Right out of the gate I’m going to say this: I’m a part-time cloth diaperer. When it comes to travel and emergencies (or being lazy), nothing beats the convenience of disposable diapers. Yes, they’re awful on the environment, stupidly expensive, and a nasty garbage-pail stinker-upper. But I’d be a liar to pretend I can manage cloth diapering 100 percent of the time.
However, it’s frustrating to see how many people misunderstand cloth diapering, and to see that there are a lot of, well, prejudices around people who use them. You know the cliche: hippy parents, poor parents, crazy environmentalist parents. I know I’ve gotten more than a few slack-jawed stares when I’ve changed my kid in front of other parents and family members.
The truth is, as far as diapers go, when it comes to technological advances cloth diapers far outperforms their paper counterparts. And in regard to health, potty training and cost-effectiveness, you can’t beat cloth diapers, either. So even if you can only manage cloth diapering part-time, it makes a difference.
When my son was born in 2006, my husband and I knew we didn’t want to go with entirely with paper diapers. So we ordered a diaper service, the way my mom did things. The problem? Leakage and timing.
Newborn baby poo just has a way of exploring every weakness in the structure, and we found that no matter how we worked the diapers, we inevitably ended up with more on us than we cared for. We also never could get the pail out to the curb in time for pickup (considering our lack of sleep and general state of craziness with our first child) and ended up with a very stinky house.
So, I turned to the internet. A little research unearthed more designs and approaches to cloth diapering than I knew what to do with. I had no idea they were so cute and contemporary, not to mention technologically advanced. Snaps and zippers, pockets and fleece, liners and Velcro! Geek heaven.
A website suggested that I buy a few different designs and compare them. I did, and I was glad I did.
Of the diapers I’ve tried, here are my recommendations for those considering incorporating high-tech cloth diapering into their routine.
GDiapers really are brilliant; they’re a hybrid of cloth and disposables, with a flushable liner. They’re solid against leaks, too.
WIRED GDiapers come in a variety of colors, and the shells are very soft. The reusable liners snap in and out of a secondary interior shell, for quick work. They are also compostable! A rather high-tech take on the diaper debate. Great for people not wanting to get up-close and personal with your kid’s last snack of Cheerios, or who don’t want to use their washing machines as much. Not to mention, you can find them at most health food stores, like Whole Foods.
TIRED If you have a rooted sewer system, like we did, gDiapers spell bad news. Cleaning up after toilet backup into the house is not a nice way to spend an afternoon.
I tried these on a neighbor’s suggestion, and have been impressed ever since. Very popular in Canada and England (where cloth diapering is, well, a lot more common) the Mother-ease diaper was my favorite when our kiddo was 6 to 18 months old. It’s a cloth diaper interior with a snap-in liner, to be used with a wrap or diaper cover.
WIRED Virtually impervious to leaks, the Mother-ease diapers are each hand-sewn and can withstand serious washing. The more you wash, the better they absorb (which is not the case with classic pre-fold diapers — these tend to shred to bits in my dryer). Also, it’s a one-size, so it fits your kids from the day they’re born to the day they (finally!) use the toilet. The savings really kick in when you can start using those same diapers for subsequent children.
TIRED While great for overnight due to their resilience to leaks, they are very bulky. So bulky, in fact, that our kiddo couldn’t fit in some of his clothes. If you don’t use diaper liners (that prevent the poop from adhering to the diaper) the cotton Mother-ease variety tends to get really, um, stuck. So much so that my husband didn’t want to use them anymore. Not to mention, they can take forever to dry. And running the dryer twice is not my idea of environmentally friendly.
bumGenius 3.0 All-in-One Pocket Diaper
The absolute best for cloth diapering, period. No need to buy extra covers, since it’s built-in.
WIRED With their incredible absorbing power, the poop-repelling fleece lining, the stain resistance, the Velcro tabs and convertibility (fits newborn to toddler) there is no better deal out there. BumGenius is always improving its designs, and manages to be absorbent and trim — so your kid can actually wear the clothes you have. They dry quickly, and even the worst dumps make their trip from diaper to toilet with seemingly effortless, um, grace. The pocket also helps with little boys, as I learned, as you can double-stuff the pocket area for more absorption. The company also has an all-in-one diaper without a pocket that’s great for transitioning to underpants.
TIRED Expense. As the adage goes, you get what you pay for. At $17.50, the upfront costs are a little hefty. My suggestion is to buy a few every month for a few months, and switch between cloth and paper diapering. Some reviewers also mention that the Velcro pills the cloth at the top of the diaper
Aside from the three I mention here, here are dozens of other brands, and plenty of options. Heck, plenty of folks even make their own diapers. A great resource is Diaper Pin.com, for anyone considering full-time or part-time cloth diapering. The site has reviews, FAQs and plenty of great advice for parents navigating the unsure waters.
No matter how you cut it, a diaper that you can wash and reuse is just plain smart!