Although my 14-month old has never worn a disposable diaper, and although we’ve had experience traveling by plane, boat, taxi, bus, and more using cloth diapers only, I was delighted to learn a lot from Erin Odom’s guide to cloth diapering, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers.
Erin and her family were given a free cloth diaper trial scholarship (through a program that is no longer in existence) which allowed families to try numerous different brands and styles of cloth diapers. Through her wide-ranging experience and additional research, Erin has not only studied this subject, but has also tried a good number of cloth diaper options. (There are many different options today!)
While you can learn a lot from scouting out parenting or cloth diaper forums, this book is probably the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide of its kind, all neatly packaged into one book. (I would have definitely benefited from something like this as a new parent and new cloth diaper.)
There are many aspects of cloth diapering that can sound overwhelming when looking from the outside in. Erin dispels myths and does much to calm many fears! Beyond that, I think that reading some of the tips presented here could also help encourage and re-motivate those who may have previously tried cloth diapering and felt like they “failed” or just couldn’t keep up.
Reasons for Using Cloth: Mine and Erin’s
One of my big reasons for using cloth with Justus is that I don’t want the chemicals in disposable diapers on a very important part of his body, and I think that reason has served to motivate me to stick with it more than some of the other reasons.
My other big reasons are creation care and cost. In the last few years, I’ve realized how often we as Christians tend to believe it is not worth considering how our current actions will affect the environment for generations to come. It’s easy to mask this lack of responsibility under the name of God’s Sovereignty or a particular eschatology, but in reality we do need to think a little more about the long-term results of our actions. (This is not to say if you use disposable diapers you are sinning! ) But, giving careful thought to this has helped me personally realize that this is one way, coupled with other reasons that are important to me, I can do something to contribute to creation care.
(Also, did you know that disposable diaper packaging instructs users to scrape off fecal material before placing diapers in the trash? So if you’re grossed out by doing so with cloth, realize you’re actually supposed to be doing so with disposable, as well. And doing it with cloth is usually easier, in my experience! Here is the APHA’s statement on fecal material in waste. Here are photos of the fine print on disposable packaging.)
And, of course, cost is a big factor in choosing cloth. We paid for about half of our diapers with our other children, and then I purchased the rest for a little over $100 total (using great seconds sales with cottonbabies.com and using coupons at BuyBuy Baby). I use cloth wipes with Justus, as well (so easy!), and really, it is nice not to have to think twice about adding the cost of diapers to our groceries each week.
I use Bum Genius All-in-one (AIO) diapers, and these have served us well from birth to potty training. (Well, we are still only on the first half with Justus.) I’d rather put our money toward going to Ecuador or saving toward our major emergency fund.
Erin does warn that cloth diaper shopping can be addicting. By sticking with one brand and style that worked from the start, I haven’t faced this issue quite as much. But if God-willing we have more babies, I think I might want to try out a few new types…and will probably have to deal with that urge in the future!
Here are Erin’s reasons for using cloth:
Taking Care of Your Diapers
Another great feature of this book is the step-by-step instructions on caring for diaper and washing. Not having this type of information can be a big hurdle to those who are considering cloth diapering. Although we’ve been caring for cloth diapers for years now, I learned some helpful information in this section, as well–mostly about stripping diapers and how to discern whether or not your diapers are losing absorbency (and what to do about it).
Erin does stress the importance of making sure you wash one cycle in hot. Some who cloth diaper in hopes of saving money are tempted to skip this step. Erin explains how this can end up causing problems down the road. (And although she doesn’t address it specifically, from a microbiological perspective, using heat when washing diaper or anything soiled with fecal material is hugely important; I consider the heat setting on my washer (and turning up my water heater) the modern equivalent to diaper washing over a boiling kettle of water! ) From a cost perspective, we haven’t noticed a huge difference from using our hot water with diapers.
Here is Erin’s washing routine:
Erin’s book is well organized and contains a lot of helpful graphics and pictures. Although it is 200 pages long, it is an easy read. The one downfall is that it’s only available as a non-Kindle eBook, through Erin’s site (and occasionally as a part of book bundles, which is how I purchased my copy). Although it’s not available in Amazon’s Kindle store, it’s quite easy to transfer to your Kindle or Kindle app via Send to Kindle. And as a PDF, there would be the option for printing.
Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert deals with most of the common issues cloth diapers face, and provides numerous ways to troubleshoot. If you decide that cloth diapering is not for your family, it doesn’t leave you feeling guilty, either (though you might just leave this book convinced to at least give it a try!). Nor does she write that if you use cloth you can never use disposable!
While there are a lot of cloth-diapering abbreviations and acronyms out there, Erin writes using full words and understandable term. However, she does included a helpful glossary as part of the final appendices.
Table of Contents:
Challenge #1: Fit
Challenge #2: Stink
Challenge #3: Leaks
Challenge #4: Rashes
Challenge #5: Stains
Challenge #6: Naked Toddlers
Challenge #7: Nighttime Diapering
Challenge #8: Yeast
Challenge #9: Diaper Cream
Cloth Diapering No-Nos
Confession #9: You CAN Travel with Cloth Diapers–But You May Not Always Want To
Section 1: Daytime Trips
Section 2: Weekend Trips
Section 3: Extended Vacations
Section 4: Special Circumstances
Section 5: Swim Diapers
Confession #10: Cloth Diapering Can Be Addicting
Section 1: The Cloth Diaper Addiction
Section 2: When the Cloth Diapering Honeymoon Ends: Taking a Break–or Calling it Quits
Part 2: The Heart and History Behind the Diapers
Section 1: Using Your Cloth Diapers to Bless Others
Section 2: Cloth Diaper Advocacy
Section 3: History of Diapers
Section 4: Diapering Around the World
Section 5: Closing Remarks
Cloth Diaper Abbreviations