I had a very interesting (interesting for me because I own a small cloth diaper company) conversation with a fifth grade teacher here in Winnipeg. She called me because her students were very keen to learn more about cloth diapers. It seems that these children had come to discover something that appears to be eluding the vast majority of Canadian parents: cloth diapers are the ultimate in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I happily put together some basic information for the class including why cloth diapers are an excellent, in myopinion superior option, how to use cloth diapers and the basics of washing. Over the years of running this business and discussing cloth diapers with a variety of people the two demographics that are most accepting and enthusiastic about cloth diapers are the 60+ crowd, the ones who used cloth themselves and the younger 18-24 age group. I guess time will tell if the 18-24 group will end up using cloth diapers when they start having babies or if they will decide that they are just too much work when faced with the decision. I’m going to remain optimistic that the younger generations will prioritize things like health, the environment, earlier potty training and financial savings above their own convenience. Below is the information I sent the teacher to read to her class.
Basics of Cloth Diapering in 2014
What are cloth diapers? There are a variety of cloth diapers available in many different styles but to break it down a cloth diaper is a reusable cotton diaper with a waterproof outer layer. Our diapers use a separate pull on waterproof cover; many others have the waterproof layer attached and those diapers don’t require a cover (this method sounds better but there are many reasons separate covers are a better option). Basically instead of throwing out your diapers after every use you wash and reuse them.
Top reasons more parents are considering cloth diapers
- Money . When compared with disposable diapers parents using cloth will save on average $2,000 per child. Our diapering system includes reusable wipes and 36 one size diapers so we have estimated our cloth diapers to save parents approximately $2,500.00 per child.
- Earlier potty training. On average babies diapered in cloth will be out of diapers one year earlier than their disposable wearing counterparts. My daughter was out of diapers at 18 months, which was largely due to the fact that she only ever wore 100% cotton cloth diapers; she felt wet and understood the sensation of peeing at a much younger age.
- The Environment. It is estimated that disposable diapers take more than 250 years to decompose and up to 500. Everyday millions are discarded in Canada alone. There have been some studies suggesting that there is no environmental benefit to using cloth diapers. However, you cannot argue with the fact that the best thing for the environment is for infants/toddlers to spend less time in diapers (potty train) which is achieved with cloth. Another thing cloth diaper using parents can do to lessen their carbon footprint is to have more diapers; the more diapers you have the less often you wash them. Also you can line dry diapers in the summer.
- Health. Disposable diapers contain chemicals known to cause cancer (dioxin). It is found in the gel used to make them super absorbent. Since parents switched to disposable diapers the incidence of diaper rash has significantly increased and there have been reports of babies developing serious chemical burns from disposable diapers. Cloth is more natural.
Initial Cost of Cloth Diapers – Our birth to potty cloth diapering system costs $380.00 plus GST for a total of $399.00 CAD. The prices of cloth diapers range and depending on the system can cost upwards of $900.00. With cloth diapers you also need to factor in the additional costs associated with laundering your diapers at home (laundry detergent & the increased utility costs/washer & dryer).
Diaper Services – A diaper service is a service provided to parents where clean diapers are delivered to the customers’ home and the service takes away and launders the dirty diapers. There are diaper services in most other provinces. As far as I know Winnipeg has had two and both have gone out of business. The most recent one was charging $22 per week; the cost of doing this is similar to disposable diapers. Diaper services became very popular during the Second World War. It is much cheaper and sometimes more practical to buy your diapers and wash them at home. Remember, you can use the diapers on more than one baby. I have a customer in Ohio who used the same $400 diaper kit on 3 babies!
Washing Cloth Diapers – This is the biggest fear most parents have when considering cloth diapers. It is much easier than most people imagine. When the baby pees you throw that diaper into a pail, when the baby poops you rinse out the poop (shake it into the toilet then rinse in the sink) then throw it into the same pail as the pee diapers. With 36 diapers parents can expect to wash every 2-3 days in the beginning and less often as the baby gets older. On wash day just throw the diapers in the washing machine and use your regular detergent. Next they go in the dryer and after the dryer fold and put them away. It is really a very easy and simple process. I always hear back from customers that it was so much easier to use cloth diapers than they thought it was going to be.