Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guest Post: Cloth Diapering!

Here is a Guest post from a friend Lindsay.. Id always wanted to try cloth, but never got around to it for one reason or another. Great job Linds! :)

When I discovered that I was pregnant back in February of 2009, I couldn't wait to start planning how things were going to be once the baby arrived. My husband and I had been not trying/not preventing/always hoping to conceive for a couple of years, but the timing was apparently never right (and I didn't know anything about charting my ovulatory cycles or anything like that at the time). As it turns out (and as I've said for years), everything happens for a reason, and we both agreed that when we finally did get pregnant, it was simply when it was supposed to happen!

I knew from the get-go that I wanted to cloth diaper our baby... when he/she turned 6 months old. I didn't want to have to deal with the messy gooey poop that comes with newborns, especially (from what I'd read) exclusively breast-fed newborns! The thought of having to heft a diaper full of seedy, mustardy poop and dunk/swish it in the toilet seemed too gross to me, and I figured that at six months our little one would be eating baby food and depositing solid little nuggets that could easily be discarded.. no muss, no fuss!

Boy, I wish I would have done my research earlier. We used disposable diapers for the first three months. During that time we had a number of blow-outs (poop-splosions) that were so bad that it took two gagging people to clean up. I also started researching facts about disposables vs. cloth diapers, because I was steadily losing patience with the poor fit, gross smell, and cost of disposables. We were spending somewhere around $40 - $60 a month for store-brand diapers and wipes. If you add that up over the course of 3 years (average time you'll use diapers until your little one learns to use the potty), that's between $1,440 and $2,160 (note: those numbers will be higher for parents who buy brand-name diapers).

Here are some things that I learned which ultimately pushed my desire to cloth diaper over to my steadfast devotion to cloth diaper:

1) It has been reported that roughly 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown away and end up in landfills each year. There is some speculation as to how long it takes those disposable diapers to decompose in said landfills, but estimates vary from 450 years to NEVER. Yes, you will be using more water with cloth diapers, which is more energy usage, but in the long run I'd rather use more water to keep my reusable diapers clean than to keep adding more and more poopy plastic to already overcrowded landfills.

2) There are chemicals found in disposable diapers that are a great health concern, and should be seriously taken into consideration when choosing how to diaper your little one(s). Many disposables are a mixture of plastic and bleached paper. The bleaching process that makes disposables nice and white creates Dioxin, which is extremely toxic and is actually the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals according to the EPA. You know how a disposable diaper feels gel-like when it's saturated? That's because of a chemical called sodium polyacrylate. This is the absorbent material in disposable diapers. *A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria (Reference: "Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women's Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers: What You Can Do About It). Yet another chemical found in disposable diapers is Tributyltin, another highly toxic compound which has caused irreversible damage to marine life, and has negative effects on humans and the environment in general. Tributyltin is commonly used for wood preservation, and in the creation of antifouling (removing plantlife, algae, microorganisms, etc from wetted structures) pesticides. Um.. what???
3) Research has shown that plastic-lined disposable diapers raise the scrotal temperature well above normal body temperature in baby boys, which can completely disable testicular cooling functions. This can lead to infertility, and is thought to be why we are seeing such a spike in male infertility over the past 25 years or so. Cloth diapers are much cooler and allow the skin to breathe. This is one reason why rashes are much less prevalent in cloth diapered babies than disposable diapered babies.

There are many websites and references you can look at that confirms these findings, but here is one regarding the raise in temperature that I found very interesting - and alarming:
Now for the less scary facts:

1) Most cloth diapers - when cared for properly - can last you for years, and even through multiple babies/toddlers. This will save you a TON of money, especially if you plan to have more children, or you can donate them to a friend or family member (or needy community) who is expecting.
2) You don't have to touch poop! Breast-fed poop is water soluble and doesn't have to be removed from a cloth diaper before washing (it's true - I did it all the time before my daughter started solids). For formula-fed babies, and/or for those who can't stand the thought of putting poop in their washing machine, there are diaper sprayers that attach to your toilet to make poo-removal easy and dunk/swish-free!
3) Cloth diapers come in so many different colors, prints, sizes, and squishy-soft fabrics that it's actually fun (and oftentimes addicting) looking for - and buying, of course - new diapers to add to your stash.
All-in-all, cloth diapers are economical, earth-friendly, and so much nicer against your baby's parts than plastics. These are the biggest reasons why we decided to go with cloth, but ultimately the decision has to be one that you are comfortable with. If you're not sure, but would like to try it out, look at websites like or for trial packages that let you experience a few different types of the most popular cloth diapers on the market. You might be surprised at how much you like it!

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