Being a new dad has been amazing in so many ways for me, and nothing could prepare me for the experience. It has been harder than I expected in so many ways, but easier in others. While the first six weeks were really hard on my wife, each day gets better and better in this amazing experience.
One of the pleasant surprises for my wife and I has been how easy cloth diapers have been to use with our daughter, Clara. Almost every other parent that we talked to thought we were crazy to try cloth and gave us horror stories of infant diapers. None of them had actually tried cloth, they just thought from their experience that it wouldn’t work.
I think that cloth diapers come down to one question – can you handle putting baby poop directly into your washing machine. It is definitely extra work to wash and dry the cloth diapers, just as everyone told us it would be, but it is very manageable. The biggest strange part of the whole process is washing your own clothes in the same machine that takes dirty diapers.
Perhaps it was sleep deprivation, but my wife and I never worried too much about this point. You wash the cloth diapers twice (once in hot water, once in warm), and then add an extra final rinse. I hope someday cloth diapers become mainstream enough that there is just a cloth diaper cycle and this is all done for you, but it isn’t a huge deal for us. You can also get a service to come pick up and wash the diapers for you, but that can be expensive. To boot, we live in a condo and don’t pay for water usage, so it is much cheaper for us to wash at home.
Occasionally, we do take a weekend trip and use disposables during that time. It is uncomfortable for me to think of the plastic wrapped around my child, along with the landfill waste that comes after. I also just don’t like that she can be wet for hours without us having any idea. The technology behind disposable diapers are incredible, but it doesn’t feel right to me.
Since this is a site for dads, I can be honest and say that I had nothing to do with which diapers we actually bought. My wife researched them and picked Bum Genius and they work great. They have velcro and are really easy, and are designed with snaps to expand as our daughter grows.
My understanding is that babies that use cloth diapers potty train faster than with disposables. While I couldn’t find any research to back this up, it makes sense that if your child can feel the wet diaper, it provides a bit of incentive to potty train.
I promise not to judge if cloth diapers are not for you, but take it from this dad – it is much easier than I thought it would be, saves us a ton of money, and truly is a decision that we can make to better impact the environment.
[About the author: Jamie Johnson writes about energy efficiency at Verde Sustainable Solutions, L3C, the company behind the VERDE app - a new tool to help people perform an energy audit in their own home. Image: simplyla]