I don’t remember what initially attracted my interest in cloth diapers, but there were three reasons that my husband and I eventually decided to use them: to save money, to be environmentally friendly, and to avoid the chemicals in disposable diapers. We certainly didn’t choose cloth diapers because we thought they would be easy. In fact, in the last weeks and months of my pregnancy, as I purchased and prepped our cloth diapers, I was simultaneously preparing myself mentally for the difficulties I would encounter: the relentless laundry, the leaky diapers, the messy, multi-step diaper changes (we decided to use prefolds and fitted diapers with diaper covers). I constantly had to remind myself that the benefits of cloth diapers would outweigh these difficulties.
I was so worried about the complexity of using cloth diapers that we used disposables for the first week after our daughter was born; I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to handle cloth diapering while recovering from childbirth. I also didn’t think my husband would be able to figure out cloth diapering without me there to guide him through the first several diaper changes. I chose to use prefold diapers with covers because they seemed to be the most cost effective option, however, they seemed the most difficult to use. I had also bought a few fitted diapers as well, and I planned to save those for the evening when my husband would help me with diaper changes. Because it was my decision to cloth diaper, I didn’t want to saddle my husband with the extra work and difficulty.
Imagine my surprise when, after one week of disposable diapers, we switched to cloth diapers and found them to be just as easy. Instead of pinning the prefolds on, we just folded them, placed them in the cover, and put it on the baby. It only took seconds longer than a disposable diaper. Sure, there was more laundry, but cloth diaper laundry was much more low maintenance than I expected. We quickly developed a routine: my husband would throw the full diaper pail liner in the laundry in the morning before work and put it on a prewash cycle and when I woke up, I would put it on a wash cycled, then into the dryer or on the drying rack. With the increase in laundry from a baby we barely noticed an extra load.
When our daughter was not yet three weeks (and we were less than two weeks into cloth diapering), we went out of state for a 16-day vacation to take her to see our families for the holidays. Although we found using cloth diapers at home to be simple, I was worried about the difficulties of traveling with cloth diapers. Once again, I let my fears get the best of me and we left the cloth diapers at home. We regretted it almost instantly. The disposable diapers leaked much more that the cloth diapers we were used to. Our daughter developed diaper rash for the first time while wearing them. And, of course, we were unhappy to have to pay for products that we were almost immediately tossing in the trash. My initial fears about my husband not wanting to cloth diaper were more than unfounded; less than a week into our vacation, he was saying how much he missed cloth diapers.
When I initially decided to cloth diaper, I felt like I would be sacrificing my time and energy in order to best care for my daughter, the earth, and my pocketbook. The benefits were worth it of course, yet it turned out that cloth diapering is no sacrifice at all. I feel like it actually saves me time and energy because I don’t have to deal with as many leaky diapers, I don’t have to run to the store to buy more when we run out, and I don’t have to worry about diaper rash. I only wish I had known beforehand how easy cloth diapering can be, and therefore had saved all the time and energy I spent worrying about the “difficulties” of cloth diapering.
Bio: Mandi is a young wife and mother who writes about faith, marriage, and motherhood at CatholicNewlywed.blogspot.com. She and her husband are enjoying life as new parents to their two-month-old daughter, Lucia Rose.