A few weeks ago I had the privilege of presenting at Just Born and Nearly Born Night, an educational afternoon for new or expecting parents. One of the other presenters spoke about cloth diapers, and I was amazed by what she said. I was also kind of bummed that I didn't have this information when my girls were really little - my third daughter is on the verge of being fully trained.
I may not get the opportunity to give this a try, but I did want to make sure other parents heard what I heard. So I asked Katrina Pavlik, mother of two, post partum doula, and the founder of the Chicago Area Real Diaper Circle, to write about the myths and misconceptions when it comes to cloth diapers.
"So you use cloth diapers? With the pins and everything?" Just today I had this conversation with another mom at the park. In order to show her that, no, I do not use the pins and everything, I immediately pulled down my kid's pants to show her what a modern cloth diaper is. Cloth diapers have come a long way, but the fears and misunderstandings about what they are and how they work lurk deep in our blood.
Myth #1 - I'm going to be knee deep in poop and my house is going to smell like a zoo.
WRONG! Well, half wrong… any parent that diapers a baby is going to touch poop at one time or another. With cloth diapers, you plop the poop in the toilet (where poop belongs) or spray it in with a diaper sprayer and you're done. Really. Houses with cloth diapers also don't have that "disposable diaper smell." You know the smell - the one that smells like chemicals with pee on them. My house is more likely to smell like the overcooked scrambled eggs still sitting on my stove.
Myth #2 - I don't have time for all the extra wash and work it takes.
WRONG! Well, OK, maybe you really don't have the time. In that case, you can get a cloth diaper service and spend the same amount of money you would spend on disposables. No laundry needed. As for the rest of us, once you get into a routine of washing, it's barely an extra hour of work a week. Besides, don't you spend time running to the store to get diapers? Instead, stay home and turn on the washer.
Myth #3 - I'll poke my baby! My husband will never go for this! Everyone will laugh at me!
WRONG! WRONG! MAYBE. Modern cloth diapers come with Velcro or snaps, not pins. There is no poking - only nice, soft, real fabric against your baby's bum. You don't wear plastic underwear, right? Husbands are sometimes late to board the cloth diaper train, but once they realize that they are saving over $2,000 over the average baby's diapering lifetime, they get on board pretty quickly. Invest that money instead, and send your kid to college.
Myth #4 - I did the research and it's really not that much better for the environment.
WRONG! Disposable diaper companies love to fund these "studies!" Grrr. A baby in disposables creates one ton of solid waste per year, and those dipes are going to be in a landfill until your great-great-great-great grandchildren are running around (estimates range from 250-500 years). Yes, washing takes water, but so does creating a disposable diaper (two times more water than washing one!). Yes, drying takes energy, so does producing a disposable diaper (plus gas for shipping, extra packaging, waste transport, and landfill construction).
Myth #5 - Cloth diapers are incredibly cute and addictive!
RIGHT! Modern cloth diapers can fit anyone's budget and style. New businesses are popping up all over the city and online. Chicago also boasts an active community of cloth diapering parents who support each other and freely hand out cloth diaper love to anyone who is interested.
For more information about cloth diapers, check out the Real Diaper Association, a national non-profit dedicated to promoting reusable diapers (realdiaperassociation.org)
Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/clothdiaperchicago/
Facebook page: Cloth Diaper Chicago
For more information about the next Just Born and Nearly Born Night, contact Tricia Fitzgerald at 773-620-3829 or check out her Facebook page: Gentle Beginning.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.