Cloth Diapering: Worth the Trouble?

Our diaper cover basket.

Our diaper cover basket.

Some folks look at me like I’m crazy when they discover we use cloth diapers. But cloth diapers honestly aren’t that big of a deal once you get the hang of it.

Cloth doesn’t work for everyone – or every kid. In fact, we use a combination of cloth for everyday at-home use and plastic (disposable) for when we’re visiting friends or running errands.

Before you launch into cloth diapering, I recommend considering all the advantages and disadvantages to decide whether it’s right for your family.

Advantages

Ultimately, we decided cloth diapers were a good option for us. Here’s why:

  • Save Money. When our son was first born, he was going through 10-15 diapers a day. Since newborn diapers from Pampers or Huggies often cost about $.20 per diaper, we would have been going through $2-$3 per day. That’s $60-$90 a week! I don’t know the exact cost of two loads of laundry a week for our cloth diapers, but I know it’s a lot less than that.
  • Save Trips to the Store. I live out of town, and I can’t always get to the store. It’s inconvenient to make a special trip just because we ran out of diapers, especially in the wee hours of the morning. With cloth, I never run out (unless I forget to do laundry).
  • Better for the Environment. This wasn’t our main motivation, but it’s a good one. Plastic diapers add up to a lot of extra trash sitting in a landfill somewhere. According to what I’ve read, diapers don’t exactly decompose quickly, either. Cloth diapers keep all that plastic out of our landfills — and out of our trash cans.
  • Better Fit. Once we settled on the best fit for our son, I noticed his cloth diapers fit better than the disposable ones. Not to get too gross, but his cloth diapers seem to contain messy things better than plastic diapers.
Diapers are convenient to wash with our other laundry.

Diapers are convenient to wash with our other laundry.

Disadvantages

Cloth diapers aren’t perfect! Here are some reasons why cloth might not be right for you:

  • Overwhelming Choices. There are a ton of cloth diapers on the market today! I found it incredibly confusing to choose which to purchase. Generally, cloth diapers are either one piece (pocket diapers) where a liner goes down inside two layers of the diaper or two-piece where an inside cloth diaper is covered by a waterproof cover. We use a two piece system with a gDiaper cover and pre-fold cloth lining. This isn’t really the way gDiapers were designed to work, but it works great for Eli.
  • Difficult for Other Caregivers. Cloth diapers can seem foreign to babysitters and family members who watch your baby when you’re away. We solve this problem by putting Eli in plastic diapers when he’s going to be in someone else’s care.
  • Messy. This may be the biggest reason why parents shy away from cloth diapers. It’s a little ickier to have to take the two pieces of a cloth diaper apart and put them in the wash than it is to just throw away a plastic diaper. My only advice is to try cloth for a bit before you let yourself get grossed out by it. I found it really wasn’t as bad as I imagined it could be.
  • More Laundry. No doubt about it, cloth makes more laundry. However, we throw the cloth diapers, diaper covers and Eli’s other laundry into the wash together, so it isn’t really much more than I would be doing otherwise.
  • Bigger Clothes. Cloth diapers are bulkier than plastic ones, and store-bought clothes aren’t designed for cloth diapers. Your baby may need bigger clothes — particularly bigger pants — than he otherwise would. Eli has some outfits that only fit when he’s wearing plastic diapers.
  • Expensive to Start. Initially, cloth diapers may cost more than plastic. I wouldn’t recommend getting a big bunch of cloth diapers all at once. Try a few different types until you find what works best for your baby, then order all you need. If it doesn’t bother you to buy used diapers, check at thrift stores, craigslist, garage sales, resale shops and eBay. We actually found several covers (normally around $10) for $.50 at a Goodwill before Eli was born.

Come back next week for an explanation of our simple cloth diapering method!

Do you use cloth diapers?

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3 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering: Worth the Trouble?

  1. […] Last week, we explored the advantages and disadvantages of cloth diapers, and this week we’re going a step further by looking at my family’s system of cloth diapering. After much trial and error, this is the method that works best for us. […]

  2. […] the last few weeks, we’ve discussed cloth diapering and the many advantages to cloth diapers. But, no matter how much I love cloth diapers for our baby, sometimes disposables are just so much […]

  3. Ashley April 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm Reply

    I am overwhelmed! There are SO many cloth choices, I was 1st thinking, I’ll buy a pack of disposables each paycheck until the baby gets here. But then I wondered if cloth would save me money. I guess you can tell I’ve previously not been in baby stores/baby sites b/c I was thinking of the old-fashioned cloth kind. I had no idea how far cloth diapers had progressed. As easy as disposables would be, I can’t help but think it’s financially irresponsible of me to buy disposable when I know I want to be a SAHM and we will become a single income family. I hope I can find some cloth that work and that (excuse the crudeness) the poopy diapers won’t be as hard to clean as I’m imagining them to be. Being an older FTM who for a decade didn’t think babies were in the future, I am a little overwhelmed with all the choices to be made. Thanks for sharing this post, it’s making lean towards cloth being worth the work to save the money.

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