Pin the diaper

Parents discuss whether cloth or disposable is the way to go for their babies

Parents discuss whether cloth or disposable is the way to go for their babies

January 16, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

With the arrival of a baby, parents fuss over everything that either goes on or into the newest arrival. Nothing is overlooked - including baby's backside.

When it comes the diapering the bundle of joy, parents have to make a decision: cloth or disposable. For some it's about being green, for others it's simply a lifestyle choice. No matter what, though, it's always what's good for baby.

Going natural

When Marge Poling of Hagerstown raised two sons during the 1970s, it was during the Mother Earth movement. Back then, Poling says, disposable diapers were still fairly new to the market.

But Poling says for her it was about making a decision to be eco-friendly. "During that time we were conscious like we are now about the environment and didn't like the idea of adding to a landfill," she says.


She says baby's solids were easily flushed away in the toilet and she kept the dirty diapers in a diaper pail. "There was only a smell when the lid was lifted for a few seconds," she says.

She says when she went on longer trips she would pack disposable diapers. When one of her grown sons became a new dad, she gave the new family a gift of diaper serving.

"I'm glad when anyone does something to recycle or conserve the use of things that aren't biodegradable," she says.

When Hagerstown residents Kara Dudley, 22, and her husband, Phil, 30, were getting ready of the arrival of Maddox, now 1, they wanted to do everything natural. From birthing to breast-feeding, they made a conscious effort to make sure whatever they put on or into baby Maddox would be healthy. So when it came for what to cover his bum, they started to research cloth diapers.

One reason the Dudleys say they wanted to use cloth diapers because they didn't want to contribute to the carbon footprint. "It takes diapers 500 years to decompose," she says. (Many published experts agree, saying it can take between 300 and 500 years).

Back when Kara's mom was diapering her, cloth diapers were no more than thin sheets of cotton, doubled and then held in place by pins. And that's what she thought she'd find again, but what Kara and Phil discovered was a world of new cloth diapers.

"It was just overwhelming at the number of different types," she says.

The fact is those types of cloth diapers and the waterproof pants are pass. Parents now have the opportunity today to purchase cloth diapers in an array of designs and fabrics through such companies as Bum Genius, Dundee, Fuzzi Bunz and Kushies. These new diapers have all-in-one advantages with new materials that keep baby dry such as organic bamboo velour.

The new cloth diapers, Kara says, are made with materials that stay dry. An insert inside of the diaper collects any wetness. Once the diaper has to be removed, the insert comes out and put into a lined bag that zips shut. The diaper is cleaned off with running water or with a special nozzle attached to the toilet (similar to a nozzle at the kitchen sink) that allows solids to be washed into the toilet.

The Dudleys don't have to use pins because the diapers come with snaps that adjust to the baby's weight and size. Other brands use Velcro to keep the diaper in place.

And to make sure that they continue to be green, the couple even use reusable cloth wipes.

"We don't have any problem with odors because the wet bag has a zipper on it," Kara says.

And as the new dad, Phil isn't overwhelmed by the process. "It's so simple and isn't difficult at all," he says.

Although the new cloth diapers are eco-friendly, they aren't cheap. Prices average about $10 a pair. Kara says one of the diapers she purchased cost $35, but she and her husband feel that in the long run they'll save money. Phil estimates they've invested $300 in cloth diapers.

"But we'll use those again and again," Kara says.

Convenience rules

When it came time to diaper their children, Scott Finneyfrock, 28, of Hagerstown and his wife Kendra, 23, decided that for their lifestyle, disposables were the way to go. The couple have three children: Clayton, 4, Anneliese, 3, and Austin, 1.

Finneyfrock says just for convenience, disposable diapers are better. He says he can purchase a box of disposable diapers and the box usually lasts about 2 1/2 months.

But disposable diapers are not all the same, Finneyfrock says. "We really looked around to find which ones were best for us," he says.

Finneyfrock says he understands that cloth diapers can be cheaper, but in the long run disposable diapers just make more sense. He says the diapers are great to have when taking the kids out.

"Right now, we're sticking with disposable diapers, soon he'll be potty-trained," he says.

As a mother of 1-year-old twins Ava and Deklan, Cassi Deblois of Martinsburg, W.Va., and her husband Sean think convenience.

Although Deblois says a family member wanted them to use cloth diapers, she and her husband felt that disposable diapers worked the best. "I didn't want to have to wash them out and go through the whole process," she says.

Deblois says with twins making something as simple as using disposable diapers can make life a little easier. "When you're going places, it's just easier," she says. "... kids are so portable you can change them anywhere."

One problem she did have with disposable diapers was paying for two different sizes because her daughter was smaller than her son. But now that the two have caught up in size, Deblois says it's not that big of a factor. Although as the baby grows and needs a bigger size diaper, she says there are less in a pack. But Deblois says new moms can go on Web sites and sign up for coupons to save some money on diapers.

One thing that anti-disposable diaper uses bring up is diaper rash saying that babies who use the disposable diapers are more likely to have them. Deblois says her daughter has only had one, which wasn't caused by the diaper itself. The secret? "Change often," she says.

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