cloth diapers. What? Was she crazy? Twin babies, a full time job, a busy husband in school, no way would I be using cloth! Isn’t cloth messy and unreliable? Wouldn’t I be wasting water with all the endless washing? What babysitter or daycare center would ever agree to something like that? Two years later, baby #3 was set to arrive and I still had my first two children in diapers. I dared my mother to mention cloth to me... there would be absolutely NO WAY that I could cloth diaper three children. Ludicrous.
Fast forward two years later while expecting baby #4... as I was preparing my curriculum for the upcoming semester, I decided to put more of an emphasis on sustainability in the personal health and wellness course that I teach at a local community college. Since I am a busy parent and there are many moms (and dads) and soon-to-be moms that walk through my doors, there is a lot of information discussed about parenting, children, nutrition, and yes, diapering - cloth diapers started to seem like a natural (and needed) addition to our syllabus. After doing a brief amount of research, I mentioned to a friend that I was looking into cloth diapering - for my class and possibly for myself. The look of excitement on her face was indescribable. I truly did not expect that diaper discussions could elicit such a response. Little did I know that I would soon become the excited one when discussing cloth diapers.
As I researched cloth diapers and made the decision to use them at home, I began to cringe at the thought of all the waste I put in landfills and the money I poured down the drain over the past few years. Three children in disposable diapers meant that I was going through over 200 diapers a week on average. You can only imagine the overflowing trash cans in the driveway! Strategizing to get the best deal on boxes of diapers including planning time to drive 30 minutes away to the only place that sold boxes of diapers in the sizes and brands that I needed. Instead of hanging out with my children after a long day at work, I would find myself packing them in the car or paying the sitter to stay a little bit longer so I could make this journey every month. There was nothing satisfying about seeing those boxes stacked up in the laundry room or seeing bag after bag of trash exiting my house. Briefly reflecting on these thoughts helped push me closer to my decision to make the switch.
To help ease my way into the world of cloth diapering, my mother promised me a diaper service as a baby shower gift. What a treat! It definitely made me feel less nervous about adding additional laundry onto my already busy laundry schedule. However, once my baby arrived and I began the cloth diapering process, I realized that the laundry situation was not bad at all and even, dare I say, fun? I used the service for a bit but gradually began to do all of it myself. In some ways, although the service was convenient, I felt it was too limiting. With all those great cloth options out there, I wanted to try them all! (And, trust me, I am trying...)
Although I began this process diapering our newborn only, I quickly realized that my two year old could easily be switched over to cloth. There were no transition issues whatsoever! She even loves keeping her own stash in her room and picks out the one she wants to wear. My oldest son continues to need diapers at night - at 5 years old and over 50 pounds, transitioning him to cloth was a little bit trickier. However, the financial incentive is great. At his age, nighttime diapers average almost $1 per diaper - I could make back the purchase of a new cloth diaper in just 2 to 3 weeks - well worth it to me. I also hoped that the cloth diaper might speed up the process of him staying dry at night.
At the moment, our cloth diaper adventure is in full swing for three of my four children. I love including the benefits of cloth diapering as part of my health class and showing off the new cute styles of cloth that exist today! My students still envision the old style saggy bottomed prefolds days and they are all pleasantly surprised to see some style as well as ease involved - the cost savings as well as the huge benefit to our environment seal the deal, so to speak. All it takes is one super-excited mom to share her love of cloth diapering - it worked for me and I hope that now I can convince others. It’s never too late to switch to cloth! I finally got it right with baby four!
by Erin Brighton MPH, M.Ed. - Charlotte, NC