching over so his poop just plops right off. Hardly need to spray. I guess I'm lucky in that way. On the other had breastfeeding didn't work out for us, so he was mostly formula fed and that was way more gross to me.

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  8. I totally agree, a being flexible is key to sustaining and enjoying cloth! That's so great how on board your babysitter is with cloth! I feel like that would be hard to find. And yes - I loved cloth in the summer when he could just run around in only a diaper, definitely the easiest way to dress them! So glad you don't have to spray too much, yes, I'd imagine some of the "pain" of cloth diapering is removed - just depending on your child's bowel movements! :)

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  9. NOOO you were my cloth diaper inspiration!!! just kidding (sort of). In the past I have always said I wanted to do cloth (especially after reading your posts about it!), but the more and more I think about it I have been debating if it's really worth all the time. I have read up a lot on washing, drying, dealing with mold, having to buy different detergents, etc. and it started to make me wonder if it was really all that worth it to ME, someone who loathes laundry. I know it makes sense for other people, but for me I think that it's something I will just be overwhelmed by all the time - like you said, it takes up a lot of brain space to think about washing and dealing with issues. So thank you for writing this post! You are so right, there is a camp that loves cloth diapers, and a camp that would never try them. Kudos to you for giving them a shot and making a decision based on research AND experience.

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  10. Awww, thanks Laura! I know, I kinda thought I'd be letting people down by saying that I quit - but I also knew I'd want to hear from someone who'd done them and then stopped, and be able to take that into consideration. Plus, I didn't want to feel like I was hiding - which was NEVER my intention. :) If you don't like laundry ... yeah, I'll just say there's a lot of laundry. :) Although that part is actually sorta the brainless part, but it's just repetitive. I would definitely encourage anyone on the fence to try them for a year or so, and I've actually heard from a lot of moms that they only do them for their child's first year - and then switch. That way they only ever need enough for one kiddo too, and they don't have to deal with the worst of the poop... Just a thought! They have great resale value, so no matter what, I don't think you can lose. Since I got mine on sale and took really good care of them, I was able to sell them for what I purchased them for and wasn't out a dime. I'll be curious to hear what you decide to do!

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  11. One thing I would recommend to parents considering cloth diapers is a diaper service. We loved ours! It takes away all the yucky parts of washing them. And many of them offer introductory options, just to try it out before investing in your own stash. The cost is higher, but given how early and easily my cloth diapered daughter learned to use the toilet on her own, we easily saved an entire year of diapers. It wasn't totally the cloth diapers, but I am convinced it was a significant contributor to her early success. We will see how things go with our son! Finding childcare that would use the cloth has not been an issue for us, we found great centers and nannies that would use them.

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  12. Such a great point - that would DEFINITELY make CDing easier! and I'm sure in the long run it will still save money, not to mention the environment! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I am also a cloth diaper quitter after really trying to make it work. However, I still have a huge stack of BumGenius diapers (some only used a few times!) under the changing table. How did you sell yours? Thanks!

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  14. Oh BumGenius have great resale value! I'm working on the post - hoping to get it out this week, or next at the lastest - keep an eye out!

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