Having 5 children means I have changed a lot of diapers. My oldest four children have potty trained at different ages, so some of them were in diapers longer than others.
My first two children wore disposable diapers exclusively. I went back to work when Julia was five months old so disposables were the best option. When I became a stay at home mom when James was born I wanted to give cloth diapers a try. However, we had to haul water for our well in order for me to be able to do laundry and my husband convinced me that cloth diapering would take too much water.
When I had Joshua I still wanted to give cloth diapering a try. During his first year we were able to hook onto “city” water so I gave it a go. I found I really enjoyed cloth diapering, but all I had at first were the Gerber prefold diapers you can get at Walmart. They weren’t very good, but eventually I got some good prefolds and covers with “Velcro”. This made me like cloth diapering even more.
When I was expecting Joseph I did a lot more research. I found that there were so many different styles of cloth diapers. I even learned how to sew my own cloth diapers and and made quite a few for free with upcycled materials. I was able to exclusively cloth diaper Joseph, after the first few weeks, until I had Janna and he had to wear some disposable pull-ups.
With Janna I haven’t been quite so exclusive with the cloth diapers. Sometimes she wears a disposable to bed and when we go places. However, I still love putting her in cloth diapers and I am a big fan of cloth diapering. (The diaper cover Janna is wearing in the picture above was made by my mom. Isn’t it cute?)
Now that you know what kinds of diapers I have used with my children, I thought I would share a few of the diapering choices that are out there and some of the pros and cons of each.
Disposable diapers are just that, disposable. You buy a package of diapers, put one on your baby, and then throw it away once it is wet and/or dirty.
Pros: Convenience. I totally know how easy it is to just put a disposable diaper on a baby and then throw it away once it has been soiled. We live in a throw away society and disposable diapers are definitely a result of that. I am guilty of using them so I am definitely not casting any stones at anyone who uses them.
Cons: Cost over time and environmental impact. The thing about disposable diapers is that you have to keep buying them. Some may say that they get them for super cheap with coupons so the cost factor isn’t really an issue for them. However, there is another cost to the convenience of disposable diapers. Where do all of those dirty diapers go? They don’t biodegrade quickly and account for a lot of the trash that goes into landfills.
While I have a lot of experience with cloth diapers and really think they are the best choice for diapering a baby, I do know that there is a learning curve involved with using them. In the near future I hope to dedicate an entire post to the different types of cloth diapers available.
Pros: Better for the environment than disposables and they cost less in the long run than disposables. With cloth diapers there is nothing to throw away there is no diaper going into the landfill. While they do require water to clean them, it doesn’t take as much as one might think. Plus, hanging them out to dry is awesome for cloth diapers and uses no electricity.
While the cost of some novelty individual diapers can be quite high, most cloth diapers are very inexpensive. Plus, when you look at the fact that it is a one time purchase, the upfront price isn’t that much when you calculate the cost per use. Within a couple of months they pay for themselves. If you make your own out of upcycled materials you can essentially cloth diaper a baby for free.
Cons: Not as convenient as disposables and the upfront cost can be high depending on the style of diaper. While I can diaper my baby just as quickly with cloth diapers as I can with disposables, they still have to be dealt with after they are soiled. Cloth diapers have to be washed and dried which does make more laundry that has to be dealt with. Even so, I still don’t find cloth diapers to be that much extra work.
Also, spending a few hundred dollars up front for cloth diapers may seem prohibitive. However, I would like to note that over time even a few hundred dollars spent to purchase cloth diapers is cheaper than the thousands of dollars most people spend on disposables during the diapering years of just one child.
Elimination Communication (or EC)
Elimination communication may be something you have never heard of before. I remember when I first read about it I thought people were a little crazy for doing it. However, I have to say that I did a little ECing with both Joseph and Janna. It is only because of my inability to keep up with it that it failed for us.
So, what in the world is EC? The other term for it might better help you understand what it is, “diaper free”. It is essentially a method of watching for a baby’s signs and cues that they need to potty and then letting them “eliminate” into a special potty for infants.
Pros: Virtually no cost and gaining a better understanding of how babies communicate their need to potty. If you are “catching” almost all of your baby’s pees and poops then there are no diapers to change or keep buying. Also, it is amazing how in tune with a baby you can be when you begin to understand what their cues are for needing to potty.
Cons: Requires a lot of time and patience. While those two things aren’t really cons when dealing with children, I can say from experience that having a baby tiny baby who needs to potty while you are trying to take care of other young children can be a challenge.
I would love to hear from you about what diapering choices you made for your children and why.
Previous Baby Basics Topics:
- A Brand New Baby
- Cord Care
- Newborn Skin Conditions
- Tummy Time
- Clothing a Newborn
- When You Suspect a Problem
- Essential Gear
- Knowing Your Baby
- Trimming Nails & Suctioning Noses
- Baby Learning
- Attachment Parenting
- Sleeping Like a Baby
- Traveling with Baby