Healthy Beginnings

Cloth Diapers: The Sustainable Choice for Your Baby, Our Planet

11 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first baby, my friend asked me if I was going to use cloth diapers. I am pretty sure my face said it all…. No, no way, ew, just no. Fast-forward 2 years, and I was pregnant with my second child and looking over my budget for the new baby. I was thoroughly shocked that we had spent nearly $2,000 on diapers that were essentially garbage from the moment we used them.

I had a flashback to my friend’s previous query and I decided to start looking into cloth diapers. I immersed myself in the cloth diaper world, determined to find the exact right diaper for my babies. I spent several weeks researching brands, and finally settled on one brand. I purchased enough to diaper my toddler full time and dabble in diapering my newborn as well.

A few days later they all arrived in the mail… I quickly learned that it was actually pretty darn easy, even for someone like me who is pretty darn lazy and not a fan of laundry. I felt like such a pioneer. Washing diapers 2-3 times each week and drying them in the sun was a strangely rewarding experience.

The best part about my cloth diapers was that they were perfectly useful for my third baby as well. Not many things are worn daily for several children, constantly pooped on and then passed down to the next baby…

Things I learned along the way that I wish I had known before starting cloth:

  • Shop local! When buying from your local cloth diaper store, you will find knowledge about all-things baby and diapers and some things that are super relevant to your local area! Reno has tricky water… and special requirements for our laundry detergents… don’t go it alone, we are here to help.
  • If you have signed up to have a baby, you have signed up for poop. The ick factor of poop is not diminished when using plastic diapers.
  • Don’t buy all one type/brand of diaper! You will find you prefer different diapers at different times, and if you over invest in all one type, you may soon realize they are not the perfect fit for you and your baby.
  • Prefolds and covers (those totally prehistoric types of diapers) are amazing and everyone should have at least a few.

Diapering basics:

  1. Plan on washing your diapers every 2-3 days. Waiting longer between washes can cause diapers to stink. Store dirty diapers in a simple trash can with a lid (no water). It can be lined with a reusable laundry bag, called a pail liner.
  2. Exclusively breastfed baby poop is water soluble and can be washed out in your washer. No rinsing necessary. Once any other foods have been introduced, spray or rinse diaper to remove solids in the toilet and toss in the pail.
  3. You can wash all types of diapers together. Do not dry the covers on high heat, as the elastic and plastics will wear out.
  4. When choosing a laundry detergent and diaper creams, make sure they are cloth diaper safe! Certain additives can cause rashes on your baby or other possible issues with your diapers.
  5. Traveling with cloth is simple, just bring a travel sized wet bag with you for dirty diapers.
  6. If you have recurring problems, lets figure out the cause! You may need to strip or bleach your diapers and tweak your wash routine.

Economic and environmental impact:

Did you know?

A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose. One baby in disposable diapers will use approximately 6,400 diapers and will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill. Those diapers are going to cost approximately $2,300. It’s like throwing thousands of dollars into a landfill!

Rachel Ching is a Lamaze childbirth educator, birth and postpartum doula, certified lactation educator and child passenger safety technician. She also owns The Nurturing Nest, an education center for new and expecting parents. For more information, call The Nurturing Nest at 775-825-0800 or visit