Green Bums

Cloth Diapering Basics

These days you can’t turn around without seeing something related to the GO GREEN movement. Environmentally friendly products and practices are everywhere.

One way you can contribute as a mom is to cloth diaper your baby.

Cloth diapering is certainly not a new concept, but it has evolved into a more convenient system than when our moms and grandmas did it. Andrea Johnson, owner of EcoBaby Canada, a cloth diaper retailer says, “Cloth diapers are not what they used to be. They can be just as easy, if not easier, than any disposable. They are also much safer for your baby's bum and overall health, the environment and your wallet.”

Gone are the days of pins and plastic pants. Today’s reusable diapers feature Velcro and snap closures, soft absorbent fabrics like cotton and bamboo, and high-tech fabric shells. Optional flushable liners can make clean up a breeze.

Consider this statistic; a family that uses disposable, single-use diapers will generate between one and two tons of garbage per baby. This waste goes into landfills where each diaper could take up to 500 years to biodegrade. Of course, running your washing machine and dryer a few extra times a week does add up, but the ecological footprint is significantly less.

Little bums love cloth! Cloth diapers are healthy and comfortable for your baby’s skin. The fabrics breathe and you will change your baby more because you will know when he is wet. Who wouldn’t want to reduce the occurrence of those nasty diaper rashes?

Save big bucks! Cloth diapers aren’t just great for the environment, they are wallet friendly too. Purchasing a good quality diaper system will save you a significant amount of money. A family not using cloth can expect to spend $2,000-3,000 on single-use diapers for approximately 2.5 years per child. A cloth diaper supply can cost as little as $300 for the same time frame. These are huge savings, even when you factor in a few extra loads of laundry per week. If you use the same diapers for two babies the savings are huge!

Johnson says cloth diapering is becoming popular among parents. “There is a large movement towards living a greener lifestyle, and cloth diapering allows you to do that. Four years ago it was close to impossible to find a good cloth diaper in any store and now they are all over the place!”

Tips for getting started

Johnson recommends creating a list of stash essentials. “This would include 18 to 24 diapers, an ideal number for washing every second day; a wet bag to store your dirty diapers in; a travel wet bag for on the go; cloth wipes and some bum spray.” If you prefer you can use disposable wipes, but you will need to avoid the use of creams and ointments. Remember, over washing may shorten the life of your diapers so you will want to have an adequate stash.

The components of a successful cloth diapering system are good fit, effective waterproof qualities and great absorption. The diapers need to fit snug around the legs and tummy to prevent leaking. Baggy diapers will be ineffective, but so too will diapers that are too small. Adjustable Velcro, snaps and elastic help ensure a great fit.

Buy fabrics that fit your lifestyle. Some parents are willing to take the time to care for delicate fabrics, but for other families there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Many cloth diapers are made to handle the cycles and temperatures of washing machines and dryers.

Buy the system you like best. Don’t let price be the only factor you consider. Even a supply of premium cloth diapers will save you at least $1,000 over disposables. Johnson says, “Find a brand/style that works for you. Just because someone prefers a certain diaper does not mean that you will. Test a few different ones to compare and chose the one that fits your baby best.”

 Learn about your cloth diapers and how to care for them properly. Johnson says, “You can seriously damage a diaper by doing something that seems minor, like using bum cream.”  Pay careful attention to the washing instructions. It is very important to wash with a good quality zero-residue laundry detergent. Rinse first with cold water to help reduce staining, and then run a hot wash cycle with an extra rinse to clean the diapers properly. If you have a high efficiency washer you will need to make sure you use enough water.

There are many options to consider. Shop around and try different styles. Good luck finding the system that works best for you. It’s all about personal preference. Have fun cloth diapering!

Source: EcoBaby Canada is an online, eco-friendly baby supplies company that operates out of Lethbridge, AB. Owner Andrea Johnson is a work at home mom of four.

Megan Shapka is a work-from-home writer and editor. Shes a new mom and having a blast with her daughter. Megans focus is on writing college curriculum, magazine articles and her first novel. Check her out at