5 Common Misconceptions About Cloth Diapers

As cloth diapering is becoming more and more common, people who may not have ever seen or considered cloth are seeing it pop up. It may be on a friend's kid, in a TV show, or just spotted in a store. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about cloth diapers, so let me attempt to set a few things straight:

1. Cloth diapers are not unsanitary

Look, I get it. Poop is gross. Just because I use cloth doesn't mean I like poop any more than the next mom. And though I do wash these diapers, the reality is that I don't touch poop any more than I did with my first daughter, who was 100% in disposable diapers. After being washed properly, my kids' diapers are clean. Clean. I am not putting dirty diapers on my kid. The diapers I use are as clean and sanitary as the disposable option.

Please stop saying the diapers are unsanitary. Not only is it untrue, but when people say that I immediately have to wonder what kind of a mom they think I am. My kids may be messy, destructive little demon spawn, but dammit their diapers are clean!

2. Cloth diapers are not hard to clean

The misconception that will not die. Finding a good wash routine can be frustrating because there are so many suggestions out there, but the reality is that washing diapers is not hard. The biggest problem I've encountered in the last 2+ years of cloth diapering was when we were visiting family and had to wash using hard well water. I went out and got water softener. Crisis averted! Now, I know some moms have issues with the new HE washers getting stuff really clean, but that isn't because cloth is hard to clean so much as it's a result of really frustrating technology.

3. Cloth diapers don't need special detergent.

Seriously. This kind of falls under #2, but really I feel it needs its own section. You do not need to buy special cloth friendly laundry detergent that costs 3X what your normal detergent costs. I'd recommend any normal, mainstream detergent as long as it is free of fabric softeners. That's it. Just like you won't spend the next 18 years washing only in Dreft for that precious bundle of joy, you don't need to wash their diapers in a special detergent. It's a marketing gimic, that is all. Use what works for you. If that's some fancy diaper detergent, go for it. If you prefer Tide, use that.

4. Cloth diapers have come a long, long way

What your grandmother put on your mom is leagues away from what I put on my baby. Although you can totally still use pins and such, there are a number of new diapers available. You can use diapers that are just as easy to use as disposables - you aren't limited to what cloth was like 50 years ago. Yay, modern advances!

5. Cloth diapers do not have to be expensive

A lot of people are put off by the cost. That $30 diaper you saw? Far from your only option. And though the old style diapers are cheapest, there are lots of very affordable alternatives. Yes, they are an up-front cost, but long term it is so much better. And just because you heard of some woman spending $2,000 on her perfect stash does not mean everyone who uses cloth spends that much. Honestly, most of us are trying to save money!

I hope this clears up a few things for anyone who may have been previously misinformed.

A Diagnosis and a Plan

I've mentioned on here before that my son, H, is a bit behind when it comes to communication. We contacted Early Intervention earlier this year, and since that time he has been assessed and reassessed several times. He goes to speech therapy twice a week, and a very nice woman from Early Intervention comes out twice a month as well.

While my concerns were purely limited to his communication, some saw delays in other areas as well. Last month they formally diagnosed him as developmentally delayed, and today we attended his very first IEP meeting. Next month he will be transitioning from Early Intervention and going to a special preschool 5 days a week in the hope that it will help him to catch up to where he should be.

To say I'm nervous would be a huge understatement. I finally have gotten comfortable with my oldest being in kindergarten (that was a rough transition!) and now I have to send my baby boy off to school as well. I know it is in his best interests, but my heart hurts.

While he is still far enough behind to qualify for this special help, H has made a lot of progress thanks to the wonderful team at Early Intervention. Unlike his speech therapist, who worked specifically with him, EI worked with me to give me the tools necessary to help him with milestones. It's been a rough journey so far, and I know we still have quite a ways to go, but it has all been worth it.

Some of the things we work with him on probably seem a little silly or unnecessary if your child is hitting milestones normally. My son's communication was so poor in the beginning that you literally had no idea what he wanted at any given time. The fact that he now points and signs "please" are huge accomplishments for me....and he's 2 1/2 years old. He is hitting milestones on par with his 10 month old sister. While frustrating, it is almost nice that I can work with both of them on the same things at the same time.

H has always been a quiet kid, so before we could even worry about getting him talking we had to get him to actually make some noise. Weird, huh? Most kids I know (including my oldest) never know when to be quiet. With H, you'd forget he was even around.

Our favorite activities became anything where we could incorporate sound. In particular, cars and dinosaurs.

We have an absolutely ridiculous amount of toy cars, trucks, and trains because it allowed us to use the same noises over and over again. Beep! Honk! Vroom! Repetition was easy, he enjoyed the play, and he quickly began to catch on that these sounds meant something. It was some time before he attempted to repeat us, but even this simple play gave us an easy and fun way to gently get him to speak.

Dinosaurs (really, any animal) are also a great toy for this. We love dinosaurs because they all go roar!, but we are slowly transitioning to barnyard animals as well. Right now he seems to like combining his dinosaurs and his cars in epic battles.

I do have to give a shout out to Kids Imaginative, who sent over an awesome set of 12 dinosaurs for H to add to his collection. It's a really nice set of dinosaurs if your little one is into that right now. They're really sturdy and larger than I had expected. H is pretty rough on his toys as well, and these hold up nicely. They're solid as well, no tiny parts for me to worry about so Miss E is able to play with them as well. Win-win!

All in all, things have been a roller coaster here lately. I'm waiting for the final phone call to tell me what class he'll be in, but H should be starting preschool on January 4th. It's a big step, but definitely a step in the right direction.

If you have any concerns about your child's development, I strongly encourage a call to Early Intervention. Without them, we'd have been pretty much struggling on our own. I owe those folks a whole lot of thanks.

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Taking Your Cloth On The Town

Cloth definitely has a learning curve to it, but most parents can handle it at home with relative ease. A leak may be annoying, but it is certainly more manageable at home! Some parents choose to use disposables when they are out and about, but cloth is a viable option for outside the home as well.

It's all about the bag

Packing your diaper bag up when you use cloth is a lot like when using disposables. You're going to need diapers and wipes...and a spare outfit, just in case. I often hear parents asking about the actual diaper bag itself. It's one of those things most people don't think about until it happens - You bought a super cute bag, went to pack it up and found that your adorable fluffy stash just does not fit.

Cloth diapers do take up more room, so finding a bag that it large enough (while not being completely massive) is important. Over time, I've found that I prefer backpack diaper bags. The right one will have plenty of room, lots of compartments, and will make it so much easier to lug it around. I also tend to babywear, and the backpack helps to keep me a little more balanced than lugging around a shoulder bag.

I really like this backpack diaper bag from Bag Nation. There's tons of room in here, and I've been able to fit cloth for both my younger children in there without an issue. It also has an insulated pocket for bottles/sippies, as well as a changing pad. All the necessary and typical diaper bag accessories, but in a much easier to carry way.

Wet bags, wet bags, wet bags

I honestly believe there is no such thing as too many wet bags. We have a couple that stay in the car for emergencies, and a few small ones in the diaper bag as well. We've used them for dirty diapers, dirty clothes, wet towels, wet bathing suits, mini-diaper bags, and just about anything else you can think of. Honestly, my diaper bag tends to stay in the car unless we will be away from it for hours. Theme park? Take the whole thing in. Quick trip into the store? Stick a diaper and some wipes in a small wet bag and just take that. It saves me on lugging around 10x more than I need.

I would rather have extra wet bags than have to take a poopy diaper home in a plastic shopping bag. I've been there, it wasn't pleasant. Learn from my mistake!

Plan for that bad day

Even if you never have a leak at home, or you're sure you'll only need 1-2 diapers, err on the side of caution. I keep an extra outfit on hand because you just never know. To be fair, I did that with my oldest as well, and she was in disposables. I pack a couple more diapers than I should need, and I make sure I have wipes ready to go. Some people choose to use cloth and still use disposable wipes out in town. That's totally cool and honestly I usually have some on hand as well. Just remember to check and make sure you have enough! If you go the cloth wipe route, make sure you have the wipes either 1) pre-wet and in a wet bag or 2) packed with a spray of some sort.

It seems like Murphy's Law at times - when you're far from home, chances are you'll end up needing that one thing you forgot to pack. If it's something you use for diaper changes at home, pack it. It's better to have 5 diapers and only need 3 than to clean that pee smell out of the car seat...again.