Frugal Living Interview
A lot of new parents are confused about the diapering choices today, and rightly so! A lot has changed
in the past few years in the way cloth diapers are made and used. We are lucky to have Emi Staper,
author of the blog
The Cloth Diaper Report
with us today to clear up some of the confusion.
1. Hi Emi, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us about cloth diapering! What are the main reasons that moms choose to use cloth diapers?
I would say the top reasons families choose to use cloth diapers are to save money (you can
save an average of $2000 per child!), for health reasons (sensitive skin or to avoid exposure
to the chemicals used in disposable diapers) and to reduce their eco-footprint (each child in
disposable diapers adds a ton of waste to a landfill, which takes hundreds of years to decompose). I
was initially lured in by how adorable and innovative modern cloth diapers have become in the past
5-10 years, and the money and health benefits were icing on the cake! The more I learn about the
chemicals used in disposable diapers, the happier I am that I discovered cloth, even though those
weren't the original reasons why I made the switch.
2. What are the drawbacks to using cloth diapers, or why don't more people use them?
The drawbacks are that you will have to change more frequently than most people change disposable
diapers, although every 2-3 hours is how often ANY diaper is SUPPOSED to be changed. Families tend
to keep diapers on longer to save money, which is not healthy, but you can get away with it in
disposables because of the loads of chemicals they use in them. Be careful though, because the
longer you leave a 'sposie on the higher the chance of the SAP and other toxic chemicals oozing
out directly onto your baby's skin. It's bad enough against their skin, but believe me you don't
want any of it ON their skin!
I would say that the biggest reason more people do not use cloth diapers, is that they
automatically think of prefolds and pins. Can you still find these and use them if it is your
preference? Yes, but the majority of cloth diapering families use trendy, updated, innovative
diapers that are easy to use and can be laundered at home. So with better education and awareness,
a lot more families would surely make the switch.
3. Are there common misconceptions about cloth diapering that we should be aware of?
I mentioned one misconception above, concerning the "old school" cloth diapering systems people
think of from our childhood, including folding large, thick pieces of cotton and securing them
with pins. There are many, but another common misconception worth mentioning is that people think
that a diaper laundry service is needed or that they would be a hassle to wash at home. It is
actually very simple to wash cloth diapers at home, and it is surprisingly not any more time
consuming than getting in your car to purchase another case of disposables or taking the bags of
disposable diapers to the curb. The key to washing your diapers at home is having the right
detergent that won't gunk up the absorption and fibers or cause a rash on baby's skin (so no
enzymes, brighteners, perfumes and things of those nature) and the right wash routine for your
style of washer. There are many that fit the list of requirements for an effective cloth diaper
detergent, but the easiest may be to purchase a detergent formulated for cloth diapers. And to
make life easier, any detergent that is good enough to clean your diapers is good enough for any
laundry, so it doesn't have to be used separately from other loads of laundry.
4. I have read that using cloth diapers can save a family $2000. with the first child. Can
you break this down? Does this include the cost of laundry detergent and electricity
to wash and dry the cloth diapers?
Yes, cloth diapers can indeed save a family an average of $2000 per child. The
per child clause is important, because cloth diapers can be reused with 2, 3, 4 children, which
will save you even more money. If you only diaper 1-2 children they also have resell value so you
can get even more return on your little investment.
These average savings are based on:
1) What brand of disposable diapers you currently or would purchase if you used them (Huggies vs.
2) How many cloth diapers you purchase (just the basics or a couture stash?)
3) How old your child is when they potty train
4) Detergent and type of washer or dryer used (HE washers will obviously require less energy,
detergent and water).
5. How time consuming are cloth diapers versus disposable diapers?
I personally don't think there is any significant difference in the time invested between the two
types of diapers. I did not discover cloth diapering until after my daughter was born, so I have
experience with both sides-- disposable diapers need to be purchased on a weekly or monthly basis
and the trash needs to be taken out multiple times a week, if not daily. I do not think that the
2-3 loads of cloth diapers I wash every week take me any more time than I invested when I had to
purchase disposable diapers. Plus, unlike some of my friends, I never run out and have to make a
mad dash to the supermarket at 10 PM!
The reality is that there may be a little bit of a learning curve, depending on the style and
brand of cloth diapers you choose, because there are so many choices out there. Yet cloth diapers
are anything but rocket science and will quickly become second nature and part of your daily
routine. My daughter even has another part of her daily routine that reinforces the colors, patterns and animals we are learning, as she can see them on her diaper prints. I also let my daughter choose the color, pattern or style of diaper she wants to wear and it gives her a sense
of independence and involvement in another part of our daily routine. Children potty train an
average of 6 months earlier in cloth diapers, because they are a lot more aware of their bodily
functions and feel the wetness more than with disposable diapers. So I'd say that this saves 6
months of diaper changing compared to disposable diapers, so they may save even more time for you
in the long run!
6. How many children do you have? Have you used cloth diapers from the start?
I have one daughter who just turned 2 years old and started cloth diapering her when she was 3
months old. I had NO idea about the modern cloth diapers on the market until I stumbled on a
small picture on a magazine when she was 2 months old that caught my eye. I couldn't believe none
of my parenting books, magazines or classes even mentioned cloth diapers let alone how far they
had come and how absolutely adorable they were!
We are adding baby #2 to the family this winter and I am so excited to cloth diaper another child
from the moment they are born! And guess what is also exciting? I do not have to buy a single
diaper or make any additional trips to the store, because I already have plenty of cloth diapers
for his/her little bottom. How cool is that?
7. I thought I was going to use cloth diapers with my oldest, but that was 27 years ago,
but I didn't last very long. They were quite primitive compared to what is available now;
they were hard to put on and they didn't do a good job of keeping moisture in.
Do you think cloth diapering has evolved as far as it can go, or will there be more
improvements in the future?
In the year I have been blogging and reviewing cloth diapers I have seen more and more diapers,
fabrics, styles and innovations hit the market. It seems that the sky is the limit. Our cell
phones keep evolving after we think they've hit their limit, and I think cloth diapers will
continue to get better, more popular, more environmentally-minded in the years to come.
cloth diapers vs disposable
to help you make your decision.
More Ways to Save on Baby Stuff
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