A friend was over for a playdate last week with her two kids. My daughter’s apple green FuzziBunz was sticking out of her pants, so we got to talking about cloth diapers and she asked the question I think a lot of moms wonder: “Is it too late to start with cloth diapers?”
Her daughter is 15 months and my answer was absolutely not.
At the beginning, when babies are born, cloth can seem very intimidating. Bringing a newborn home from the hospital, nursing around the clock, figuring out sleep patterns (or just struggling to get any sleep). Add to that an older child who also needs mommy, cloth diapers just seems to be too overwhelming. I think a lot of moms think, “I’ll just get through this newborn phase and then I’m definitely going to cloth diaper.”
And we all know what happens from there: life gets in the way and routines (like picking up disposables at the store every week) become our sanity. Pretty soon the baby is six months, then nine, then a year and bagfuls of disposables are still going out to the curb on trash day clogging up our landfills. But as my friend wondered, can you start cloth diapering later?
I think you can. And should. Below are a few thoughts I shared with my friend. If you’re reading this, toying with the idea of cloth on an older baby, hopefully this will push you over the edge. And if you have a friend considering switching to cloth – encourage them! And use this post to open the door.
- It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. I think one of the biggest intimidators about cloth is that you have to switch over cold turkey from disposables, but you don’t. Ease yourself into it. Get a couple of diapers, see how it goes and build your confidence and your stash from there.
- It only takes five (to start!). In my opinion, an investment in five to eight will get you started, get you accustomed to changing them and washing them and will get you through a full day (depending on the age of your child and how many they go through in a day).
- Start when you’re hanging around the house. As moms of young kids, many of our days are spent hanging around the house, running out for a quick errand and coming home for naps, so why not start by using cloth only on those days? You can get a feel for how long it takes your babe to wet a diaper (its usually shorter than with disposables) and you don’t have to fully switch over your diaper bag just yet (though I would still take a diaper change even when just running to the store…its like asking for a blowout to go without).
- Say goodbye to diaper rash. Diaper rash comes and goes throughout the diapering years, but if you make the switch to cloth, you could very likely say goodbye to nasty rashes for good (and the creams, ointments and crankiness that go with them!). That’s actually the biggest reason my friend is considering switching and I think it’s a great one.
- Borrow or buy used diapers. There are a lot of resources out there to purchase or borrow gently used diapers. Check out CraigsList or DiaperSwappers to get started, but also contact anyone you know who uses cloth. They might have some they aren’t using that would be perfect candidates for a cloth diaper test run in your house.
- Don’t be afraid of the poop. I think that might be the biggest hang-up people have when they think about switching to cloth…the big bad poops. Especially when the “baby” is producing adult-sized excrement. I’ll tell you honestly, there is nothing fun about it, but it’s really not as bad as you’re making it out to be in your mind. It all just becomes part of the routine.
- You can still save money. Let’s take my friend as an example. Even at 15 months, her daughter will likely be in diapers for another 12 months, give or take. Disposable diapering will cost her approximately $500 for that one year. And you can get a heckuva lot of cloth diapers for about half of that… the rest becomes savings for you! If your baby is younger or potty trains later, more money saved.
- Treat them with care. Even from the beginning, take care of your cloth diapers by paying attention to the washing instructions available for the diapers you get. It can save you tons of headaches down the road if you start with a good wash routine – it can be a simple; just remember lots of rinsing in the washer and a use good cloth diaper detergent.
- Don’t wait! Get a couple now and start using them. Each time you use a cloth diaper, wash and reuse, you are saving a diaper from spending 500 years rotting away in a landfill. Add a couple diapers every couple of weeks when you can afford it or when there are great sales at cloth diaper retailers. You will not regret your decision.
Are you on the fence about switching with an older baby? What’s stopping you? Did you start diapering when your baby was older? How did it go? Join our discussion on Facebook and let us know!
Sarah is a mom of two and blogs about her adventures in motherhood, cloth diapering and everything in between. Catch her “Cloth Diapering Unwrapped” series on the FuzziBunz blog every Tuesday.