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You are here: Home > Baby > Parenting

The Diaper Dilema One Mother Decides

by Ann E. Butenas |
1 Comments

As I eagerly anticipated the arrival of my first-born son, I debated the merits of whether or not to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers.

I recalled a conversation I once had with an attorney for whom I previously worked, and she belabored the fact that people needed to do their share for the environment. "I think every parent should use cloth diapers," she opined. "It is our duty to protect our environment from the overflow of unnecessary waste." So firm in her opinion on the matter, I decided that I, too, would do my part.

As luck would have it, I received as a shower gift free diaper service for several weeks. This proved to be such a wonderful gift. Each week, I would receive 80 cloth diapers, more if I needed them, and then each week the used ones would be picked up as the new, clean load was dropped off. I was also provided with a nice diaper pail into which the used diapers would go. I was provided my first set when I opened my gift. When I got home from the shower, I neatly stacked these diapers on the changing table and took pride in the fact that I would soon be contributing to my environment and not be filling up our landfills. I knew the task would not be easy, or convenient for that matter, but, taking into consideration my co-worker's opinions, I felt it was the best thing to do.

Reality then hit. Two weeks into this ordeal, I soon discovered that with a newborn, eighty diapers per week were not enough! I needed more! I not only used them to diaper my son, but I used them to clean up various leaks. At night, I learned to do what I called the "double-bagging" technique. I would put TWO cloth diapers on my son, followed by the plastic overwrap. This afforded extra protection from nighttime leakage. However, there were often many leaks, and these meant frustrating trips to the laundry room and endless nighttime changes of my son. Still, I reassured myself that I was not emptying hundreds of dirty disposable diapers into the trash. My husband reminded me, however, that I was running the washing machine endlessly and using vast amounts of detergent to keep up with my environmental cause.

I managed to maintain this routine for a year. The only time I would use disposable diapers was when I ran errands with my son, or if he was at Grandma's for an evening. Obviously, I did not want Grandma to have to deal with the chore of cloth diaper duty. Granted, she did the cloth diaper routine years ago when disposable were just coming onto the scene, but now was not the time to reintroduce her to this laborious method of keeping my baby's bottom dry!

When my first-born son was 9 months old, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. This presented a challenge to me: Do I continue on with my cause for yet another year, or do I surrender to the disposable ease? I continued to diaper my oldest child in cloth diapers until he was just over a year. At that time, I alternated between the cloth and disposable, dropping my service down to just once a month pick-up and delivery.

It was soon time for my second son to be born. I decided I would once again do the disposable routine with him. I tried to do this with both boys, but I could not keep up with the demands of it all. I was diapering and doing laundry nearly all day. My first son was quickly on the road to disposable heaven. I kept my second son in cloth diapers for three weeks and called it quits. I just could not see the use in constantly changing him and his clothes if there were leaks. Besides, whenever I was running errands, it was more than necessary to use the disposable diapers. Nighttime changes were even more of a challenge with two little ones in diapers.

After much trial and error in dealing with BOTH cloth and disposable diapers, the disposable ones won out. Sure, I did create lots of trash, but my washing machine ran less often, and I subsequently used less detergent. I was more relaxed and reveled in the extra time afforded me by not constantly having to worry about numerous changes and washings. Further, I had coupons for the disposable ones!

When my third son came along more unexpectedly than the second one, I had three boys in diapers and instinctively knew that if I was to clad them all in cloth diapers, I would be at the mercy of those diapers nearly all day long. It was, for me, just too much work.

All in all, I am glad I did the cloth route for a year. I feel like I contributed to the well being of the environment, if only for awhile. Nonetheless, I could not help but notice the look of frustration on the face of the garbage man as he stopped by each week to pick up our trash. With three boys in disposable diapers, one can only IMAGINE the amount of trash we generated.

Now two of my boys are potty-trained and my third son is in the process of doing so. With older brothers to watch, my "baby" is much closer to being potty-trained at a much younger age than his brothers were. This makes me feel good in that I trust he will not be in diapers for the four years that his brothers were. (Don't forget the Pull-Ups stage, either, which, by the way, was a godsend for me!)

In all, I think it just takes a decision on the parent's part to decide what is best for the baby, the parents, the environment, and the daily routine. Cloth diapers are a challenge and a commitment. They can be high-maintenance, yet they do save on the trash build-up. Disposables offer such a convenience. Even those nighttime ones do wonders for my peace of mind. They can absorb more moisture than any of my "double-baggers" ever could!

For those inclined to use the cloth diapers, keep this thought in mind: They are referred to as "real" diapers. These diapers are reusable, made of all cotton, and much healthier. For those who prefer the disposable diapers, I will call them "fake" diapers. These diapers are fast, accurate, keeps the stuff in, and easy to use.

Having gone both routes during my boys' diaper days, I think BOTH methods are equally applaudable. However, once I hit the stage where I had three babies in diapers simultaneously, it just made more sense to me, on all accounts, to use the disposable ones, but I would not change how I did it with my first-born son. I am proud to say I used the cloth diapers. Now, I just wish I had stock in Huggies or Pampers!

Good lucknow get diapering!

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Theresa Apr 11, 2012 01:27:04 PM ET

From what i understand from your article, you did not work outside the home. i live in an area where there are approximately 500 child care centers. of that number, only a dozen of them allow parents to bring cloth diapers for their infants/toddlers. many parents do not have the opportunity to choose between cloth and disposable diapers.

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