Before I got pregnant, I had heard all of the success stories and “It’s so much cheaper!” testimonials about cloth diapers and just assumed that of course, we would cloth diaper. After all, I was going to be a stay-at-home mom and doing a few loads of diapers every 2-3 days seemed doable, and totally worth it to save money and not send thousands of diapers to a landfill.
Well, then I started hearing the other side of the story. Cloth diapers use more water and electricity in the home than disposables. Cloth diapers leak more. They require the diaper to be changed more often. It’s hard to find the right fit.
And my plans for after maternity leave now include working 3 days a week (which I will post about later). Is it reasonable to 1) ask the daycare provider to use cloth diapers and 2) expect to have time to wash cloth diapers when I’m working 8 hours a day?
Suddenly, the disposable vs. cloth issue isn’t as clear cut.
After a little more online research (and without the benefit of being able to conduct my own), I have concluded that yes, cloth diapers, from a sheer financial perspective, are way cheaper on the whole. The upfront costs are steeper, and your electricity and water bills may go up slightly, but even with buying 24 of the more expensive bumGenius All-in-One diapers ($18 each), the diapers pay for themselves within 6 months when compared to disposables. Then you’re only incurring the slightly increased utility bills (if that happens at all – some people say their utilities didn’t go up when they started cloth diapering).
I’m not going to get into the ‘which is greener’ environmental issues. Besides liking the idea of not filling up landfills with diapers, my motivation for choosing cloth diapering would be financial, not environmental. (It doesn’t seem like anyone will win that debate anyway.)
That leaves mainly the feasibility question. Is this realistic? At the very least, I’m willing to give it a try.
So here’s what our loose plan is:
We’ve heard from many people that cloth diapers, even the all-in-one One Size bumGenius diapers that we plan on buying (they fit from 8 – 35 lbs), don’t fit newborns very well. And I don’t want to buy newborn-size cloth diapers. There’s also the whole “figuring out how to take care of a newborn when I’ve never even held one before” thing. So until Emma is about 9-11 lbs, or for a month or two, we’re going to use disposable diapers.
After that, we’re going to *try* cloth diapers. I had initially planned to buy the recommended 24 diapers to have enough for 2-3 days, but now I’m thinking that maybe 5-10 is enough to get a feel of how we like cloth diapers. Do they really leak a lot more? Do they fit Emma well? How feasible is it to wash them in time?
I’m also toying with the idea of going half and half – cloth diapers on the weekends and the days I don’t work, disposables on the days she goes to daycare. But maybe that’s even more complicated than just choosing one method and running with it?
Edited to add: If we decide to stick with cloth diapering at least part of the time, I’m hoping to also use reusable wipes. It seems fairly easy – you can either spray your baby’s bum with a cleaner and wipe off with a cloth wipe, or soak your cloth wipe in the cleaner and put in a wipes warmer, and then you just wash the wipes with your diapers. There are ready-made ‘bum cleaners’ that you can buy, or natural ones that only require a few ingredients. I’ll probably start off with a ready-made cleaner, and then transition to making my own. I’m really trying to not set a bunch of lofty goals having no idea what being a mother is like. Baby steps people.
On this side of motherhood, making decisions like this seems thoroughly overwhelming. But I’m sure (at least I hope) that once Emma is actually here and I start to get the hang of things, the right choice will seem clearer and more intuitive than it does now, when I’m trying to work through hypotheticals without knowing the reality.
What kind of diaper do you use/plan to use? Why? Are you satisfied with your choice?