What’s Up with Cloth Diapers?

I recently received an e-mail from a fellow mama who was inquisitive about cloth diapers.

Her questions were simple and straight forward. “I see that they now have snaps, but can you tell me how it works?” “I cannot imagine cleaning a cloth diaper and I’m curious why would you do it when you could throw them away. More specifically, how do you clean those things?”

I appreciate her questions; most people don’t even bother to ask before they just assume that I must be crazy or a glutton for punishment!

Quite honestly, I completely understand that mind set though. I used to think the same way! In fact, if you asked anyone who knows me they would undoubtedly tell you that I was the least likely person on the planet to EVER use cloth diapers. When I first had my son I didn’t care how much disposables cost me or what they did to the environment- there was NO WAY I was going to cloth diaper! You couldn’t have paid me enough money to use cloth.

So what changed my mind? First of all, I started meeting mamas who used cloth and I was totally surprised by what I saw. These moms were cute and trendy, no where near the hippies I had envisioned. And then there were the diapers themselves. They didn’t have pins or plastic pants–they were actually cute! They had snap or velcro closures, and were as easy to put on as a sposie!

However, I still wasn’t convinced that cloth was for my family. I mean, after all, you still have to wash them and deal with poo, right?

Although I was definitely intrigued (much like the mama who e-mailed me), I still wasn’t sure why mothers were putting themselves through “all the work” of cloth diapering.

So, I started doing some research. I found DiaperPin.com, which has lots of product reviews, information and helpful forums, and used their Cloth Cost Analysis Calculator to find out how much I would really be saving. To my shock, over just one year I would save more than $1,000, and that’s not including how much I would save by using the same dipes on future kids!

Compelling, but not the final straw.

The thing that really tipped the scales and convinced me that cloth was the way to go was RealDiaperAssociation.org. They promote the awareness of what you are really putting on your babe’s bum when you strap a disposable diaper on them. I read their diaper facts article about how disposable diapers can actually effect your child’s health. This is some of what the article has to say:

“Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S..1

Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.2

Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbancy tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.3

In May 2000, the Archives of Disease in Childhood published research showing that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers, and that prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis.18″

(Facts from Real Diaper Association.)

Now, as a mama who was using disposables, this article horrified me. I couldn’t believe that I had unintentionally been exposing my son to such toxic chemicals, 24 hours a day since the day he had been born!

That did it. I was convinced. I couldn’t, in good conscience, put my son in disposable diapers anymore. I bought my first stash of cloth diapers that night.

I thoroughly believe it is my job to protect my child however I can, including by removing harmful chemicals that are in his environment. Sadly, disposable diapers are packed with toxic chemicals, but many parents have no idea. We figure that if it is on the market, and the packaging says it’s gentle enough for our babies then it must be okay, but that just isn’t the case.

For instance, did you know when a bottle of baby shampoo says “Tear Free” it’s not because it’s so gentle that it won’t hurt your baby’s eyes, but rather that it contains a numbing agent so they don’t know they are being burned?

My research opened up a whole new world to me that I needed to protect my family from. Just as you lock cupboards to protect your child from what is inside, I made the decision to remove toxic chemicals from our home any way that I could. We now use only non-toxic, natural cleaners and all-natural personal care products (like soaps, toothpaste, lotion, etc..) and eat organic when we can.

I now rest easy, knowing that by being an informed mama I am making the most healthy choices for my family. You can just call me a non-hippie natural mama! I’m good with that!

Have I sparked your interest?

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for posts about what cloth diapers are really like these days and the how-to’s of using them!

This post originally made its debut at MacKenzie’s personal site. Follow the rest of MacKenzie’s musings on being a birth and postpartum doula while pregnant, totschooling her son, and still finding time to knit, at Mama Kenz Studio.

6 Responses to What’s Up with Cloth Diapers?
  1. Jennifer C
    March 11, 2009 | 10:55 am

    Great article! I’ve been CDing our 20 month twins since they were about 3 months old. If I can do it, anyone can do it. We used to use BG’s until the kids figured out how to undo the velcro, now we’re a GAD/Blueberry/swaddlebee family!

  2. Anne (A Little Bit Crazy)
    March 11, 2009 | 11:05 am

    Great post! I love being a cloth mama and it’s always good to have more great reasons to keep it up!

  3. Becky
    March 11, 2009 | 9:11 pm

    Great post about reasons to choose cloth. I was wondering where you got your information about numbing agents. I had heard about them but have been unable to find anything terribly credible.

  4. mom2miahaudrey
    March 12, 2009 | 1:12 am

    I’m a cloth diaper momma! Love it! I acutally have a diaper service that comes to pick up the diapers and delivers clean ones once a week. I work full time so there is no way I could do the washing but I am totally for going green!

  5. Becky
    March 12, 2009 | 4:11 am

    I don’t have babies anymore, but have been trying to find other ways to “green” my house up- mainly using alternative ways to clean my house so that my children do not have to be exposed to the horrible toxins that linger in current cleaning agents. There is an expert named Beth Greer who offers a lot of great ideas on how to reduce their exposure to dangerous chemicals. She is brilliant!

  6. DiaPeral.com
    April 12, 2009 | 3:23 am

    Cloth Diapers…

    Using Cloth Diapers

    Cloth Diapers
    Cloth diapers are as easy to use as disposables,but they  are more economical, environmental, and healthy alternative. The cost of using cloth diapers depend on the quality of the garment. Some parents will purcha…