Switching to Cloth Diapers

With our upcoming move to West Africa (more on that later) we are trying to get ahead of the game and get used to using cloth diapers (there won’t be a disposable diaper within 200 miles of our village). Our good friends Rob & Christine were very generous in letting us use their son Hutch’s old cloth diapers.

This being the 21st century, these aren’t the cloth diapers your parents used. No pins involved, the diapers have plastic snap buttons across the front so that you can keep using the diaper as your baby grows. Also handy are the hemp pad inserts that help soak up the “wetness” and that you can double up at night. Finally, the diapers come in snazzy colors ensure they Trey looks his best while strutting around in them.

More about the pros and cons below:
I could go into the environmental advantages to cloth diapers but that is actually a hotly debated topic. I’m of the camp that the cloth ones still win out when you consider that that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually due to disposable diapers. *stop for a minute and ponder how much 2 billion tons of urine and feces is*Despite the snazzy modern cloth diaper features and fact that we’re making Al Gore proud I desperately miss the disposables. Disposables are SO much easier. Let me walk through the steps I go through.

  1. remove dirty disposable diaper
  2. wipe Trey’s butt
  3. throw diaper and wipes in diaper pail
  4. put new disposable on
  5. every couple days, empty diaper pail into trash

Now let’s go over the cloth diaper steps:

  1. remove dirty cloth diaper
  2. wipe Trey’s butt and his legs if the stuff leaked out (the cloth diapers aren’t quite as snug and often poop leaks out if I don’t notice he’s gone right away)
  3. put the new cloth diaper on
  4. take the dirty diaper to the bathroom and remove the insert pads
  5. rinse the pads out in the sink (to avoid that terrible ammonia smell)
  6. dunk the diaper in the toilet and use a spatula to scrape out the solids
  7. rinse the diaper out in the sink
  8. put the diaper & pads in the diaper pail
  9. every day and a half I have to wash the diapers here’s what that involves
    • put diapers in wash and run a rinse cycle
    • add detergent and wash
    • since the diapers absorb water so well, I have to run another rinse cycle to get all the soapy water out (this may be overkill on my part)
    • dry the diapers in the dryer
    • hang the insert pads up since they are too absorbent to dry in the dryer
  10. finally, once they are dry, put the pads back in the diapers and we’re ready for him to poop again!

Whew! I’m spent! Time for a nap.

5 thoughts on “Switching to Cloth Diapers

  1. Kari

    Anxiously awaiting details on your move…but until then I’m wondering how different this routine will be when you don’t have the washing machine and dryer. 🙂

    In Senegal we used diaper-shaped plastic with old pagne cloth folded inside. Took me a while to get used to, but not too bad.

    Has Heidi started tying him on her back yet?

  2. Anna

    Ok-its been a day since you said you would give us more details on the move!! We did cloth diapers for all of 3 days, no thank you!

  3. William Post author

    Ooo – good call on the no washing machine and dryer. I gotta admit, I hadn’t thought of that yet! *gulp*

    you’ll have to wait another week or two for info on the move – that is another website in the works and I’m out of town – stay tuned!

  4. Heidi

    Actually, there is a washing machine and a dryer that we will be able to use, but I think that they are coin operated. We’ll figure something out. Maybe we’ll just start the potty training now….hmmmm.

  5. Barbara

    I wanted to encourage you to check out g diapers too http://www.gdiapers.com That’s what we use for Sanne and they work great. We are going to use the flushable inserts for her time at daycare and then we typically use the fuzzi bunz cloth inserts at home and sometimes flushables. I also know that the flushables are compostable which might be a good thing on your trip? Doing our part to make our global footprint smaller isn’t supposed to be easy so I admire you for doing it, spatula and all. I always know that I could be doing more. Kind of like our challenge to be like Jesus in a way, we’ll never get there but it’s in the trying that counts.

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