Thursday, September 30, 2010

Considering cloth diapers?

Photo courtesy of

Let’s face it, raising a child is expensive, let alone two, three, four children. I’m sure for most parents, the bulk of spending for children would go to formula and diapers. The next bulk of spending would go to others such as childcare, clothing, toys and food.

So wouldn’t you like to save some cents anywhere, so you can spend it on yourself? (Or more clothes or toys for your kids, it’s your choice, really.) But like other methods of saving money, there is always a need of some effort on your side. Trying to save on food and meals? Buy groceries and cook at home. Of course, food preparation and the cleaning afterwards is a pain, but it saves more money than eating out. If you’re tired of the endless mountain of laundry i.e. washing, hanging, drying, folding and ironing, you could always send them straight to a laundry shop. Just pay them, and you’re done. But do this every week for the family’s whole dirty laundry including kids’ clothes, you’ll be broke within the month. Summary: convenience costs money. And it isn’t always the best choice.

So let’s talk about cloth diapers. So what’s good about them?
ComfortPhoto courtesy of

Cloth diapers are made from natural, breathable fabrics, such as velour, bamboo, microfleece and cotton knits. Did you notice that most kids’ clothing is made from cotton? Why? Because it’s the most comfortable, that’s why! Even disposable diapers are trying to imitate this cloth softness by saying in their adverts, “Cotton-like softness”. And while we’re talking about diapers, what kind of underwear do you wear daily? (Please exclude the late night romps where you wear silk and satin.) Cloth undies, not paper or plastic. ‘Nuff said.

Wallet friendly

A good investment may need an expensive initial cash outlay, but in the long run, is more economical. Cloth diapers may be used again and again, until it basically tears whereas disposables, as the name suggest, is a single-use item. Below is a cost comparison between a cloth diaper, an average price disposable diaper and an expensive disposable diaper, using the assumption for 1 child per family, going through 6 diaper changes in one day for 3 years, the average age where a child is fully toilet trained.

Environmental friendly

Disposable diapers make up the third largest group of waste after newspapers and food & beverage containers, and they take around 200-500 years to decompose. Also, did you notice some small printed instructions at the bottom of the disposable diapers packaging for parents to dump solid waste into the toilet and flush it? I didn’t know it myself, until my first born child was around 7 or 8 months old, informed to me by my mom! (I apologize to you, Mother Earth for my blissful ignorance.) Bearing that in mind, the human poop is thrown into our landfills where it can leach into the groundwater and possibly, spread disease. (Now I’m feeling really guilty. Can you see my face turning red? I could’ve started an epidemic! Oh my God!)

Healthier baby

Back in the days when everyone wears cloth diapers, babies hardly ever gets diaper rash. My mom told me that the diaper rash creams don’t even exist. Like I mentioned earlier, cloth is breathable and keeps a baby cooler. Disposables contain chemicals such as sodium polyacrylate to absorb moisture. As cloth diapers do not have these chemicals, they naturally absorb less. This would mean more diaper change, which is more work for us. But this is a good thing, because of this, babies in cloth diapers are cleaner compared to babies in disposables who end up sitting in their pee longer. Good, right?

Cloth diaper is easier than it used to be

The traditional white cloth “napkin” as my mom used to call them, has to be changed every time the baby pees, as the cloth gets soaking wet. So you can imagine how many cloths does a baby use up every day, around 10 to 20, I guess.

Photo courtesy of

But the modern cloth diaper has transformed far much better than its predecessor. In defense of cloth diapers, they are softer, cuter and works just like a disposable. They are very easy to use and to care for. You don’t even have to use a clothes brush. Just pour some baby clothes detergent and some water, rub them together or knead on them like you’re kneading bread dough until it’s clean, rinse it and you’re done! If you’re even lazier, just rinse of all the pee and poop under running water, put them in a laundry net (so that your diapers last longer) and wash them in a washing machine like you wash normal clothes.

And most of them are one size diaper now – meaning the cloth diaper is adjustable when the baby grows. Some of them use snap buttons, more are using Velcro for ease of use.

You don’t have to abandon disposable diapers totally. You could still use them in situations where you absolutely do not have the time to wash cloth diapers and where water is not readily accessible such as:

  • Disaster – floods, earthquakes and such
  • Emergency – in case of premature birth, accidents etc
  • Hospital stays – especially if the mom is being hospitalized. I don’t think most dads would want to do any diaper washing. (No offense, dads.)
  • Vacation or travels – I personally use disposables when travelling because I don’t want to bring dirty diapers around with me, and then needing to wash them when I just got back home, all tired.

I wish I have a nicely organized collection like this.

Photo courtesy of

Mine is more like this.
And this.

These are the inserts. A few more were still hanging to dry.

I’ve been using them daily for about 8 months now for both my children, so they were yellowing a little bit. They need a good stripping, and they’ll look as good as new.

I forgot to take photos of my kids wearing cloth diapers. I just have one of my boy wearing it. He was playing with Daddy.

Please excuse the mess at the back. It was a lazy Saturday morning, so cleaning up comes much later.

I bought mine from a good friend from her blog A very good deal indeed. I needed about 30 diapers to go round for 2 kids, so I was just looking for average priced ones. There were a lot more cuter designs at a slightly higher price, go and have a look!

All in all, the cloth diapers have saved me a whole lot of money. As I use disposables only when we go out and travelling, usually on weekends, I buy them about a large pack for each my daughter and my son every 4 or 5 months. But I still use disposables for night use, as I can’t wake up every 2 or 3 hours to check on wet cloth diapers. I’m already lacking sleep. Do that, and I won’t be able to wake up in the morning. Or I can wake up, but I’ll be cranky as hell. And nobody likes a cranky mom.

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