Diaper Days – Cloth vs. Disposable, etc…

I’m going the practical route this time to write about some nuts and bolts of baby rearing, or in this case, nuts and butts.

Quickie on that one – when wiping the butts of boys, do not wipe toward the nuts – it’ a real pain to get the doodie out of those little folds, OK?  And for a girl, don’t wipe up into the place where she pees or you’re asking for infection.  Sorry to break it down like that, but a midwife told me that ten years ago in preparation for my first child and it was some of the best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten.

The reality is as a parent that you’re going to be wiping up a lot of shit the next couple years so you may as well get used to it.  As for me I was ecstatic when our youngest child grew out of the need for diapers and our diaper days were officially over.  Despite my desire to keep having babies and perpetuate my stay at home dad status, insuring the disappearance of diapers from our domestic sphere was enough for me to surrender myself to surgical impotency.  If nothing else I would never have to change a baby diaper again. I still leave open the possibility of having to change my wife’s adult diapers if it comes to that, but diapers are one aspect of my kids’ childhood that I doubt I will ever miss.  As I intend to forget everything about the dirty business of diapers as soon as possible, I thought I should preserve what knowledge I have of the subject for the sake of other parents who may be wondering what kind of diaper tact to take.  With three kids we got to try a lot of different diapering techniques and I wanted to share what I’ve learned.

I would encourage all fathers to jump right into the business of diapering as the rewards far outweigh the risks and it is just plain fair.  I say this only because I had a friend that got away with never changing his kids diapers.  He used the excuse that he had a girl and he wasn’t sure how to best maintain her cleanliness.  He also thought it was bordering on inappropriate for a man to be looking and touching around his daughter’s private parts.  He even resisted bathing his daughter for this reason!  Most of all, I was astounded his wife let him get away with this. I’m sorry, but if you have a baby, you need to be able to change their diaper.  And unless you are a pedophile it is ridiculous to think it is inappropriate for you to touch or look at your daughter’s body.  Fatherhood encompasses all these things, whether we are comfortable with them or not, and it is not fair to hang the burden of diaper changing onto one parent.  Diapering is not actually that difficult and once mastered it becomes a parlor trick for a man that can bring great rewards.  I’m not sure why in this day and age, but people are always impressed with a man that can efficiently change a diaper and they assume he must be the greatest dad in the history of the world.  Diapering is a pretty basic thing for a parent to do but why not milk it for all its worth and improve your standing amongst your partner’s girlfriends and female relatives by doing this simple task?

We have run the gamut of diapers in our house.  Many parents wonder about the cloth diaper route.  For our first two children we used disposable diapers and for our third child we used cloth diapers so I’ve had a chance to examine this issue from all sides, and especially from the bottom.

Using cloth diapers seemed like the right choice for the environment but after my experience I am not so sure.  I guess it depends on what part of the environment you are trying to save.  If you are interested in saving space at the landfill then cloth diapers will certainly help that cause.  But if you are interested in saving clean water than disposable diapers may be the choice for you.

Most of all, cloth diapering requires more time than disposable diapers because you have to clean them yourselves and this is where cloth diapers can be problematic.

The main hassle I experienced with using cloth diapers is what to do with them in the time that they are soiled until the time that you can clean them properly.  A baby’s day does not stop to give you time to clean them immediately and therefore you need somewhere to put them. After attempting many things I ended up storing them in a bucket in the hamper.  Luckily, baby poop doesn’t stink much so that wasn’t much of an issue.  I did discover that these soiled diapers cannot be stored for more than two or three days before being cleaned or else you are asking for trouble.  One of the most haunting images of my fatherhood was discovering what happened to soiled diapers that were stored for over a week.  Let’s put it this way… they were alive!

Another issue with cloth diapers is that they can be washed easily in the washing machine but I was always resistant to the idea of throwing them directly into my washing machine without rinsing as much shit off as I could beforehand.  Even though they weren’t in the same load, I still had to wash everyone’s clothes in that same machine and I wanted to minimize the long term effects of shitty rinse water.  I suppose if you had two washing machines this wouldn’t be as great of a concern, but who has two washing machines?  Of course a diaper service for those who have that option and the money to do it would be another easy solution.

Finding a place in the house to rinse out dirty diapers was a tricky issue because you are dealing with human feces and you don’t want to rinse them out in the bathroom sink where you brush your teeth, right?  After much trial and error and some sploshed doo-dee water, I found rinsing the diapers in a bucket inside the bathtub was the best solution.  I tried as best as I could to keep all the soiled water in the bucket and then I could dump that water directly into the toilet.  Then I would put the diapers in the washing machine and they would come out fresh and clean and ready to be soiled again.  While one will use more water than usual in cleaning the diapers, water is still a relatively cheap resource in this great country of ours.  For better or worse, we are not charged much for water so this doesn’t make much of a dent in the family budget.

Money is the one thing I am sure we did save on with cloth diapers.  Diapers are expensive!  Have the diaper companies colluded and set the price for diapers amongst themselves because they know parents have to fork over their cash no matter what the price is?  Or are the materials in disposable diapers really that expensive?  I’m not sure, but diapers have got to be the biggest expense of infancy when the baby is living off of free breast milk.  Just to mitigate this expense and stick it to the disposable diaper companies may be reason enough to choose cloth diapers for your next baby.  Luckily for me, I don’t have to make this choice as my diaper days are over.  Good riddance!

Grandparents are not expected to change diapers, are they?  I am already dreading it and my kids haven’t even hit puberty…

  1. Jamie said:

    Best entry. Love it. U gotta do one about grandparents and the time Patricia’s mom cut the bottle top off. So funny.

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  3. jltan7 said:

    I’ve done a combo of both for my 4, and found the best way was to have a soak bucket for the soiled, and a washable bag for wets. Come laundry day, the whole bucket gets dumped in the washer and a rinse load is run.. Follow that up with a normal wash load and you’re good to go!

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