Mother’s Day Feature: Diaper Choices
Continuing with our Mother’s Day mom-owned business features, this week Liz Turrigiano, co-founder of Diaperkind, offers CiC readers some “cloth diapering 101”. Liz and her husband live in Brooklyn with their two children, Zoe (pictured at left) and Clyde. She and her partners, Sarah Edwards and Marta Baumann, started their company six years ago because they feel strongly that reducing waste is important and they want to help make cloth diapering a fun and easy choice for new parents to make. Diaperkind can get you started with a Cloth Diapering 101 class while you’re still pregnant and carry you all the way through potty training. They provide diaper services throughout NYC, teach monthly Diapering 101 classes, and host weekly support groups and bi-annual Open Houses all at their “diaper-house” in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They are there to support you, hold your hand when you are having trouble, and to relish in the joy when you are succeeding.
Expecting parents are often are looking to make environmentally friendly choices for their growing family, but they don’t think there is a practical option when it comes to diapers. Currently 10% of families in the US cloth diaper their babies, and that number grows each year. Modern cloth diapering can be feasible, enjoyable, and accessible even for the busiest parents. With the products and services available today, you can choose cloth, regardless of your situation, and reduce trash without sacrifice or burden.
Cloth diapering sounds good on paper, but is it really an option worth looking into? Believe it or not, using cloth diapers is not all that dissimilar to using real dishes. If disposable items were good for the environment, why would you ever wash another bowl? Disposable plates are cheap, readily available, and extremely easy to toss out after each use, but you would likely never consider getting rid of your dinnerware and stocking your cabinets with Dixie (or even the “eco-natural” biodegradable ones) because it is wasteful. Over 29 billion disposable diapers are sold in the US alone each year (which results in 4 million tons of diaper trash in our landfills!) and your baby will use approximately 60-80 of them each week! Regardless of how eco-friendly the brand of disposable you choose claims to be, it is still going to end up in a landfill for hundreds of years. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are purchased once and get reused over and over again. If taken care of, they can be passed on to other babies as well. And when you are ready to retire that diaper, it can live on as a rag or be donated to organizations such as The Rebecca Foundation or Giving Diapers, Giving Hope which will find it a new home. It never has to end up in a landfill!
Cloth diapering is more than just waste reduction. Using the dish analogy, isn’t it more enjoyable to dine off of a real plate than a disposable plate? The same applies to diapers… it just feels better to wrap your baby up in a breathable, cotton prefold diaper than it does to swaddle him or her up in plastic, cellulose, wood pulp fiber and sodium polyacrylite. When used properly, those same soft and thirsty cotton diapers also never leak or “blow-out”, unlike their disposable counterpart. Many folks believe that cloth diapers are messy and inconvenient, but I can honestly say as a mother of two who has occasionally used disposables to try to “make my life easier”, there is nothing less convenient or more disgusting than a diaper blow-out!
Your cloth diapered baby will likely potty train approximately one year sooner. The chemicals in a disposable diaper prevent your toddler from being able to know when he or she is wet. When cotton gets wet, the child can feel it and can begin to relate the sensation of needing to urinate with the feeling of a wet or dirty diaper afterwards. The sooner your toddler can make that correlation, the sooner they will potty train. Knocking a year off of diapering is both wonderful for your quality of life, and also saves you quite a bit of money, making cloth diapers a budget-friendly choice.
You may be wondering how the cost of cloth diapering compares to disposables. Home laundering is by far the least expensive way to diaper your baby. With an initial investment of as little as $150 you can purchase all the cloth diapers and accessories you need, leaving only the cost of doing laundry every 2-3 days. Costs of cloth diaper services tend to run in line with that of the fancier disposables.
Deciding you’d like to cloth diaper is the first step; figuring out how to do it is the second. Your new baby is going to bring with it a whole lot of laundry, and a load of diapers every couple of days is merely a drop in the bucket. There are simple ways of washing that can keep everything low-fuss and less-mess. However, if you do not have easy access to a washer or dryer, or if the idea of self-washing just turns you off, a diaper service may be the best choice for you. Diaper services will set you up with all the diapers you will need from birth through potty training. Diapers are picked up and delivered weekly and laundered for you.