Introduction to cloth diaper : Part 1

Are you a mom who wanted to switch from disposable to cloth diapering? With such a wide range of cloth diapers available in the market there can be lot of doubts.

Here is a guide to cloth diaper by Neha, a Mumbai based filmmaker and a full-time mom to Noor

Make Cloth Mainstream…!

Cloth diapers weren’t on my checklist when I was pregnant. My mom had cloth diapered me in the ‘90’s, which was mostly done using a huge piece of cloth, folded and tediously tied onto a wriggly baby with safety pins and occasionally a rubbery-plastic cover throw-on to prevent leaks. I did buy a varied set of cloth nappies (called Langots in Hindi) when my baby was born; these came in cotton and hosiery material and were good for the hot Indian climate, but had no absorption whatsoever, which meant that I was changing them every 15-20 minutes and had to make sure that my baby always had a quick-dry sheet under her, so as not to stain bedding or people’s clothes, and I couldn’t even think of travelling with nappies. I switched to disposables in a month. With disposables, came the horrible rush of rashes – my baby was RED and, not in a cute way…!

During one of my many, frantic Internet researches in the middle of the night; I stumbled upon modern-day cloth diapering. I followed many blogs and I was intrigued! I brought it up with my doctor and fellow mommies in my area, but no one had heard about it. We went to all the popular baby shops like Mom m Me, MeeMee and Mother care, we even searched online on Firstcry and Babyoye but we couldn’t find any modern cloth diapering vendors or sources. It was frustrating to know about them but not to be able to get them in India. With much difficulty, somewhere in the 5th month, we found few leads and ordered our first few cloth diapers from Smartbaby, who were the official distributor for bumGenius, Flip and Econobum cloth diapers in India. We gradually made the switch from disposables to cloth diapers, but in a month, we had fully transitioned to cloth. In fact, the last disposables pack that we bought is still lying in the closet.

We’ve been cloth diapering our daughter, and encouraging and converting multiple people to explore the world of modern cloth diapering. Here is a timeline to my journey in the world of cloth diapering: Research, Get Convinced, Source, Buy, Prep, Use, Wash, Get Impressed,and Build Fluff Stash& Accessories and last but not the least, Troubleshoot from time to time with my cloth-diapering support group…! Each of these individual points is worthy of a blog post of their own and maybe we will do a series on modern cloth diapering in the future with amazing giveaways…yay! But today I am going to concentrate on why cloth diapering makes sense for our family and a list of reasons & concerns that made me switch.

They are Cute & Fun – If you use disposables, you would know that they come in a single color option – White (plain boring). Whereas cloth diapers come in countless range of fabrics, colors and prints, soft interiors, comfy shape… You get to browse, select and even coordinate them with outfits. It becomes a cute accessory along with being a necessity. Cloth diapers cover the cutest part of your baby’s body and there is no denying that fluffy bums ARE adorable!

They are Economical – Disposable diapers are expensive and with every diaper change you are literally throwing away your money. Cloth diapering is an initial investment, it might seem expensive, but in the long run it actually saves you a lot of money and effort. There is no denying that by using cloth diapers, you save money with each diaper change. Mostly parents are interested in cloth diapering because disposable diapers are expensive and saving money is one of the prime factors for their household budget. The money saved on diapers can support another area of your family’s finances.However, cloth diapering is very addictive, you can spend more on cloth than disposables if you get the fancy kinds, buy more than you need or budgeted for, or can’t control your shopaholic urges when new prints arrive! Budget can play a large role in determining what kind of cloth diapering system you purchase, but there are many practical and cost-effective cloth diapers available in the market today.If you are still not convinced, try this simple mathematical problem – A dozen cloth-diapers last you for 2 years. A dozen disposable diapers get over in 2 days. Do the math!

They are Eco-friendly – Can you imagine the amount of waste generated by disposables? Based on a report from the Women’s Environmental Network, The Real Diaper Association reports:

  • Disposable diapers are the third most common consumer product in landfills today.
  • A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill.

 

As parents, we do need to realize the environmental impact of our actions. Landfill issues are very important because eventually we may run out of places to put the trash. The main composition of a disposable is wood pulp, paper and plastics with no significant recycling or composting identifiable. Cloth diapers bring you a step closer to going green! They are reusable and recyclable. Now, many people might argue that the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers is also wastage of resources, but the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers doesn’t equal the waste generated by disposables. By choosing to cloth diaper, you will prevent or at least reduce waste!

Chemical Cocktail in Disposables – We seldom realize what the disposables diapers are composed of. Apart from the absorbent pad and unwoven fabric, polypropylene, other synthetics and chemicals, the primary raw materials for manufacturing of disposables are Dioxin, Sodium Polyacrlate and Tributyl-tin (TBT);these harmful absorbent chemicalscan potentially cause cancer and disrupt your baby’s hormones. (http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php)

  •  Dioxin: Dioxin is used in the paper bleaching process and is listed as the most toxic of cancer related chemicals. Disposables may contain trace amounts of it.
  • Sodium Polyacrlate: This is the super absorbent powder added to the center of the diaper that turns to gel as your baby passes urine in the diaper. It is commonly referred to as SAP (super absorbent polymer). Ladies may know that SAP was banned from tampons due to links to toxic shock syndrome. This chemical can cause skin irritations and severe allergic reactions including vomiting, staph infections, and fever. SAP has also been linked to scrotal bleeding in little boys.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT): This extremely toxic pollutant is used as a fungicide. It spreads through the skin and can, in the smallest of concentrations, affect the endocrine glands, upsetting the hormone levels in the pituitary, gonad and thyroid glands. Large doses of TBT have been shown to damage the reproductive and central nervous systems, bone structure, and the gastrointestinal tract of mammals.

 

In comparison to the cocktail of chemicals offered by the disposables, cloth diapers are composed of layers of fabric such as cotton or hemp that are natural fibers, and bamboo or microfiber which are man-made synthetic materials. The outermost waterproof layer is made up of Polyurethane laminate (PUL).Both varieties are readily biodegradable and can be washed – reused multiple times. Quite simply put, cloth diapers are composed of no chemicals.

They Stay-dry and are Super-absorbent – Disposables are popular because they are good at wicking moisture away to keep the baby’s bottom dry, yet many babies are sensitive to the chemicals found in the disposables and hence get diaper rashes often. Diaper rashes are parents’ worst nightmare. No parent wants to unwrap his or her baby’s diaper and come face to face with a blistery red rash. Though the best defense against a diaper rash is a dry bottom and diaper-free time, but 100% cloth comes to a close second to avoid nasty rashes.Modern cloth diapers come with unique stay-dry fabrics like micro fleece, suede cloth etc. that give us dryer bottoms and are gentle on baby’s skin. In fact once your cloth diapers are prepped to reach maximum absorbency, they are the best! But, whether you use disposables or cloth-diapers, changing the baby’s diaper often (ideally every 2-3 hours) is the best protection against moisture related infections and rashes.

Touching Poop… Ewww – There is no doubt that poops are smelly, yucky and gross. The most common pet peeve amongst parents is getting the poop into the toilet. Now, Did you know that every box of disposable diapers you purchase, instructs you to dispose of solid waste via the sewer system because untreated human waste in landfills could seep and contaminate ground water below. But do you flush your baby’s poop before ditching the disposable dipe… guilty! So, whether it is a disposable or cloth, you will have to learn as parents how to handle the poopy situations. Poops come in all forms – solid, liquid, and even gassy sprays! Thankfully, the liquid breastfed baby poop is water-soluble. You do not need to remove breastfeed baby poop before washing, just store the soiled diaper in a wet-bag and on laundry day, it can directly go into the washing machine, but if you are finicky like me, a pre-rinse is a good idea! If you’re formula feeding and/or once you start solids, the poop must be disposed of into the toilet before you store them into the wet bag. One of the best cloth-diapering accessories to invest in is a diaper sprayer. This handy device attaches to the plumbing behind your toilet and can spray off any type of poop, especially the sticky variety! As your baby grows, the stools become firm and flushing them away becomes fairly easy. Some families also swear by flushable liners, these biodegradable diaper liners allow poop to be easily removed from the diaper and flush the mess away!

No Blowouts – We all have been in a situation where we have had to change diapers and the outfit. In the first 6 months when the infants are exclusively breastfed, most of us have dealt with diaper leaks and blowouts. Poo-explosions and Pee-leak accidents can happen whether you choose a disposable or a cloth diaper, because struggling with a wriggly baby when you are sleep deprived can lead to a loose or incorrectly tied diaper. When we started using cloth diapers, we were amazed at how well the cloth held poo. It’s a good feeling to be poo-explosion free, because scrubbing off the poo stains from clothes & bedding is a backbreaking task. However one needs to remember that unlike disposables, cloth-diapers aren’t filled with gel crystals that absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, hence once a cloth is full it will leak. So changing you baby every 2-3 hours is a must. Don’t let leaks dishearten you, learn from these mistakes and soon you will be cloth diapering like a pro.

They are Easy – As a newbie you may get a little overwhelmed with all the terminology and abbreviations related to modern cloth diapering, but with a little guidance you will speak the language in no time. We also have a vibrant community of cloth diapering parents in India; this supportive Facebook group (Cloth Diapering India) is a lifesaver. Having said that, cloth diapers like disposables are easy to put on and take off.

 

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This ia a part 1 series of cloth diapering. For more from Neha about cloth diapering stay tuned with us


Meet the Blogger: Neha Chopra is a Mumbai based filmmaker and a full-time mom to Noor. She believes in the freshness of dreams and lives in a kaleidoscopic world of change.Motherhood has initiated a journey to within and inspired her to launch a photography company with her husband called Out of Focus Pictures.
Neha and Deepak, a husband and wife duo are motivated to capture, create, celebrate and bring to life people’s innate desire to dream, share and express with their cameras.

They can be reached at +91-9167619555 or oofpictures@gmail.com

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