Perhaps you have heard of the huge resurgence of cloth diaper use in the U.S. and Canada. If you’re a parent to a young child, it is kind of difficult to miss. D and I knew before our baby arrived that we would be using cloth diapers. They are arguably better for the environment and can be much cheaper to use than disposables.
Notice the distinction in can be much cheaper. You can buy everything you need from birth to potty training, plus some luxury items, for about $200. This is especially true if one parent can stay home with the little one.
D and I both work full-time, so we kind of have two stashes. Flats with covers are great for when we’re at home, because they wash so easily. All-in-ones (AIOs) and All-in-Twos (AI2s) are perfect for the babysitters, because they are easy to use. We spent about $500 on all of our cloth diapering supplies – and we’re saving everything for the possibility of a second child. Though we spent quite a bit more on our cloth diapers than needed, we are still coming out ahead as compared to using disposables.
Fortunately, I discovered literature on minimalism before Rie grew too much. It would have been so easy to become caught up in the cloth diaper craze. What’s that, you say? How in the world can people become crazed about diapers? It’s easy. They are cute. They come in all sorts of different colors and prints. With all of the different designs and materials to try, it only takes a quick hop down the rabbit hole to get carried away. Though considered to be “green”, cloth diapering is a booming industry that can take advantage of consumers just as easily as any other.
I bring all of this up because I have lurked on cloth diapering boards and have witnessed the addiction other parents are experiencing. There is an urban legend about a woman who paid $200 for a used cloth diaper on eBay because it was in a print that is no longer produced. I wonder how that conversation went with her significant other when the credit card bill arrived. On a more day-to-day basis, you will hear about people who need to “de-stash” (sell some diapers) because they have accidentally gone overboard and realized they have a dresser full of cloth diapers. It happens more often than you might think.
Recently, D and I had the good fortune to meet an expectant mother who is preparing to cloth diaper. She was overwhelmed by the hype over certain kinds of diapers, which kinds of materials are best, and how to wash her diapers (washing diapers is another hot industry right now – there is a wide variety of “cloth safe” soaps are on the market). Below are some of the tips we gave this soon-to-be mama. I share them here for anyone else who is considering joining the cloth-diapering community:
- Keep your wash routine simple. Don’t try to troubleshoot any problems until you actually have problems. If you want to use the same detergent/soap that you use on your baby’s clothing, that’s fine. If you want to buy a special cloth diaper soap, that’s fine too.
- Err on the side of minimal. If your kid is going to be in daycare, then three days’ worth of cloth diapers would be handy. If you’re able to stay home and do laundry every day or every other day, just 1½ or 2½ days’ worth of diapers is fine.
- Use cloth wipes. They go in the same pail as your cloth diapers and can be washed with them. This actually simplifies the process – no need to remember to separate disposable wipes into a trash can.
- Do not get caught up in collecting cute prints or special edition diapers. They don’t hold their value and your kid is going to do horrible things to them. Remember, though cute, they are still just diapers.