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Making the Switch: Disposable to Cloth!

There are lots of reasons more and more parents are choosing to cloth diaper their babies. Specifically:

  • Huge cost savings! Save enough for a fancy tropical vacation! (Can we come?)
  • Better for the environment! Disposables take approximately 500 years to biodegrade!
  • Safer for babies, parents and pets. No toxic chemicals! Yuck.
  • Less gross. You heard me. Ask anyone who has made the switch!
  • Cuter. This is not even debatable.

We asked one of our Kanga Care Guest Bloggers, Mary Ann Smith, of to tell us her personal story of the switch she made from disposables to cloth. If you've been considering this switch, maybe Mary Ann's story will help you in that process!

Questions about making the switch? Ask below!

I have two kids, a 5 year old boy, "G", and a 20 month old girl, "N." With G, I honestly didn't give cloth diapers a single thought. Who uses those, right? Any sane person would know it's easier to just throw dirty diapers out (never mind the fact that, technically, you're supposed to flush the poop...).

We were in a pretty tight spot financially when G arrived. Even with a great insurance plan, we owed thousands of dollars to the hospital. I had quit working to stay home with G which meant the loss of over half our income right there, and we had to move into a basement apartment that I hated. And every week, we scraped our pennies together (literally and figuratively) to buy more disposable diapers to get by. At first, it wasn't so bad. We had a stockpile that we'd received at our baby showers. Once they were gone, we just made do.

When G was almost 2, my husband got a new job and we bought our first house. After years of not having access to our very own laundry, it was a relief. I made the switch from disposable training pants during the day to the padded training underpants you can get at the grocery store. It wasn't long before I found myself using the shower head to hose some poopy underwear off into the toilet and the thought occurred to me: I could do cloth diapers. Convincing my husband was not so easy. Once I became pregnant with N (what seemed like a lifetime later) I still had my mind set on cloth diapers. My husband was still set against them.

Making the actual switch to cloth diapers was complicated. To be honest, we knew disposable diapers worked. We knew what to expect from them. We knew how to budget for the regular expense. Why switch things up? Adding a new baby to the family is already a huge stress. But then it happened. I was eight months pregnant when my husband came home from work with the most depressed heavy-hearted expression. His boss was having to let him go. The business would be closing in TWO WEEKS. We would lose our income, our health care, and every benefit of employment on that day. If you know anything about COBRA, you know we didn't qualify. We made a LOT of sacrifices in a short period of time. There is a saying "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I clung to that as I prepared for our new addition. And more than at any other time, cloth diapers made the most sense for our family. I could not justify spending the money each week on something that would so quickly become garbage. And finally, my husband quit arguing.

The switch to cloth diapers was gradual. We were given quite a few packs of disposable diapers at our baby shower, so we decided to go with those until N was big enough for the one sized diapers we got. Unfortunately, there are no brick and mortar shops where we lived at the time, and very few friends using modern cloth. I didn't know about Rumparooz and how tiny their one size cloth diapers can get. Had I realized how simple they were and how well they would fit, I would gladly have bought enough newborn prefolds and Rumparooz covers to last through that first stage. Instead, each day, we had to take out an entire garbage bag filled with disposable diapers and wipes. Making matters worse, each time I changed one of N's diapers, her entire diaper area was red, and I had to slather diaper cream on every change to try to keep her comfortable.

When N was about 3 weeks old, I finally jumped into using cloth diapers during the day. I had just enough for that, if I washed them every night. The redness in her diaper area went away while she wore cloth. At night, we still used disposables. I'd read too many stories about how difficult nighttime diapering can be and it was like reading the side effects of an over the counter medication. So I didn't bother to try, even though I was having GREAT success with pocket diapers during the day including naps.

So we had a good routine going with cloth diapers during the day and disposables at night, but N was always very strong. She held her head up to look at me the day she was born, and she started rolling onto her side very early. This led to leaks. Three nights in a row, she woke up wet. Her pajamas and bedding would be soaked and I would have to change everything in the middle of the night before getting her fed and back to sleep. That's when I took the leap into nighttime cloth diapering and never looked back. I figured I had nothing to lose, and it ended up working great for us.

We have been completely transitioned to using cloth diapers and even cloth wipes full time for well over a year now. Yes, using cloth diapers means an extra few loads of laundry each week, but I don't mind it. In the beginning, we (more so, my husband) felt we had to justify using cloth diapers to others as if it were some totally weird thing. "They're not as bad as you think." "They even have Aplix." "It's a lot easier than it used to be." Over time, it has just became what we do with no excuses or apologies for our decision. And the diaper pail smells SO much better than my son's did since the poop is actually going into the toilet where it belongs instead of a garbage can in the nursery.

I really do wish we'd used cloth diapers with my son as well. It would have saved so much money, and it really is a lot easier than it may seem. It's just like any other responsibility you have around the house or with your kids. You get into the habit of caring for your cloth diapers, and you barely have to think about it.

If we have any more kids, I have decided to use 100% cloth diapers from the beginning. And really, at this point, I don't think I could resist those cute newborn diapers anyway.

Have you made the switch? Have questions? What was your experience? Tell us in the comments below! 

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