Cloth Diapers Aren't Worth the Trouble So Don't Even Bother Trying Them

Rant 348

Cloth Diapering: Is it really worth it? When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to cloth-diaper, which was based on my pretty extensive research. Between the landfills, chlorine, and cost, I figured it was the smart decision to make.

And let's face it, if you've cloth-diapered your kids, you know that it can be pretty addictive. They're cute! And pretty! And pretty high tech.

However, after avoiding using disposable diapers on my first for more than a year, I learned that it's certainly not easy, and it might not be the most eco-friendly and cost-effective decision, contrary to popular belief.

First of all, let's talk laundry. Because when you're cloth-diapering, unless you have access to a diaper service (which you have to pay for, obviously), you are doing laundry ALL THE TIME.

That is no exaggeration.

I was washing diapers at least once a day, sometimes more when she was a newborn. And that was after pre-soaking and all the other rigmarole you have to go through to ensure the diapers don't get stained.

Oh, and don't forget the special detergent!

I realize that the amount of water and energy I used to wash the diapers doesn't necessarily equal what I contributed to a landfill, but it's not exactly "green," either.

More from The Stir: 7 Best Eco-Friendly Diapers

Then there's the cost, which yes, overall, is cheaper than disposable diapers, but it's not terribly budget-friendly unless you just use prefolds, which don't do well overnight, and you need to change them more often. Plus, now that they come in cool patterns and varieties, along with a slew of accessories, it can get sort of addictive.

But I think the biggest issue that trumps being greener and cheaper is the strain it can put on your lifestyle -- and sleep. Until you find the right diapers for your baby, you will probably wake up way more than you would have if your little one were in disposables. And going out was always a challenge because I'd have to remember the wet bag. Gotta love lugging around a bag full of poopie diapers in my purse!

It was especially challenging for me since my daughter was colicky and required more attention than most babies, but I'm pretty sure that if I had just given up and popped her little bum in disposables, my quality of life would have been much better. I would have been happier.

We all would have been happier.

So yes, while I understand cloth-diapering might save you money and make you feel better about the earth, it goes beyond that. It's about what you can handle as new parents and how you can make your life as easy as possible during those extremely difficult first months.

If that means disposable diapers, then so be it.

What do you think about cloth diapering?


Image via moohaha/Flickr

baby first year, baby clothes, baby gear


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Vanessa Poholek Fasanella

I don't know why you found it hard, I loved using reuseables! I didn't presoak or use special detergent either. I just used a polar fleece liner (that I made myself by cutting up some cheap fleece from JoAnn Fabrics) and using All Free and Clear.

MrsRo... MrsRoberts413

I think the decision is different for every family, and it's definitely not right for everybody!  I'm going to stay home after our first is born this winter, so I'll have a little time to to run some extra laundry.  We're only planning to cloth diaper at home to save a little money, and use disposables while out and about for convenience.  It really depends on your lifestyle and your child.  Same way I feel about breast vs bottle (some people just aren't able!): as long as your child is being properly cared for and loved, who cares how you do it?

amand... amandajoy21

I actually found cloth much easier than you did but I have enough diapers that if I soaked them and rinsed the poopy diapers before I put them in the pail I could go two or three days between washes. We used homemade soap and essential oils to help keep them clean.

Tal0n Tal0n

*eye roll*

There was nothing hard about cloth diapering.

Felicia Risi

I guess your "pretty extensive research" did not reveal you don't need to presoak and don't *need* special detergent (some CD safe detergents can also be used for regular laundry). You also fail to mention the resell value and the ability to get some of your investment back. They are not for everyone but no reason to discourage people from even trying.

JS0512 JS0512

I'm a single mom and work 45-50 hours per week. My youngest wore cloth from day one until 2.5 years later. I didn't find it that difficult. You do a ton of laundry with a baby anyway. As for carrying a poop filled diaper around in a wet bag, as long as I was somewhere there was a toilet (which was always), I dumped it and flushed it. Obviously everyone is different and your mileage may vary, but it was totally worth the "trouble". I would do it again in a heartbeat.

PeterandEmily Fitzgerald

Seems silly to wash once a day or more. I only wash every two or three days. No pre soak. Cold wash and a nice hot rinse to disinfect and strip. Who cares about stains anyway? Do you treat your underware like that? Also prefolds with covers are really easy 1/3 of the cost and you don't need special detergent. I actually spend 5 minutes every few months and make my own for wicked cheap. it's very easy. And you're title is horrible and unsupportive to moms.

KMG92388 KMG92388

I work full time and we cloth diaper--it's worked really well for our family, but I also realize that it isn't a good fit for everyone.  My daughter does sleep in disposables at night because she's a super heavy wetter and I don't like waking her just to change her diaper.


miche... micheledo

I did prefolds, pins, and plastic pants with my first three.  Financially it was absolutely necessary.  I had less then $100 in the diapers.  Probably more like $50.  However, when I got disposables for a trip or as a gift, it was very difficult to switch back to cloth.  It was so time consuming.

With my 5th, I joined a co-op and bought alvas from  LOVE them.  SUPER easy to use and at only $5 a diaper, very inexpensive.  I have about $200 in my current stash and have used them on two children.  They also re-sell at $5 or $6 each.  So I should be able to make my money back when I am done with them.

And, I don't really care about stains at this point.  I don't pre-soak.  I have enough that I do laundry every 3rd day.  Plus, like you mentioned, tons of cute patterns.  It is weird to say, but I enjoy diaper changes and will miss when they are out of diapers.  :D  HA HAAA!  Never thought I would say that.

Jen Roberts

Never touched them and NEVER WILL! Too much laundry, too much effort, too much stink, too much everything! I was doing laundry 4x a week after my daughter was born and that was with displosable. I can't imagine non-disposable. Although I never fell for the special baby soap I just used whatever we had because the special soap wasn't used back in the day and babies were fine so why not now?
But anyway they are too pricey to start with. Most stores I went to it was about $10 per diaper and that didn't count the inserts which were another $10-20 for a pack of maybe 4 and yeah I'm not paying. It's like needing a car but you don't have all the money up you make payments.
For us the disposable were better because we had $10 a week for diapers....not $200 up front for cloth. And I would still be spending about $10 in soap anyway so it's not worth it in my book.

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