Cloth diapers are the best choice

August 12, 2010

Why Choose Cloth Diapers

But they certainly aren’t the only way to diaper your baby.  That’s sort of a no-brainer statement but I wasn’t always so graceful about it.  I once wrote a post about only using cloth diapers that now makes me cringe.  I used poor judgment and turned away readers I’m sure.  Not that what I said was untrue, but it was not written from love.  However, God always has a way of humbling me.

For me the big turn in my “high and mightiness” came with the birth of Sterling.  Before Sterling, I snubbed my nose at births in a hospital.  I had birthed 3 children at home, if I could do it why can’t everyone else. *sigh* How prideful.

Sterling ended up being born in a hospital with the help of the vacuum.  I gave it everything I had but the kid was not coming out.  Pretty much any pride I had over birth choices flew out the window as we drove up the the ER at 5:30 in the morning.

After that, I had friends tell me how they went through the same humbling experiences. One in particular told me how she was a breastfeeding nazi with her first.  She would shoot you down if you dared bottle feed near her.  Then came baby #2.  Despite everything she found to do, she wasn’t producing milk. Talk about eating your words.  Now she’s the one bottle-feeding.  She was just as grateful for that experience as I was with Sterling’s birth. (article that inspired this post)

I’m in no way excusing the parents that make bad choices out of laziness or convenience.  **ETA: Although quite clear to me, I need to explain this statement. Without this statement there are many parents who would see all that I said as a free pass to do whatever they want behind the reasoning “it’s best for me/us”. That is not what I would want people taking away from this post. Just because one wants or has to formula feed doesn’t mean they are innately bad (or lazy! Breastfeeding is much better for that route, or so I always say :D ). I am simply stating a fact that the choice to formula feed is not as healthy as breastfeeding. I’m not stating an opinion or judging or being mean. In an ideal world we would all accept our decisions for what they are and move on but instead we are so ready to ponce on someone for insinuating that they did something “wrong”. I would have loved for all my readers to read this post knowing that my heart was filled with love as I wrote, not condemnation. I am not hurt that some have chosen to attack me but it does hurt that some saw this as an attack. I pray others who read this post will have a different perspective.**

The same perspective can be applied to diapering your baby.  Yes, cloth diapers are healthier, better for the environment and your budget, but there times when disposables must be chosen.

Recently, I attended a baby shower.  The mother received more packages of disposable diapers than she could possibly use.  When I saw this (honestly, I still cringed) I thought how hard it would be to choose cloth diapers when you have free diapers right here.  I know this mom and I know financially they didn’t need the diapers but what about those that are financially in a bad place?

There are families, many families that couldn’t buy a single prefold without sacrificing a necessity.  Organizations like the Cloth Diaper Foundation do their best to help these families but can’t help them all.  I know these families have to buy diapers of some kind but many places will donate disposables.

As cloth diapering parents we have a choice: we can be snobby about cloth diapers vs. disposables, potentially turning friends and family away because we’ve become so dogmatic about it or we can be loving and educate those around us why we choose to cloth diaper.  People respond so much better when they learn why you do something as opposed to being told that they need to make a change because they’re harming their baby.

Really, how can anyone resist the cuteness of cloth diapers anyways if you present them in a gentle, non-obsessive, non-forceful way?

That’s my public service announcement for the year :P Every time you are in a situation where you can present cloth diapers (I’ve done it in a public restroom while changing Sterling on a counter!) to others, remember that most have bizarre preconceived ideas.  Education is most effective when presented in a non-offensive way.


About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

View all posts by Autumn Beck

24 Responses to “Cloth diapers are the best choice”

  1. Amanda Says:

    I had to make the choice to use formula for several reasons, and now I hide at church when my youngest son needs to feed because I don’t want the judgement. Do you know how sad this makes me feel? I cannot even sit in the service with all the other moms and feed my baby because I carry this secret in my diaper bag. I cloth diaper, I co-sleep, I use a carrier instead of a stroller, all of which are given the “thumbs-up” by my friends. But this one lone issue makes me hide in shame. But you know what? One of my friends works full time and sends her kids to school instead of homeschooling like I do. Another one doesn’t discipline the way I would. Still another one feeds her kids hot dogs and potato chips for lunch everyday. And far be it from me to tell them they are doing it wrong because they are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given and what they believe to be the best course of action for their kids. I hope that one day these ladies I call friends can be as accepting of formula feeding (or any other method that is different from theirs) as I’ve been about the things they do differently from me. Thank you for sharing the new viewpoint, for acknowledging that not everyone has to do it your way to be a good mom. :)


  2. Erica Says:

    Great post! I just had my third child, and we are new to cloth diapering and breastfeeding. I tried to breastfeed my other children, but this is the first time that I have ever had enough milk. I think the choices that we make as parents are very personal and should not be judged. These choices are based on what is best for our family. I believe that alienating people because they do not espouse to your belief system or because they make different choices is never a good idea. By the way, I love your blog. It had been a great resource for someone like myself who is new to cloth diapering. Thank you!


  3. Em Says:

    “In an ideal world we would all accept our decisions for what they are and move on but instead we are so ready to ponce on someone for insinuating that they did something “wrong”. I would have loved for all my readers to read this post knowing that my heart was filled with love as I wrote, not condemnation.”

    I apologize if my above statement in response to your blog felt as if I was attacking you. That was not my intent. I think your posts are very meaningful and as I wrote in my response, I rendered that your words were not written out of malice but rather in hope of decreasing harsh judgements, not amplifying them. I guess this is just a sensitive area for most mothers. Whether you breastfeed or you don’t, whether you had a medically assisted birth or you didn’t, whether you use cloth diapers or disposables… someone always has an opinion. It shouldn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things and I do not feel obliged to anyone to explain my choices, but every now and then I get tired of turning the other cheek in an attempt to be polite. Someone always has a comment about how we look, how the baby looks, what to do, what not to do… it’s as if everyone has their own manual that they must sell promptly otherwise the world will just be wrong ;) I honestly couldn’t care less what others do as long as it doesn’t impact my children/family/friends/neighbourhood/society/humanity in a negative way. Others are not immune to my antics either. I try not to preach my practices but don’t get me started on cloth, sleep techniques, reproductive endocrinology, etc … I’ll talk your ear off! lol Anyway, I’m just trying to say that I know you meant well and I appreciate you amending it to clarify the meaning. My baby has been exclusively breastfed his whole life (7 mos old) so I do agree with what you’ve said… I just jumped to the defensive because of how I interpreted it.


  4. Laurie Says:

    Autumn, I read your blog because I am a new mommy who has chosen CDing, but what a bonus for me to read this post and your references to breastfeeding. Despite every effort, I have been unable to nurse my firstborn, have never had a full supply of milk, and after much prayer and tears, have just put away the pump this weekend. It’s so nice to know I am not alone! I pray that my son will thrive on his organic formula! Thanks for sharing.


  5. DRM Says:

    Who would have thought that simply be saying one option is better than another you would catch so much flak! It’s not as if you classified something as “good and bad”, but were generous to use adjectives like “better” and “best.” Next thing you know people will be saying you can’t claim cloth diapers are the best option anymore.


  6. Em Says:

    Hi Autumn. I wanted to tell you that I’ve really enjoyed most of your blogs, finding them quite informative since I’m new to cloth diapering and was relatively clueless. Unfortunately I don’t feel good about this post. I understand your meaning but as I read and reread it, I’m getting more offended. I don’t think that was your intent behind this post and everyone is entitled to their own opinions but this just … offends me. It starts off wonderfully and I agree wholeheartedly about how easy it is to judge unless we find ourselves in a similar predicament. It’s the age-old dilemma… something about walking a mile… But “I’m in no way excusing the parents that make bad choices out of laziness or convenience. A medicated, assisted hospital birth and bottle-feeding aren’t the best choices one could make. However, sometimes they are choices that mothers have to choose.” Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see a problem with anyone making these choices, to use disposables, to formula feed, to get an epidural… I am an educated person (or at least others don’t correct me when I suggest it ;) and I did all of these things. I continue to do all of these things, but not because I have no other choice. I am not lazy, quite the opposite actually. I take great care in whatever my children come into contact with. Part of this was my reasoning for switching to cloth with my second baby (it’s a bonus that it’s better for him and the environment) but I never felt bad when he wore a disposable. My daughter still has to wear disposables since she’s close to potty training and I don’t see the point in investing in cloth for her this late in the game (wish I had used cloth on her from the start). I am making my choices out of convenience. I have two children in diapers and disposables are expensive. It’s convenient for me to save money by using cloth diapers (although my husband would disagree that this is saving us money since all I want to do is buy more fluff, every day!) That’s what we all do, ultimately. Would anyone use cloth if it was harder than it is? It’s more time consuming, yes, but not difficult. For example, if I had to wash my dipes 10 times between uses I think that would be extraordinarily inconvenient and I would have stuck with ‘sposies ;) As long as our kids are happy and healthy I say good for you :)


  7. Megan Says:

    Well said. This humbling can be applied to parenting in general. What I think is the BEST way to raise a child, may not be what you think is best. We just have to remember that we are all different.

    Having a child is a huge financial burden in itself, sometimes we do just have to make sacrifices. I chose to buy another 3pack of SmartiPants this week, but that money has to come out of my budget somewhere else. But having more cloth diapers to put on our toddler makes my life easier as well. And they are just so cute :) Everything is a trade.


  8. Rachel Says:

    I am a cloth diapering breastfeeding mommy and I love it! But I would never force my decisions on someone else. If a friend was interested in cloth diapers I would help them in any way I could but if they chose disposables, to each his own:). And I breastfeed because honestly I’m too cheap to buy formula and once we got past the difficulty of the first few months I find it a lot more
    convinient than formula. It’s always there, I don’t have to remember to pack it. All this said, this is my first child. I can see how these things might be a lot more difficult when you have a 4 year old and a 2 year old running around. And while I agree that a natural birth is ideal I had to take some pain medication and it WAS the best the decision for me. I did not make it lightly and if I had not taken something I don’t think I would have been able to continue and probably would have ended up with a c-section. After intense labour for 3 hours (going from 2cm to fully dilated) with no relief even in between contractions I was exhauste, and then 2 hours of pushing with nothing to show for my efforts! Pain medication was necessary with a transverse forceps delivery. It would be nice if we lived in a perfect world where everything went according to plan but we do not. In the end was my baby any less happy and healthy than an infant born naturally? No, he was perfectly fine. The same goes for babies fed formula and who wear disposable diapers. The question you need to ask is are they loved? Are they well taken care of? Are their needs being met? If so how can you possibly tell those parents that they aren’t doing right by their child? We need to start loving and supporting each other instead of juding eachother.


  9. Christy Says:

    Thank you for this. I am one of those people who can’t even afford a single prefold. I have been wanting to cloth diaper since the birth of my second child but have been unable to afford it. We now have 4 children, 3 of whomever are still in diapers. I want so badly to use cloth. I know it’s better for baby, the environment and our pocket book but the initial investment is so high. Luckily I have a good friend who mailed me 4 covers, 2 inserts and 6 prefolds. It’s not much, especially with 3 kiddos wearing them, but it’s a start. I have decided to cloth diaper part time and hope to slowly build up a stash. Before I thought it was all or nothing. It never occured to me to just buy a few and use them occasionally. I am really looking forward to using them. I just got them in the mail this week and haven’t started yet because our washing machine broke and we will not have a new one until the end of the month. I am going to start out CDing the oldest of the 3 still in diapers in the hopes that it will help he potty train faster (she is 25 months). I have heard that CDing can help with that.


  10. ooshela Says:

    Great post! Great reminder for many different scenarios. I am the first to say I have done it too, it is so easy to judge other moms. Really the most important thing is if you are loving your children to the best of your ability. We should focus on encouraging each other in this endeavor! Thanks again for the humble reminder. :)


  11. Melanie Rogers Says:

    Autumn, loved that post. I totally know what you mean and I understand why you used the word “best.” I took it to mean “ideal,” which may have been a less hot-topic word to use.
    What I took from your post was that we should be careful not to push our way of cloth diapering too forcefully on to others. It is hard not to bring up cloth diapers to every pregnant friend over and over, but I have to give them space. And as someone who used disposables for her first child, I hope to never make someone feel pressured or uncomfortable due to their choice. I have had to make choices (like use formula along with my breast milk when I was having major supply issues) that were not “ideal,” but ended up being “best” for my situation. And having loving friends vs judgmental comments really helped. So, I am trying not to make judgmental comments about not using cloth diapers. Sometimes its hard though since I am a cloth diaper fanatic now. :)


  12. wendy Says:

    Live and Learn…. That is how life teaches us. I remember being scolded by a well meaning breastfeeder, as I was pumping milk for my baby with a cleft palate. I tried to nurse, but he couldn’t possibly nurse. With heartbreak, I pumped all his milk…No easy task. O nly when we walk in anothers shoes can we truly understand. PS, he nursed successfully when at six months, his palate was surgically repaired…It is difficult sometimes, but, we women really do need to learn to support one another.


  13. Gemma Says:

    I loved your post! Your preaching to the choir here! I love getting opportunities to share about cloth diapering, people are always surprised at how easy it is and how its not what it used to be! I also had a humbling birth experience. I was all about having a natural labor and delivery, but after 23 hrs… it ended with an emergency C-section. Very humbling. I’m very excited to go for a VBAC for the next one! God willing, it would be an awesome testimony for VBAC successfulness. God is faithful! Thanks again for your post.


  14. Colette Says:

    There is much wisdom in this post :) I am new to CD. I used disposables for the first two and because of finances I have turned to cloth to save money diapering the third. But I have found that the CD communtity to be somewhat “nazi-ish”– I have read a lot of blogs to find out what worked for people and why. I didn’t want to have a bunch of different diapering systems to keep track of. So in that aspect I can appreciate the ferver that many CD mom’s possess, because they are more than willing to share their opinions and that did help me tremendously.

    I borrowed CD for the first two months from a friend, just to get an idea about how they work, and now he is in disposables because a friend’s son grew out of his size 2 disposables and gave them to me. We are so busy right now its been a blessing to not have the extra laundry. But I am patiently (??Ok maybe not so patiently) waiting for my cloth diaper order to come. Hopefully today!
    My friend is expecting her baby anyday now, so i gave her diapers back…


  15. Amanda Robertson Says:

    I think that there are BEST choices for you… what is best for one isn’t best for all. There is no BEST that covers every single situation across the board. Medical intervention whether it be epidurals, other meds, and c-sections are allowing a lot of women the options they want/need in order to bring happy healthy babies into this world. It doesn’t matter what is socially accepted as the “best” way to do things (give birth, feed, clothe and diaper) with your baby, the only thing that matters is that you have created a life and are responsible for taking care of it in every way possible until it is able to take care of itself.

    While I CHOOSE to cloth diaper, feed mostly organic (not completely obsessed with this though, the ogranic just tastes better), breast feed etc. I get that not everyone can do this or even wants to. Though I wish everyone cloth diapered so that we would have more options and less pricey alternatives! We all have choices in life and parenting is no different. The more informed we are the better, but just like anything else it is up to us what we do with that information. Parenting is full of extremely humbling experiences. Loved this post, even though I don’t completely agree… always room for a good debate!


  16. Tanya Says:

    I am in great agreement with God will humble you when you are SURE your way is the only way and I thank you for sharing this experience of yours. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of the your position and the negative comment above. I too felt that I did not agree with your statement that a medicated birth is not the BEST choice for a birth, if it is only chosen for pain relief. I salute any mom who delivers at home and my mother was an assitant to a midwife for years so home birthing is sort of in our veins, but I too do not look down upon or believe that a mother who choses a hospital environment with an epidural is making a less than best choice for themselves or their child. By no means in fact. There is no harm done at all. –and that is in refernece to “medicated Birth”—I would say differently to an ELECTED C-Section as it does have vast risk involved. I would also speak differently about chosing not to breastfeed when a woman can’t and just does not want to…so in that respect I have fallen into the catagory of the poster who says I have conditions on my approval/disapproval…I do (let’s face it we all do on one topic or another). I guess for birth i feel that if you are not causing any harm you deliver where ever the heck you want and how you want period…but for nursing you are a mother and IF you can breastfeed you should. And for CDing…well I see how some would not want to do it, but I love it. In the end even if I disagree with everyone who reads this blog (which is unlikely) it does not mean I could not have a cup of coffee with them and enjoy the difference—maybe even learn from them in the process.


  17. AnastasiaDenton Says:

    Yeah there is a BIG difference between those that still choose with SOME knowledge & those that just take the handouts without even saying thank you! (This would be the same person in my life that doesn’t even hold her own children or talk about them unless forced to) “Because it’s gross” Isn’t really an answer imho. As for being a single mom I have to say cloth & breastfeeding have made it EASIER. Yes I 2nd the “Like having a pet” comment. But there are times right now that the ONLY thing my baby needs is bigger clothes which some cousin has usually outgrown. While Great Grandma will get WHATEVER she wants to diaper babe while I go back to work, most everyone else grudgingly (& it’s gotten progressively better) use whatever I provide! Most times the comment is “Well you’re the one washing them, not me” so It’s all good! and another thing off my mind!


  18. Anonymous Says:

    I was thinking about how great this post was until I read the line, “A medicated, assisted hospital birth and and bottle-feeding aren’t the best choices one could make.” If this post was meant to be an apology of sorts, I think it failed. It is pretty insulting and, not to mention, just plain misinformed.

    I’ve seen a lot of posts/articles like this. Lots of mea culpas for being so militant about BFing, CDing, etc. But the apologies always come off as insincere because I feel the authors have a list of valid reasons (such as not BFing due to major supply issues) and invalid reasons (such as not BFing due to discomfort). If your reason isn’t on the valid list, then the apology wasn’t directed at you – you’re just lazy or going for convenience. But we never know a woman’s full story, so let’s all just stop judging.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Forgive me, but I’m a little confused. I’ll simply address the quoted area though. The statement simply means that there is always a BEST choice. We may not be able to make the BEST choice b/c of some inescapable reason (a dear friend of mine with a bone disorder cannot give birth vaginally therefore must have c-sections.) but we must still look at the situation objectively (without emotion) and admit that we chose the next best option we could. Where the problem lies is when people (this applies to all areas of life) make a decision and attempt to justify it as the best option for them. This is illogical. There can’t be multiple best choices.


  19. Lisa Says:

    Thank you for this article. I began reading your blog early in my pregnancy and was all for using cloth. Then we found ourselves in financial hardship and there was NO way we could afford cloth. Even had to get government financial aid. All that to say even today I hate using disposable but it is our only option as I use the cheapest I can. One box of the diapers i use is the cost of some single cloth diapers. I’ve had to make the choice to do some things like feed him only organic homemade food and give others up like cloth diapers. Any ways thanks for being humble :)


  20. Nurture Says:

    I think motherhood is the most humbling experience I have ever had. Before I had a child I was the best parent ever. While I was pregnant I had decided that I would have a natural delivery, my child would play with only wooden toys and would wear only organic cotton. Then I was two weeks late and ended up being induced, my kid, turns out, really loved bright plastic toys and when I realized how often you have to buy a whole new wardrobe for a baby, I gave up on the organic cotton and started buying cheaper clothes.

    Children are a constant reminder that we are not in control! But, Autumn, I totally agree that while you can’t control things like your delivery, and what toys your child will like or what sort of temperament they may have, you can do what all good Moms do and educate yourself. Education is key! And while it’s important to share any great information you have (like how super easy cloth diapers are) please remember to not put another Mom down for the choices she has made in the process. We all know how hurtful it can be when someone questions your parenting.


  21. Trenna Wilson Says:

    Thank you for that post! I’m a single mom cloth diapering my first, using flats because that’s what suits the situation. I love cloth diapering but it really is kind of like having a pet, with the extra thought and care they require.

    I’m SOOOOO lucky that my son’s Daddy is super supportive — from the pricey wool covers, to getting them washed for me … from supporting two stashes (for his house and mine) to learning how to fold flats — but I know a lot of moms aren’t this lucky (married or not). I’ll be careful in the future about telling single moms on a budget they should CD, because many don’t have the practical support needed to maintain the habit.



    love, Love , LOVE this post. I think many of us are humbled by many situations like yours and your friends. Mine was not being able to concieve at all, adopting my PRECIOUS girl, NOT being able to breastfeed her despite producing *some* milk, but still attempting to maintain a healthy environment for her — hence my LUUUUUUV of cloth dipes(and your blog.)

    However wordy I just was, THANK YOU for reminding us all that our messages may be heard better from a place of humility than of prideful stubbornness!

    Happy Diapering!!!


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