My two-year old son is in underpants, and our family is officially done with diapers!! While no amount of exclamation points can indicate how joyful I am to be done with that phase of parenting, I felt I should take this occasion to reflect on diapers. We used cloth diapers for our three children, and I have to admit that the initial desire was 100% from my wife. Let's face it, who wants a bin of dirty, poopy, smelly squares of fabric sitting in a bin and then going through the washing machine? Not this guy. When my wife suggested using cloth diapers, I was not interested. She was concerned about the environment. I was still not interested. She said it would be healthier for our baby. I was still not interested. She said we could save money. Hold up. I'm listening...
I am a money guy. I shop sales, I look for deals, and I try not to spend money when I don't have to. So when I looked at the initial investment that cloth diapers required, I just about threw up. Was my wife seriously expecting me to drop $500 up front on diapers? That is insane. And then the logical side of me took over. The average American family spends between $1000 and $1500 per year or more on disposable diapers, depending on the brand, with organic or green brands being even more expensive. That means that in three years of disposable diapers, a child can easily burn $3000 or more. So $3000 spread out over three years for disposable diapers, or $500 up front cloth diapers? This was my turning point, and the moment I realized that I could handle cloth diapers (I wasn't even calculating the savings for kids two and three. Cha-ching). My wife and I decided that, if we were going to use cloth diapers, we would want to purchase a new washer and dryer and remodel our laundry room. And you know what, that initial investment was still less than what we would have spent to keep Big E in disposable diapers for her first three years.
So I still wasn't completely on-board with disposable diapers, but the logical, financial side of me realized that this was the way to go. I was worried about the smell. But I quickly realized that the diapers were not smelly when kept in a Simplehuman Slim Plastic Step Can with a washable pail liner. I realize that is overly specific, but if you are considering cloth diapers, trust me, the can is a game-changer. If we ever felt they were smelly between washings we could just sprinkle a cup of baking soda over the diapers to absorb the smell. Easy.
Then I had to overcome the thought of dealing with poop on diapers. Again, not something that I miss at this point, but something that I realized was not too bad. My father-in-law and I fabricated a diaper sprayer by connecting a good old-fashioned kitchen sprayer to the toilet supply line. After changing a poop diaper, we held on to the cleanest corner we could find and sprayed the poop into the toilet. No big deal.
Now the most magical benefit of all. When Big E was 18 months old, we were visiting family. She looked at us and said, "Pee pee." I questioned her, she repeated herself, and I took her to the potty. She went! No prompting, no trying to persuade her, no bribery (although that came later). She took the initiative. And all three of our kids have potty-trained by two-years old. Why? Try strapping a soggy towel to your mid section and see if you don't want to get out of it as quickly as possible.
While there are other benefits to cloth diapers, for this Renaissance Dad the biggest benefit was the financial. I eventually came to realize the other benefits, but the financial advantages were what initially convinced me. I would encourage any other parents out there to look at the benefits, weigh them out, and e-mail me if you still need to be convinced.
By the way, part of our good experience with cloth diapers was due to Meredith at Go Go Natural. She has a huge selection of everything imaginable related to diapers, and she was really helpful in guiding and advising us when we were first learning the ropes. If you are even considering thinking about considering cloth diapers, I encourage you to chat with Meredith (by the way, she doesn't sponsor my blog. Just giving a shout out where it's due)!