Diapering, is a big part of caring for your babies. It also has an interesting history to it. Everybody agrees that cloth is where it all started from. It was actually in the 60s that disposables came into the game. (In India, it perhaps took longer to make an entry because we were pretty much a closed economy back then.)
Worldwide, sometime in the 80s people started going back to cloth-options. But it as after 2000, that it really became popular. Social media has been a very actively used business tool that has catalyzed the growth of the industry that produces cloth diapers as we know them today. But, a big part of the world still uses disposable diapers for many reasons such as convenience and hygiene.
In India, traditionally we are all about cloth diapers and nappies. This is more to do with our cultural practices, family norms and income (disposables are hard for many to afford, while cloth is a more easily sourced alternative). Hence, over time, disposable diapering has become a marker of urbane, modern and progressive parenting. I.e you are more likely to see a middle class child in a city clad in a disposable diaper than a child who is from a low-income family or from a rural background (for instance)
It is not fair to strictly classify, among the affluent also there are people who prefer cloth to disposable (especially now more than ever before). Similarly there are those in rural India or who are not too well off who go for disposable diapers.
So, in India when we talk about the need to go for cloth diapers; there are two dimensions to it. A) To encourage the flag bearers of modern parenting to go eco-friendly and reduce their carbon footprint. B) To help those who are from economically weaker sections and dependent on cloth diapering make hygienic choices.
We (DaddyM and I) fall in the category of urban parents. We started our diapering journey with disposables for about a week, then we went for old-school cloth nappies and when our baby became more active, we got back to disposables. Until recently, we hadn’t even heard of these new-gen ‘cloth diapers’ (No, we don’t live in a cave). Many parents around us also have not heard about it. This is because this product is still only on the way to becoming ‘mainstream’. Every time we read a blog that said ‘cloth diapers are the best’ , we thought they meant those nappies we were using. (don’t laugh man! everyone is allowed a little bit of stupidity)
Once we started reading about it, we found that we did not understand the parlance of cloth diapering parents at all!! Having had our share of experience in it now, here are the basics as we understand them:-
What is a cloth diaper:
It is a re-usable diaper made of natural (e.g: bamboo, hemp) and/or man made fiber and materials (e.g: microfiber). The inner lining of such diaper is usually a water proof material like suede cloth, micro-fleece or some form of polyester (because they are synthetic fibers that are non-absorbent and ‘stay dry’).
Types of Cloth Diapers:
Flats: traditionally used, folded muslin and cotton single layered diapers.
Prefolds: These are flats, except they have more layers that are sewn together. Shaped diapers, Contoured Diapers, Tie-Up Diapers are all variants of this type.
Fitted Diapers: Fitted Diapers are shaped diapers that come with built in snaps. They are absorbent and often come in the pocket form (with the provision to add inserts) too.
From here, the world has now moved onto the types of diapers that are commonly seen and heard of today: Pocket Diapers, All-in-One Diapers and also hybrid diapers
Note: Inserts are rectangular shaped and made of absorbent material that can be placed inside pocket diapers.
Just when we were thinking about trying it out, we got approached by ‘A Toddler Thing’ – an upcoming brand of cloth diapers based in Coimbatore. They are the ones who helped us really get our heads around the practice of cloth diapering.
Their Diapers are of the following types:
- Pocket Diapers – This diaper allows you put an insert in the pocket provided inside the diaper, it also has the provision of adding an extra insert outside the pocket.
- AIO Diapers – All in One Diapers have a 3 layered microfiber insert already stitched into the pocket of the diaper, in addition you can suadd another insert in the pocket and outside on the suede lining.
- Bamboo AIO Diapers – Bamboo All-in-One Diapers come with a 4 layered bamboo insert already stitched into the pocket,there is a provision to add an extra insert inside the pocket and an additional one on the suede lining inside the diaper.
We opted for the Bamboo AIO Diapers with cute dancing dolphin pints, because we were skeptical of the absorbing and stay-dry capabilities of such products also because our baby is a heavy wetter.
The first thing we learnt is that choosing the type of product that best suits your baby’s needs is critical. Most cloth diapering trials fail because of this mismatch. An ill suited cloth diaper can cause itching, irritation and even leaks for your babies. If you are in doubt about your baby’s diapering needs, you can try to keep a watch on your child’s frequency to poop and pee for a few days and then decide on what type of product and materials you need to go for. If you are still in doubt, ‘A Toddler Thing’ has a trial pack, wherein you can try the product for two weeks and then see how it works out.
Once you have chosen the product, it is time to Prep the diapers. Yup! You can’t just use them straight out of the packet, you have to give them a few washes before you use them. This increases the absorption of the diaper. So a few rounds of laundry with your babywear detergent is needed. A Toddler Thing recommends very mild washing agents, we use our regular babywear laundry detergent such as MeeMee and Chicco’s laundry detergent with no damage to the product. The washing and prepping is time consuming. AIO diapers have multiple layers and often take time to dry, this means you need to stack up a few diapers to actually be able to cloth diaper your baby.
The first time we diapered lilM in those cute Dancing Dolphins, we didn’t use the extra bamboo insert, just kept a regular insert in the pocket of the diaper. In 3 hours, lilM had gone twice in the diaper, the inserts in the pocket were wet but the outer layer was totally dry. Later we tried the diaper with the additional bamboo insert that is snapped on to the suede cloth lining inside the diaper. The first pee was completely absorbed with no trace of dampness in it!
We found that after use, (3 hours), we had to wash the product. Once the product went into the laundry it took at least a day to dry up well. This meant for every 3 hours of use, the diaper was taking 1.5 days to get back on duty, as it was not always possible to immediately put it for laundry. Since our experiment with the cloth diapers from A Toddler Thing had been good, we decided to take the next step ahead and build our stack of diapers to continue the process.
This time, we also ordered some cloth diapers to give to new moms in the family as gifts too. We gifted ourselves a whole inserts combo along with a couple of AIOs. The Inserts combo is a great idea and it was just what we needed to get going as it provided a good stash of the removables in the AIO diapers, that increased the duration you could use them without the need for washing.
|Reusable and Quite Absorbant||Needs prepping, washing and takes time to dry|
|Great Design that prevents leakage and pretty prints for pleasant appearance||It appears bulkier in comparison to disposable diapers|
|Is a more affordable way of diapering||It is cheaper in the long run, but the per unit cost is higher, meaning initially we will have to spend a bulk amount|
What is the hype all about?
Why did we want to try Cloth Diapers at all is a good question. Much has already been written about how disposable diapers are flooding our landfills. They take a very long time to disintegrate and are hence not environment friendly. The statistics will really blow your mind and make you re-think your choices too. Though there are many who don’t really buy into the eco-friendly argument (read about them here) Personally, we started looking for alternatives because:
- Baby was not always comfortable in disposable diapers once she started walking
- The Prints we saw were too tempting
- Now that we had started inching towards toilet training, it wouldn’t be too difficult to try cloth diapers
We also see parents talk about cloth diapers keeping rashes away. It is true that a lot of rashes that we see are to do with the rubbing of the disposable diapers on the baby’s skin. This can be remedied with the use of a good barrier cream will diapering, in case of disposable diapers. But the rash is also to do with the dampness, the bacteria in the poop and the pee. So, if you don’t change them in time, or clean them well or allow for some airing regularly; the rashes can still come up when you use cloth diapers. So as a precaution, we used our regular barrier cream (Aquaphor). Having said that, ,most rashes found in babies are not serious in nature and can be treated with airing and a zinc oxide based paste (we keep Desitin handy for this). We use barrier creams even with Cloth Diapers.
A major issue that A Toddler Thing’s diapers resolved for us is related to the weather in here. Where we come from, humidity is always on the higher side. This causes active babies to sweat (and some sweat more than others,like our baby). This creates moisture that gets trapped in the disposable diaper and its constant rubbing causes irritation to the child even with the highly absorbing kind. The design and softness of the diaper along with its impressive levels of absorption provided us with a viable alternative to overcome this problem.
There is an important issue that you should be aware of, when you choose to enter cloth diapering- contamination. You are going to be handling dirty diapers a lot, fecal remains and bad bacteria growth can be quick if you are not careful. You need to be double sure about washing your hands carefully after diapering to avoid this. Unlike disposables, the chances that some of you transfer gets into your hands is quite high here. Below we have provided a link that has the common rules that we follow to maintain hygiene while changing baby diapers.
On the whole, cloth diapers are a bit more work for you as the parent (washing, prepping etc), but they are great for the baby. Our decision is to cloth diaper for sometime everyday, to reduce the use of disposables. Slowly we plan to increase the use of cloth diapers. We have also planned to gift cloth diapers to new parents, so as to spread awareness about such alternatives to disposable diapers. We are happy to have gotten an opportunity to review ‘A Toddler Thing’ CDs, as they have showed us a whole new way of doing things. We are eager to see what they bring out next for Cloth Diapering Parents.
You can check out the cloth diapers by ‘A Toddler Thing’ here
You Can check out some common rules to diaper hygienically here