Deciding if cloth diapers are for you

Jul 8, 2008 at 6:26 a.m. ET

How are you going to diaper your baby? For most of us, it's more a question of which disposable diaper brand we'll use. After all, disposables are SO common and convenient. And cloth diapers... not so much. Right? But there are actually more options than Pampers, Luvs, Huggies or Seventh Generation. There are a diverse selection of cloth diapers to consider, too -- and, folks, these aren't your grandma's cloth diapers.

Cloth Diapers

Several years ago, after a bad diaper rash, my son's pediatrician suggested that I try cloth diapering and using reusable wipes or wash clothes. I bucked at the suggestion and railed on its craziness. Mere months ago, a mom friend and I were talking about ways to go green. I openly denounced any possibility of ever cloth diapering my daughter. Crazy! Ludicrous! Just. Not. Happening.


So why am I changing my mind now? Cloth diapers aren't all diaper pins, waterproof covers and stinky messes after all... In fact, there are many choices that can be almost as easy as disposables.

Fitting cloth into life

Even with the many of options available, experts say that cloth diapering still isn't for everyone, due to life constraints. "Cloth diapers can definitely be for everyone, but not everyone has the right situation to cloth diaper. Sometimes family circumstances are such that won't allow for cloth diapering. For example, daycare settings that prohibit cloth diapers or caregivers who are uncomfortable using cloth. However, families could still use cloth at home, and many daycare providers are now willing to give it a try once they see how simple it can be. It really does amount to a particular mindset that the family and others who might be caring for the baby have. If the motivation and desire is there, then it's a good fit," says Stephanie White of Z Bear Diapers.

Solving diapering issues

But for others, cloth diapering makes sense. Children with rashes like my son can benefit greatly from the more natural fibers in cloth diapering (for the record, the rash did go away with the right cream and a change in diet).


Tereson Dupuy, creator of Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers, was also advised by a pediatrician to start cloth diapering her son. She decided to take the plunge. "I researched my options and tried a few of the 'best' brands on the market at the time. Overall, I found these diapers to be wet, soggy, cold - they did not keep my son dry or solve his rash problem. I researched other materials besides cotton that might work and invented a diaper that solved all my issues," says Dupuy.

It's all about support

For best results when cloth diapering, talk to your spouse, family, daycare and other people in your child's life about your intentions. Explain why you want to cloth diaper and its benefits. As White says, you can just do it at home if others aren't willing to use the cloth diapers.


But, others point out that it can be an everyday, everywhere thing.


"Modern covers and/or pocket diapers make it easy to keep your baby's clothes dry (often better than disposables). Just put a wet-bag (or an extra plastic bag… from the grocery store, or a zip-lock) in your diaper bag to hold any dirty diapers. A weekend trip is even possible, but a washing machine is recommended for more than an overnight stay. I even got my daycare to use cloth… and they loved it!," says Marni Matyus, the Natural Parenting expert at


White says to look carefully for the right diapering system for you to help with 24/7 cloth diapering. "Once you have that in place, you won't worry about what to do if baby poos in public or that your diaper might leak. When you're out, you use your favorite brand, so you're confident, and then have a good time," White says. "If baby needs a change, you change the diaper and put the soiled one in a wetbag, take it home, and take care of it there."

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