Are Cloth Diapers Worth It?

cloth diaper. Monashee Alonso/Getty

Sometime after my second daughter was born, I was determined to make cloth diapering work for us.

This was five years ago, so I'm not sure that there was as much accessible information on the Internet as there is now about cloth diapering and it's safe to say that I was completely overwhelmed by the choices. I ended up doing the virtual equivalent of closing my eyes and pointing, clicking on a few cloth diapers and ordering them while hoping for the best.

My husband was not on board with my cloth diaper experiment at all, nor was my mom, who kept chastising me for how big my baby's bottom was with the cloth diaper on. "Chaunie, that looks so uncomfortable!" she chided.

Needless to say, my cloth diaper experiment failed before it even got started. I could barely figure out how to stuff the inserts in or wash the darn things and to this day, I'm still not sure if I even put them on correctly. So to the rag pile the diapers went and I happily went on my way as a Pampers for life kind of mother. 

Until that is, baby #4 rolled out around once again, I found myself wanting to try cloth diapering. 

It all started when my daughter, who is on the chunky side of the scale, could never go a diaper change without completely and totally blowing out of her diaper--we're talking poop everywhere. I was so fed up with giving her baths multiple times a day and ruining all of her baby clothes that I did some digging and found that many people swear that cloth diapers help contain baby poop. 

Two of my best girlfriends cloth diaper and scoff at the idea that they are doing it for environmental reasons. "I could care less about the environment," one mom of two said. For her, there is simply no better diaper she has found that contain's her baby's poop. And if you've ever dealt with a newborn blow-out, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The diaper explosion that goes out of the diaper, all over the clothes, and up the back? Yeah. But my cloth-diaper loving friends swear that blowouts simply don't happen with cloth diapers. 

Desperate to solve my exploding baby diaper dilemma, I decided to go with cloth diapering again and did more research on the topic. With my friend's expert advice, I found that cloth diapering really wasn't as scary as it had been the first time around.

There are lots of resources on cloth diapering, but for a brief overview, I found that there are three main different types of cloth diapers:

  • Pocket diapers, which have inserts you place in a pocket. They are the ones I went with and are generally a little bit cheaper. 
  • All-in-ones, are just like disposables in that they come in one piece, but they are a little bit pricier to purchase. 
  • Prefolds, which are kind of like the old school cloth diapers, but are the cheapest and most durable of the bunch if you're a dedicated cloth diapering parent. 

I decided to go with the pocket diapers, recommended to me by my friend and picked up a few on Amazon. I got a 5 pack for less than $35, which seemed like a great deal to me. Honestly, I spend that much on disposable diapers in a week, so I figured it was worth a shot. 

So how's it going so far? 

I'm glad you asked. 

Honestly, I'm still not completely sure. It took me a while to wash and prep the diapers--you need to wash the inserts and the diapers 4-6 times before you use them and now that I have them ready, it's been a learning curve for me. The hardest part, for me, has been the wipes. I'm so used to simply wiping the baby and stuffing the wipes in the diaper that I had to relearn everything. So far, I've taken to using a grocery bag to stuff the dirty wipes in, which doesn't seem much more environmentally friendly than disposables anyways. 

So far, here's what I think about cloth diapers:

  • They aren't that bad. Honestly, the poop is actually easier to clean out of a cloth diaper for some reason, so it seems less messy than a disposable. 
  • They are actually really cute. I love having the patterns on my daughter's bottom!
  • You probably need more than you think. I can go through 5 in a morning. 
  • The wet wipes are a challenge. I could see how cloth wet wipes would make sense if you're going all-in on cloth diapering. 
  • They really are cheaper. I can't even imagine how much money I would have saved if I and been cloth diapering all along! We easily spend over $200 a month on disposable diapers. 
  • You can't use diaper rash cream with cloth diapers, but you actually don't need it as much, because cloth diapers tend to reduce diaper rash anyways. 
  • My baby hasn't had one blowout since we started. 

Overall, I actually think that cloth diapering really is worth looking into. It's not much more work than cloth diapering and once you get over the "fear" factor, you might actually find you enjoy saving money every week! 

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