5 Questions To Ask Before You Decide To Cloth Diaper

When I was a first-time mother, I was determined to give cloth diapering a go. I spent hours online researching the best cloth diapers (which basically meant that I was totally confused and overwhelmed by the choices!) and trying to decide what to buy.

Even though my husband wasn't exactly on board with my idea to cloth diaper, I went ahead and ordered a bunch of diapers "just to try." My experiment with cloth diapering lasted approximately one day when I couldn't figure out how to use the darn things, my daughter peed through everything, and both my mom and my husband swore that using the diapers made the baby uncomfortable.

And for a long time, I actually felt really guilty about the fact that I hadn't made cloth diapering work. Aren't cloth diapers better all around? Aren't they better for the environment and your wallet? Well, yes, and no. To help you determine if cloth diapers are right for you, here are a few questions to consider. 

1. Time. We're a pretty busy family. I have four little ones and some days, everything seems to be go, go, go. Disposable diapers help me keep diaper changing really fast and simple. While changing a regular cloth diaper can be pretty quick, changing a soiled (read: poopy) diaper can be more tricky. Cloth diapers aren't that time consuming, but when you're talking getting four kids out of the door in the morning, minutes matter in my world. 

2. Laundry. Again, with working and kids, as much as I want to keep up on the laundry, it just doesn't happen every day and I know that I would just end up feeling guilty about this if I knew that our cloth diaper stash was getting low too.

In my mind, less guilt is a good thing. You do have to ask yourself if 1) you can afford to launder out cloth diapers (there are services you can hire and they're not any more expensive than what you pay for disposables, when you do the math) or 2) if you will be able to do the laundry enough to keep your stash of cloths diapers usable.


3. Choices. I think that every family has choices that they make to try to be healthier and I've had to come to terms with the fact that for us, we will make different choices than other families. For instance, we recycle a lot, use hand-me-downs, and rarely ever eat out. Everything in life is a trade-off and nothing about parenting is perfect, am I right?

4. Childcare. If you use a childcare provider or have family or friends that help care for your baby on a regular basis, you will also need to consider their ability to use cloth diapers. Obviously, it's your baby and they need to respect your wishes, but it may still be a learning curve for childcare providers and you may need to make a few extra accommodations for them, like supplying a special bag or bin to hold dirty cloth diapers. 

5. Budget. Several mothers I know choose to cloth diaper solely based on their budget. They simply do not want to (or can not) pay for disposable diapers and I have to say, when you crunch the numbers on how much disposable diapers really cost you, it can be staggering.

For instance, I buy a box of diapers every week or so for around $30 and have done so pretty steadily for the past seven years. That equals over $5,000 diapers, literally down the drain. (And I don't even want to think about the months I've had two in diapers!) 

Diapering your baby's bottom shouldn't be stressful, so ask yourself what will work best for you and your family when making the decision to cloth diaper or use disposables. And, if you're anything like me, you don't have to choose. I simply bought a few cloth diapers and use them when I know I will have a lower-key day at home. The best of both worlds! 

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