We Are Both Right

Considering a Cloth Diaper Conversion

I have to say, I feel somewhat uncomfortable and even a bit hypocritical, writing in support of something I don’t practice in my daily parenting. But it is something I believe in and who knows, with your help, maybe I can change my ways.

I wish I used cloth diapers for my youngest son S. It would be unfair of me to say I wanted to do with C. and A. when they were little, because honestly, the thought never occurred to me. But with S., I like to think I’ve been a bit more thoughtful in my parenting (making my own baby food for instance), and cloth diapers were something I seriously considered.

So why didn’t I? Why don’t I now? I’m not sure.

Actually I am.

It’s laziness. Pure and simple laziness.

© Kissaluvs

© Kissaluvs

The truth is when I was pregnant with S. and researching all the various options for cloth diapers, I started feeling overwhelmed. bumGenius. FuzziBunz. gDiapers. Bummis. Adorable names, cute patterns and colors, all giving me no direction whatsoever.

I didn’t know where to start. There were so many choices and different ways to do it — I was afraid I’d do it wrong, or invest in cloth diapering and hate it or it wouldn’t work. Which is silly of course, all I needed to do was read a bit more, but that’s where I was at the time.

Now, four months shy of S.’s second birthday, I’m wondering if it’s worth switching over. Part of me says to give it a try, the other optimistic part says to let it go. To keep my Amazon Mom Subscribe and Save once-a-month delivery of Pampers and just stay at the status quo until he’s potty trained. (Which I’m hoping to tackle over the summer.)

The reasons to use cloth are many and far-reaching. Ultimately, despite an initial investment, they save money, although if I switched now I’m wondering if I would realize a savings difference. For S., there’s less chance he’ll develop diaper rash and asthma even, thanks to less particle emission. And as I understand it, kids in cloth diapers potty train much faster. Plus, I never have to worry about running out — with my washing machine, we always have a supply handy.

Big world-wise, the benefits are tremendous. Less waste, less carbon footprint, less landfill filler from our family. And those are big reasons. (And make me feel guilty that I didn’t do cloth from the beginning.)

So talk to me. Do you use cloth diapers? Is it worth for me to switch over? And if so, where do I start?

Suzanne always used disposable diapers and never gave it a second thought. (Well, maybe half a second.)

Disposable Diapers or Bust

Jonathan Werner/stock.xchng

I could hang my laundry on the line but I use a clothes dryer. I could ride my bicycle to work, but I drive. I could grow my own vegetables and go halves on a cow, but I frequent the supermarket instead.

So is it any surprise that I exclusively used disposable diapers for my two babies?

Cloth diapers just seemed like a lot of work — a lot of work at a time when I was already struggling to keep up. My mommy brain didn’t have the capacity to worry about intercepting leaks, scrubbing waste out of white cloths (really, why are they white to begin with?), and doing an extra load of laundry every day.

Why complicate matters any further?

Dare I say that as a first-time mom planning to return to a full-time job outside the home, it wasn’t worth it to me to spend my time dealing with the logistics of cloth diapers? Selfish maybe, but I had no interest. Zero. Cloth diapers were never even a consideration for me. And I figured day care probably wouldn’t think much of them either.

Of course I’m well aware of the environmental advantages of using cloth diapers over disposable. In fact, I spent the first five months of my first pregnancy in one of the earthiest crunchiest towns in this country. I heard and read plenty about eating only organic food, home births, breastfeeding, and using cloth diapers.

I also knew that there were diaper services that would do all of the dirty work for you. But that still seemed like a lot of extra (read: unnecesary) effort and expense.

So when it came down to it, I chose convenience over saving the earth. According to my sources, I have already contributed 11,224 diapers to landfills (give or take 3 or 4 for the times I ripped the cheap tabs on the generic diapers). Though I did make an effort to cut back on our plastic consumption the second time around — by ditching the diaper pail that neatly wrapped each disposable diaper in yet another layer of plastic spun into the shape of a sausage link. I seem to think that there are far more risky propositions jeopardizing this green earth for my children’s children than our four years worth of plastic diapers sitting in a landfill.

Still, my apologies to Mother Earth. Maybe I can make it up by skipping baths (aka saving water) after my kids turn green playing in the recycled tire playground near our house.

Don’t give up on me yet though. If I take a page out of Amanda’s book, it looks like I might get more thoughtful about my parenting choices if I ever have a third child.

Testing the Waters with Generic Diapers

There they are sitting on the shelf. A box of 144 generic diapers for $10 less than the smaller brand name box right next to them. Oooh, so tempting.

A quick calculation and you realize that if you keep buying the more expensive brands until your baby is potty-trained, you might as well take four $100 bills and put them out in a puddle by the curb.

But you keep staring at the adorable Cynthia Rowley-designed Pampers. You even have a $2 coupon. By this point, your baby is chewing through a box of unopened Elmo crackers. It’s now or — well, next time.

OK, just this once. You go for a smaller package of generic diapers and put the jumbo box of Pampers under your cart. Just in case.

Really, what’s the worst that could happen? You test them out, and if they don’t work so well, throw them in the car for emergency back-up (or when you realize at 2 a.m. that you just used the last diaper in the house).

So why is it such a leap of faith to buy generic diapers?

Of course, we all want the very best for our children. Wholesome food, educational toys, a safe neighborhood, good schools. The curve-hugging and cushiest diapers for our babies’ bottoms. With the cute designs.


Truthfully though, it’s the insurance policy that convinces parents every time. If you’ve cleaned one leaking explosion of a diaper, there’s no way you ever want a repeat. And in the back of your mind, you see an old Huggies commercial (which might as well have had the Brady Bunch tiki god-episode music in the background) as the baby crawls around wearing a gaping store-brand diaper.

But are generic diapers really that bad?

I needed to know. After a few months of following the herd and buying only Huggies or Pampers for my firstborn, I decided to live on the edge. I brought home a package of Target brand diapers and used the first one at bedtime. Big mistake. I think I changed his pajamas and the crib sheet three times that night.

Not one to give up easily, I insisted on finishing the whole box. It didn’t get any better. My husband begged me not to be frugal in that area again and we were loyal Huggies fans after that. (Coincidentally, not even the Pampers were a match for my son.)

We picked up where we left off with the Huggies when our daughter was born. Once and a while, I would mix in a box of Luvs.

Until I was tempted by the no-frills yellow box again. This time though, the generic diapers did the job. Right through potty-training, she wore the green and blue polka-dotted Target brand diapers and we never had to look back.

I did just buy diapers again last night — this time for a baby shower gift I’m putting together. Of course, I chose a package of Huggies newborn diapers with the curved waistband and Winnie the Pooh design. I even had a coupon.

And I’ll leave it up to mom to decide when and if generic diapers work just as well.

“Splurging” on Brand Name Diapers

I have never been a slave to labels. I could care less if my clothes were designed by Michael Kors or by some girl who can’t sew, yet never misses an episode of Project Runway (sounds like me actually). Every day I wear a variation of the same thing — jeans, t-shirt, sneakers. If I’m feeling crazy, I’ll wear socks.

I’m a free spirit, let me tell you.

My one concession to anything designer? A leather Coach backpack my parents purchased for me six years ago on my 30th birthday. I know, I’m a spoiled brat.

For me, clothing is something you wear to keep warm and covered. I shop at Old Navy, Target and Kohl’s for the most part. If I’m at the outlets and a particular designer is having a sale — a good sale mind you — maybe I’ll pick something up. I’m hardly a fashionista staying on top of the latest trends.

Now don’t get me wrong — if you want to load your closet up with Ralph Lauren and Juicy Couture, I’m all for it. I jut can’t be bothered.

© jeti87/stock.xchng

© jeti87/stock.xchng

And yet when it comes to disposable diapers (I’ll save my lamenting about cloth for another day), it’s nothing but brand names for my kids — Pampers and Huggies only. So what if they are $.22 per diaper and generics are more like $.15? I’m the one changing them — I’ll put up the extra $.07.

Look, I realize I’m not taking much of a stand here. It’s diapers. You can get a box of 176 size 4s for under $40 (and under $35 if you’ve got good coupons and shop smartly). It’s not like I’m insisting my kids not wear anything but Gucci. (Not kidding, they have a line for kids. And for just $220, your little darling can have their very own metallic sneakers. Cause, you know, what non-walking infant doesn’t need those?)

I have no good reason other than that I just like the brand names diapers and I have no desire to switch to generic ones. Pampers and Huggies (I interchange depending upon the discounts available) have always worked for us very well and I figure, why change now? I’ve just heard so many stories about generics not doing such a terrific job, the thought of trying something new makes me tired. Especially in this department. I mean, infants and toddlers do a good enough job on their own of making nuclear messes of their diapers, I don’t need to go into this process with something that will maybe, probably, fingers crossed, do an O.K., so-so, mediocre job. This is an area where I’m happy to spend a bit more.

(Plus, I like the artwork better on the Pampers. We are big Elmo fans here.)

So I’m a diaper snob. Now if we could just get Gucci to start manufacturing them, we’d be in business!

Have you ever tried generic diapers? How did they work for you?