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.
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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