Through lots of research and conversations with experienced parents, we discovered that people have some STRONG opinions on this particular topic. Parents of cloth diapered babies are excited to tell you that modern cloth diapers are the greatest things since sliced bread. Parents that use disposables, are quick to tell you that diapering can be extremely overwhelming, and stress that convenience is king where diapers are concerned. Realistically, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
Now before you go making a final decision, let me tell you that modern cloth diapers are not your mama's diapers. They're closer to disposables in overall design (i.e. no more diaper pins), but there still are lots of pros and cons on both sides. However, after lots of in-depth consideration (including some arm twisting and pleading from my end), we have decided that cloth diapers are worth a shot. Hooray!
If you're considering cloth diapers for your new addition, there's a lot to learn. Below, I've summarized some of the arguments that I've used to browbeat Mr. Officer into cloth diaper submission; organized from least important for our lifestyle (#10) to most important for our lifestyle (#1):
10. Environmental Concerns - it's important to care for the environment, landfills, disposables diapers, blah, blah. Seriously though, I feel like I won't really care too much about the environment when I'm deep in the poopy diaper trenches, but I guess it's still important.
9. Dangerous Chemicals - does anyone really know what that weird, blue, oozy stuff is in disposable diapers? This is another case of "I feel like I won't really care in the moment," but it does concern me a little bit.
8. Less Diaper Rash - I have kind of a hard time believing this one, because there are a lot of conflicting reports that disposables do a better job of pulling the wetness away from baby butts. However, cloth diaper advocates swear that cloth diapered babies suffer less diaper rash and potty train earlier. If there's a chance that is the case, I'll bite.
7. Cute Factor - ummm the Huggies Hawaiian Diapers just don't hold a candle to the Charlie Banana Robot Diaper in the cuteness arena. That is all.
6. Comfort for Baby - ever been to a doctor that uses those cheap, paper hospital gowns? They're drafty, scratchy, and not at all fun. I feel like disposable diapers probably feel like that for baby.....except centralized on baby's most sensitive parts!
5. Overnight Leak Protection - now I'm under no allusion that we won't have any leaks, but cloth pocket diapers at least give you the option to double or triple stuff for extra protection. Unless you put two diapers on the baby at night, disposables just don't really give you that option.
4. Less Trash - related to the environmental concerns, we have a problem here with small animals (raccoons, squirrels, etc.) getting into our trash and tipping over our trash cans. I really do not relish the idea of cleaning poopy, raccoon-bitten, diapers off the front yard.
3. Convenience - stick with me here, because I know "convenience" is not usually what comes to mind when people say cloth diapers. However, I will be home alone most days without a car. The thought of running out of diapers while home alone, without transportation, is a little scary. To me, it's going to be much easier to run an extra load of laundry than to plan my diaper needs four days in advance.
2. Fewer poop-spolsions - every disposable diaper parent we talked to had some truly frightening diaper blow-out stories to share. We're talking up the back, on the crib, all over everything, poop blow-outs. Almost unanimously, parents that have used a combination of cloth & disposable diapers have reported a significant decrease in poop-spolsions. It makes sense to me that the thick material and snaps on cloth diapers would do a better job of containment than the flimsy paper version, and I'd much rather be cleaning cloth diapers than my own clothes/arms/couch. Again, I'd be amazed if we never had a leakage problem, but I do believe that cloth diapers will do a better job. Need more convincing that disposables are less efficient in this area? Here you go, fair warning though, it's pretty gross.
1. Cost - when it comes right down to it, we wouldn't even be considering cloth diapers if they were more expensive in the long run. The average estimate for disposable diapers is $2,000 - $2,500 per child. OR you can buy a basic set of 20 cloth diapers from Alva Baby for $84 that can be reused for multiple children. Granted, you will probably have to spend about $15/month on supplies and laundry for cloth diapers, which gives you a grand total of $444 for basic, pocket style, cloth diapers (or $360 for each subsequent child). That's a savings of approximately $1,500 - $2,000 per child to put into the college fund. Done and done.
I'm pretty excited to boldly go into cloth diaper territory. Mr. Officer is onboard, but still has some very valid concerns about our decision. To find out why, stay tuned for a future post when I talk about the scary proposition of cleaning all those cloth diapers. Dunh, dunh, duuunnhhhhh......