I have two sons, Jonathan and Ben, ages 6 and 1. With Jonathan, we used disposables, and Ben was our cloth diaper baby. I want to mention here that this is not a dedicated/sponsored post, and I am neither for or against cloth diapers. I’m sharing my experience with cloth diapers for the same reason that I always do: to add to the many voices on the subject in the hopes of providing inspiration and a different perspective.
As I write this, we are officially off cloth diapers, and Ben is not yet potty trained. Last year, I wrote about my experience with cloth diapers while we were actively using them on my other blog, which you can read here.
We used cloth diapers with Ben from the time he was born, until he was about a year old. If I could boil down our many reasons for converting to disposables, it would be this: the inconvenience outweighed the benefits.
Why We Stopped (Or Rather, Why I Stopped) Using Cloth Diapers
1) I was returning to work
I’m a Zumba and Yoga instructor, and while I teach, Ben stays at the gym daycare (and if that’s not a case for why being an instructor is such a great mommy job, I don’t know what is).
Different gyms have different rules, and while I have NEVER been told that cloth diapers were not allowed – in fact, one of the gyms made it a point to mention that they are okay with cloth – I didn’t want to make things difficult for the staff, especially when it came to diapering my baby. Also, my gym bag and baby bag are heavy enough without having to lug around a dirty diaper sack.
2) I was out and about WAY more
Driving from gym to gym and around the city for Modern Mama events and meetings means that Ben and I are in and out of the car a lot. Now, don’t get me wrong – cloth diapers are more absorbent than you think, but I am a really stickler for keeping his bum nice and dry. We struggled with diaper rash when we were using cloth diapers, and so I got into the habit of changing Ben every 2-4 hours. Yes, you read that correctly.
That would mean I’d have to change Ben before we left the house, again at the gym before class, right after class before driving home, and then about an hour after we got home. Same thing if I was hosting an event or going to a meeting. No. Freaking. Way.
So why not just leave him in for the long haul? Again: diaper rash. And leaks. I’m a working mother with the extraordinary privilege of being able to bring my baby to work with me, but I am not going to make things difficult for myself.
3) We were using disposables more than the cloth
At one time, we only used disposables at night. We were never, ever, exclusive cloth users because I’ve never been able to keep Ben in a cloth diaper for longer than 6 hours without it leaking or him getting a rash. Towards the end of his first year, we started to use cloth less and less until it reached the point where they were costing rather than saving us money.
I am absolutely grateful for my cloth diapering experience. It’s definitely a lot of hard work, but it’s an exercise in organization and planning. Plus, those covers are just so cute!
How We Used Cloth Diapers
1) We Used a Diaper Service
We used Happy Nappy and I absolutely love this company. They are locally owned and operated, the staff are amazing, I have never had any problems, and they offer the best deal in town. I highly recommend them.
I have never, ever, ever, had a desire to purchase and wash my own cloth diapers. It has less to do with getting your washer and dryer all germy and more to do with the fact that seriously, I don’t even iron, so like hell am I hand washing poopy diapers.
2) We Used Disposables at Night
Ben slept straight through the night almost from birth, and I was not about to wake him up to change him. In my personal experience, cloth diapers don’t last more than 6 hours without leaking (even with an additional liner), and even if they did, leaving skin against a urine-soaked surface for that long would inevitably lead to diaper rash. And Ben did get a nasty case of diaper rash which I had to “cure” from time to time with a disposable diaper.
3) Lots of Powder and Zinc Oxide
Again, the rash! You can tell I absolutely hate nappy rash. It looks painful, I can only imagine how it feels for a poor, innocent baby. Had we not gotten this under control, I would have ditched the cloth diapers sooner. Fortunately, I found that by using zinc oxide and powder religiously, I was able to prevent diaper rash. This became truer as he got older; younger babies naturally have more sensitive skin and are therefore more prone to skin issues. Brands I use: Johnson’s Cornstarch Baby Powder, Live Clean Diaper Cream, and Live Clean Non-Petroleum Jelly.
4) Disposables for Family and Babysitters
I did not force anyone to use cloth. I’m always beyond grateful to have a babysitter at all, and the last thing I want to do is make things difficult. Before leaving, I always make sure that Ben is in a clean, dry, disposable diaper, and that there are many disposables handy. Cloth diapers are also on hand in case anyone wants to try (and I only ever had one person in the whole world use cloth on Ben when babysitting, a dear friend of mine who was also planning on using cloth with her baby).
When it comes to traveling, we’ve done it both ways: either lugging the cloth diapers around or just using disposables. Honestly, it’s not that bad transporting the clean and dirty diapers around, but my personal preference was just to use disposables. And I would always put Ben in a disposable during a road trip for his comfort and my peace of mind.
One Very Important Thing You Should Know
I recently learned that in Edmonton, most disposable diapers are recycled.
Yep. You can Google it further, but here’s an article to get you started.
Would I use cloth diapers again?
Honestly, no. Sorry. I have absolutely nothing against them, but I also know that if I have another baby I will be super duper busy not just because I will have THREE kids, but because it’s very likely that I will have advanced a lot further in my career and will be super duper busy with that.
I think they’re fantastic, I’m glad people use them, and I do care about the environment, I promise! I am totally the poster child of reducing, reusing, and recycling. But, they’re just not for me.
Over to you: have you used cloth? What was your experience? Please share in the comments below!
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While my diapering days are long over (it’s been about 3 years now…), we used cloth exclusively for both our girls that were 2 years apart. We washed them at home and it was no.big.deal. Really. And we were out and about. And I was self employed. And it worked. I’d love to see a mom tell her story (maybe a more recent one than mine) about how cloth diapering CAN work in sync with a busy lifestyle. And about someone who did have a good experience and would do it again. Moms out there need some encouragement to do this. Even though there is such thing as diaper recycling (in some cities), there is still the production impacts of the thousands of diapers you’ll use each year. And the frequency of changing, every 2-4 hours is a good thing, disposable or not. I’m glad you gave a go and had a (mostly) good experience. And yes, those diaper covers, they are getting cuter each passing year!
My experience has been sort of similar. Loved the cloth diapers with my first child, loved them less with my 2nd.
With our first daughter we used cloth diapers exclusively: travelling, at night, with babysitters, at daycare – all of the time. I washed all of the diapers myself every three days, we never used a diapering service. I loved the experience. We saved a lot of money during a time when we were living on a reduced income, I felt like I was in tune with my daughter’s skincare and bathroom needs, and I loved her big bubble butt! And it was easy. Washing and folding cloth diapers is not time consuming.
When our daughter was 18 months we finally started using disposables at night because we were having trouble with keeping her dry for 12 hours.
With my 2nd daughter the experience has been a bit different. We only use cloth diapers during the day, while we’re home. If we go out or travel we use disposables.
Probably the #1 reason we rely more on disposables with our 2nd daughter is that we can’t the smell ammonia from the diapers. As soon as my daughter pees or poos the diapers reek! I’ve tried everything! The most likely culprit is our high efficiency washing machine. They use less water, which leads to build-up.
Overall it’s been a positive experience. I’m happy we’ve saved so much money. And above all, I feel really happy that our contribution to landfills has been reduced.
Overall I’m a big cloth diaper champion. My only issue is that washing machine technology needs to evolve to reflect the needs of cloth diapers! Washing machines need a cloth diaper setting! I see it in the future. It’ll happen. Cloth diapers are becoming increasingly popular.
I mean we *can* smell the ammonia in the diapers! They reek of ammonia!!
Very good post thank you, I was wondering what disposable diaper you recommend?
Thanks June! I personally like Huggies for disposable but I’ve heard good things about the Seventh Generation Free & Clear diapers too! ~ Lindsay
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