Diaper Dilemma

Yes, I consider myself a green crunchy mom.  But slowly I fear that my “greeness” is starting to erode. 

When we knew we were becoming parents, we had certain things we wanted to do.  Cloth diapers.  Organic clothes, fibers.  Limit the plastic toys and opt for more wood ones.  We even avoided having a baby shower so that we could retain more control over the stuff we brought into the home.  Well, here’s where we stand:

We got some organic clothes, but our supply was dwarfed by the traditional mainstream baby clothes that others gave us as either hand-me-downs (not so bad, as is being reused) and store bought, made in China, yada yada.  I’ve tried to politely tell people “no more clothes” but they ignore me.  And every outfit comes with a hat — what boy needs 20 hats??

Plastic toys, 90% of what we have is hand-me-down plastic toys.   

Now I’m struggling with the cloth diaper situation.   If I don’t change his diaper within 45-minutes to an hour, his clothes get wet.  So, between his spit up issues (yup, still here) and wet diapers, he goes through 5 outfits a day.  I’ve already transitioned to disposable diapers at night because I’m convinced the wet diapers were keeping him from sleeping through the night.  And if I know we’ll be out of the house for a few hours, I use a disposable diaper because I can’t keep changing his clothes on the run. 

Now I’m considering canceling the service all together and opting for a compostable diaper service instead.

Here are my hesitations:

1. It’s like admitting failure.  I really felt proud every time we put out a bag of dirty diapers for pick-up knowing it wasn’t going into a landfill.  Going the other route feels so yuppy sell out.  And I don’t know why.  There’s really nothing different between cloth and compostable — if anything, I’m helping a new business model that has a better chance of taking off.

2.  I think that if I upgraded to whatever the next size up for diapers are out there, I’d have a little more success — but that requires up-front cost of the diaper covers (not cheap and we currently have 15 in rotation in the smaller size).   I might as well quit before I make that investment.  Also, even though some assure me to the contrary, I am concerned that adding bulk of the next size of diaper would interfer with his mobility.  As is, we’re going a size up on clothes to compensate for the diaper poof.

3.  With the aforementioned spit-up problem, it’s really handy to have an endless supply of cloth diapers to clean up Max, my shoulder, and the furniture/carpets.  I guess it’s not the end of the world to just get a pile of rags going for this — but is there no end to this shlumpiness  Rags all over the house?  Really?  Somehow starchy diapers everywhere don’t seem so bad.

Any words of wisdom out there that will either inspire me to keep going or make me feel better about changing course?


  1. Theresa said,

    May 1, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t have any words of wisdom but I plan to ask my all knowing mother about this one. I was in cloth diapers till I was potty trained, as I understand it. Allergic to Pampers, etc. Similar to maxipads, though perhaps that is TMI. My mother still uses my diapers as dustcloths. I will email you when I find out her secret.

  2. jerseygirl77 said,

    May 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I am admittedly not a cloth diaper expert, but perhaps it is not the size of the diaper, but the type? I think there may be differences between prefolds, all-in-ones, pocket, etc. Have you tried asking around on the MDC message boards or checking diaperswappers.com? You may get some “expert” advice there… For the ultimate in “green” parenting, you could try elimination communication. I think the website is diaperfreebaby.com.

  3. Mommy, Esq. said,

    May 2, 2009 at 5:30 am

    I have a friend who you could talk to about this – http://ourboxofrain.blogspot.com/ she does cloth diapers for her son Harry. It might be the type you are using that results in the wetness issues. Also, if he is still spitting up a significant amount you should talk to your pediatrician – sounds like acid reflux. Not too big a deal if he’s happy but you might as well try to keep in what he eats. Harry also had the same problem. Good luck – contact me offline if you want her personal email address.

    P.S. I have 3 dozen prefold cloth diapers for the kids- we don’t use them as much as we used to but we got a lot of use out of them for when they were messier drinkers (Penny still is).

  4. almostima said,

    May 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for the tips, everyone. I’ve also read up on the Elimination Communication — seems super hard core and a lot of needless pressure on baby and mother alike. Also, while there are a few signs when Max is midpoop, as J. says, Max is secret ninja assassin when it comes to peeing.

    On the reflux front, it’s hard to tell. He doesn’t seem to mind all the throw up. We’re going in for a check up on the 11th, so we’ll have to see what’s up there.

  5. Gretchen said,

    May 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I’m definitely with you on wanting to go the green route wherever possible. I don’t know anything about compostable diapers, but that certainly sounds like a good compromise if you aren’t able to make cloth diapers work.

  6. Abby said,

    May 7, 2009 at 6:35 am

    OK, I’m probably the lone other voice here, but one thing I’ve heard is that using cloth diapers isn’t necessarily so much more green due to the fact that laundering them uses a lot of energy and pipes chemicals into the environment due to detergent (not sure if the diaper service uses “green” detergent?). Same with Max’s 5-a-day outfits; this adds to how much laundry you need to do, hence adding to the water and energy expended. It might not be as bad as the diapers that pile up in a landfill, but it is not great.

    I think if disposables seem more comfortable for both you and Max, go that route and don’t guilt yourself about it (hmmm….seems I got similar advice along the way from a certain mom I know!). You do plenty of other “green” things, way more than other people in fact, and we can all only do the best we can do. There is no use being a miserable martyr to the cause! I also try to be pretty green but I use the disposables without guilt because I know I couldn’t cope with cloth. I think we’re all better off that way!

    Just my two cents…whatever you do, CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK! 🙂

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