(*Disclaimer: For those who do cloth diaper, I truly respect your commitment. For those who are considering cloth diapering, please don’t let me discourage you. LOTS of people do it and love it. It’s just not for me. To each their own!)
I pride myself on taking the environmentally friendly road whenever possible. We recycle (even though it means Mike has to drive 40 minutes round trip to the dump every few weeks). We drag an armful of reusable grocery bags to the store with us. We don’t let the water run while we brush our teeth. The usual stuff.
Right around the time I found out I was pregnant, I had started reading more and more about cloth diapers. These are not the cloth diapers of 30 years ago, which really were just glorified rags. These are the diaper-shaped, well-designed, absorbent – not to mention adorable – diapers of the 21ste century, folks. Too. Cute.
A lot of people cloth diaper because although there is a larger upfront cost, they are a much cheaper alternative to disposable diapers in the long-run. But the monetary savings, although a definite perk, wasn’t the driving force behind my desire to cloth diaper. My motivation was the 10,000 – 12,000 disposable diapers that go into the landfill with each and every baby. Ugh. Gross. We need to take better care of our planet, darn it. And besides! Cloth must be better for the baby — who wants all those dyes and chemicals and God-knows-what constantly rubbing up against his most delicate area!
So, I did a ton of research and decided to buy a slew of the one-size-fits-all BumGenius 3.0s in all sorts of adorable colors (the orange was my favorite). I wanted to use one brand, and that style got great reviews for the type of laundry I *thought* I wanted to do and how I wanted them to fit. The only catch was that I knew they would be a little too big on Ryan at first. No problem, I thought. We’ll just use disposables for the first couple of weeks, and then we’ll transition into cloth.
I did not anticipate that even with the newborn insert, it would not be weeks but months before he would fit into them. I didn’t want to buy any smaller ones to hold us over until he fit in the BumGenius because I felt I had already invested enough money in this endeavor. And, well, we were a little busy learning how to be parents, so it was sort of the last thing on our minds.
Finally, when he was about 2 months old, I excitedly put one on Ryan for the first time. It was still a bit big, but it fit well enough. They were really bulky and his clothes no longer fit quite right, but hey, we all have to sacrifice a bit for our planet, right?
I lasted two days. Maybe three.
1. Ryan became fussier than usual, but would become happy as soon as I would take the diaper off. I think he was uncomfortable with all the bulk. But he probably would have gotten over that eventually, so I can’t really use that as an excuse.
2. They’re GROSS. Especially the kind I bought, which have an insert. The insert is what absorbs the liquid. You have to take the insert out of the shell before you wash it. So, picture me standing in front of the washer, peeling soaked inserts out of soaked diapers in order to wash them. Ugh.
3. Poop. I thought it would be fairly easy to just scoop it into the toilet and throw the diaper into the wet/dry bag… No. It’s not that simple. I will spare you the details. Let’s just say these diapers have a lot of crevices.
4. Believe me when I say this: I wasn’t doing the environment any favors. I was using way more wipes than before with every poopy diaper (cuz now I was cleaning him PLUS trying to get all that poop out of the diaper). Then I’d flush the toilet (sometimes twice to get all those wipes down). Then I’d wash the diapers… forever and ever. Seriously. A 25-minute pre-wash on cold, followed by a steaming 50-minute wash on hot, followed by another cold rinse. Then I’d air-dry the shells and dry the inserts in the dryer. Oh, and the darn things kept leaking. So I was also washing a sleeper, a swaddle blanket, a sheet, a sheet “saver” and a mattress pad every morning. HOW IS ANY OF THAT ECO-FRIENDLY?!?
5. I’ve had it with the laundry. I do so much laundry that I hardly have time to sleep (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration). I do at least one load almost every night of the week, and several loads each weekend. When I added cloth diapers to that, I was practically chained to my washer and dryer.
I found myself thinking, “He’s probably going to poop soon… maybe I should just put a disposable on him…” followed by “Well, using cloth and disposables sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?”… At the end of the third day of going back and forth between disposables and cloth and just being generally miserable, Mike came home from work and I declared, “I think I’m done with cloth.”
Want to know why I married Mike? Because his response was, “Really? It’s pretty bad, huh? I’m cool with disposables!” He could have said, “Listen, lady. You talked me into this. You did tons of research. You spent a pretty penny on these. You can just deal with it!” But he would never say that. Because he wants me to be happy, and to him, that’s more important than the money we wasted. Well, and, he wasn’t particularly enjoying the process either.
I have kicked myself a lot over this. I think where I went wrong was using disposables for too long at the beginning (which I cautioned against with the lovely pregnant lady who got a smokin’ deal on my full “like new” set of BumGeniuses off Craig’s List). I realized that disposable diapers are not the over-indulgent, lazy invention I thought they were… Quite the opposite, in fact. They’re pure genius. Whoever invented disposable diapers is my hero. They are wonderful. I love them. There, I said it: I LOVE DISPOSABLES.
Does that make me a bad person?
Eh, if it does, I don’t care. Cuz I’m happy, my husband is happy, and my kid is happy. I’ll find another way to save the planet.