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The diaper dilemma: cloth or disposable?

Written by: Mindy June 07 2011 I like to think of myself as generally considerate toward the earth, but when I walked into a natural-products baby store the first time I got pregnant, I was blown away by the concept of cloth diapers. It was something I’d never really considered before, to be honest. I...

Written by: Mindy

I like to think of myself as generally considerate toward the earth, but when I walked into a natural-products baby store the first time I got pregnant, I was blown away by the concept of cloth diapers.

It was something I’d never really considered before, to be honest. I had this vague conception that cloth diapers consisted of some kind of cloth-origami trick and included deceptively dangerous safety pins.

Maybe that was the case when I was a baby, but not anymore! Modern cloth diapers are super cool, to put it mildly. They come in all kinds of styles and colors and have every approach in the book.

For instance, you’ve got cloth diapers that include a basic cloth insert and get covered by a waterproof, decorative diaper cover that closes via Velcro. The cloth diapers themselves either go in the cover in a simple tri-fold or get twisted into basic baby-bum pockets and held together with these ingenious “Snappi” things — they’re three-point plastic claws joined in the middle by rubber.

Other varieties of cloth diapers include covers with pockets where you stick an absorbent pad. Some of them have a whole array of snaps on the front of the cover so you can fold it down to a smaller size for your newborn and then expand it as your baby gets bigger.

I’m especially a fan of flushable diapers, which typically come with an outer, cloth cover that has tiny snaps inside where a plastic “tarp,” so to speak, gets attached. Inside the tarp you put little pads that absorb the pee and poo and afterwards flush right down the toilet.

It’s thrilling to anybody who grimaces with the thought of all the diapers in the landfills, which was (er, is) me. That’s why when Caden, my toddler, was born, we only put him in cloth diapers. Regular diapers seemed to go against our religion.

It worked, too—for six months. Caden never got a diaper rash and we never had a blowout. I was impressed, needless to say.

Then we went on a trip out of the country. As a matter of necessity, we had to use disposable diapers, though we opted for the kind without chlorine and all those other chemicals that make up that sickly-sweet baby diaper smell (a smell I can’t stand).

That was followed by the fact that we started Caden in toddler-school, where he had to use disposables. Plus, Caden started to outgrow our early assortment of cloth diapers. Needless to say, we finished out last year with Caden in disposables, though they were as natural as we could find.

With Chloe, we’re a lot more relaxed. While we have her in cloth diapers during the day, I decided it was worth it to use disposables at night because, quite simply, they can hold a lot of pee! Though I used to change Caden’s diaper two to three times a night, Chloe gets no such luxury. But hey, that means her mama gets a little more sleep, plus there’s the fact that she hardly wakes up to feed and goes back to sleep easily. Can you beat that? I’m thinking … nope.

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