Baby in a cloth diaper

What about the diapers?

Where we stand in the reusable VS disposable diaper divide.

Hi folks. Weirdo in for a guest post.

First of all I want to thank Petit Bibi for letting me have the keyboard for a moment. I rarely ever get listened to so it’s great to be here and thank you for reading and… To the point… OK…

So, it might not have transpired too much but Petit Bibi is on an exclusive regimen of reusable diapers. I mean it. All through the adventure, he hasn’t been anywhere near a disposable diaper. Except when he’s near another kid, I suppose… and that’s another thing actually: the overwhelming majority of other kids we meet are on the throwaway diapers and it’s kind of weird to us, and that’s why I’m writing here: the washing diapers are more practical. I ain’t kidding. I tried the throwaway ones.

It might not come as a shock to you, but that’s probably because you don’t have a kid. If you did, it would. Or at least, an overwhelming majority of you.

I feel a bit dumb saying it. I mean, a bit more than usual. I just did a quick search on the web and found a multitude of sources basically saying the same thing. I don’t really get why people want so hard to believe that the throwaway diaper are more practical. Maybe it’s because they are more expensive and more harmful to the environment so there has to be something good about them and there’s only practicality left. So here’s a short list of what sucks about throwaway diapers, in addition to their cost to your wallet and to the environment:

  • You need to buy a metric buttload of them

Cost aside. Like, you have to haul them from the shop to your place. Even with a car, it’s less practical than when you have nothing to haul.

  • You need to throw away above-mentioned buttload

Environmental blues aside. The trash doesn’t carry itself out. They’re usually much heavier on the way out…

  • They run out.

And it’s just one of those things you have to run to the shop for if you don’t plan well.

  • They stress you out.

Maybe not consciously, but you always worry about how many diapers are where and if you have enough with you… Every other sunday, you’ll find yourself in a tight spot (assuming you live in a country where shops are closed on Sundays).

  • You tend to let Baby marinate in them.

Maybe that’s just me. When I noticed Petit Bibi wet his throwaway-diaper, but not too much, I tended to wait for him to finish wetting it for realz before I threw it away. I’d feel bad throwing away a half-wet diaper. Sometimes, he took quite a long time to “finish” it. Other parents don’t do that? OK, I’m a bad father…

  • There’s weird chemicals in them.

Not that I care much, but some babies get irritated skin from it and make you buy the “chemical-free-throwaway-diapers” that cost twice the price and don’t absorb that good.

Oh, I forgot:

  • Your baby smells like diaper.

Diapers smell. I mean, even before they’ve served. You’re probably used to it though. But others aren’t.

Now here’s the only thing that sucks about washing diapers:

  • You need to wash them

Now, check this out: we’ve hand-washed 90% of Petit Bibi’s diapers. Because a washing machine doesn’t fit in the backpack. Even now that I’m sedentary, I still don’t have a washing machine and I keep hand-washing them. It’s only a two minutes job (I just timed myself doing it). Just rinse it a couple of times, squeeze the water out, check the smell and spread it on something. Don’t bother with soap. Pee dissolves quickly in water.

Now, if you do have a washing machine… well… how to put it… it’s no work at all, right? The machine does it for you. You don’t even need to wash diapers separately from your stuff. As I just said, pee dissolves instantly in water. This is not theory. We have used washing machines for 10% of the times after all.

But… aren’t the diapers also caked in… you know…

Which leads me to a side effect of washing diapers: it toilet-trains babies.

My experience is rather limited in the field, having had only one kid. But washing diapers can be put on and taken off without fear of breaking them. So when the baby is kind of looking like he’s going number two, you don’t feel bad tearing the cloth off of him to put him over the toilet. He gets the message pretty quickly. We haven’t scrubbed shit off diapers in a year. And very seldom for 6 month before that.

That still leaves us with six month to one year of shitty diapers. So how about those?

Once a baby starts eating solid food, he’ll start shitting solid too. When you find out about that, it feels great, really. The cloth diapers, they don’t cling to shit very hard. You just shake the diaper over the toilet, and the whole thing will detach and fall into the magic hole and you can proceed to throw the almost-shit-free diaper into the dirty-laundry basket along with your clothe.

Alright, if that’s too icky for you, you can do a separate washing.

How about before the solid-shit time? Well… What can I say… You’re wiping shit off of the baby’s ass every day. You’ll wipe it off the diapers as well.

It still beats hauling in, hauling out and running up and down deserted streets in panic looking for an open shop, any open shop, aaaaaah.

I heard reusable diapers were really expensive.

Yeah, I remember reading that when Petit Bibi was on the way. How to put it… It’s utter bullshit. I have bought a new washing diaper for 5€ once. It’s true it broke apart after a two month, but that was after using it everyday (I liked that diaper. It got dry in an hour).

I suppose some brands do make very expensive washing diapers ; and they must have good SEO because that’s what we find first when we look for cloth diapers online. Maybe plastic-free organic-cotton made-in-Sweden type stuff. If you’re into that, good for you. But you can get quality new diapers in what they call a “complete pack” or something (meaning all the diapers you’ll ever need) for 200€. I keep seeing “articles” quoting four times that much so here it is. Even better: they’re easily found second-hand. That’s what we did, for 40€. We’re still using them.

How do cloth diapers even work?

Well there’s two parts. The structural one, which is thin and porous on the inside, waterproof on the outside (or not if you don’t like plastic), is cut to the shape of a baby’s bum, and has space in it for the second bit: a thick absorbent fabric.

True enough, they could be made in one bit, like the throwaway one, with the absorbent fabric sewn to the rest, but then they would take many days to dry. That’s why the absorbent fabric can be removed and spread out.

The structural part is really the only one you’re buying. Of course the brand will throw in an absorbent fabric so you can have a complete product, but absorbent fabric is already everywhere around you. An old towel for example. Hell, toilet paper will do if, for some reason, all your purpose-made fabric is already wet.

So, here it is, my little two cents on the fact that there is no valid argument in favor of throwaway diapers. Or is there? Did I miss something? Wouldn’t be the first time. Let me know in the comments.

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Petit Bibi

Petit Bibi

I started this trip when I was 5 month old. By the time it ends, I'll have spent more than half my life on the road.

2 thoughts on “What about the diapers?”

  1. This text brings back memories !
    Thank you Damien for the cute little turd you left on my bed and for my wet pants.
    Whenever you like, you can come back into my room.

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