If you're a cloth diapering parent/guardian, then you have undoubtedly come across these comments and objections from people who haven't given cloth diapering much thought. On the flip side, you may be interested in cloth diapering and there is someone in your life (maybe MIL or spouse) who is trying to talk you out of it based on their opinions (maybe even quite antiquated opinions), but not actual fact or recent experiences. While it is true that thirty plus years ago cloth diapering was quite cumbersome, the industry has taken cloth diapering leaps and bounds to make it more innovative and easy for today's parents and caregivers. Here are a few cloth diapering objections that I feel I must debunk:
"I don't want to live in a house that smells like poo all the time!"
Who does! Seriously though, I have never heard a single person ever say 'you know what, I like the smell of poop!' It just doesn't happen. Cloth diapering parents hate the smell of poop just as much as disposable diapering parents do. The truth about disposable diapers is that when they are used and thrown into the garbage can, they are given the perfect opportunity to start festering and radiating a terrible smell (Don't even get me started on how Diaper Genies are NOT the answer!). Just think about the logistics of it for a second: your garbage gets picked up once a week, if you leave poop in the garbage for a full week then OF COURSE it will smell. Garbage bins do not have the best seal on them either, there are so many different places where smelly air can leak out and ruin the air in your house. On the cloth diaper side of things, when a baby poops into a cloth diaper, you take it to the toilet and flush away the waste (This is where us adult's waste goes, it only makes sense that baby poop goes there too!). When you have finished cleaning off the majority of the poop by shaking it into the toilet or spraying it off with a diaper sprayer, you simply throw the diaper into the pail or wet bag. Most diaper bags come complete with a leak proof zipper and are lined with a PUL inner liner to keep wet and smell in. Wet bags are phenomenal at keeping the smell in the bag-something that a regular garbage can can't compete with!
"My daughter is a super soaker! She leaks through her diapers all the time!"
Although it is true that cloth diapers do not hold pee for as long as a disposable (disposable diapers turn pee into a gel like substance via chemicals), cloth diapering is not only reserved for only the light peeing babies and toddlers. There are a number of reasons why a cloth diaper will leak, so I will address a few here:
- Too much detergent has been used (be mindful of top load amounts vs. HE amounts as they are different!), a liquid or sheet fabric softener has been used, or a non-cloth diaper safe diaper rash cream has been used. Using too much detergent or a non-cloth diaper friendly detergent can cause a build -up on the diaper fibers and within the weave of the fabric, causing the diapers and their absorbent inserts to repel liquids rather than absorb them. The same problem comes up when a non-cloth diaper safe rash cream has been used without an adequate barrier between baby's bum and the diaper. When the diapers are assumed to have a build-up of detergent, fabric softener or diaper rash cream, it is important to strip the diapers before assuming all is lost and deciding that cloth diapering is not for you and your baby. If you are buying your diapers second hand, it is strongly recommended that you strip the diapers prior to using them to ensure that you have the most effective diaper possible and that you are getting the most out of your purchase.
- Fabric softener is a terrible culprit when it comes to cloth diapers repelling pee. Both liquid and sheet fabric softeners are bad for cloth diapers. The fabric softener produces a waxy build up on ANY fabric that it is used on. Fabric softener is very sneaky in that it does not even need to come into direct contact with the diapers to damage them. Residual wax from previous loads is left on the drum of the washer and dryer and is transferred to the following loads of laundry. The only way to prevent your cloth diapers from not being damaged by fabric softener is to switch to wool dryer balls. Wool dryer balls preform the same job of eliminating static cling and you can even buy them scented! Wool dryer balls can be used over and over (and over and over!) again so there is absolutely no loss to using them, only gain! Wool dryer balls are a one-time investment too, so you should never find yourself down the fabric softener aisle again after you have purchased your initial 2-4 dryer balls.
- Most of the time, it is not that cloth diapering as a whole does not work for heavy-wetters, it that the RIGHT cloth diaper has not been found yet or that the wrong material or fiber is being used. Hemp and bamboo are much more effective at dealing with a heavy wetter than microfiber or cotton. I do recommend hemp and bamboo to anyone who has a heavy wetter (Hemp and bamboo DO have to be prepped properly first to ensure that they are as effective as they can be!). Another tip that I do recommend is to try one of every style and material that you are interested in, as opposed to investing everything into one style before doing some trial and error. This small amount of inconvenience in the beginning will save you a lot of headache while diapering and will ensure a much higher success rate in cloth diapering! :)
- Disposable diapers have a gel-like chemical substance inside of them (and up against your baby's MOST SENSITVE SKIN) that is designed to hold the average baby's pee between 4-6 hours and up to 12 hours at night. Cloth diapers are largely composed of cotton, hemp, bamboo and microfiber and these fibers have a natural saturation point that contains pee, rather than a chemical transformation. With this being said, cloth diapers usually need to be changed every 2-3 hours during the day.
"I hated doing all the extra laundry! I was doing diaper laundry every day!"
To help ensure your cloth diapering success, you should have at least enough diapers to get you through approximately four days (that's what's in the wash plus what you expect to use for clean diapers during wash day). You should be washing 2-3 days' worth at a time to help ensure that the diapers in the wash have enough to agitate against (12 diaper minimum per load is usually good enough), but no more than about 20-22. If you are washing your diapers more often than every 2-3 days, you are likely wearing out your diapers faster than they would normally wear out. If you are washing any less than that (waiting longer then 2-3 days), then you may run into the problem of your diapers accumulating an excessive amount of yeast. Yeast can cause problems like diaper rash, and a lingering pee smell on your diapers even after being washed. You should have enough diapers to get you through washday and what's in the wash. I personally hang mine most of the time to dry, so I have to have enough to get me though an additional two days (three days in the wash and two days' worth available while the others are drying).
"My cloth diapers don't ever seem to fit under my little guy's clothes!"
There is a quick and easy solution to this problem. While trying not to sounds too terribly simplistic, my solution is to jump into a larger size of pant (sleepers and onesies too) before the size in month tells you to for their age. Once I figured this out, I was using 12-18 month pants on my son until he was about 15 months old, and his 18-24 month pants will safely fit until about 21 months before I consider moving him up again in size. I usually found that I was switching his pants out about 3 months earlier than the manufacturer's suggestion. Another solution is to use pant snap clips. These allow you to use a larger sized pant to accommodate for all the extra fluff on the bum, while cinching the pants in at the waist line. Look within your community too! Lots of crafty WAHM's make cloth diaper friendly pants that will fit over your little one's bum without having to use a snappy cinch or buying a larger size.
"It's just too much hassle!"
Cloth diapers have come a long way in the last few decades, and the new and improved cloth diapers are just as easy as a disposable…Seriously! An AIO (All-in-one) requires no stuffing at all- you just grab it from the pile and put it on baby! It's just that simple. Pocket diapers are really quite easy as well. You spend an extra five minutes stuffing the inserts into the pocket portion of the diaper and you're finished! You most likely spend more time folding a regular load of laundry than you would stuffing pocket diapers.
"My Mother-in-law/ Baby-sitter/ Husband say that it's just too hard for them!"
I have to laugh at this one because I have heard this a lot! These same people take on a lot more difficult tasks in their everyday lives without even thinking about it; driving a vehicle, making dinner, even getting themselves ready for the day to name a few. That doesn't mean that people don't need a lesson from you on how to do it- don't assume that because you have mastered the art of cloth diapering that everyone else is within the same circle of understanding. Be kind and go over it with them, and if they don't get it be kind and go over it again. It's not that cloth diapering is too hard for people who are slightly outside of everyday cloth diapering; it's just that there is a lot of new and foreign information that if left unexplained can be overwhelming.
"I heard cloth diapers don't fit as well as disposables, leaving room for uncomfortable elastic lines on baby and terrible blowouts!"
Truth be told on this (as a person who made the switch from full time disposables to full time cloth), you will experience less blowouts from a cloth diaper than you would a disposable diaper. Disposable diaper manufacturers can only do so much for containing blowout poop when you are using a product that costs only a few nickels. The quality is just not there to stand up to the quality of a cloth. Cloth diapers come in one-size options and sized options. With this sort of selection, you can really tailor the perfect fit for your baby. Elastic lines do happen- but let's face it, they happen with disposables too. It's all about being aware of your child's comfort level and adjusting when necessary.
"Eww! You put those in your washing machine?!"
I'm going to be a little frank and simplistic on this one (after all we are talking about poop here, right?). Most washing machines are awesome! They deal with a lot of crap from us (no pun intended..). We throw our child's dirty sheets into the wash (inclusive of pee, puke and even poop sometimes), we throw out work cloths into the wash (depending on your line of work, God only knows how dirty they really are), and ladies we throw our…umm…lady laundry into the wash and we have full confidence that these garments will all come out clean-without contaminating or damaging subsequent loads. So why is it that people have such a hang up about washing a cloth diaper in the washing machine? It's because these same people took the time to think about it. That's all. It's no different than the scenarios described above; especially considering that most of the solids from a dirty diaper have already been discarded into the toilet before landing themselves in the wet bag or wet pail for storage until laundry day.
"It's too high of a start-up cost."
Yes, cloth diapers can have a high start-up cost but there are ways around that if this is one of your apprehensions to starting with cloth diapering.
- Borrow from a friend or family member. Cloth diapering parents are usually very quick to share in their knowledge and excitement when they have had success with their cloth diapering experience. Most would be happy to show you the ropes and borrow you a few until you have established enough of a personal stash for yourself.
- Buy used. Parent who have finished with their cloth diapers often sell them off to recoup some of their own initial cost and usually sell them for pretty cheap too! If you do this, just be sure to have done your homework and ask lots of questions.
* Don't forget to strip them before their first use!
- You don't have to buy all of your stash right away! If you don't have that kind of capital, just start slowly buying cloth diapers to supplement your daily disposable diaper routine
- Cloth diapering does not have to be expensive! Many parents can get away with spending less than the cost of four or five boxes of disposables to purchase a full family supply of cloth diapers. We're talking about pre-folds (flats) and covers here. This type of economical solution can be used child after child, so the savings really start to add up!
* Don't forget that when you are done with your cloth diaper stash, there will always be someone waiting to happily take them off your hands. This way, you can recoup some of your initial cost and proudly say that you have helped to REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE!!