There was a time when I wanted to save the earth. Well, I still want to save the earth; Let's say, there was a time when I thought I could singlehandedly save the earth, and by God, I was going to. That was the time when I believed that every disposable diaper that ended up in a landfill was another nail in Mother Nature’s coffin. And thus, naturally, when I was pregnant, I decided I was going to use cloth diapers on my baby. I was going to make a difference. Choosing cloth diapers over disposable ones was totally going to make me a better human being and make the earth a healthier place, and basically everything would look like the Coke commercial at the end of Mad Men, etc. Done and done.
I did oodles of research on all the different types of cloth diapers. I looked at purchasing them all myself and I looked at cloth diaper services. I talked to friends who had gone the cloth diaper route, both with services and using their own, and I made my decisions. I bought adorable diaper covers in all sorts of patterns. I watched YouTube videos on how to fold the pre-folds effectively, so that nothing leaked. I practiced. I spoke with the service I decided to use and signed up. I even added “one month of diaper service” to my baby shower gift registry.
Then I had my daughter, and reality set in. My reality is not every parent’s reality, to be fair. I know lots of families who successfully used cloth diapers for the first year or more of their baby’s life. But when you have an insanely skinny baby who poops more than is normal and doesn’t like to have the tiniest bit of wet cloth against their skin? After a few months of giving it a very solid try, I told myself that someone else can go save the bloody world, and went to go buy me some disposables, dammit.
And though it all worked out for us in the end, and I felt totally fine about my decision to abandon the cloth bandwagon and throw my contribution into my local landfill for the sake of my sanity and my baby's comfort, it wasn't a simple road getting from Point Cloth to Point IDGAF. Here's how that journey looked:
The Initial Commitment To Cloth (And All That Delicious Smugness)
There is no doubt that this whole cloth diapering thing is a challenge. But I was saving the world! I was making the environmental choice! I was using things that wouldn’t harm my baby’s sensitive little bottom! This, of course, made me a far better person than the woman at Costco buying a giant pack of disposables.
The Panic Upon Actually Living The Cloth Diaper Lifestyle
Holy crap — literally. So. Much. Poop. And it leaks everywhere! Was there something wrong with my folding technique? At certain points, I was going through more diaper pre-folds than the service gave me each week. Between all the poop and the fact that my daughter was screaming like a banshee any time her tush got remotely damp, I started having to buy disposables anyway.
Seriously, I was losing my mind over the fact that my daughter hated being damp for more than 30 seconds. One friend said her kids were perfectly content sitting in their own pee for longer than is healthy, but here I was changing her diaper five times in one hour! I was...starting to lose it a little bit.
The Unimaginable Mess
Yes, the cotton diapers are great for absorbing urine, but poop? That stuff would roll and drip out while I was changing her, in the early days. And the stains on her diaper covers meant that these formerly cute pieces became an eyesore rather quickly.
It started out with my husband and I agreeing that we’d just use disposables at night. Not such a big deal, right? We were still saving the world a little bit, but now we weren’t having to deal with leaks in the middle of the night. Huge deal, actually. There were only so many sets of bassinet sheets I could change out. Then it became “disposables through the night…and the first diaper of the morning.” I’m sure you can see where this is going.
The Fateful Decision
Finally, when she was 5 months old, we realized the crazy amount of changing diapers I was doing every day was not sustainable. We had started spending money on disposables and we were still spending money on a service, and I wasn’t happy at all. Neither was my daughter. So we cancelled our diaper service.
To go from changing 15 diapers a day, to changing 5-6 diapers was the best feeling ever. I am not even a little bit ashamed for no longer using cloth diapers. I tried it, and it didn’t work for us. Now I’m that lady people can look down on at Costco, buying my giant package of disposable diapers! Bring on the side-eye, haters! I've got enough diapers to absorb all your judgment. Come at me.