When it comes to child-rearing there are lots of hot button issues. Should the baby always sleep alone or is the family bed a better choice? When is it OK to feed what kind of solid foods? Which toys are the most educational? Is it ever OK to bottle feed; the list goes on and on. And there’s now one more decision to make: disposable diapers or cloth diapers?
Cloth diaper services that pick up soiled diapers and drop off clean ones on a subscription plan have been around for decades, but now some parents are tackling the whole deal themselves, including washing the dirty diapers.
“That is the big fear people express to me: how to deal with the poop,” said Meaghan Primm, who owns Primm ’n’ Proper Baby, which sells handmade cloth diapers. Primm and her friend Lacey Heinz are putting on a “cloth diaper 101 class” on Saturday at the Eastside Library.
Primm has four children ages 3 to 11 so she’s got some experience with diapers, and she promises it’s possible to wash them at home without too much trouble.
“I started sewing when my youngest was born and I’m self-taught when it comes to making diapers,” said Primm, “but the class really isn’t about my business, it’s about cloth diapering.”
Heinz said that when she told her mom she was going to use cloth diapers, her mom looked at her like she had four heads.
“You are telling everyone you are poor and that you can’t afford to buy disposables, was what my mom thought,” said Heinz. “But that’s not it. It’s about saving money and being environmentally responsible.”
Heinz added that her mom quickly came around when she saw how much cloth diapers have changed.
Forget the big, square, faded pieces of cotton fabric that were around in the ’50s and ’60s. Today cloth diapers come in many different designs – some are all-in-one, others are pants with a pocket to put the absorbent diaper into, and even others have a separate cloth that fits inside the pants.
“It can be pretty overwhelming to find out what works for you and what doesn’t,” said Primm. “So if you tried cloth diapering and it didn’t work for you, stop by the class. We would love to help you figure it out.”
The class is perfect for expectant parents but also for day care providers and nannies, anyone who’s got little-kid diapers in their life.
So, honestly, what about the poop?
Primm said that it’s easy to mount a diaper sprayer on the clean water intake to your toilet – the sprayer looks a lot like the kind that you’ll find on a kitchen sink – then you spray the poop right down into the toilet.
“And you don’t have to soak the diapers in a pail,” Primm said. “Not only is that gross, it’s a drowning hazard to have a big old pail sitting around and it’s not necessary.”
Many families use disposable diapers – or ‘sposies’ as they are called in cloth diaper lingo – at night or during vigorous toddler activities, but cloth at any other time.
“If you already do disposables, you can still change if you want to,” said Primm.
One secret to success is having a good diaper stash to begin with.
“You can always find cloth diapers on Craigslist or at Diaper Swappers online,” said Heinz, adding that she basically diapered her second child for free, because she already had the diapers from the first one.
Believe it or not, a good and well-cared for stash has some resale value.
“Absolutely, you can trade them or sell them or share with a friend,” said Primm.