Monday, February 01, 2010


Is "We cloth diaper" such a big deal that people feel the need to put in in their blog profile? I came across it while tooling sites of people I've never met, and just skimmed their introductory, get-acquainted lines. It's strange what three little words can do to your mind.

"We cloth diaper" gives me horrid flashbacks.

We cloth diapered 22 years ago because we thought it'd be cheaper. But boy, oh boy.

By the time I:

took off the wet diapers (I had to double them since they were thin)
rinsed them,
flushed the yucky solid stuff,
transferred the gross diaper to a bucket beside the toilet that held bleach water,
hauled the heavy bucket (or usually it was Paul who did this job) down two flights of steps to the basement laundry area,
pre-washed the diapers in hot water,
washed them through another hot cycle with bleach,
rinsed them twice to make sure all the bleach was out,
dried them,
folded them,
and finally put them away (like I had time to do that!)...

I had spent well more than the cost of a disposable diaper in time, personal energy, hot water, bleach, laundry detergent, and electricity than it would have cost to buy disposables. But guilt kept me from switching immediately.

I remember how guilty I felt no matter what: if I thought about the billions of disposable diapers in the landfills across America, I knew that our own thousands would be contributing to an already out-of-control pollution problem. If I thought about the mega gallons of bleach I'd have to use to get the worst of the diapers super clean and white (the only way I could bear to use them), I was dumping toxins into the local waterways. If I didn't change my baby right away as soon as he peed, I dealt with the guilt of neglect. If I did change him right away, I felt guilty from the anger of thinking, "But I just DID this less than an HOUR ago and I haven't even FED him since then!"

I do remember feeling guilty that if I asked Paul if we could switch from cloth diapers to disposables (which, at 25 cents apiece seemed like a lot on his $16,000/year salary), I was just being selfish. If I didn't ask, I would surely lose my mind in a bucket of poopy bleach water soon enough.

Finally I broke and asked in all timidity, "Honey, can we please start using disposable diapers all the time?"

Without blinking, he said, "Sure! I think it'd actually be cheaper than running the washer and dryer so much."

It was the single most liberating sentence he has ever uttered. It was the equivalent of those three little words every woman loves to hear.

So to read that this woman over at such-and-such a blog is espousing the cloth diapering thing? All I can ask is, "Does her husband really love her????"


Kelly said...

It might not be in my blog profile, but we have always used cloth diapers, partly for cost (it really is cheaper, especially if you don't depend on the dryer constantly), partly for environment (I don't even keep bleach in the house), and partly for baby (not so fond of the chemicals in disposables). We do use disposables at night, and found it to be a workable thing for our family. Well done, though, for even giving it a try - most wrinkle their noses at the idea without giving it a fair shot.
I will go on the record for saying that the cloth diapers available now are definitely an improvement on the ones around 20+ years ago. Not that I'd know, really, but it's what my mother-in-law says!

zo said...

Kelly, I'm sure they are better than they were (almost everything is) and when I started using disposables, it was only at night. When Ben was 4 months old, I got pregnant again (didn't know it till I was 5 months along, but my body knew something different).

I also hated the pins--stuck him once and myself too many times. We alos had large trees in the backyard where we hung clothes, only to realize that clean clothes beckoned birds to poop on them, and Paul took the lines down and converted the space into a mini ball field, sans useless obstacles.

To each her own. I just writhed when I read "We cloth diaper" on a blog profile, as if those who don't are evil, careless, anti-environmentalist slugs. I care about the environment and saving money, but not at the cost of mental health, and that's where my system was heading. Postpartum months have never agreed with my sanity (and I am not joking).

Danielle said...

I so want to cloth diaper next time! Once I found out I was having twins I decided to "give" myself that luxury, but I think for baby #3 I will definitely get cloth. Disposable has been SO expensive for us. And the cloth diapers they make now are so much nicer than the ones my mom had. We only used the dryer in winter so it didn't run at all in the spring/summer and I can remember as a kid watching "Little House" and folding diapers as a kid. So funny. That was always our job, ha ha!

Laurie said...

"We cloth diaper"?!?! Wow! I know whatcha mean.
Well, just so ya know "We cloth diapered" baby #1.
I remember when my nice clean 2 month old cloth diapered with her best pair of plastic pants over the diaper daughter, was handed over to my nice clean and dressed up dad before a chuch event and the baby let loose with mustard colored poo all over her best dress and his best dress pants!! This was the norm with cloth diapers. The other norm was always, always picking up white cotton lint from the diapers from the royal blue carpeted floor of the sweetest little nursery with bluebird wallpaper... I'm in danger, or you're in danger, of a small booklet sized comment here if I don't just stop!!!)But since you brought it up!
Cloth diapers (and all the extras/paraphenelia) including plastic bread bags for the diaper bag for diapers used on an outing that had to be bagged up and brought home to wash, were a definite sanctifying aid in my young motherhood life!!
Oh the work!
The guilt!
The buckets of smelly diapers!
The never-ending diaper lint!
The forgotten bread bags in the diaper bag! (That had a way of not being forgotten for too long!)
The changes of clothes for baby and anyone who dared hold the dangerous darling!
The FEAR of accidentally sticking baby with pins and the words of caution ever ringing in your ears!
I know that cloth diapers have come a long way, baby, but when I think of what a looong way a disposable diaper can go, I'm pretty certain I'd never go back!

On another note- Just recently a young Mommy in our church fellowship showed us church ladies her new cloth diapers which were thick and awesome and had a new-fangled type of waterproof covering! She was so pleased with the new way to "deal with duties" that I would never take her joy away! I may need some instrution about the care, handling and changing of the diapers, but surely they come with a manual!
But still... The Guilt!!!
I'm not sure what 'love's got to do with it", but I know what "Luv's got to do with it"! ; )

Rachelle said...

all I can that my smart and charming husband told me that by the time I used my time, energy, detergent and electricity to cloth diaper it would be cheaper to use disposables. So we did, on all 4 children and I have zero sense of remorse. I had enough laundry to do as it was!

Amy said...


cloth diapering is NOTHING like that anymore. at least it doesn't have to be. Elijah is in disposables now, for myriad reasons, but he was in cloth from five weeks old until around 15 months or so--and I would do it again in a heartbeat. while he was exclusively breastfed, I actually vastly preferred cloth over disposables. they leaked less!

my experience was really nothing like yours. no pins, no swishing, no heavy bucket, no thin flimsy was easy-peasy. CDing a toddler is another story...but the first year, I'll definitely go cloth again.

and, just for the record, plenty of people have done cost breakdowns and concluded that it's NOT more expensive to run the washer/dryer than to buy disposables. I haven't done a cost breakdown myself...I spent quite a bit of money on cloth, and may not have actually saved much at all--but if/when baby #2 comes along, the savings will REALLY rack up, since I won't have to buy a whole new stash of diapers.

cloth diapering is, I will admit, a crazy world with a lot of fanatical followers. strange and overwhelming to the onlooker.

zz said...

Hey, Hey, Amy, "WHEN" baby 2 comes along--is there a subtle message there? Sorry if there's not--just playing witcha.

I think I need to post again to clarify where I was going w/ this.

Amy said...

you must not have caught that all-important word "if/" in front of the "when" :P