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Mom of the House: Cloth diapering in the 21st Century

As much as I enjoy the money savings, I am also thrilled to be doing my part in reducing waste
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Before I had children, I never realized that there were multiple options when choosing to diaper your child.

I always assumed the biggest decision would be between Pampers or Huggies, and I figured I’d just choose whichever one was on sale.

After three kids, I’ve changed more diapers than I’d like to count, and have spent literally thousands of dollars on diapers. My husband and I could have gone on multiple tropical vacations with the money we have spent on material to catch our children’s poop and pee.

After having diapered three children, and having changed diapers for the last five years (with no breaks in between), I feel a bit like an expert in the department.

I’ve used every brand of disposable diaper that you can imagine, from Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, Parent’s Choice, Kirkland and Life Brand. I have my favourites and my least favourites, but I’ve always just purchased whatever was on sale at the store I happened to be at.

When my middle daughter Georgia started developing rashes from regular disposables, I bought Honest diapers, Seventh Generation, and Naty.

I’ve tried every different type of diaper cream, from all natural to Penatan, and when I finally realized that Georgia was allergic to zinc I started making my own at home.

Over the years I have also dabbled in cloth diapers. With Penny, I cloth diapered only at home for about six months. With Georgia, I lasted maybe a month and failed miserably.

After spending an exorbitant amount on diapers, I finally cracked and decided to exclusively cloth diaper our youngest, Eloise, until she’s potty trained.

There’s no going back. I have fallen deep into a rabbit hole and can’t seem to find my way out.

I thought I knew all about diapers before, but now I feel like a master in the art of diapering.

It seems like you need a four-year degree before you start modern cloth diapering.

There’s the all-in-one, all-in-two, pocket, prefold and fitted options. Or, if you’re like me, you choose a combination of all five.

You can buy “work-at-home” brands made by other moms who stay up into the wee hours of the morning at their sewing machine, making their own cute cloth diapers to sell to other moms.

Or you can choose Canadian or American made diapers, which are actually made in factories in Mexico and China, marketed as ethically produced.

Perhaps the most popular option is purchasing large bundles of Made in China diapers; these are the least expensive. Some moms turn their noses up to these diapers, calling them “China cheapies”, which I find pretty unfair.

Not only is it difficult to choose which type of diaper you want, but you also need to choose patterns. Will you go with solid colours or cute prints?

Some people get custom made diapers. There’s diapers with popular TV shows, like Sons of Anarchy and the Walking Dead. Or Disney characters and 80s cartoons. These custom creations can go for $50 to $75. And yes, that’s for one single diaper, which will likely last an hour on your child’s bum before needing to be changed. Not to mention the creepy factor of having your child in a zombie diaper, the price alone gives me the chills.

Once you’ve figured out what diapers to buy, you need to figure out how to wash them. It’s not quite simple.

Each washing machine is different, and requires a different wash cycle. It’s recommended to test the PH and hardness of your water, because if you have hard water you’ll need to add a softener each time you wash. If you want to get those dirty diapers really clean it’s suggested to use Tide, but some of us cringe at the toxins in Tide and use natural detergents, only to find they don’t work well and leave clean diapers smelling, well, not so clean.

There’s also the issue of storing diapers. Wet bags are a must. Some buy pricey diaper pails with special charcoal inserts to keep the smell at bay. There’s also fancy diaper sprayers that attach to your toilet that can be used when baby does a particularly foul poop. The diaper sprayer can also be used for water fights between your husband and older children (speaking from experience!)

Despite the complexity of modern cloth diapers and the major learning curve at the beginning, I have to admit I have fallen in love with this new and sometimes challenging way of diapering.

I can’t help but love the adorable diaper prints, all lined up neatly on a shelf in Eloise’s room. I also love the savings. I went the pre-loved route, choosing used diapers that I put through a rigorous sanitization process. I’ve spent about $250 on diapers, and they will last until Eloise is potty-trained. The average family spends $2,500 on disposables.

I’m eager to use the savings on an actual tropical vacation.

One thing I didn’t expect from cloth diapering was to find a new community. I have made friends within Guelph who have helped and guided me. One friend in particular has been extremely generous. She went from a complete stranger to a trusted fellow mom, who comes over and has taught me how to wash diapers, dropped off free diapers she’s not using, and answered late night texts.

As much as I enjoy the money savings, I am also thrilled to be doing my part in reducing waste. I never thought I’d say this, but diapering my last baby has turned out to be quite fun and rewarding.

Have you ever tried cloth diapering? Share in the comments below!