Cloth Diapers: Old Fashioned Wisdom in a Modern World

05/05/2014 — Leave a comment

I still remember changing diapers on my younger siblings. That was easy. The hard part was getting rid of those convenient, well-advertised, disposable little baseballs.


Since we lived on a farm, and we didn’t have garbage removal, we learned to minimize waste as much as possible. We tossed our kitchen scraps into the pasture field, took our recyclables to the local dump, and we burned the remaining pieces of trash in a barrel.We could dispose of almost everything – except for ‘disposable’ diapers. The diapers were wet, so they didn’t burn. They were made of plastic, so they didn’t decompose when buried. We even tried to burn them and then bury them, but we just couldn’t get rid of them.

When I was expecting our little one, I proudly announced that I was going to use cloth diapers.  Everyone was skeptical. Maybe I should have been skeptical too. After all, I had never even seen a cloth diaper.

When I told my Grandma, “I am buying organic food now and I plan to use cloth diapers,” she simply said, “When I was little we grew all of our own food. Everything was organic. And we only used cloth diapers. We didn’t have anything else.”

It was then I realized that moving forward sometimes means stepping back in time when it comes to some things, like reducing waste and protecting the environment.

Before having a baby, I did a rough calculation and figured out that:

10 diapers/day for the first year = 3650 diapers.

5 diapers/day for the second year = 1825 diapers.

That is 5475 diapers!

However, our actual diaper needs were a lot higher: our Little Bear went through 18 diapers/day for the first several months!

By using cloth diapers, not only are we keeping an estimated 10,000 diapers out of the landfill, but we are also saving a lot of money.

Although cloth diapers have a big upfront cost, we are still saving between a few hundred and a couple of thousand dollars per year.

Saving money and helping the environment are the reasons why we started using cloth diapers. But it turns out that there are a lot more reasons to love them. For instance, our Little Bear has never had a diaper rash. Once I heard a mom explaining that her baby had had diarrhea 5x/day for 5 days, and her baby’s bottom was so sore and raw that it was bleeding. I was shocked. My Little Bear had just been through his own bout of diarrhea. He had had diarrhea 10x/day for 10 days and his bottom was completely clear.

Another reason that we enjoy using cloth diapers is that they are easy to use. Unlike paper diapers, cloth diapers do not leak, they do not tear, and the tabs do not fall off as you are trying to fasten the diaper to a squirming baby. And cloth diapers are fastened so securely that little fingers cannot remove them until they are ready to start potty training.

Cloth diapers are also easy to maintain. We do laundry every day so we just rinse the diapers, toss them into the wash, and hang them up to dry. I would much rather rinse the reusable diapers, than have the disposable diapers accumulating in the house and garage. (Since we have biweekly garbage removal, 18 diapers/day for 14 days = 280 diapers!)

Not only are cloth diapers easy to use and maintain, but they are also very comfortable for a baby’s delicate bottom. When people ask me why I use them, I hand them a disposable diaper and a cloth diaper and tell them to feel the difference.

One of my favourite reasons for using cloth diapers is that they are so cute! As much as I love soft baby bottoms and chubby legs, I think they are even more adorable when they are surrounded by colours, patterns, and thick layers of comfort.

Although we started using cloth diapers simply because of our values, we have really fallen in love with them. And now we can say like grandma, “We only use cloth diapers. We don’t have anything else!”


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