Are Cloth Diapers Too Complicated?
Is it me, or is there a baby boom going on this year? I think I know about 20 people who were pregnant at the same time as I was and many of them are first time moms. I'm not really a closet cloth diaperer so I got lots of different Facebook messages asking me all sorts of questions. I've been familiar with cloth diapers for a long time and through a couple of years of research and experience I've learned terms such as “cross-over snaps,” “gussets,” and “soakers.” To someone just starting out however, this might as well be Greek. There are a LOT of options to choose from and it can be completely overwhelming. I think most people know that modern cloth diapers are now an option, which is why so many are considering them. They've probably seen a cloth diapers such as a bumGenius pocket diaper or a Thirsties Duo Wrap over a prefold. Or, maybe, they've seen the gDiapers that some Babies R Us stores carry, or the Charlie Banana's that Target now keeps in stock. Some of them (like me, once upon a time), might still be thinking of prefolds and plastic pants when cloth diapers are mentioned...who knows? In any case, unless they've researched cloth diapers or used them, they have no idea the wealth of options available to them nowadays. When using cloth diapers there are these main cloth diaper types: AIO diapers, pockets, hybrids, AI2, covers, prefolds, fitteds, contour diapers, and flats. In addition, each of these can be broken down into things such as closures, fibers, pocket type, and a whole slew of special features--especially in WAHM diapers because diaper creators are all looking for a way to make their diapers stand out. For a newbie, this can be overwhelming. I didn't realize how overwhelming until I started trying to answer questions and I ended up writing one l-o-n-g message after another to each of my interested friends.
On the one hand, it is really great that there are options. There are cloth options for every type of parent--diapers for a budget, one-step diapers, extremely adorable printed diapers, old-school diapers, and nearly hands-off diapers. Cloth diapering is not a one-size-fits-all choice (though you can choose one-size-fits-all diapers). On the other hand, when you're trying to decide which type of diaper is best for you before you've even had your baby, it can be overwhelming. You find yourself asking questions like:
-How much poop will I have to deal with if I used prefolds?
-Does wool really keep out leaks?
-Will that diaper be easy to use?
-How do I know what size to get?
-Which diapers are easiest on my laundry routine?
-Can I really afford 12 of those?
Where do you turn for help?
If you're a cloth newbie you may find yourself utterly overwhelmed by the options, I feel your pain. I've been doing this nearly four years now and I'm still overwhelmed. If you don't have your own experience, the best option is to borrow someone else's. Talk to a friend (or a couple friends) who uses cloth diapers. Ask which diapers they prefer and why, and see if they can demonstrate them to you. Seeing the diapers in person is a great first step in decoding the weird, new language. When my friends come to me with questions, it helps to know what they're looking for. Some are pretty open to many different options. Others are on a budget and need something quick but not too expensive. And others want their cloth diapering experience to be as easy as disposables. Most of them, are just concerned with not having to touch the poop. In any case, I've found from these interactions that the advice of someone you know and trust goes a lot further than information you found on the Internet.
If you don't have a friend to talk to or you still aren't sure about your options after discussing them with someone, the second thing you should do is to see if there is a cloth diaper retailer close to you. Go into the store, look at the different systems so you can touch them and see them for yourself. Then, ask an employee to break it down for you and demonstrate some of the options.
Finally, if you have neither a friend nor a store nearby, look for a dictionary of sorts--a book or a website that breaks down the main cloth diapering systems. Honestly, I started figuring it all out as I shopped. Online retailers usually organize their cloth diapering options into different systems and you can shop by subheadings such as “one size diapers” or “diaper covers.” As you peruse each product, there are usually customer reviews that are helpful as well. This helps you not only to figure out what each of these terms mean, but to know how well each product was received by the consumers.
After looking through the eyes of many friends who are new to cloth diapers, I realize just how complicated the options can be. So try not to be overwhelmed. My advice for everyone--no matter their initial ideas about cloth--is not to buy their whole stash at once. Buy one of a couple of different diapers and/or systems, try them out on your baby, and wait to complete your stash until you've decided which you like best. You may find--like me--that you like to keep around a little bit of everything because you like it all!
Alicia Date 9/10/2013
Cloth diapering doesn't have to be an "all or nothing type of thing." For my family we do cloth at home and for short trips only. For us this means we have the occasional disposable diaper every few days, but am not burned out by bringing home wet bags of poo.
Mary Date 9/10/2013
It does seem like there's a baby boom, and more and more of my friends are cloth diapering! I just got to buy my friend (due in Oct.) some cloth diapers yesterday. I'd like to get her a book about cloth diapering, too, as you suggest.
Maggie Martin Date 9/10/2013
I have had quite a few people ask me about using cloth recently and I always struggle to explain fully because there are so many options and not everyone likes or uses the same thing. I usually just tell them what I like and then point them in the direction of some very very helpful websites dedicated to explain and review all the different kinds.
Shanna Bethards Date 9/12/2013
I wish I'd have had a friend who had a clue when I started CDing. At least now I am the friend. Tons of research online and asking a million questions in a CD store while checking out various brands and products really helped me out.
Darah Frondarina Date 9/13/2013
I had a friend who used CDs and she answered so many questions of mine. But she wasn't local so it was more helpful for me to go to a local store and see and feel the diapers. I attended a "Cloth Diapering 101" class and I learned so much and got confused at the same time! That didn't stop me, so I bought a little of every system I wanted to try and now I've been cloth diapering for 6 months and have had 2 in cloth for 2 months now.
Kim H Date 9/15/2013
We chose our prefold & wrap system based on economics. Some of my cloth diapering friends think I chose the hard way, but when money is the main consideration, your choices are more limited, so there was less info to weed through!
Ashley Date 9/18/2013
If you have ever tried cloth diapers you will know who much happier a baby is. Diaper rashes are so few and far in between if you use cloth. I love the fuzzi bunz I found at http://www.gogonatural.com. They have been the best!!! And I love the "Bell" dress your daughter is wearing in the first picture.