First of all I'd like to explain two common misconceptions related to cloth diapering now:
You don't have to pin - Now you can buy fancy diapers that have velcro or snaps and go on just like disposables, or if you want to go the route of diapers and covers you can use a neat invention called a snappi that allows you to fasten the diaper without pins.
You don't have to store dirty ones in a bucket of water - You can throw the dirty diaper, without any solids (so runny poop is fine) into a garbage pail lined with a waterproof bag and when ready to wash, throw the whole bag and diapers into your washing machine and dryer.
Click here for more myths about cloth diapering
Now for the my top reasons to cloth diaper:
1. They are so incredibly cute: I like changing diapers because I can put on a new cute cover or pocket diaper. I love sewing the diapers, and I love shopping for diapers. It really is fun. Here is a collection of cute diaper baby bums from the babycenter diapering your baby message board. The ladies at on this board know everything about cloth diapering so if you have any questions you can go there.
2. You can save a lot of money: Cloth can cost a bit up front but it is well worth it in the long run. However if you do become addicted to buying diapers then you could end up spending more then you meant to, but still overall you will spend less. If you plan on having more than one kid you can reuse them, and they have a fairly high resale value (diaperswappers.com) so you can get some of your investment back.
3. It is safer for your baby. Our babies are bombarded with chemicals all the time so I try to limit it as much as possible. http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
4. It is better for the environment: I really don't believe claims to the contrary because they just don't make sense. http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/diapers/joy-of-cloth.html
Click here for more reasons to cloth diaper.
2. While your baby isn't immune from diaper rash, most babies have less instance of diaper rash because cloth diapers breathe more, tend to be changed more often and less allergic reaction. So if you cloth diaper you won't have to fight diaper rashes as often (hopefully ever).
3. When you visit people you don't have to impose your dirty diapers on their garbage cans.
4. Lots of people have less case of "diaper blowouts" or leaks. Cloth diapers tend to have more coverage and thus can contain better. I have never had a poopy diaper blowout using cloth, but have had quite a few with disposables.
5. Lots of people also report that potty training occurs earlier since the child can feel when they are wet.
6. Disposables stink! You definitely notice a difference if you normally use cloth and then put a disposable on your baby. You are constantly thinking they are poopy even when they aren't.
7. You don't have to worry about them getting wet. When you use a disposable diaper and it gets wet, a gooey gel covers your poor baby. If your little one is wearing cloth it is perfectly okay for them to get in a pool, or run through the sprinkler. Cloth diapers work great as swim diapers.
So if I managed to convince you try cloth diapering:
Here is a great link for the different kinds of diapers systems and their pros and cons
But if you don't like to research and don't want to think about it this is what I think provides the best combined value and convenience:
- 2-3 dozen prefolds Greenmountaindiapers.com have the best prefolds. I suggest the yellow edge ones for newborns, and the brown edge ones for 4-6month and older.
- 6-8 covers (super soft minky cover, bummis, thirsties) Edited to add: Just tried the old fashioned pull on covers and they are absolutely bulletproof when it comes to leaks and they are really inexpensive (http://www.babybestbuy.com/diapering-nylon-pants-2.asp). Covers with gussets (like the thirsties ones) are important for newborns.
- 6-8 one size pocket diapers (Bum Genius, Blueberry Minky)
- 4 snappis
- 2 pail liners
- 1 wet bag
- 3-4 dozen cloth wipes (you can use baby washcloths or just cut up some flannel or buy special cloth wipes
This will cost you about $300 and you can cloth diaper full time. You will probably need to wash every other day or every two days. The covers can be reused until they get soiled(which happens quite a bit with a newborn) or stinky. If you are starting with a newborn you will need to buy bigger prefolds and covers at around 4-6 months and if you have a large baby you might need to buy more covers again when they are a toddler. Since I suggest one size pocket diapers they should last you till potty training. But of course sometimes you enjoy it so much that you want to try all the different options, or just want to buy new cute diapers because they are cute.
If you want to try a bunch of different diapers without being out much money. Jillian's Drawers has a program where you can try different cloth diapers for $10 and return whatever you don't like and pay and keep what you do.
To wash your diapers:
Put all dirty diapers, covers and wipes in a garbage can lined with a washable pail liner. Every other day dump all the diapers and covers, plus the pail liner (turn the pail liner inside out so you don't have to touch the dirty diapers) into the wash. Set your washing machine for a cold pre-rinse, hot wash, and post rinse. Use half the amount of detergent you usually use. Then stick them in the dryer. Then I take them out of the dryer and stick them all into the pail liner (so I don't need a basket) bring them upstairs and quickly sort them into baskets (I have a wipe basket, diaper basket, cover basket and pocket basket). It only takes a couple of minutes to sort them.
I do have to admit that the hardest part is finding a wash routine that works. Because the diapers are so absorbant some detergents build up on the diapers causing them to not smell pleasant. Sometimes if your water isn't the right hardness it can cause problems. I have a front loader, so regular detergent didn't seem to get them really clean, so I ended up buying Allens Naturally biodegradable detergent and I combine that with a dollop of Simple Green multi purpose cleaner and now I don't have any problems. I have to admit it took me a few weeks to figure this out and I was getting frustrated, but with a little perseverence and experimentation I no longer have a problem. If you do have problems there is a lot of information online to help you resolve it.
See it really is easy. Washing them doesn't take up much time. Cloth diapering really takes just a little bit more organization then anything else and it really can be fun. It might sound crazy, but if there is a way to make changing diapers fun shouldn't you try it?