Cloth Diapers – Part One: The Basics

One big decision for new parents is diapering.  The two most basic choices are disposable diapers and cloth diapers.  There are definite pros and cons to each of them and to be completely honest I do a bit of a mix.  I usually carry disposable diapers in my diaper bag, they take up less space and are easier to deal with/ dispose of in most public places.  However, the majority of the time I use cloth diapers.  One of the biggest pros for cloth diapers is the money it saves.  I personally asked for our sets of cloth diapers and never actually spent any money on them.  I have 18 diaper covers with the 36 inserts that came with them, that I got in 3 different sets.  The two brands I have used are Naturally Nature and Alva Babies.  According to Amazon, a set of 6 covers with 12 inserts for those two brands is between $40 and $60, depending on sales, fluctuations and brand. Even at the highest price, that means my set of diapers cost $180. Although I couldn’t use them at first because they were too big until my baby was out of newborns. For a baby’s first year in disposables it’s expected that it will cost at least $600 and could be significantly higher depending on what source you use.  There are additional costs with both of those, but in general, everything I’ve seen shows major savings with cloth diapering.  There are also environmental benefits that come with cloth diapering, mainly there isn’t the huge build up of disposable diapers in landfills.  I have also heard that kids tend to potty train sooner with cloth diapers, but I’m not sure about the legitimacy of that claim. Some people find the stylish opportunities as another pro as well.  The biggest con with cloth diapering is the effort and grossness of cleaning the diapers.  Especially when the diapers are snapped down and my baby was in smaller pants, another con of cloth diapers was the difficulty of getting her pants around her diaper.  The other con I’ve seen, is that as my baby has gotten bigger and pees more, I have to pay a lot of attention or she soaks through the diaper.  That especially happens at night.  As a result I got some specialized inserts.

Microfiber inserts are what came with my covers, but bamboo charcoal and hemp cotton blends are both more absorbent.  The problem with the hemp blend, though, is that it takes longer to absorb so you usually have to double stuff the diaper to make sure the cover isn’t soaked through before the insert gets a chance to absorb the moisture.

I began with just one set of 6 diapers and 12 inserts – which I would not recommend to anyone.  I was doing close to an average of 3 loads of diapers a day.  It wasn’t helped by the fact my baby had some tummy issues.  Now I tend to wash diapers every 3-4 days.

Of all my diaper covers only one has begun to show wear, and it was one of the first ones that was getting washed around 3 times a day.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Some stitches undone around elastic of diaper cover

So, though I haven’t tried any other brands of cloth diapers, I’m a pretty big fan of the ones I’ve used.

Stay tuned for ore posts about other aspects of cloth diapering.  I hope this can help somebody in their decision making.

-Shana Nealy


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