Let’s be real for a minute here — when you have a baby, you are primarily concerned with two things: sleep and poop. Sleep is a whole other bag of worms that we can unpack at some distant point in the future when I have even the slightest insight to offer. Diapers, on the other hand, are something that I have pretty much mastered and could dish about forever. I actually LOVE to talk about diapers.
I entered motherhood with a general idea of what wanted to do, diaper-wise, but was really open-minded about my options because, you know, dealing with 12-16 newborn poops a day is stressful. My hope was to use disposables for the first month or so, until we had survived the days of meconium (heads up — this newborn stuff is GROSS) and reached some sort of equilibrium with the poop situation; after that, I wanted to switch to cloth diapering. For me, this stemmed primarily from concerns over the environmental and health implications of using disposables, but I was also realistic in knowing that they wouldn’t always be practical for us.
To prepare myself, I stocked up on a few sizes and brands of disposables, and researched the shit out of cloth diapers to determine what type would work best for us. I’ll be the first to admit that, when you first enter the world of cloth diapering, it’s SUPER overwhelming. To save you from having to spend the next year of your life trying to decode the various types of cloth diapers, check out my summary post on the most common types of cloth diapers. Having had no experience with cloth, I got a small number of a few different brands and types of cloth diapers to test run, so we could figure out what we liked and add to the stash once we knew what the heck we were doing. Below is a pic of the majority of our diaper stash as it looks today — the original edition was a much, much smaller version of this that we added to over time.
We made it through the first month with disposables and, at the 1-month mark, started to experiment with cloth diapers during the day. Slowly but surely, we moved to cloth diapering full-time – even at night – but we still use disposables from time to time (e.g., when we moved to a new city, when traveling, when battling cold/flu season). We’re over a year into this diapering adventure and have had a slew of positive and negative experiences with both. So what was our preference in the end? Honestly, it’s pretty mixed. I, hands down, prefer cloth diapers. My husband, on the other hand, always delights when the disposables come out but he’s coming around to the benefits of cloth. Here’s our breakdown of the pros and cons of each.
- Pack more easily on-the-go
- Don’t need to be toted around post-change
- Easier to put on a squirmy bum
- Don’t require any post-bum effort (i.e., washing)
- Less likely to have pee leaks
- Costly over the course of your diapering adventure
- Not reusable, so you may find yourself in a panic if you run out
- Have an environmental impact
- Potential for health concerns
- WAY more likely to have poop blowouts in the newborn stage (I’m still traumatized by a few poo-splosions I suffered in the early days)
- WAY cheaper over the long run, especially if you invest in one-size diapers that grow with your baby and use them for multiple babes
- Reusable, so you never have to worry about running out
- Customizable, meaning you can add or remove layers to suit your specific babe’s diapering needs
- Kinder to the planet, especially if you opt for renewable fibers like hemp
- Contain poo-splosions like no other — we literally had only one and I’m going to blame it on the fact that she was going to town in her bouncer at the time
- More gentle on the bum — Bee’s skin was really sensitive to the additives in disposables as a newborn but her skin thrived in natural fiber cloth diapers
- Come in some ridiculously cute prints
- Require some effort — they need to be washed and some also need to be assembled before use
- Require a fairly significant investment upfront — while it’s AMAZING that we spend literally no money on diapering stuff each month, our bank account did take a bit of a hit upfront
- Can be prone to pee leaks as the baby grows and the “fit” changes — it just takes a bit of tweaking, but those initial few leaks can be annoying
- Can be more difficult to put on / take off if you go with a snap-based option (this is particularly relevant for the dads out there, I’ve found)
At the end of the day, it really is such a personal choice. I absolutely love cloth diapering and have since the day we started using the them, while my husband took a long [long] time to warm up to them. I also have a few friends that started out with cloth but, for various reasons, ended up switching to disposables over time (mostly due to a fear of solid poop or because they had another babe and couldn’t handle two in cloth). In our home, we like to keep our options open and use both, depending on the situation. In the end, though, it’s honestly just about using whatever’s right for you.