Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Making of a Cloth Diaper Dad

The Making of a Cloth Diaper Dad
When I was first approached with the idea of cloth diapering, a million questions ran through my mind. What’s wrong with disposables? What’s it going to cost to switch to cloth? Am I going to stab my baby (or myself) with those stupid pins? How much extra work is it going to be for us as parents? Are people going to think we’re hippies?  As I began to explore the idea through actual research, what I discovered surprised me.

What’s wrong with disposables?  A lot, actually*. Many throwaways contain chlorine and other chemicals that can irritate the babies’ sensitive skin. There’s some evidence to suggest that the newer “ultra dry” varieties encourage parents to change their baby less often which can increase the chance of diaper rash and infection. After use, disposable diapers end up in landfills where they decompose at a rate so slow that no one has been able to determine the actual length it takes because no one since Methuselah has lived long enough to do so.
What’s it going to cost to switch to cloth?

Like many dads, this was my biggest concern. When I learned that some cloth diapers can cost up to $30 or more each, I nearly freaked out. I immediately started doing the math (24 diapers x $30 each=way too much money for me to come up with at once!). Fortunately for my sanity, I soon discovered that you can buy a quality cloth diaper (with insert) for half that price. Design advances have made it possible to reuse the actual diaper and just change out wet inserts which can save you even more money.  When you add up the amount of money you are going to spend on disposables before the baby is potty trained, cloth diapers offer a substantial savings.  Am I going to stab my baby (or myself) with those stupid pins?  What pins? While you can still find the old, plain pre-fold variety of cloth diapers that require pins, there are a number of other options. Many diapers now come with snaps or Velcro sewn right in. No more taking your baby’s life into your hands every time you go to pin that diaper closed! There’s even a cool little device called a “snappy” that will keep those old pre-folds securely on your child without any pointy objects! No more bloodshed!

How much extra work it is going to be for us as parents?  I won’t lie to you, cloth diapering does take extra time and effort. You’ll have to prep the diapers before use, wash them a specific way, dry them another way, and treat them for stains and funky smells on occasion, but when you think about the benefits to your baby, your wallet, and the environment it is totally worth it. Not to mention the fact that you can probably get a cloth diaper with your favorite sports team’s logo.

Are people going to think we’re hippies?Only folks who are really out of the loop. In 2011, there is a growing movement of cloth diaperers in America and around the world. People are catching on to the many benefits of using cloth, and are making the change. As more people make the switch, cloth diapers become more mainstream and commonplace. At this point, most people who notice your cloth will be admiring the design or pattern rather than looking you over for peace signs or evidence of drug use.

*I have a confession to make, we’ve got a baby on the way in 3 weeks and we do have a pack of disposable diapers on hand to use at the hospital since labor and delivery nurses around here have a reputation for being notoriously anti-cloth. We’ve researched disposables that minimize the risk of irritation to our baby and lasting effects for the environment. There are now several brands of sustainably produced, biodegradable, chlorine-free diapers that you can keep on hand in your diaper bag or car for those days when you run out of clean covers, forget to pack them in the diaper bag, or just can’t practically use cloth for whatever reason.

Now that you’ve read the thought process that led me to cloth diapering, I’d love to hear yours! Feel free to leave a comment below to tell me how you became a cloth diapering dad (or mom). I look forward to reading your stories!
~Jason Elam


  1. This is pretty much the thought process we went through. And T Rex Dad would most certainly agree, too. It is a bit more work but it is so worth it knowing those chemicals are staying away from the baby's skin. And as my son used to say, "No more paper pants, Mama".

    Wonderful. Thank you so much.

  2. oh very cool - a cloth diaper dad. My hubby is too! :) And I love how Cow Patties makes super affordable diapers! :) (And cute too!)