When I had my first child, I knew nothing about cloth diapering. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know anything really, if I am being honest. I followed mainstream everything, including horrible advice given from what I thought were reputable sources. It wasn’t until years later when I was pregnant with my second son, that I discovered I had choices and it wasn’t just about where I wanted to birth, or how I wanted to feed my baby, but that I had choices about EVERYTHING. It was really liberating.
At this point, my 2.5 year old was still in Pull-Ups and we were spending more than I care to admit on a weekly basis to keep him from peeing his bed at night or pooping on the floor (as he was only half potty-learned by that age). I was in school full time trying to finish my degree, so my husband was our only source of income and we were undeniably living paycheck to paycheck. The stress of making sure we had enough money to buy diapers each week was overwhelming. I decided then and there that I wanted to try cloth diapering with our newest little one, once he arrived. I started trying to research the types of diapers, how many I would need, what kind of detergent I would use, how I would store dirty diapers, and so on. It was intimidating to say the least. I had a friend who invited me to a free cloth diapering and babywearing class at a local birth center, so I decided to use that as my definite starting point. That class was so helpful! The instructor passed around about a half-dozen different diapers and explained how each worked, pros and cons of each. She also covered detergents, cloth wipes, and storage for dirty diapers. Basically any question you could ever possibly have about cloth diapers was answered in that class.
When my husband and I left the class, we both were 100% satisfied with our decision to cloth our newest baby and couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was for the environment, our baby, and our tight budget! I don’t think I have ever seen him as excited…not about video games, sports, nor food. He decided that he liked the all-in-ones best because they go on just like disposables do, and I decided that I liked prefolds and covers best for their simplicity and lower cost. A few months later when we got some extra money, we made our way to Growing Up in St. Pete and we picked out a dozen bumGenius All-in-One diapers. I was later gifted a mix of small diapers to try, which included Thirsties covers, some prefolds, and some fitteds, so we felt pretty happy with our little stash.
We didn’t want to have a baby shower for our second, so we opted for a “Meet the Baby” party instead. My mom, who was hosting the party for me, told me that relatives would want to buy stuff for us, so I should provide a registry with some items for them to pick from. Everything on my registry was cloth diaper related; I had wetbags in a few different sizes, some covers, a few newborn sized AIOs, cloth diaper safe cream, and some Snappis on it. I figured that most items were $20 or less, which is roughly the cost of a small box of disposable diapers, and thus would be easy for them to contribute to our tiny
stash if they wanted to. If each person/family purchased one diaper for about $20, we would most likely double our stash, and be able to have enough diapers to last more than one day at a time… at least that was my train of thought.
Day of the party, pretty much everyone bought us a gift… but they all brought disposable diapers. I was given one pack of prefolds, but they were super thin; later on as we were cloth diapering, we ended up using them as burp cloths instead. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad for the celebration of my little one’s arrival and the thoughtfulness of buying us something, it just put us at a slight disadvantage. I tried to return most of the boxes to big box stores in the area, so that I could use the money for more cloth diapers or accessories to aid us on our cloth diapering journey, but I quickly found that most stores weren’t going to give us nearly what the boxes cost. My husband and I decided we’d use the disposables first, and as soon as they were gone, we’d start using our cloth (which was prepped and ready to go). I had enough disposables to last three months. As we approached closer and closer to the end of our disposables, my husband and I found that we started psyching ourselves out. “What if we can’t do cloth?” “What if it’s too much work?” “What if we get leaks or blowouts?” The self-doubt was abundant!
My final straw, before making the switch, happened one afternoon as I drove with my boys to my mom’s house. I pulled up to her driveway when my toddler proclaimed “Mommy baby is yucky. He’s making a mess!” I got out of the car and walked to his door, when I realized he was covered, literally head to toe, in liquid EBF poop! There was no salvaging his outfit; he was stripped and my mom bathed him while I had to scrub the bucket seat clean. It was so bad that there was a puddle of poop in the base of the car seat! That day was the day I said “nope, we are switching to cloth!” It’s funny how after a huge blowout in disposables all of that self-doubt went away (I mean, seriously, what did the diaper even hold? It was all over him and the seat, there’s no way that disposable was doing anything to contain the mess.) We put him in cloth diapers the next day, and lo and behold, no more blowouts!
Cloth diapering wasn’t always easy; I dealt with stink issues at one point and ammonia burn because I wasn’t using a strong enough detergent, but it was a wonderful learning experience. My husband still raves about cloth diapers, and we’re both excited to cloth diaper our newest son who is due in May.
So what can you take away from my crazy journey? There are a few things I would suggest to anyone considering cloth diapering.
1. Go to a cloth diapering class! This was super beneficial to us, as it helped us have a side by side comparison of all diapers as well as introduced us to other options we didn’t even know existed! Such as cloth wipes, storage options, what creams to use/avoid, how best to clean the diapers, etc. We host cloth diaper classes once per month.
2. Get support! Find a local cloth diapering group or a friend who cloth diapers and have them ease whatever fears you may have. It’ll be great to have those resources later on, in case you run into any issues like we did. Join our facebook group to ask questions!
3. Don’t put it off! The longer you wait, the bigger chance you have to psyche yourself out or talk yourself back into disposables. We wish, looking back, that we had just started from birth even if that meant washing diapers everyday due to a small stash.
4. Get your partner/significant other on board with cloth diapering, too! This is really important as I know some moms have tried to go it alone, without the help, and although it IS doable, it makes it twice as hard. Bring them to the cloth diapering class with you and let the instructor tell them all of the benefits, instead of just trying to convince them yourself. Sometimes it takes someone else to convince them that cloth diapering is great, don’t get discouraged if they aren’t immediately receptive to your wanting to make the switch.
5. Find your “why!” Why is cloth diapering something you want to do? To save money? To help the environment? Figure out why you want to cloth diaper and remind yourself of that reason, especially during tough times. Our reason was financial, so when I would get exhausted and not want to do another load of laundry, I would just remind myself why I started in the first place and how much we were saving by using cloth, and it helped me power through.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I know here at Growing Up we have helped lots of families with their cloth diapering needs. Whether it’s advice about a particular style of diaper, help with leak issues, changing wash routine, or adding more diapers to their stash, we love it when somebody asks us a question about cloth diapers!
Parenting can be hard, but diapering doesn’t have to be! :)