It’s day three. We received the cloth diaper covers and inserts Monday night and decided an overnight test was as good of a start as any. I briefed my husband on how the “boy fold” worked, added a “soaker” liner just to be safe, and tucked sweet baby Copper in for the night, fingers crossed I wouldn’t be changing sheets at 3:30 am.
Here it is Thursday, and we’ve had two outings but thankfully no public changes yet. I have had to do laundry twice, but mostly because the covers got soiled. We started with two nylon waterproof covers and seven prefolds. The covers came with a pack of liners, but really, compared to the prefolds, they don’t seem to do much.
As I sat with Copper at our 5am feeding this morning, I contemplated whether to put a cloth or disposable diaper on him at this point. He’s very predictable with his nighttime and early morning diapers: the first is always wet, the second is always soiled. So this twenty cent diaper would save me from a messy cleaning in a few hours when I know I’ll be rushed to get to my mom’s group on time. But if I put him in a disposable now, will I always do that? For the first time, I calculated how much money I’ve been spending on disposables. Right now, we’re at a pretty steady rate of five diapers per day. That means about $1, so roughly $400/year. Now, this is at a year old, so there have been heavier rates of change, but I’m going with what I know here. That $400 is a lot less than cloth diaper sites will quote when they’re selling you on the astronomical savings you’ll see. To be fair though, it only cost us $41 to start this cloth thing, so we’re admittedly doing pretty good.
But it’s not just the cost, of course. I read that babies contribute half a ton of landfill annually with their plastic diapers. Poor little poopers – it’s not their fault. I make the choice to either put his plastic diapers in a plastic bag and half fill a garbage pail every other week, or I can literally get my hands dirty and save all that. Now, again, my husband just read that if our rate of garbage production continues to steadily increase, in a few thousand years, we’ll still be able to fit our country’s garbage in a mile-long landfill, which isn’t really all that large. So should I be more concerned with our water consumption as I launder all those prefolds?
So here’s how I look at it. As it is, I do laundry as little as possible. It’s not so bad to do more little loads instead of a one huge load that I never want to put away because it takes so long to completely repopulate our closets and dressers. They’re wrinkly and less thoroughly cleaned because they’re all jammed into one load – it’s just not a good deal. Second, I just feel better about it. We’ll see, a few weeks down the road, if the novelty of scraping and spraying off the contents of his diaper gets old. Then back to disposables and I’ll put the lot on Craigslist. Will we ever change to cloth wipes? Probably not. I think that’s where I’ve put my finger on the limit.
Plastic throwaway diapers are supposed to be filled with materials that aren’t exactly baby-friendly. They are definitely bleached white, so there are those residual chemicals. They use more raw materials. They have “a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants,” but the industry isn’t required to disclose materials, says a CBC News report (2010). There have been lawsuits brought accusing some brands of causing chemical burns. And a research lab found diapers emitted a number of fumes with known respiratory toxicity.
I sell Arbonne. I’m the poster child in the fight against chemical additives. “Did you know it only takes 26 seconds for something on your skin’s surface to be absorbed into your bloodstream?” I ask potential clients. I’ve rarely fed Copper anything store-bought outside puffs and Cheerios. We buy organic fruits and vegetables when we can and get our milk from the dairy. But you know, whatever chemicals are in his diapers 24/7 for two and a half years, I’m sure that’s fine.
If nothing else, they say cloth kids potty train younger because they can feel the mess better.
+ This is a great post about the basics of diapering: what you need, how it practically works out in the day-to-day of this mom’s life, from newborn on. My added two cents: 1) I highly recommend the snaps. Starting with a one year old, I can tell you nothing but snaps will keep these on him. Also, snaps won’t ever wear out. 2) I’ve mostly done one wash cycle, maybe an additional rinse cycle in cold. 3) That spatula idea is gold.