Written by contributor Megan of Sorta Crunchy.
Five years ago last month, I made my first cloth diapering purchase – a stack of premium prefolds and several Bummis covers. Even though our cloth diaper stash has been retired for quite some time now, I still have fond memories of the time my daughters spent wearing their cute cloth diapers.
I am sure it seems strange to some that a person whose children are no longer in diapers is so passionate about encouraging other parents to try cloth diapers; there really isn’t a rational explanation for my advocacy of cloth other than I believe it can be a wonderful choice to care for children while reducing landfill matter at the same time. This is why I find myself so invested in helping people overcome the obstacles they might encounter in making the decision to switch to cloth diapering.
One common misconception amongst families who are hesitant to switch to cloth diapering is the notion that you have to use only cloth diapers all the time. This really isn’t the case at all! In fact, if we examine each of the hurdles faced by parents who want to cloth diaper, it is easy to see how a part-time approach to cloth diapering just might be the perfect solution.
So what are some of the barriers holding back parents who are interested in cloth diapering?
1. Choosing the right kind of cloth diaper is too overwhelming.
Photo by moohaha
Yes, an abundance of diapering products are available today. We’ve come a long way from pinned prefolds and plastic pants! And yet it is very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the choices to be made.
A great place to start researching is Tsh’s article at Simple Mom today on Cloth Diapering 101.
Once you get a feel for the different cloth diapering systems, resist the urge to make the switch to cloth all at once. Instead, consider buying just one or two diapers before making a more significant purchase. Some cloth diaper retailers will allow you to order a trial package so you can test out the various systems to see which works best for your family. Alternatively, shop gently used diapers on Craigslist or a cloth diapering message board.
Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to the learning curve of using cloth diapers. Again, there is no “rule” that says you have to buy an entire cloth diapering stash all at once. Try using just one a day while you are getting the hang of it and determining which diapers best fit the needs of your family.
If you decide not to switch to cloth after all, you can always keep the one or two diapers you purchased on hand for those middle-of-the-night-and-out-of-diapers emergencies.
2. My child is in daycare and our care provider doesn’t allow cloth diapers.
If you would like for your child to be diapered in cloth but your care provider resists, try this approach (described by the owners of Oklahoma City’s Green Bambino store): take an actual cloth diaper to your care provider. When people see how easy cloth diapering can be and how it is essentially very similar to diapering with disposables, you might be surprised how easily minds are changed!
If your care provider still refuses to use cloth diapers, take heart. More than a few parents have chosen part-time cloth diapering in this situation. Even if you only use cloth when your child is in your care or in your home, you will still be saving money on disposable diaper costs while limiting the number of disposable diapers sent to the landfill.
3. My partner/co-parent isn’t on board with using cloth diapers.
Again, this is a situation where using a visual aid can really come in handy! Many people still envision the cloth diapering systems that our parents used on us and are hesitant to fumble with pins and deal with diaper pails filled with a bleach solution and soaking diapers. Show your partner the kind of diaper you are interested in using, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
If, on the other hand, your partner is still hesitant to make the switch, make arrangements for that parent to be able to have access to disposable diapers for when your child will be in that person’s care. I believe it’s important to respect the preferences of each parent in a family, and the matter of whether or not to cloth diaper shouldn’t cause a rift. And when you consider using a part-time approach to cloth diapering, there really is no reason why both parents can’t be comfortable with the diapering choices they are responsible for making.
4. I can’t find a good solution for nighttime cloth diapering.
Photo by Jaimie Crowell
Okay, I confess. I had to add this one based on my own struggles when our daughters were in diapers. Neither of my girls slept through the night until they were well into toddlerhood, and more often than not, I would nurse them back to sleep (sometimes several times a night) when they awoke.
As you can imagine, this made it difficult to use cloth diapers at night. Frankly, I was too tired to change diapers all night long. I tried every conceivable system recommended for nighttimes – pocket diapers stuffed with two inserts, all-in-ones with extra absorbency added, and super absorbent fitteds covered with “bulletproof” wool covers. None of these systems worked for either daughter.
Eventually, I surrendered to the fact that we were just going to have to use disposables at night. It might not have been the ideal solution, and it always precluded us from being full-time cloth diaperers, but it was the most workable solution for us.
Something I have noticed in the years I’ve spent in the natural family living community is that we tend to hold ourselves to very high standards. We believe we have found the best ways to care for our children, and when we can’t do the best all the time, we feel defeated. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being committed only to what works best for your family.
Extend yourself some grace and remember there is nothing wrong with taking a “sorta” path to these matters. Trust me on that one.
How about you? Have you encountered obstacles to cloth diapering? Have you found a solution that allowed you to make it work? I look forward to discussion on the problems and the solutions you have found.