I’ll try not to be smug

Yesterday, Proctor & Gamble Co. and Kimberly-Clark Corp. announced that due to rising costs of raw materials, the cost of disposable diapers will be going up. P&G has estimated that the cost may go up as much as 5 percent, and Kimberly-Clark is reportedly going to match that. P&G makes Pampers and Luvs, and Kimberly-Clark is the producer of Huggies.

When I informed the Webmaster of this news, he also tried not to be smug. We had this discussion when the Munchkin was born, and he has long since seen the wisdom of my thinking. See, we don’t use disposables, we use cloth diapers.

This is not to say that we have never used disposables. The Munchkin wears them on trips to Gramma and Grampa’s house (a 2 and 1/2 hour drive from home, and we sometimes stay overnight) and on Sundays (I have had people in the church nursery tell me point-blank that I had better come in and change the Munchkin, because they “don’t do cloth” – and though I have had people tell me that they have no problems with it, I try to make it easier for those brave souls who do volunteer their time to watch my child and others), so we buy disposables in a mega-box from Costco, hmm, once every six months or more.

Cloth diapers, in my opinion, are vastly superior for babies. They let the baby bottoms breathe, they can be adjusted easily to accomodate changing shapes and be made nice and snug, and it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s time for a change in a cloth diaper. Two words: finger test.

Now, we use diaper pins (and the Munchkin has been stuck a couple of times, but never more than just a scratch), but for those who don’t want to run that risk, diaper covers with Velcro were invented just for you. The hospital uses them for newborns. I think pins give a snug fit, so we do that with nylon diaper pants. This is never to say that we don’t have leaks (we do) or explosions (we do, and the Munchkin is constantly on an adjusting diet to stay “regular”), but it’s a small price to pay for temporary instances of diaper rash and hopefully will lead into earlier potty training (when you feel wet, it doesn’t feel good – but that’s at least a year away for the Munchkin).

It takes a great deal of commitment to do cloth. Since I’m at home, I have the ability and time to deal with it. I can get a diaper load in the wash, started, pail rinsed and refilled and back in the Munchkin’s room in five minutes. Our water bill moved slightly (we get it every other month and it increased approximately $5 once the Munchkin arrived – obviously including other things like bathwater) and we are blessed to have a front-loading, water-saving washing machine. And in the summer, the sun-bleached diapers smell great coming off the line.

This is how I grew up. My siblings and I all wore cloth diapers, and when my youngest sister was born, I fully participated in the diaper changing and washing and folding (I was 14 when she came along). So I expected to use cloth when I had kids. The Webmaster took a little convincing (and did some cost analysis), but ended up going along with me. When we get asked about using cloth, we often get asked if we use a diaper service, but the reply always is “We are the diaper service.” I don’t do it for the environment (wacky environmentalists hate the “waste” of water and eeeevill soap, and once promoted just following children around with buckets to catch everything), I do it because I think it is better for the Munchkin, most cost-effective for us, and I prefer it.

I’m not saying that it is for everyone, and disposables have definitely improved over the decades. Many to most parents use them, and I’ll grant that they are wonderfully convienent and self-containing. (If anyone really wants to know what a WMD is, check out a poopy diaper.) But with the increase in price forthcoming this summer, maybe we all ought to think old-fashioned and go cloth. It sure would send a message, wouldn’t it? And your babies’ bottoms will thank you. 🙂

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