Cloth diapering is an intimidating endeavor to any parent who has no experience with it. The ease of disposable diapering is more obviously apparent, especially to new parents. However, the savings from using cloth diapers are significant and worth it to anyone looking to cut back trips to the store. These few dollars saved turn into hundreds or thousands when you consider that the average baby uses five to seven diapers per day, at a low estimate. Assuming that each disposable diaper costs a single dollar in a store-brand value pack, the total cost reaches $1,825 to $2,555 over the course of a year. Babies who learn to use the toilet at one year or before have already used many disposable diapers, and babies who potty train at two years or older will have used over 5,000 diapers in this short period of time.
Apart from the sheer cost involved, you might be concerned about the number of extraneous trips to the drug store you may take every year just to pick up a box of disposable diapers. Living off the grid means reducing these trips as much as possible, as well as reducing unnecessary waste. The initial cost of a cloth diaper set can range from cheaper than a box of disposables or more expensive than the baby’s wardrobe, depending on whether you choose to make them on your own or purchase a premade set. However, this cost is easy to justify, considering that each diaper is reusable and washable for hundreds of uses. Families with multiple children can even sterilize and reuse diapers over multiple children, making a set of quality diapers an investment that will repay its costs many times.
Choosing Baby-Friendly Cleaning Solutions
Baby wipes are an expensive part of disposable diapering that often carries over into cloth diapering because most parents are unaware of alternatives. Family cloth is becoming a popular alternative among families committed to using fewer outside resources and minimizing the repeated costs of disposable wipes. You can easily make your own family cloth by cutting cotton into uniform squares and hemming the edges, ensuring that they will withstand frequent washes and still last for years without unraveling. Depending on the number of diaper changes and how many cloths you use for each change, you may want to prepare up to two dozen squares for a single child’s diaper changes. Store the used cloths in a closed container separate from other laundry and wash them in hot water to sanitize, using bleach to remove stains if necessary. Combine loads of family cloth with cloth diaper loads to ensure that you aren’t doing any unnecessary laundry loads. Because family cloths are not pre-moistened the way disposable wipes are, you may want to moisten them with warm water before using them to clean the baby’s sensitive skin. You can add mild soap if you need extra cleansing help, but for most diaper changes, water will suffice well.
The Diaper Bag Dilemma
Realistically, cloth diapers are less effective at holding in waste than disposable diapers, although this only becomes a problem in situations where you are unable to change the baby’s diaper as soon as it needs attention. These situations can become numerous once your child reaches an age that makes it easier to involve him in family outings, daytime excursions, and even travel. It can be challenging to orchestrate an emergency diaper change in the middle of the family-in-law’s Memorial Day picnic; it can be close to impossible to perform the same feat on a moving train or an airplane bathroom without the right tools. This makes it more important than ever to keep a well-stocked diaper bag at hand whenever your cloth-diapered baby leaves the house with you.
Naturally, the diaper bag does not necessarily need to be a real diaper bag out of the baby department in a big-box retail store. These bags are often several times as expensive as the same type of bag would be anywhere else. Find a large, roomy messenger bag, or even use an easily accessible backpack or an oversized purse. It should have pockets that are the right size to keep essentials at hand, including folded clean diapers, supplies for cleaning sensitive baby skin on the go, a pouch or container for securing dirty cloths and extra room for toys and snacks that you might prefer to keep close.
The container for dirty diapers may be the hardest part to find, since disposable diapers are more widely used in some areas. An airtight leftovers container will work in a pinch, but sacks fit better into tight spaces and save some room. You could improvise a small canvas bag with waterproof lining and snaps to hold the top securely closed, or find a seller online who specializes in hand-making this type of product for off-the-grid parents. For long trips such as an international flight, make sure that there is room for multiple dirty diapers so that you can avoid ending up with a third diaper change and no place to put the offending article.
Making The Most Out Of Your Diapers
Switching away from disposables and to diapers that are reusable, breathable, and long lasting is a choice that will minimize one of the highest costs associated with raising a child. It will ensure that your baby’s skin is always ventilated and comfortable, and provide for your child throughout his entire infancy and young toddlerhood. If you care for your diapers well by washing in hot water with mild laundry soap, they will last for years, especially if they are line-dried or allowed to dry flat instead of tumbled in a machine. Diapers are easy to modify, using Velcro or snap closures to accommodate the same child through multiple stages of development. After you have finished using them, they are easy to upcycle by participating in parenting trade groups as long as each diaper is still in good condition.
The most prohibitive aspect of using cloth diapers for most families is the initial cost, as not having enough diapers leads to daily laundry, and a single diaper can cost $20 or more. However, even this challenge is easy to overcome, as cloth diaper patterns are abundant online and are easy to adapt to a variety of fabrics, including old t-shirt material, towels, fleece and other fabrics that are likely to be around the house already. If you choose to make your own diapers, the only purchase you need to make is the Velcro or snap closures to hold the diaper secure, and a water-resistant covering to help guard against leaks. The benefits of using cloth diapers are much more rewarding than the costs and challenges involved in getting started, making a quality set of diapers a worthy investment for any family.
©2012 Off the Grid News