Part-Time Cloth Diapers

This diaper: The Good Mama

Super cute three-eyed kraken diaper by The GoodMama

While pregnant with Boogie, my sister in-law gifted me with all of her daughters’ outgrown cloth diapers. About a dozen all-in-two AMP diapers, nearly two dozen inserts, and several (sadly, now defunct) GoodMama all-in-ones, they were probably worth $300. I was grateful but incredibly intimidated. Could I handle the commitment to cloth?

I spent hours researching the “correct” detergent to use, the proper washing process, and how, why, and how often I should “strip” the diapers. I bought a specific type of cloth diaper-approved diaper rash cream, until it was discontinued, at which point I consulted another chart for a new cream. I read heated debates over stripping versus not stripping diapers, the benefits of using more versus using less detergent and vice versa, and the countless cost-benefit analyses of cloth versus disposables.

If you’re reading about cloth diapering with despair and trepidation, let me be the first to say you don’t have to do it all the time! Too many people buy into the notion that if you’ve decided to use cloth diapers you have to go all in, decry disposables, and commit to twice- or thrice-weekly laundry and swishing poopy inserts in the toilet every day.

I’m going to say it: IT’S OKAY to take a one-week, or one-month, or in my case, a three-month break! IT’S OKAY to use cloth diapers part time!

When she was a newborn I found that we were blowing through our diaper inserts in about two days, which meant I was doing laundry almost daily. And diaper laundry isn’t like normal laundry. A load of diapers took nearly three hours (20-minute hot wash, 20-minute cold wash, two 45-minute dry cycles, plus the time it took to air dry the diaper covers).

In other words, I. Burned. Out. on cloth diapering. Pretty quickly.

I started using disposables and eventually accepted that I tried cloth, and failed. Then I found myself questioning this line of thought. Why are we as parents—especially first-time parents—expected to choose a parenting “camp” and blindly commit to it? We hear all the time that every baby is different, every parenting circumstance is different, and household needs are different. Then we hear buzz words that categorize parenting as though raising children is simply “this” or “that.” Cloth diapering. Attachment parenting. Baby-led weaning. It’s exhausting.

Learning to let go of the idea of either cloth or disposables actually helped me to stick with cloth diapering WHEN I COULD.

Now that she’s almost a year old her “elimination” schedule is a little more predictable. We rely or disposables to get us through the night and when she’s sick. Then during the day when we’re home, we use cloth diapers as frequently as possible. If I don’t feel like using cloth for a day or two, I don’t. And I’m breathing easier.

So my cost-benefit analysis is a little skewed now. I’m okay with that.


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