Monday, February 25, 2013

Cloth Diapering Part 2: Common Questions, Concerns, and Misconceptions

It seems everyone has a lot of misconceptions about cloth diapering. And I can't blame them. If you don't do it, then how can you know the truth? People come to me with a lot of questions. There are several very common concerns and a lot of misconception with it comes to this method of diapering. That's what I'll be addressing in this post.

First misconception: "Cloth diapers are so expensive!"
Wrong. And I say that, because in order for something to really be true, it has to be true ALL THE TIME. While, yes, it is true that some cloth diapers can be expensive, that is not always the case. There are tons of affordable options out there. You have to keep in mind that there are a lot of options when it comes to cloth - which is one of the reasons I love it so much! When you look at all of the styles, brands, materials, types, and methods out there, you'll see that a single diaper setup can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thirty or forty or more. But no one is twisting your arm and making you buy a fifty dollar diaper. (Yes, I have seen some in that range.) You can join co-ops to get some awesome deals. You can join a diaper swap group. You can buy used diapers (sounds gross, but they are completely washed/sanitized.). A lot of people make their own diapers! Bottom line: cloth diapering can be as affordable as you need it to be. Even brand new, some only run a few dollars each. We already discussed in part one of this series how cloth is MUCH more cost-effective than disposables.

"Yeah, but what about the cost of washing or a diaper service?"
While the cost of washing was also covered in part one, it's worth mentioning again. Yes, you will see an increase in your utility bill. But even after that, it still costs less than disposables. A diaper service can be expensive. There aren't any in my area, and even if there were, I would opt to do the diaper laundry myself anyway. It's really not that difficult! Which brings me to my next point...

"Washing cloth diapers is a PAIN, right? Isn't it gross?? Doesn't it take up a lot of your time? Won't it make my washer yucky?"
Washing diapers is actually pretty simple, and it doesn't have to take up a lot of your time. It is common for people to think that cloth diapering buries you in laundry, but it really doesn't! I do a diaper load every other day. Sometimes if I'm having a super busy or lazy week, I'll go two days in between. But I usually do a load of laundry every day (keeps the pile at bay!), so this wasn't much extra work for me anyway. ACTUALLY...for some people who are not on top of their laundry "situation", cloth diapering helps keep them on top of it! If you're not good at staying on top of your laundry, you will be when you start cloth diapering because you need clean diapers--no ifs, ands, or dirty butts about it! And it's really not gross. Your washing machine was made to wash dirty things. What do you do if your child vomits on their clothes? How do you wash dirty work clothes or a toddler's pee accident? How do you clean up a spaghetti dinner mess? I promise your washer can handle it. It's not gross for you, either. You dump your dirty dipes into the washer and start your cycle. Simple as that. 

"Okay. What about the 'POOP FACTOR'? How do you deal with that?!"
To that, I say "How do YOU deal with it?" You're going to be dealing with poop whether you use cloth or disposables. Is there a parent out there who has never been confronted with a poop mess? Do disposables magically make poo less messy or stinky? Um--no. Blowouts are blowouts. And if I'm being completely honest--I've had fewer blowouts in cloth than I did with disposables on my son. If you're getting poop on yourself during diaper're either doing something wrong, or it's such a big mess that it was unavoidable anyway. As for DISPOSING of the poo...well that's an easy one. There are a few options. (1) Just shake it out into the toilet. (2) Use a liner. These come in disposable and reusable options. It's just a thin layer of cloth (or disposable material) that you lay in the diaper. Pee soaks through to the diaper and poo can be easily lifted out and dumped in the toilet. (3) A diaper sprayer. They kinda look like those sprayers on the kitchen sink. They connect to the back of the toilet and there is a hose and you just spray diapers off into the toilet. Plus (BONUS!) you can use it as a bidet. Holla! You do NOT have to dunk and swirl in the toilet like your mother or grandmother did. They have made things so much easier for us. It's really not bad at all. Besides - as mentioned in part one - you're not supposed to throw poop away with your disposables anyway. You're supposed to dump it in the toilet. (Seriously--read the instructions on the box.)

"Don't the dirty diapers stink really bad? I heard you're supposed to store them in a pail of water while they're waiting to be washed--ick!"
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry. Just had to get that out. Raise your hand if your diaper pail doesn't stink. *crickets* No one? Oh right--you're putting soiled diapers in a bin. It's going to stink whether you use cloth or disposables. I dealt with more stink from disposables than I do with cloth. And maybe that's because there was more poop in the bin when I used disposables (I didn't dump solids into the toilet as recommended). As for the pail of water (known as a "wet pail")--that's an option, but it's not very common. Every cloth diapering mother I know uses the dry pail method. You chuck the diapers in a bin or trash can or whatever you like, really, and that's that. A lot of people use a wet bag/pail liner that is water proof and washable. Some people don't--they just use a bin that they can wash out in the tub. Other people use wicker baskets. Some people have lids on their pail and some don't (the tighter the seal, the more concentrated the stink...) I'll go over some odor control options in a later post. Just know that the stink is no worse than (and in my experience--better) disposable diaper pails.

"I heard you have to change cloth diapers more often than disposables."
Why? Do cloth diapered babies pee and poop more often? The truth is, a lot of people who use disposable diapers don't change their kids often enough. (I'm not saying that YOU don't!) The polyacrylate I talked about in part one makes your baby "feel" dry, but does that mean you shouldn't change them? I heard someone describe disposable diapers as "wearable toilets" because many people leave their children in soiled disposables for far too long. It's sad. And gross. If you were stuck in a diaper, wouldn't you want to be changed as soon as possible after soiling yourself? Every child, regardless of their diaper type, should be changed often to stay clean and avoid rashes, leaking, and being stinky.

"What do you do at night?"
I don't really understand why this is such a widespread concern. Heavy wetters are heavy wetters. I know with my son in disposables, he would wake up soaked some nights because he peed through his diaper. Blech. Now, I'm not saying you'll never get that with cloth. Let's be real. HOWEVER, with cloth diapers, you have a LOT of options for increased absorbency. There are several different materials that have varied levels of absorbency (cotton, hemp, bamboo, microfiber, etc.) You can use a wool "soaker" at night. You can use "doublers" or extra inserts. There are a lot of things you can do for nighttime diapering.

"What if my child goes to day care? What do you do when you're traveling? What about sleep overs at grandma's house?"
It's the same, the same, the same. You send your kid with diapers and include a wet bag. These are cloth bags with a waterproof layer that usually have a zipper or a drawstring. This goes for daycare or grandma's house or what-have-you. They change baby's diaper like they would a disposable, only instead of throwing it away, they toss it in the wet bag and you take that home with you when you pick up your child. A friend recently told me that there are no day care providers in her area that will accept a cloth diapered child. I believe her (she has no reason to lie about it), but I think that is absolutely ABSURD!! Why not?? I think this is probably due to ignorance on the care provider's part. Don't let that discourage you though. All of the day care centers I have checked out have no problem with taking cloth diapered children, and all of my cloth diaper mom friends said they haven't had any issues with it either. As for traveling--same thing. Take a small wet bag with you in your diaper bag while you're out and about and then when you get home, toss the bag and the diapers in your diaper pail and you're done. If you're going on vacation and don't have laundry accommodations, there are "hybrid" diapering solutions. You can get disposable, biodegradable inserts and use those instead of cloth in your diapers while you're traveling.

"Cloth diapers are bulky and ugly. Ew."
Wwwhhhhhaaaat?? Cloth diapers are AH-dorable. Did you see some of the diapers in the pictures in part one? Cute. They come in all different colors and patterns and materials. You can even get really soft/fuzzy "minky" material. Cloth diapers do add a little bit of bulk, but it's not that big of a deal. Not enough to dissuade people. And different diapers will be more or less bulky than others, so that weighs on some peoples' decisions when choosing a type/brand/style of diaper. Personally, I love a cute little cloth diapered fluff butt!

And, finally...

"Cloth diapering is hard! It takes too much time! All that folding and pinning and plastic waterproof pants--no thanks!
It's actually a very simple process. A great many cloth diapers are no more work than disposables when it comes to diaper changes. When you do a load of diaper laundry, just prepare your diapers and get them ready to go for changes. If you use all-in-ones, there's nothing to it. With pockets, simply stuff and go. (We'll be going over different types of cloth diapers in part three) When I first started cloth diapering, I was surprised to hear that a LOT of people love, and actually prefer, flats and prefolds. Flats are basically a big, flat, square cloth that you fold up ("old school") and pin or secure with a snappi. Prefolds are almost the same thing, but they're smaller and thicker in the middle and require less folding. Even if you want to try flats and prefolds, I say go for it! They're actually not difficult to use. There are several different ways to fold them and you don't have to use diaper pins! There are many different closure options. I use snappies myself (more on that in a later post) when using flats and prefolds. And plastic pants are almost unheard of nowadays. You use cute fabric diaper covers with a waterproof layer/liner. Check out the picture below to see how simple a prefold is to use. (Size 1 unbleached OsoCozy Prefold, Snappi, Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Diaper Cover)

So there you have it, folks! Cloth diapering myths debunked! Did I miss anything? What questions or concerns do YOU have?? You can ask in the comments below, on the Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood facebook page, or email me!

In case you missed it, Part One of the Cloth Diapering series can be found here. If this post has left you with other questions (What is a doubler? Diaper sprayer? What do you mean different types of diapers?), I promise it will all be addressed in future posts in this cloth diaper series! Bear with me!

As usual, please read the Crunchy Mamma Disclaimer before you get all huffy or take something personal that wasn't meant that way. Love you tons. ;-)


  1. Bottom line - cloth diapering is not as scary as I used to think it was. I LOVE the osocozy liners for poop (haven't even invested in a diaper sprayer yet) and cloth diapers are super cute. That may or may not have been one of my deciding factors in switching. ;) Also, I had NO idea you were supposed to scrape poop off of disposables. Wow. Just wow.

    1. Ditto! I was scared of cloth diapers for a long time. But then once I got started it was just so easy. I couldn't believe I waited so long! And the poop thing in disposables--ew. I shudder to think how much poop I have tossed into landfills, wrapped in plastic...preserved for hundreds of years...gross.

  2. You've got a lot of good information here. I'm still hesitant though. Mostly because (a) I have to share my laundry room and I worry that I couldn't clean the diapers as often as I'd like to, (b) there are SO many options that I'm overwhelmed about what to choose, and (c) traveling to visit family and having to worry about cloth diapers seems like just another stress on top of an already overly-stressful situation. With disposables I can just toss them in a garbage can and be done but with cloth I have to find room to hold on to them and then find a place to wash them. BUT I'm certainly leaning towards cloth diapering more than before I read your posts. :)

    1. Keep in mind, you don't have to cloth diaper the same way other people cloth diaper. I use pocket diapers, not prefolds. They're (in my opinion) more user-friendly and have a lot less of a learning curve. They're one size, so I don't have to buy different sized diapers. And, admittedly, we almost always use disposables on a trip. Because really, it takes just a little bit of stress off me. Not that I couldn't use my cloth, but it's just one less thing to worry about. Do what works best for you and your little one(s)!

    2. The laundry room situation could be a tough one. While it is recommended that you don't go more than a couple of days between washings, I know some people who only do a diaper load once a week. That would require a large "stash" though. And Laura is right! Everyone likes different types of diapers, and I will be going over that in the next post in this series. I use flats, prefolds, pockets, and all-in-twos/hybrids. I like them all for different reasons. There is really something for everyone! :-)

  3. I love my little man's cloth diaper ghetto booty! :)

    1. I was just munching on Eva's chubby little thigh rolls before putting her to bed for the night and telling her "Mamma loves your double-stuffed fluff butt!!" I think it's adorable!

  4. how absorbent are the prefolds/flats you use? I have some green mountain Clotheez prefolds and one pee and its completely soaked through or is that normal?

    1. That's pretty normal. The point is that they absorb a lot at one time. I guess we have all gotten it in our heads that diapers should be able to be left on for multiple pees, because disposables make it easy to do so. That took a bit of getting used to for me. And then I got thinking..."If I peed myself, I would want to be changed as soon as possible, not left to see how my underpants would hold up..."

      Have you tried GMD's workhorse fitteds? I love them! Sometimes I'll go to change Eva's diaper and find it damp, but not completely soaked. I still change her, obviously, but I am impressed with how absorbent the workhorses are.

    2. ah okay thanks. I was thinking maybe I didn't prep them correctly because I wasn't expecting them to soak right through and that's with them folded. I haven't tried the workhouse but right now I am just using the prefolds for him to air out on until we get his skin under control then I am gonna try some FuzzyBunz with the minky inserts.

  5. Hey Ashley, I know this post is older, but can you give some more info on the brands/types of cloth diapers you buy and why? I've always wanted to do cloth diapers but am hesitant to waste money on different types that will not end up working out. Do you buy a type that is one size fits all and (if so) is it more annoying to have the extra snaps everywhere? What brands do YOU think work really well that are also cute?
    Also, when you say it is pretty normal that one pee completely soaks through, does it soak on to their clothes often? I'm fine with changing after every wet in a cloth but not if I'm also changing pants every time too, or worrying that if I didn't notice seconds after they pee that I'll be finding pee on the couch as well. Oh, and one last question (for now!) How many wet diapers do you think you change a day with the cloth? I try to keep my girls comfortable but I honestly don't catch in between every single wet soley bc one might be so small or I might not notice one wet before the next wet or until the BM if we're out and about. So I'm trying to see how many cloth diapers I should plan per day with my twins. Thanks so much for all this information!

    1. I apologize for not responding to this sooner! I didn't see the comment :-( I am working on a post that goes over all of this information! Again--so sorry for missing your comment! Keep an eye out - I should have the next post in the series published soon.