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Friday, December 14, 2012

Common Cloth Diaper Myths - Busted

When I mention to people that I cloth diaper my kids I hear a list of excuses and reasons why they could never imagine doing cloth...  Rarely do I hear a reason that makes much sense... So here we go...

1. There is NO WAY I'm dunking and rinsing a poop filled diaper in the toilet!
If you're going to be a parent, your going to have to come to terms with poop, pee and quite a few other body fluids, functions and grossities! There simply isn't any way around it. But I'll be honest, the idea of dunking anything in the toilet grosses me out as well. Good news here is, you don't ever need to do it!
Fun Fact: Disposable Diapers should be emptied in to the toilet before being thrown away! The packaging notes a warning that states diapers need to be emptied before disposal. It's illegal to throw human waste in a landfill. Do most parents even know this? No. And less actually do it, but it is in fact the way it SHOULD be!
It's true that cloth diapers need to be emptied and rinsed... However it's not nearly as bad as it seems to be. There have been huge strides in the cloth market which have made diaper care easy and virtually mess proof. Heavy soil can simply be shaken in to the toilet and "Diaper Sprayers" easily attach to your toilet so that rinsing takes less time and you don't ever have to touch the toilet! If you're still squeamish, some moms keep a pair of latex or rubber gloves on the back of the toilet. Slip them on and you are free to wash, rinse and clean with no worries.

There are also those parents who do not rinse them at all. Personally, I wouldn't do this, but if you're washing every 2-3 days like you should be, it's not really a big deal, I guess... If you're using a diaper service though, they won't expect you to rinse, just toss and go, they will take care of everything.

2. Diaper Pins are dangerous! They can come open and hurt my baby!
This is not completely a myth, diaper pins are pins and have been known to stab babies and mommies. Which is why most cloth users rarely, if ever, use them. IF you choose to use flat or prefold diapers you have the option of using "Snappis" or other fasteners that replace the need pins of any kind.

If you're using diaper wraps or diaper shells with liners you don't need to worry about closures at all. The outer shell or wraps have snaps or Velcro closures that will keep everything where it needs to be.

3. Cloth Diapers STINK!
Okay, here's the thing, diapers stink - PERIOD! I don't care if you're using cloth or not. But in my own experience, cloth don't smell nearly as bad. Disposable diapers are chalked full of chemicals that, in my opinion, tend to make them smell bad before they are dirty. Once they become wet or soiled they somehow tend to magnify the funk. And since disposable diapers are doomed to sit in your trash til the weekly pick up, they add up much more than cloth does. Once they are tossed out in the outside can the heat magnifies the odor and attract flies and other insects which bring with them their own odor...

Cloth diapers on the other hand are both chemical free and do not collect the way disposables do. Plus, since you should rinse them out, and they are kept in a diaper pail, there is rarely any offensive odor! If you choose to go more than 3 days without washing (not recommended) you could begin to notice an odor as your pail over fills, however, again, if you're washing in a timely manner, this isn't an issue.

To further reduce the smell you can purchase a pail liner. They are water proof and washable, so you just lift it out and throw it in the wash with the diapers. You can also put baking soda and/or Tea Tree Oil in the bottom of the pail as that helps reduce the smell as well.

4. Disposables keep babies drier, so they are better for baby.
This is partly true. Disposables do wick moisture away from the babies skin and do keep them feeling drier. But drier isn't always better. Sure, you don't want them sitting in moisture, but the truth is because disposables make baby feel dry longer they get changed less often. This means infants are sitting in their dirty diaper longer. Since disposables aren't as breathable as cloth feeling dry or not the skin is being exposed to moisture. Plus disposables are chalk full of fragrances & other chemicals that can cause both infection and irritation - even chemical burns for those babies with sensitive skin.
Fun Fact: Many diapers contain Sodium Polyacrulate. SP is used in diapers because it absorbs up to 100 times it's weight in liquid. However the FDA banned the use of Sodium Polyacrulate in menstrual products because of it's link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
 In fact the number of diaper rashes has climbed exponentially since the introduction of disposable diapers. An article published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1959, before the introduction of disposable diapers, stated that only 7.1% of babies studied (1505 babies, Tanino, 1959) had experienced diaper rash. A similar study in 1987, a little over 20 years from the introduction of disposables, showed that 63% of those studied (1050 babies, Gaunder & Plummer, 1987) experienced diaper rash. More recently, in 2005, as cloth makes it's comeback, showed that at least half of babies will experience diaper rash.

5. Disposable Diapers are cleaner, Cloth leaks!
Here's the thing... Any diaper which is exposed to a large amount of fluid (or other filling) quicker than it can absorb or in greater amounts than it can absorb it is going to leak. Depending on the type of diaper, cloth can actually have LESS leaks than disposables.

This is because cloth diapers will better fit to the baby than disposables do. Disposables are sized by weights, but each baby is going to have a different shape. Some are tall and thin, others short and round and others will fall in to different categories. While a size 3 disposable diaper is a size 3 disposable diaper and isn't going to be adjustable beyond what they feel is proper sizing they don't tend to fit every baby right. For babies like my daughter with a small waist and big thighs a diaper that properly fits her waist is to tight for her legs, but to keep it large enough to fit her thighs without pinching or chafing completely opens her waist to leaks...

Cloth diapers on the other hand are able to be fitted to your babies needs. Today most covers have gussets around the legs or if you use flat or pre-fold diapers you can purchase fitted covers to go over them. And when diapers fit better they leak less...

 6. Cloth Diapers Are Bulky
Okay, I'm sorry, but this one always makes me laugh...  Does it really matter if your babies butt looks a little bigger than the other babies butts? Have you ever seen a baby in a stroller and thought, "Hmm, someone needs to hit the gym. She should be in 6month clothes, not 9!"  Really?  Here's how I see it. If their clothes don't fit perfectly, but their pants a size larger and lean to hem the legs. Is a bulky baby butt really an issue to worry about?

Plus, when babies are learning to walk they fall on their butt A LOT! So an extra layer of padding isn't really a bad thing.

7. Cloth isn't sterile.
Okay, this is true. But it's worth noting that disposable diapers aren't sterile either. They come from dirty factories and sit on dirty store shelves until you take them home. They are not individually shrink wrapped nor are they sold in sealed bulk packaging, so you don't even know what kind of germs, fungus and bacteria they could have been exposed to before you put them on your baby.
Cloth, of course, isn't sterile either, but since YOU wash them in YOUR washer, and YOU dry them in YOUR drier or in your yard, YOU are in complete control of what your diapers may or may not exposed to.

8. Cloth Diapers Spread Illness and are Unsanitary.
This one really goes hand in hand with the Sterile one. However it's flawed in it's assumption that diapers, underwear or any clothing are in fact sanitary. But diapers spread illness no more than any other layer of clothing and in fact less than things like shoes and coats which we wear over and over again between washings.

It is true however that diapers, and any other clothing, should be extra clean in the case of a stomach flu or other infectious illness. But washing diapers in HOT water and making sure to dry them in the sun or in a HOT dryer will kill off any germs able to cause an outbreak. If you are terribly worried about killing germs you can add any number of things such as a table spoon of bleach or a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to the wash.

However, if your family is spreading the flu back and fourth the culprit is generally NOT diapers! It's more often than not commonly touched surfaces, hand towels which are not properly cleaned or not cleaned often enough, or people not covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough.

9. Cloth is EXPENSIVE, I simply can't afford it!
This is my favorite myth to bust! If you go out and spend $1000 on top of the line designer cloth diapers with your child's name embroidered on the butt, you will still save money in the end!

IF you purchase store brand or generic diapers you will pay AT LEAST $0.12 each diaper. Now, that seems low! I realize that! But lets do some math...  The average baby will go through a minimum of 6 diapers a day... So that becomes a MINIMUM of $.80 a day when the are newborns. All the way up to $.20 per diaper, 10 changings a day which works out to be about $1.20 a day for toddlers... And remember, that's with generic or store brands - which you have to change much more often, so to be safe, add at least another 50% to those numbers... All that means your paying a MINIMUM of $5.60 a week in the beginning and a MINIMUM of $8.40 a week later on... When my oldest was in diapers I used Parent's Choice. They were (and still are from what I see) the cheapest disposable on the market! I spent an average of $30 to $45 a month on diapers. Which by itself is $720 to $1080 on diapers in 24 months...  Of course if you decide to use brand name diapers - which most people prefer, you'll most likely double that. But to that price let's add wipes and diaper cream (since diaper rash is rather common with disposables) and you're easily going to spend much more on disposables than on cloth!

My daughter has been in cloth - and only cloth - since birth. She is now 8months old. So what's the total I've put in to diapers? $200! What's the total I've put in to wipes? $20 Plus my water and sewage bills have gone up about $5/mo (total) since her birth. So again, lets add this up... Over 24 months I will put in less than $350. And the diapers I use are on the "expensive" side. You could easily use pre-folds or flats with a water proof liner and spend less than $200 to stock everything. Or you can make your own. Or you can get them second hand from any number of websites...

So put it all together and here's what you get - Add up what you spend for cloth diapers, wipes and washing and you'll still save HUGE over disposables!

10. There is to much extra laundry.
Is washing laundry harder than tossing a diaper in the trash? Yep. But is it really harder to do an extra load of laundry every 3 days? Personally, I don't believe so! Think of it this way, does it take you more time to go to the store, buy diapers & wipes and take out the trash than it does to toss a load of diapers in the machine? I have to go all the way down stairs to use the machine and it doesn't take me any time at all... The hardest part is folding them, and there are those days when it just doesn't get done and they sit clean and dry in the basket next to the bed where I change my daughter... But it's the same place I used to leave the pack of disposables sit when I used them...

And when your car breaks down and you are running low on diapers you'll be thankful you can just wash rather than have to find a ride to the market to buy more!

*Originally Posted on my Blog, The Natural Life, which has since closed.

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