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Purchase the "Do It Yourself" Cloth Diapering Handbook: The most complete and comprehensive introduction to cloth diapering today! Endorsed by Natural Family Online.

The Top 10 Cloth Diaper Myths

By Mona Harris

Cloth diapers today are much different from those used by our parents. You may be thinking of using cloth, but stories of pins, plastic pants and washing with bleach can be a real turn-off.

Here are a few of the most common misconceptions concerning cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers are hard to wash. While everyone has his or her own special routine for washing diapers, it need not be elaborate. Some moms will rinse and soak, wash and rinse. Others wash once, and that is all it takes! A dye-free, fragrance-free detergent (not soap) is best. Bleach is not recommended. The very best way to remove stains from diapers is to hang them in the sun. Cloth diapers take little to no more effort than a load of clothes.

I already have so much laundry to do. I cannot handle the mountains of diapers I will need to wash! In most cases, using cloth diapers only adds one to two extra loads of laundry per week.

Happy Heinys Cloth Pocket Diapers - Stacinator Cloth Diaper Covers - Pocket Diapers
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Cloth diapers are unsanitary! Cloth diapers do not need to be unsanitary. Washing in hot water with a good detergent and drying in the dryer will destroy any bacteria. Hanging cloth diapers in the sun also destroys odors, germs and stains.

There are no diaper services in my area. Diaper services can be a nice option for busy parents. Unfortunately, many areas have no services available. This should not dissuade parents from choosing cloth. Diaper services can be quite costly. Washing diapers at home will save money over diaper services and allow parents to decide what chemicals are used on their diapers.

The smell of dirty diapers will make my whole house stink! Modern diaper pails are made of heavy-duty plastic with locking lids that keep odors inside. Many parents use small, inexpensive garbage cans with locking lids for diaper pails. There are products available that can be placed inside the pail to keep it smelling fresh. On the other hand, placing a poopy disposable diaper in a trash can will certainly make the house stink.

Cloth diapers are leaky.
Cloth diapers do not need to leak! Using an absorbent diaper inside a well fitting cover will solve any leak issues. Cheap cloth diapers from discount stores are not a good choice. They contain synthetic fibers that are not absorbent at all. Choose high-quality cotton or hemp diapers for best results.

I am afraid they will not fit my baby and I will be stuck with diapers I cannot use. It is true that all babies are shaped differently, and not every diaper will fit every baby. However, many cloth diaper websites have liberal return policies. Make sure to ask about them before ordering diapers. Also, ask about the fit of the diapers you are buying and if they are good for babies with chubby or thin thighs. Prefold diapers are so simple that they will fit any baby.

Cloth diapers are expensive; I cannot afford to buy them. An average-sized pack of a popular brand of disposable diapers is $12.99. The pack will last about five days. If your child takes two years to potty learn, the cost will average $2,000 for diapers alone. In three years, the cost increases to $3,000. Add the cost of disposable wipes and liners for special disposal systems and that cost increases dramatically.

While cloth diapers may require an initial investment, a few hundred dollars is all you will need to spend for all of your child's diapers. Once you have purchased diapers for one child, you can use them with future children. You can also pass them on to a friend who wants to use cloth. To save even more money with cloth, look into buying gently used diapers on eBay or different swap boards online. Many families have been able to cloth diaper for under $100.

My baby has sensitive skin.
All the more reason to use cloth! Babies naturally have sensitive skin (some more than others). Many mothers have found that chemicals, dyes and perfumes in disposables irritate their baby's bottom. An especially sensitive baby would benefit from an organic diaper with a wool cover.

Cloth diapers have pins, and I am afraid I will poke my baby. While pins and prefolds are still available, there are dozens of pin-free choices on the market today. Many have snaps or Aplix™ (a Velcro™-like product), so diaper changes are easy and worry-free.

A great way to gather information about cloth diapers is to talk to moms who use them. If you see a mom using cloth diapers at a playgroup, ask her all about them. Chances are she will enjoy telling you about her experiences with them, and she can most likely recommend products for you to try.

Another valuable resource for cloth diapering info is the internet. A quick Google search turns up hundreds of websites with cloth diapers for sale and information on choosing and caring for diapers. Experiment to see what works best for your family. Try to have fun with cloth diapering by making diaper changes a special time for you and baby.

© Mona Harris; first appeared at Vegetarian Baby & Child magazine

Mona Harris lives in Miami with her two kids, Gabriel Ernesto and Daphne Astrid, and her husband Harold. She is a childbirth educator and doula. She is also a breastfeeding and homebirth advocate and the owner of, an online store specializing in fabric and patterns for sewing cloth diapers.


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