Saturday, March 15, 2014

Diapers: Going Cloth Isn't Quite What I Expected

My daughter recently announced she was switching to cloth diapers, going on about the lifespan of used diapers in landfills and the horrible impact on the environment. It seems each baby generates about two tons of diapers during his or her disposable diaper days, and those diapers, stored in landfills, are expected to take 250-300 years to decompose.

That's means their old poop is still around long after they, their children, grandchildren, and a lot of generations that won't remember their names have come and gone. Good grief.

At the same time, talk of cloth diapers made me I recall my own cloth diaper days.

Not the days when I wore cloth diapers, God forbid, I cannot remember that long ago, but the days when she was small and I started out my diapering journey with cloth diapers.

Even then, I didn't have to learn to fold diapers correctly, the different patterns to put the most diaper where the most volume was likely to be generated depending on whether you were diapering a boy or girl. My own diapered days were totally basic, washed and hung on a line, folded and stored for use. Not quite the beat with a rock in the river, scrubbed with a washboard, or run through wringers, but still the dark days of diapering convenience.

Nearly 30 years ago when I decided I'd use cloth diapers to be kind to the environment and save money, padded inserts had been added to the cloth so there was something to catch what they produced. There were little plastic pants to wear over the diaper and keep clothes and surroundings dry. Special diaper pins had to be both kept handy and out of baby's reach. I kept a diaper pail with water and borax in the bathroom/laundry room to hold the soiled diapers after they were rinsed in toilet or sink until they were washed. Each morning in addition to clean diapers, I carried a plastic bag to the sitter's so she could rinse and store the used ones. After doing the laundry in the washer, I dried the diapers on the clothesline in the back yard letting sun and wind do the work.

All the same, despite my initial commitment, my cloth diaper days didn't last. At some point it simply became too much work and the disposable ones, despite the fact that I had to nag my husband into hauling them off because we didn't have trash pickup, became more convenient and economical in the "what is my time worth" category. Of course, I was a new mom and soon exhausted by the demands of working in journalism and sleepless nights with the baby who was not eager to give me a break.

I hoped for better luck for that grown baby with her own little one and prepared myself for dealing with cloth diapers.

When E3 arrived with her behind cloth-diapered, I was looking at a totally different creation.

Where are the safety pins, the folds, the plastic panties?

Nope, today's ultra modern cloth diapers are an all in one creation and one size fits all as well, at least by the time they arrive at my house to be put to use. There is, in fact, a diaper liner that is flushable when too soiled or worn for reuse, an absorbent pad that catches the liquid and, most importantly, a two layer diaper cover into which the pad slips, the liner is inserted, and which has an outer layer that resists moisture and either velcroes or snaps to fit the baby.


So we've been in cloth diapers for a few weeks now, not exclusively because they still aren't up to the absorbency factor of disposables when it comes to overnight, and because the bulk amount she ordered to get her through a week hasn't arrived yet. I use one disposable at nap time and she uses one overnight. We've still significantly cut our landfill contribution.

It's also much easier to make sure E3 is situated and fitted correctly with the cloth diapers. Maybe it's just me, but three babies later and I'm still finding that I lay the disposable diaper with the front under her butt and have to turn it around because the tabs are going to be unhandy to wrap around her back. Also, the adjustable fitting and elastic around the edges have pretty much eliminated the diaper blowouts for which E3 was well known (I still remember the Friday night fiasco in the playroom and the trail of poop).

Of course, I'm not doing the bulk of the work, just rinsing a little and tucking the diapers in the now zipper closed dry to wet bag, which is pink and white with a moisture resistant liner, that has replaced my old plastic baggies. I can pretty much handle that phase after a few corrections on the proper method for this new diaper generation.

E3 seems happy with the change as, just as E2 could only wear a certain brand without diaper rash, she is now free of the rash that followed consumption of raisins, which she loves. Of course, we've also changed diaper ointments, but that's another story. Diapers, it seems, are just the first step in what has turned into a journey to a greener lifestyle -- what is now termed "crunchy."

So I'm joining the journey and the first to admit that E3's booty does look adorable in a cloth diaper.

1 comment:

  1. I love the cloth diapers available now. They are so cute and easy.