Why I Love Cloth Diapers

And Why I Hate Them

cloth diapers

“All you have to do is dump the contents in the toilet and throw it in the wash; no ‘swishing’ required.” 

Or so the woman who sold me my first $500 worth of cloth diapers claimed. A lot of people start cloth diapering to save the planet, but I’m no environmentalist.  We were expecting our first child, and I knew that diapers would really tax our already tight budget. My mom had used cloth diapers, so I set out to discover the modern version, opening the door to fluffy bottomed cuteness. 

Here’s what I love about modern cloth diapers: 

They’re cute, with bright colors and patterns ranging from airplanes to butterflies to apples to skulls. 

They do save money, even if you only use them part time. 

They do keep disposables out of the landfill. I may not be a real tree-hugger, but even I am sobered by the amount of time it takes a diaper to break down—approximately forever—and the amount of these items a baby produces. Our small town doesn’t have trash pick-up, so it’s also nice not to have bags and bags of dirty diapers that have to be hauled to the dump. 

Unfortunately, I’ve found quite a few downsides to cloth diapers: 

You actually do need to “swish” the poopy diapers most of the time in the toilet, or it will be very difficult to get them clean and your washer may get clogged up. At least in my experience, the “contents” are much more interested in adhering to the diaper than in falling into the toilet. I have a diaper sprayer, which I thought was going to be less revolting, but in practice it is difficult to get the spray just right so that it does not send a poopy mist out onto me and the bathroom. It’s a mess, no way around it. I’ve been diapering non-stop for almost four years. I am tired of dealing with poop.

Rashes.  Before I cloth diapered, I’d heard that cloth was a good way to cut down on yeast rashes and the like. I suppose this must be true for some babies.  However, for us, despite following every bit of advice we could find for getting out diapers clean, our son struggled with terrible rashes every time we put him in cloth, and cleared up when we put him in disposables. We’ve dealt with this in a couple of ways with our daughter who seems less prone to rash in general. She does not wear cloth overnight, and we don’t use pocket diapers anymore. Pockets are easy to use, basically going on like a disposable diaper, but are hard to get clean. When I started, pre-folds seemed too complicated, but now it is no big deal to fold one up and put it inside a diaper cover. Pre-folds are extremely economical, too. My favorite, however, are hybrids, with a snap in insert or a disposable insert. These were especially awesome when both kids were using them, since I could bring a few shells and several trim disposable inserts, and they would adjust to fit whoever needed them. 

When I first started cloth diapering, everyone thought it was crazy. I liked being on the cutting edge. I recently went to a baby shower, and all of the babies present were in cloth diapers.

Time for me to go discover something new. 

Jennie Bryant is married to a persistantly optimistic, free-thinking near-genuis.  They live with their two small children in rural New Hampshire.  Besides being a mother, freelance writer, and small business owner, Jennie is busy trying to open a makerspace with the aforementioned dreamer.