The experts say (whoever the experts are), that from birth to potty training, a baby goes through an average of 8000 diaper changes! That is a lot of diapers for parents to change, but also a lot of waste that can end up in the landfill. In fact, according to Environment Canada, more than four million disposable diapers are discarded in Canada every day and it takes hundreds of years for a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill.
With choices that can have such a huge impact on the environment it is important for parents to find what is best for their family and for their bottom line. Typically there are many fears about cloth, like how tough it can be to use, cost, cleaning, and of course, poop, but there are some things to consider before disregarding the cloth option for your little one.
1. Ease of use – When I first told my husband that I wanted to use cloth with my son he instantly said "NO WAY". He started thinking of cloth diapers from when we were younger, with folding and giant pins, and I am sure some children being injured in the process. In order to get over his fear we looked for places that could show us the different options. There are actually a few places locally that offer classes on cloth diapers, so you really can see and feel how things work. Taking the class helped my husband see that cloth diapers have come a long way from giant pins and messing around with folds, big inventions like Velcro and inserts can be life changing!
2. Cost – Cloth diapers can be expensive when you compare it to buying just one pack of diapers before baby arrives, but long term it can mean a huge savings. This can be a even better if you are thinking of having more than one baby! We are preparing for baby #2 and instead of needing to go out and buy diapers we just took our cloth stack out for another wash and we are ready to go. If you are a numbers person and need to really see a break down, there is a great chart on this site, that breaks down cloth diaper and disposable diaper average costs, so you can see the savings.
3. Cleaning – Not just the poop, but in general, before you actually have a little one, there seems to be an aversion to coming anywhere near the stuff that comes out the bottom end. Even more so, people seem to be afraid to throw those used diapers in their washing machine, perhaps for fear of poop getting on other clothes, or maybe having to come near it at all (all things I think you get over in the first few weeks as a parent). But there are options for you! Using cloth diapers does not have to mean you clean them, there are a lot of services locally that can do the dirty work for you.
4. Poop – There really is no nice way to put it. When we talked to our friends about using cloth the first thing that they almost all said was "but you will have to wash the poop out" (oh can you imagine!). It should be noted that these people are not parents. If they were, they would know that wiping some poop from a diaper is a walk in the park over the times you will have poop on you, flying at you, or cleaning it off baby with endless wipes (sometimes just resulting in a full shower for them). I assure you that you will get over the poop cleaning pretty quickly, and there are even videos online showing you how easy it is (don't eat and watch).
There is so much information available for parents on cloth diapers and disposables, and it really does come down to a personal preference. It is important for parents to know that locally there are a lot of options to help in both the decision making process, and how to make it easy if you do decide to go with cloth. There are even great tips on making your own wipes, which will help the environment and you can use with cloth or disposable diapers.
Between swings and carriers and strollers, try and take some time to research cloth, it could have a huge impact on the family budget and the environment. I promise it isn't as scary as it seems (you will get over your poop fear).