As I have become more conscious about health, I have also become more conscious about how we affect the environment and how it then affects us back. Since disposable diapers haven’t really been around that long we don’t know for sure how long it will take for them to decompose, but the estimates are between 200 and 500 years. So, even if we say it only takes the 200 years. There is an average of about 4 million babies born in the US each year. And each of those beautiful babies will go through about 2800 diapers per year. In America we are buying, using, and disposing of nearly 12 billion diapers annually!!! And spending two and a quarter billion dollars annually on something that lands itself in the dump. What a huge waste! We could figure how many diapers would be in the landfills of America in 200 years but I think we all get the point. (source) (source) (source)
Ok aside from it being a huge waste of money, and landfill space diapers are also loaded with chemicals. These chemicals are linked to childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. They can also cause rashes and allergic reactions. Then we send them to the landfill and leach those chemicals back into our environment, and after 200 years where will the chemicals be? Where are they now? In our food? our air? Mostly likely both.
So what are these chemicals? The big concerns are dioxins, sodium polyacrylate, Tributyl-tin (TBT), and Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But there are also dyes, fragrances, plastics, and petrolatums.
These chemicals do everything from causing hormone disruption to triggering genes that cause obesity. They have been linked to toxic shock syndrome when used in tampons. These chemicals can cause damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. They can cause cancer and headaches. They can impair the immune system, the nervous system, the endocrine system, and reproductive function. And the list continues with all kinds of other small maladies. (source) (source)
And the first thing we do is strap a disposable diaper on their precious fragile bottoms…
Ok, I think that is enough of my rant, and you should understand how are diapering choices play a part in the health of our families and our posterity.
Why I use cloth diapers
When I was pregnant with my first I thought about cloth diapering. I have to be honest, the first thing that attracted me to the idea was that it was cheaper than disposables. Yep, that’s right… cheap is beautiful. After talking to friends and family I found that depending on the type of disposable diapers they bought, they were spending anywhere from $25 to $45 a month on diapers. Cloth diapers range from anywhere between $3-$15 per diaper. After looking around I ended up getting mine off eBay. I got a set of 20 for $90. After some time I also ordered some wipes, but one can easily make them for cheaper.
I started out really simple. Just with my cloth diapers, a bucket with a lid on it to use for dirty diapers, and a wet bag given to me by a friend. And the adventure began.
|Here’s baby in his cute caveman diaper. 🙂|
1. It’s less expensive. Cloth diapering is a one time upfront cost.
2. They are cute. Cloth diapers come in lots of cute patterns.
3. You don’t have as much trash.
4. You are prepared for any emergency.
5. Cloth diapers are more high-tech than they used to be. They come with snaps or Velcro so you don’t have to worry about pins.
6. Variety. You can choose between a variety of different types of diapers: All-in-ones, pocket diapers, pre-folds with covers, fitted with covers.
1. They are bulky. When I first started I just had one size pocket diapers. They were too bulky for my son when he was first born. They do have different sizes of diapers so you can buy small medium and large and partially avoid this problem.
2. The cleaning process. Cloth Diapering usually involves washing your diapers at least twice a week. It takes a while to figure out the cleaning process and get into a groove.
3. Traveling. I find that it is difficult to travel for extended periods of time with cloth diapers. Sometimes I buy disposables or if the trip is short I’ll pack up all the diapers and the wet bag.
Cloth diapers are not that much harder in my mind than disposables. I keep my diapers in a drawer in my sons room with the diaper pail and a garbage can. When changing time comes I take baby to the room, remove his diaper, take out the insert and throw both the cover and insert into the diaper pail and replace the lid. If I’m using cloth wipes they go in the diaper pail as well. If I’m using disposable wipes they go into the garbage. I take a diaper from the drawer with an insert already in and put it on baby. If I’m getting baby ready for night I will usually double up on the inserts so that the diaper lasts longer through the night. I have 20 cloth diapers and 40 inserts so they usually last anywhere from 2 to 3 days before it is time to wash.
|Wet bag with draw string top to seal off the smell.|
Changing a diaper away from home
Let’s say I’m out. I make sure I have a couple of diapers and wipes in the diaper bag as well as the wet bag. The wet bag takes the place of the diaper pail when I’m away. So when I’m done changing the diaper everything goes in the wet bag. It locks the smell in so you don’t have to smell it throughout your trip. After I get home I empty the bag into the diaper pail. And honestly you don’t really even have to touch it just dump the bag out into the pail.
This is the part obviously that you don’t have to worry about with disposables. There is a lot of different ways to wash cloth diapers and it seems as though everyone has their own favorite way. I start by taking the pail and dumping it into the wash. I do a pre-rinse with cold water, no soup first. You can add baking soda to the rinse cycle. This is great if your diapers are retaining a smell. then I add 1/4 the recommended amount of soap for a load and change the water to hot and run it through a cycle. You can add soiled baby clothes or other to the wash after the rinse cycle if you choose.
|Diapers, inserts, wipes, garbage, Baby powder…etc|
When the washer is done I hang dry the covers and throw the inserts in the dryer. The covers dry super fast. During the winter I did use the dryer for my covers although most people don’t recommend it because it ruins the elastics in the diapers faster. I tried it because my cloth diapers said use the dryer in the instructions.
After they’re dry I fold the wipes and stick them in a wipe container and add some water. There are a lot of wipe water recipes. Here’s one I’m thinking of trying.
- 2 or 3 drops of tea tree oil.
- 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s soap.
I stuff the diapers with the inserts and fold them and stack them in the drawer. It takes 5-10 minutes. I stack the rest of the inserts in the drawer and I’m ready to go again.