Convincing the Unconvinced to Use Cloth Diapers
March 14, 2013 10:58:30 PM EDT
Photo by Venus Leah Photography
Over the almost five years I have used cloth diapers, I have periodically been asked questions about convincing a partner to use cloth. First off, I don't think cloth works for everyone. Second, those hesitant partners usually have really legitimate concerns! As such, I thought I'd write a quick list of objections to cloth and invite readers to add their own. Then, on Monday, I'll write a list of the top five "gateway" diapers - those that seem to get people hooked.
Did you or your partner have objections to or concerns about cloth diapering? And what was your gateway diaper?
Concern #1: I don't want to deal with/touch poop
Sad news, friends. You're going to touch poop. Probably vomit, blood, and mucus as well. Oh, and five years in I have finally dealt with pus. Even if you use disposable diapers and disposable wipes and live in a disposable house, you'll still deal with bodily fluids. (Parenthood is beautiful! It's wonderful! It's the best job in the world!)
I think the concern here is that there is more direct contact with poop, and that might actually be true. But what's a little poop on your hand twice a week when it's already there once a week? You ought to wash your hands after any diaper change (pee or poop, reusable or disposable diaper) anyway.
That said, fit really matters in those early days of very liquidy stools. Newborns can be tricky to fit! And, later, it is essential to have a strategy for dealing with solid poop (which can include any of this, and might also include one parent who is the Designated Disposer of Doo-Doo).
I am honestly not sure that I have touched or in any way labored over poop more with cloth than I would have with disposables.
Concern #2: It's expensive!
It does seem expensive to start a stash of diapers! I really can't argue with this one. Disposable diapers purchased periodically can be much more in line with a family's budgeting needs and practices, but cloth can save at least $2000 per child in the long run. That up-front cost can be so daunting, and it can be downright impossible for some of us. Here in Bloomington we have a wonderful organization, Heiny Helpers, who lends cloth diapers to low-income families. And you can always grow your stash slowly, using cloth only part-time at first, and using the least-expensive options. Plus you can find used diapers with plenty of life left in them (periodically, TGN even has lightly used diapers available at a discount).
Concern #3: So...you want to put poop in our washing machine?
Yep. Again, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there's going to be poop in your washing machine no matter what. Your newborn is going to have a blowout and cover their most adorable onesie in poop. Or your sheets. Or that favorite shirt or pants of yours*. Your potty training toddler is going to have a poop accident, or maybe several. There is no escaping the bodily fluids of babies and toddlers!
In this case, having a sort of laundry quarantine made me feel better. If one of my kids pooped on something washable - whether my clothes or theirs, or a blanket or whatever - it went in with the diaper laundry. Between rinsing away solids, hot water to kill bacteria, and detergent to thoroughly remove dirt and grime, and all followed by either heat from the dryer or sunshine, nothing to fear gets left in the washer or dryer. You can end up with some remnants of undigested solid food in there. And yes, this is kind of gross. But you can reduce the likelihood of this, and it's not a terrible ordeal to swip it out and wash your hands. I've done it - it doesn't even smell and it doesn't seem poop-like. It doesn't differ much from the leaves and twigs I pull out after a load of non-diaper laundry!
*I won't say which one, but a child of mine once managed such an amazing blow-out that it went through his clothes and all of mine.
Concern #4: But nobody else is going to be willing to change these!
This is yet another truly legitimate concern. Cloth diapering can be intimidating. From figuring out how to put them on and what to do with them when you take them off, some caregivers can be resistant to figuring out how to deal with them. Depending on the situation, this doesn't have to mean not cloth diapering. As we've discussed previously, cloth diapering at daycare is doable. And babysitters and grandparents can learn. You can also have specific diapers set aside for those who don't cloth diaper on a daily basis - all-in-ones, or pockets that are pre-stuffed come to mind. Using disposables from time-to-time is also an option!
Concern #5: ...we already have trouble keeping up with laundry.
Keeping up with diaper laundry can be much more motivating than with regular laundry, because failure results in more than wearing musty or unflattering emergency clothes. Also, clean and dry diapers can hang out in a laundry basket or even the dryer indefinitely. When life is busy, you can pull diapers out of the dryer/basket as needed rather than folding them and putting them away. That said, be honest with yourself. If you don't think you'll be able to do a load of diaper laundry every 2-3 days, cloth diapering may not be for you.