An Ode to Cloth Diapers - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

An Ode to Cloth Diapers

Photo Courtesy of C.K. Close

I have been a confirmed environmentalist since elementary school. I embroidered the words "Save the Earth" on my burgundy JanSport backpack. I cleaned up Soldier's Delight Park on Earth Day. I cut six-pack plastic rings so that birds and fish wouldn't be choked by them. In short, I tried very hard to remember that we only get one planet, and that it won't last forever.

Back then, my uncle was married to a true earth mother type who ran a daycare out of her home. My sister and I spent a fair amount of time helping out with the daycare (and being watched ourselves, but I didn't realize it at the time). Debra diapered her son, my cousin Jeremy, in traditional cloth diapers--the kind that you safety-pinned on and covered with a plastic urine-containing second layer of defense. Observing the use of these diapers, and noticing the way Debra left dirty diapers soaking in the downstairs toilet prior to laundering the nastiness, truly challenged my commitment to environmentalism. If that was what I would have to do in order to keep disposable diapers out of the landfill, then I would have to embrace my hypocrisy once I had a child.

Several years later, I was a responsible adult with babies--two cats and a dog, to be specific. Part of the joy of pet ownership is the consistent need for dealing with animal waste. After daily pickups of Obie's contributions to the local landscape, and years of being on catbox duty, I was willing to rethink my stance on cloth diapers. If I was able to handle the incredible output of which a greyhound is capable while never missing a beat during my cell phone conversation, then I thought I could take on the challenge that is reusing the diaper in which my child poops.

Adding to my new sense of comfort with cloth diapers is the fact that poop-cloth technology has come very far in the 20 years since I watched Debra laundering diapers in her toilet. My dear friend Erika highly recommended Fuzzi Bunz diapers, which feature snaps instead of pins, moisture-wicking technology, a waterproof outer covering, and awesome colors. While I was pregnant with LO, I got about 20 of them. I couldn't wait for LO to use them.

When we first brought LO home, he was too small for the Fuzzi Bunz, so we started him off with the free disposables the hospital sent home with us. I started to appreciate the beauty of a disposable world. Nastiness just went in the trash. No need to deal with it. But, as a once and future environmentalist, I started covering LO's bum with cloth.

This worked fairly well for us, until it didn't.  No one tells you that diapering a squirming toddler is a heck of a lot more difficult than a wriggly baby boy--and that disposables go on much more easily in either case.  Nothing can challenge an environmentalist-frugalista's cloth diaper convictions like the sight of a half naked toddler zipping around the house while his desperate mama runs after him with a diaper and wipes.

Also, we've been finding that LO needs a wet diaper change in the middle of the night if he's in a cloth diaper, but not if he's in a 'sposie.  Since J and I both value our sleep more than any other high-minded principle, we've been diapering him in disposables for overnights.  I absolutely have no issues with this particular decision.

Then, there's the problem with getting any kind of ointment on Fuzzi Bunz diapers.  The problem being that you can't, or else you void your warranty and destroy the waterproof nature of the diaper.  While we've been lucky in that LO has not needed any kind of ointment (all that airy running around the house must be good for something), but that has not stopped oil from contaminating the diapers.  Someone--and I'm not naming names here, but his initials are Mr. J Mensch--threw a batch of oily garage rags into the wash along with the diapers one cycle and thereby shredded the waterproof coverings of about half of our diapers.  I've avoided calling Fuzzi Bunz about this issue because I'm not looking forward to hearing the peals of laughter.

So, between the ease of use, the lack of a full contingent of 20 diapers, and the fact that I seem to be laundry-challenged, I've gotten to the point where LO wears about four or five cloth diapers a week.  (This is not an improvement in any sense, considering that means there's a much longer waiting-in-diaper-pail-period between diaper laundry loads).

I fail at environmentalism.

Maybe this just means I need to start potty training.  I don't need this ethical dilemma.



Amazon Card Giveaway Update:

Have you entered my giveaway yet?   I will be giving away an Amazon gift card to one lucky reader who comments on this post by noon on May 31.  The randomly chosen winner will receive a gift card--and the denomination will depend on the number of miles I run between now and 5/31!  I will load $0.50 per mile on the gift card.  Here are the numbers so far:

Miles Run Today: 0  (I would feel guilty about this, but the decision to skip my run this morning made me feel as though a weight had been lifted, so between that and the fact that I slept for two and a half hours while LO was at daycare makes me think I made the right call.  I plan to run another 5 miles tomorrow, and I'll have a doozy of a last 7 days of my Amazon gift card challenge to get myself to 190 miles total by May 31.  Keep cheering me on!)

Total Mileage for Giveaway: 21

Gift Card Amount: $10.5

Goal: 28 more miles

Mileage for the year: 162



Live Like a Mensch said:

Regular reader Bobi asked this question on my post last week about going grocery shopping without a net

May 1, 2014 1:11 PM

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