With one son who’s almost 4 and fully potty trained and another who’s approaching 2, I came to cloth diapers pretty late in the game—which is to say, just a couple of months ago. I wouldn’t have come to it at all, if it weren’t for one of my besties, Lexi, who happens to be our current Project Pregnancy blogger. She’s a smart lady who put out a call for advice about cloth diapers a few months back, and you all responded with some eye-opening words of wisdom (and enthusiasm!).
Plus: Best Cloth Diapers
Since then, I’ve been busy learning about and testing out a variety of cloth diapers, using the suggestions of the super smart (as well as incredibly kind and patient!) women behind Jillian’s Drawers in Ithaca, NY and Diaper Lab in Somerville, MA as a jumping off point. If you had told me a few months ago that I would love cloth diapering, I would have given you the same slack-jawed look of incomprehension that my 3-year-old gives me when I suggest something silly like broccoli ice cream for dessert. But it is true: I love cloth diapers. And I never would have known had I not tried them out for myself (thank you $10 cloth diaper trial program at Jillian’s Drawers!).
To a novice like myself without any local cloth diapering mom friends or brick-and-mortar stores where I could see just how awesome and user-friendly many reusable diapers are, the world of cloth diapers can appear overwhelming and intimidating, at least initially. With so many brands to choose from (bumGenius, FuzziBunz, Happy Heinys, GroVia, gDiapers, Kissaluvs, Thirsties, Rumparooz, and Bummis, to name just a handful of the bigger brands, let alone all of the smaller ones made by work at home moms) so many different styles, such varying advice on washing routines, and so many acronyms, it almost felt like a private club—one to which I didn’t have the time or energy to try to gain admission while pregnant or caring for an infant. And of course, babies and toddlers come in all different shapes and sizes, so what works for one kid might not work as well for another (so don’t feel discouraged if the brand a friend swears by just doesn’t work out for your kid—that’s the point of cloth diaper trial programs where you can test out a handful of different brands and styles).
Plus: All About Cloth Diapers
Of course, I’m not alone in making the switch to cloth, or at least debating the merits of cloth versus disposables (including questions of cost, environmental impact, convenience and efficacy). More and more parents are considering using cloth diapers (at least part-time) for their little ones, as mentioned in this recent Associated Press article about the debate over cloth versus disposable diapers. According to the article, although disposable diapers have been available since 1935, it wasn’t until 50 years ago that Pampers first hit the market—and now the industry is worth more than $25 billion. Cloth diapers make up about 5 percent or less of the today’s diaper market—but part of the reason why is that parents don’t need to keep buying them (because, uh, they’re reusable), and there’s even a very active market for secondhand cloth diapers (for example, see DiaperSwappers.com), with some brands selling for up to 60 percent of their retail price.
For us, we use a mix of prefolds or fitted diapers with covers, pocket diapers, hybrids (reusable shells with a reusable or disposable insert) and AIOs (all-in-ones), as well as the occasional disposable diaper with a reluctant caregiver. I’ve also invested in a pail liner, flushable diaper liners (to make toddler poo removal easier) and, at long last, a diaper sprayer, which really does take any ‘ick’ out of the process for me. I’m happy to invest in the accessories, but they’re not necessary—especially if cost is the main reason for switching to cloth diapers. Depending on your approach to cloth diapers, savings estimates range from about $1,300 to $1,900—and up to $4,000 when using the same cloth diapers for two kids, according to the folks at Jillian’s Drawers.
Now is as good a time as any to check out cloth diapers, if you’re contemplating switching from disposables. This Saturday, April 23, cloth diapering parents are aiming to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records, setting a record for the most cloth diapers changed simultaneously at 9 a.m. PDT (12 p.m. ET) during the Great Cloth Diaper Change. There are over 400 locations worldwide, with lots of sites offering great door prizes, raffles, and dare I say it, likely the most fun you’ll ever have changing a diaper.
Have you ever tried cloth diapers? What are some of your fave brands?