The Manly Mondays Series: Cloth Diapering

When my wife first came to me with the idea of cloth diapering (CD) I thought it was fantastic. Save green by going green, brilliant! Then I asked my peers and circle of advisers about our master plan to limit our waste in more ways than one. The overwhelming response was that we were typical new parents with no idea how hard this would all be. “Don’t do it you’ll be tired and doing laundry all day and night!”, “Cloth diapers leak!”, “You’ll be scrubbing poop out of them and you’ll never get them clean!” This and many more negative comments had me terrified. I not only gave up on the idea for myself, but I put pressure on my wife not to try this with our first squishy.
 So let’s shatter some misconceptions: first, all parents are tired regardless of the type of diapers they chose to use and nothing is going to fix this for you. Next, our cloth diapers are not the same as our parents. We have never had a cloth diaper leak, and to my knowledge we have never had a blowout. I cannot say the same for the super expensive organic cotton disposable diapers we had. As for the comment on scrubbing, I have scrubbed poop out of onesies more times than I care to remember and I know my wife has done even more. Unless you are buying disposable outfits, you will not be able to avoid this. $#!% happens and I am becoming a master at cleaning it up. We do not have desert camouflaged diapers (poop stained), and we do not spend 40hrs a week scrubbing the mustard out of them. We spend about 3-4 minutes on scrubbing, toss them in the diaper pail and come laundry day we throw them in the wash. The rest we leave to the sun–spotless!

My aversion to disposable diapers can be chalked up to environmental impact, economic impact, and diaper companies underhandedness in not disclosing their product ingredients. Even when I was a kid, I heard that disposable diapers were made out of questionably safe materials, were EXTREMELY wasteful and filling up the landfills at an alarming rate. In fact, these diapers take many hundreds of years to break down. The issue hit home for us one morning when I found small clear gel-like crystals on my son’s privates. I asked my wife what they were and we were both clueless. After researching, I discovered Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) was layered inside of our Natural Huggies to promote extra absorbency. Unfortunately, due to certain laws, diaper manufacturers do not have to list ALL ingredients in the construction of the diaper. This leads me to wonder, are they safe enough to be against my son’s skin all day and all night? For me personally, the risk that SAP may be a toxic substance is not worth the convenience of a disposable diaper.

The first week we started this I was prepared to hate it, and I honestly loved it. I believe CD are just as easy as disposables, if not easier. Plus, I’m not lugging out a garbage bag every few days that looks like I stole all the presents the Poos in Pooville could wrap for Christmas. All this said the hardest part of cloth diapering is the start-up cost. The initial cost had me choking and sputtering. “Holy smokes $25 for a diaper?!” but then my brilliant wife reminded me that we spend over $100 a month for the disposables. I started doing the math and realized these diapers start paying for themselves within 6 months. Sold!

I agreed to go to the baby place (Go Baby Go) to be a supportive husband (because supportive husbands get rewarded, happy wife-happy life) and immediately started looking for cool diapers: robots, dinosaurs, monsters, and elephants (elephants are a favorite animal in our household). My wife spent what felt like the whole day in that shop picking the gals brains about every aspect of CD while I entertained our son,  and as grateful as I am for her investigative nature, I started to go a little crazy. But the end result was so worth the wait! I wish we had started this journey earlier like we had planned. My kid is happy, looks good in his CD, and doesn’t have those weird crystals on his doogle. Worth every penny!

 Here are some interesting and extremely informative facts about the impact of disposable diapers pulled from the Real Diaper Association’s website. To see more visit http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php.

  • “The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.”
  • “…we estimate that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are consumed every year in the U.S.”
  • “We estimate that each baby will need about 6,000 diapers during the first two years of life.”
  • “…if we multiply the 8.8 million babies in disposable diapers by an average cost of $800 a year, we find that Americans spend about 7 billion dollars on disposable diapers every year.  If every one of those families switched to home-laundered cloth prefold diapers, they would save more than $6 billion, enough to feed about 2.5 million American children for an entire year.  Coincidentally, the 2002 U.S. Census reveals that 2.3 million children under 6 live in poverty.”
  • “Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste.  In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.”

We are the stewards of the Earth–it is important that we care for it, so that we have something good to pass onto our children. 

Converted crunchy Dad signing off.

 


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