In this article you will find information about the different types of cloth diapers, the advantages and disadvantages and some well-known brands of environmentally friendly diapers. I will also tell you about alternatives to (disposable) diapers such as environmentally friendly diapers and Elimination Communication.
In the past, you had little choice in cloth diapers. The only option were tetra cloths that you wrapped around your child’s bottom and secured with a safety pin. Nowadays, in addition to these familiar cloths, you have preformed diapers. These are often tied closed or have a Velcro closure.
Some diaper brands offer a diaper with an attached overpants. However, the overpants are usually separate and can be reused several times in one day. There are also training shorts and waterproof swimming shorts.
- Environment : a synthetic diaper takes a very long time to decompose. Nowadays, every child produces a huge mountain of waste before it is toilet-trained ( according to the OVAM, 70,000 tons of dirty disposable diapers end up in the waste mountain in Flanders every year ). Cloth diapers are not completely environmentally friendly because you also use energy and water to wash them, but the production and processing of synthetic diapers is more environmentally unfriendly. Moreover, you have control over how much energy you use when cleaning (soak, do not wash too hot and do not use a dryer, for example).
- Health : The chance of diaper rash is smaller with cloth diapers because the gel in disposable diapers dries out the skin and thus increases the chance of irritation. Furthermore, the long-term effects of exposure to the gel in diapers have never been studied. The gels are regularly optimized. The composition of the current generation of gels is different from, for example, the composition of the gels in the 1980s. As a result, the long-term effects of exposure to the gels are unknown.
- Toilet training : Children with cloth diapers become toilet trained faster because they are more aware of a wet or full diaper. With synthetic diapers, all the moisture is quickly absorbed by the gel, so that the child feels that he is urinating, for example, but does not feel the consequences of this and is not bothered by it. He will therefore indicate less when his diaper is full and thus take the first steps towards toilet training later. Cloth diapers are more likely to leak and irritate than wet synthetic diapers. Moreover, children find a wet or full diaper very unpleasant. This means you have to change a cloth diaper more quickly. With synthetic diapers, the child is less bothered by full or wet diapers, so you do not quickly notice a wet or full diaper and are less likely to change a synthetic diaper. The chance of diaper rash is then much greater.
- Cheaper : Like many products, cloth diapers have also become more expensive. At the same time, there are a number of cheaper brands of synthetic diapers available. This means that the price advantage of cloth diapers is smaller compared to all synthetic diapers. However, there is still a price advantage compared to the larger brands. The initial investment is a major hurdle for many young parents. Some new parents who would like to use cloth diapers choose cheaper synthetic ones because this spreads the costs. A number of municipalities in Flanders do offer subsidies and second-hand sites sometimes also offer cloth diapers, making cloth diapers possible for a larger group of young parents. There are also reasonably affordable rental services in Flanders and the Netherlands.
Brands and where can you buy them?
Some well-known brands of washable diapers are ( in alphabetical order ): BambinoMio, Disana, Kiddy Bips, Kushies, Lotties, Mother ease and Popolini. In addition, there are a number of smaller brands.
You can buy washable diapers at organic stores or order them online from organic web stores or WHAMs ( WHAM = Working At Home Mum ) who make them themselves or buy them and often offer them for sale online. A number of suppliers (such as Lotties, for example) also deliver directly to private individuals. There are also many websites that offer patterns for making your own cloth diapers.
Most diapers can be washed at very high temperatures depending on the brand and type of diaper. However, washing at 60° is often sufficient (and more environmentally friendly). During washing it is recommended to close any Velcro closure. This way the closure will last longer and the rest of the laundry will not be damaged.
Aggressive detergents (or bleaches) are not necessary. Organic washing products are sufficient. A number of brands also have their own detergents on the market. Woolen pants are best washed with a wool washing product. These are often offered by manufacturers of woolen overpants.
Fabric softener is also often not recommended because these agents prevent the diapers from absorbing moisture. There are fabric softeners that are suitable for washable diapers, but to be on the safe side you can replace fabric softeners with a dash of vinegar in the rinse water. This is sufficient for soft diapers and is often more environmentally friendly and cheaper.
Many parents soak the diapers as soon as possible after changing them in a large bucket (preferably a sealable one) in mild soapy water. This means that the diapers do not have to be washed very warm and the stains do not dry. Bleaching in sunlight in summer is also often used.
The dryer is not recommended by many manufacturers . Without a dryer, the diapers are harder. You can prevent this by briefly putting the diapers in the dryer and then simply letting them dry. You can also rub the diapers gently if you don’t have a dryer or don’t want to use the dryer. Synthetic diaper pants should not be put in the dryer. You should also not dry this too close to a heat source. Drying and opening the container is often sufficient.
- There are a number of environmentally friendly disposable diapers on the market that perform just as well as washable diapers in terms of purchase price and environmental pollution.
- It is also possible to combine several types of diapers. For example, you can use cloth diapers at home and disposable diapers when you go away. This way you have the benefits of both types of diapers.
- In some cultures, diapers are not used at all. This method, called Elimination Communication, is also starting to spread in our Western world. With Elimination Communication, parents listen to the child and respond to signals in a timely manner. The child then relieves himself over a bowl or the sink or toilet or in the grass while the parent supports and soothes the child. These children are often potty trained before they can walk. You can start this method at any time (even just after birth). There are a number of Internet sites that sell customized clothing for parents who want to start with Elimination Communication.