Four score and three kids ago, Hero Hubs and I sat down and discussed whether or not we wanted to use cloth diapers. I was aware of the environmental impact of disposable diapers and leaned a little more in the cloth direction. We lived in Scotland at the time and found that there was a nappy (diaper in many English-speaking countries outside the US) service available, so that we would actually not even have to clean our cloth diapers ourselves. We looked at the figures estimating how much it would cost per nappy to participate in the service and eventually decided if we were barely breaking even it probably wasn’t worth the extra effort, but we could look into it again later. Times were kinda tight.

We moved to South Africa, where the Tank was born two and a half years later, and again thought about cloth but just didn’t think we were up for the extra laundry, the extra effort, and so on. We also got disposables at a discount because of our health insurance company, which helped because they were much more expensive in SA than the UK. It was definitely more convenient. But with each kid, my discomfort about the ginormous amount of trash we were creating grew a little more and a little more.

Finally, when we were back in the States and expecting the Belle, I just didn’t want to do disposables anymore. The trash thing was just too much for me. The Hubs was very concerned about the ick factor of doing cloth diapers, and I eventually just said “I’ll do it and you won’t have to,” because I cared that much about making the switch. I started doing my research about how to get started. Around that time, Quiver Tree Photography was just ramping up, and through a series of events on Facebook, I connected with a Mama who’d finished cloth diapering and had a great stash to sell. We hadn’t been back in the States long and our finances were pretty tight, and jumping into cloth diapering can be expensive at the beginning. So when she suggested trading diapers for a photography session that would help her launch her business, I begged the Hubs to do it for me.

And that is how my cloth diapering journey began.

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So, for the past year and some change, I’ve been meaning to mention to you, lovely readers, something about the fact that I’ve been cloth diapering for a while, and that I’m happy with the experience.

There is a heap of information that I could share about the experience, but since a slew of websites and ebooks have already been devoted to that subject and I don’t consider myself an expert, I’ll give you some main points and share about a specific brand that I recently discovered while looking to add a few new diapers to the collection.

Here are answers to some of the main questions I’d imagine you might have about cloth diapering:

How does it work?

Basically, there are a few different types of diapers on the scene, and I’m sort of oversimplifying things here, but the most popular ones these days are probably all-in-ones or all-in-twos. The former are basically just that — all-in-one reusable diapers the baby wears and you wash. The latter usually have a shell and an insert. The shell is the part the baby wears. The insert either snaps to the shell or slides inside the shell, and it’s the part that absorbs the wetness.

After the baby does his or her business, you usually have a pail set aside with a lid, and you separate the shell from the insert and drop both parts into that pail (it does not have water in it like back in the day). If there’s #2 on the scene, you drop that into the loo. You wash cloth diapers separately from your regular laundry — the recommendation is usually warm rinse, hot wash, double rinse. Often the shells should be hung to dry and the inserts can be tumble dried, but each brand has its own preferences.

It is gross?

Well, maybe a little. But another awesome thing happened when I traded the Hubs’ skills for cloth diapers — I learned about infant potty training. So at four months I started sitting the Belle on the potty, and she started pooping there. She has been pooping on the loo about 80-90% of the time since then, and lately she very rarely has an accident. I have not been as consistent in convincing her to peepee on the potty, but when I am, she also does that. I think it just takes a little longer to learn. If you’re interested in more about that, I’ll write more (leave a comment), but this post might get too long if I keep going. I’ll just mention also that there are these very thin disposable liners that come in rolls like toilet paper, (like these at this affiliate link right here) which can be placed between baby and diaper and they can “catch” the poop and be flushed with the poop because they’re biodegradable. That helps. You can also get a Diaper Sprayer, which can help you spray that poopy right off that diaper and into the loo.

Does it save money?

Yes, it does save money over time. And there are a few ways to help you save more if you’re thinking about switching. Look for used cloth diapers to help you get started. I know that might seem gross, but it’s like used clothing. They’ve been washed, and you can wash them again before you use them. Look for diaper packs like the Basics Pack or the Deluxe Pack by Buttons Diapers, which will allow you to save by going ahead and purchasing a number of diapers and inserts at once. Line dry instead of using the tumble dryer. (This will be a big money saver in the long run.) And if you have more than one kid and use the diapers with multiple kids, the savings really skyrocket.

Can I have a quick play-by-play for how it works?

For sure. I’d love to walk you through the process of diapering, and in this example I’ll use a specific type of diapers — Buttons diapers. Perhaps it will give you a good idea of what the process is like and you’ll consider it for yourself!!

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Buttons diapers are in the “all-in-two” category I mentioned earlier. The have a really simple system that I really liked when I decided to try them. They have inserts, the part that is adjacent to baby’s skin, which snap into the shells, which have snaps on the outside to close, and other snaps to make them adjustable for smaller or bigger babies.

There is a fleece lining on one side of their liners, which wicks moisture away from baby’s skin. For nighttime diapering, they have “doublers” which snap to the regular liners and then snap into the shell. I usually go ahead and get the diapers ready for use by stuffing liners into the pocket in the pocket-style all-in-twos, or by snapping them into place with the Buttons diapers. The snapping is faster than the stuffing. And the Hubs cannot do the stuffing (yes, he does help after all!) because his hands are too big to fit inside a pocket diaper to slide a liner in. {So, although I still predominantly handle the diapering around here, I’d vote for snaps over stuffing, both because it’s faster and because it is easier for other people to do. We have babysitters kind of often around here, and I think snapping is a more obvious thing to figure out, too.}

So, to get the Belle ready to “go” in the daytime, I simply snap a liner into a diaper, and then snap the diaper around her waist. When she has worn it for a while and I think it’s time for a new diaper, I unsnap the liner from the diaper and drop them both into a pedal bin trash can and there they stay until washing time. They get washed, (I pretty much use the routine mentioned above, but I often soak first) and I try to line dry them as much as I can, and then they go back in the pile to be used again.

A year and some change into cloth diapering, I am really happy with the decision. Did we switch back to disposables when we were traveling in South Africa for a month? youbettabelieveit. Did the amount of trash we were creating make me uncomfortable all over again? yup. Do I hope cloth diapering continues to become more and more mainstream? Yes. I. Do.

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If you are considering jumping on the diaper bandwagon, I’d make a few recommendations:

First, find a friend in the area who’s already doing it and ask her to walk you through the process. (If you don’t already feel comfortable after I’ve walked you through it! 😉 )

Second, don’t get overwhelmed with the options. Take your time, read some reviews, stalk some good sales on ebay if you feel like it.

Third, a personal preference — stay away from Velcro. The Velcro diapers I have (by Bumgenius) are still in good condition, but the Velcro has worn out. It is easy for the Belle to rip her diaper off and run free, they sometimes come loose at night, and they create trains in the washing machine by getting connected to each other.

The thing for me, really, is a personal conviction about stewardship… and doing what I can not to ruin the planet for my children’s children.

Have you tried cloth diapering? Would you consider it? Got some other parenting-related green movement thoughts to share? Leave a word!



Disclosure! Buttons Diapers gave me a few diapers to try. But would I spend our hard-earned cash on ’em? Yes, I would! The thoughts and opinions above are my honest response to trying them out! Love ’em.