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Time for a change!
Diapers may not be an important part of most peoples' lives, and even parents with young children deal with diapers for only a few years. The environmental impact of the vastly popular disposable diaper, however, affects us all and is a problem which won't go away.
It 's estimated that 10,000 tons of disposable diapers are tossed into landfills each day. They can take up to 500 years to decompose! The manufacture of disposables uses over 1 million metric tons of wood pulp and 75,000 metric tons of plastic each year. Disposables are the diaper of choice for over 80% of North American parents.
|Benefits of Cloth Diapers|
|Cloth diapers have changed considerably over the years, and offer many benefits to parents of newborns:|
.Disposables are laden with chemicals which
have been associated with many physical problems. Diaper rash also increases
with disposable diaper use due to allergies to chemicals, poor air flow and
longer time spent in wet diapers which feel dry when wet.
Benefits the environment. Cloth diapers are reusable. Quality cotton diapers will hold up for 75 - 100 washings (at minimum), and can be saved for the next child. Although energy is required for washing the diapers, it is a fraction of the energy used for disposables. Cloth diapers are also recyclable, making excellent cotton rags in their 'afterlife'.
Many studies have compared the costs of disposables diapers versus cloth washed at home, and cloth diapers provided by commercial diaper services. Results vary, but most agree that the cost of cloth diapers, home laundered, is considerably lower than buying disposables. Estimates range from $800 - $1600 in savings over the 2 1/2 years, and 6000 diaper changes, of diaper use. Using a commercial diaper service, depending on which study you consult, is either comparable to, or a little less expensive, than using disposables.
|There are three basic styles of cloth diapers available today: Flat, Fitted and All-in-Ones.|
|Flat: Flat diapers are the classic cotton square which is folded to fit the baby, and secured with diaper pins. There are two additional variations on the flat diaper design:|
- which includes extra layering in the center, and
Contoured - which are similar to pre-folds but more form-fitting. Contours are less bulky under baby clothing.
diapers are the least expensive choice in cloth diapers, costing in the area
of $20 per dozen. These diapers require waterproof outer covers which are
available in several options, described below.
Fitted: Fitted diapers are similar to the Contour diapers, with an added advantage - elastic. The waistband and the leg area have elactic sewn in to provide a snug fit and reduced leakage. Fitted diapers also have built-in closures, such as snaps of Velcro which eliminate the need for diaper pins. Like the Flat designs, Fitted diapers require the addition of waterproof outer covers. These diapers are more expensive than Flats, usually between $5 and $7 apiece.
All-in-Ones: This style has the waterproof cover 'built-in'. These are convenient because only one item is needed for diaper change. All-in-Ones have snap or Velcro closures, and are adjustable for size. This style of cloth diaper is the most convenient, and suitable for babysitters, day care centers and quick changes at the mall.
|There are several accessories used with cloth diapers - Covers, Liners and Inserts|
|Covers: Waterproof covers are used over Flat or Fitted diapers. The most common cover is the plastic pull-up which is inexpensive and lightweight, but not breathable. Covers are available in the following materials:|
|Plastic covers are the least expensive but do not
last particularly long, especially if run through the dryer. They eventually
crack and tear.
Nylon covers, a bit more expensive, are also lightweight but less susceptible to tearing. To avoid chafing, be sure the cover has brushed or coated elastic aroung leg and waist.
Wool covers are now available which are breathable and comfortable. They are not as waterproof as the plastic covers, however, they are water-resistant.
Fleece covers are another breathable cover option, especially for those babies with wool sensitivities.
Polyester covers are waterproof and breathable, as well as long-lasting. They come with a brushed outer finish for a soft texture.
Polyester, wool and fleece covers also come with snap or Velcro closures, so you can put them on without having to pull them up over the feet. This is handy when the baby has pants and shoes on. These covers also come in a variety of colors and designs, so your baby can look stylin' even in diapers!
Liners can be added to the diaper, on the inside, for extra absorbancy. This
is useful for overnights and naps when you don't want to wake the baby for
a diaper change. Liners are available as re-usable or as throw-aways. Re-usable
liners often have a facing of polyester which helps prevent diaper rash because
they stay drier against the skin.
Inserts: Inserts are pads which can double the absorbancy of the diaper. They are bulkier than liners, and useful for overnight or longer periods between diaper changes.
|Washing and caring for your cloth diapers is much simpler than it used to be. Here are the basics:|
|After changing, deposit the solid contributions into the toilet and throw
the diapers into a diaper pail. The pail should be plastic with a fitted lid
• Pre-soak diapers, and set the washing machine on double wash, double rinse, hot water wash and rinse.
• Check for stains, and treat with stain remover if necessary. Rewash with a load of regular clothes or towels. Do not use bleach.
• Line dry, or put in a dryer with the heat set on 'high'. If line dried, you can finish off by putting the diapers in the dryer for 10-15 minutes to be sure they are dry on the inside.
|• Cloth diapers can be supplemented by disposables. Use disposables when travelling
or if your child goes to day care.
• Vinegar is preferable to commercial fabric softeners. Commercial fabric softeners can decrease the diaper absorbancy because of the oils imparted to fabrics. Vinegar also helps to get the last soap out of the diapers which minimizes skin allergic reactions.
• Avoid using bleach.
• Keep the diaper pail out of sunlight and away from heat sources.
Use detergents recommended by the supplier of your diapers. Commercial laundry
products leave residues which can chafe the baby and cause premature diaper
|• Diapers dried on the clothesline will last longer. Some All-in-Ones have the
inner pad lift up so it can dry faster on the line. However, diapers can get
stiff when line dried only. To address this problem, line-dried diapers can
be "finished off" for a few minutes in the drier. This will ensure
thorough dryness and softness.
Read more about cloth diapers at ecolife
Online Sources - where to find cloth diapers online
Baby Bunz & Co. -
Natural baby basics, cloth diapering essentials, and organic items.
Mother-Ease Cotton Diapers - full range diaper products, organic cotton; ship US, Canada
Baby Naturale - essentials for cloth diapering systems: free ship (US) orders over $50.
Basically Baby - based in Canada, ships International; free shipping for $100+ orders (Canada)
Parenting by Nature - cloth diapers and more delivered right to your door (Canada)
Wildflower Diapers - large selection of cloth diapers, covers, organic cotton and wool
Everything Birth - Quality cloth diapers, Great Service, Free shipping over $100
Diapers Etc. - high quality diapering products, organic baby products, organic baby clothing
New & Green Baby Co. - Cloth diapers in Vancouver! Local pickup and Canada-wide delivery
Jillian's Drawers - Try cloth diapers for $10. Friendly help and fast shipping!
Nicki's Diapers - Largest selection of cloth diapers and accessories at great prices!
BellaBlu Maternity - Reusable cloth diapers and more! Free shipping in the US!
Diaper Junction - Serving the cloth diaper community for over five years!
Kidalog - Canada's leading diapering manufacturer since 1983. Choose from many styles!
Diaperco - Carrying a wide selection of modern cloth diapers and accessories
Ecobumz - Organic, leakproof breathable cloth diapers with international shipping. Happy Diapering!
My Baby Pumpkin - Cloth diapers, organics and other babycare essentials! Free shipping available!
Mom and Baby Boutique - Cloth Diapers. Shop online or at our store (Canada)
Cloth Diaper Superstore - All major cloth diaper brands, with unbeatable customer service!
The Natural Baby - Offering a wide range of natural baby products, including cloth diapers.
Thanks Mama - Cloth Diapers - one stop shop. Best Prices. Free Shipping over $60
Monkeybunz - Save on cloth diapers. Major Brands. Free shipping over $50
Caterpillar Baby - Modern cloth diapers for every budget. Free shipping available.
Enfant Style Cloth Diapers - Canada-based cloth diaper shop with huge selection. Free shipping over $99 or $4.99 flat.