My Personal Cloth Diaper Journey

There comes a time when each family’s cloth diaper journey will end.  When your last little one no longer needs diapers and all of a sudden you find yourself not knowing what to do with your carefully acquired fluffy stash.  For me, it was a bittersweet experience.  I noticed that my daughter Gloria was waking up dry in the morning more and more and I knew it was time.  So with great happiness over her developmental milestone and a sadness over saying goodbye to her lovely diapers, I packed them up and put them into storage.  Before I tell you what I plan on doing with my diapers, I will start from the beginning and tell the whole story of our cloth diaper journey.

Sarah and Gloria

Sarah and Gloria

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was convinced I would use cloth diapers.  My mother used them on me after all so they were never an alien concept.  I even worked next door to a natural parenting store that sold cloth diapers (where I took pre-natal yoga and met Neta.)  In 2007, there was not a huge variety on the cloth diaper options available.  I loved the concept of pocket diapers but knew that there would be no way my husband and I could afford the $600-$700 investment it would take to get the number of diapers we would need.  I was disheartened when I made my feelings known that I would like to use cloth diapers to my family and friends only to hear discouraging feedback.  I was told I would be too busy and tired and that I should not bother with cloth diapers.  I did not receive any cloth diapers as baby gifts which is understandable since they were not readily available at the time and are still not sold in big box stores.  So when my daughter was born, we started using disposable diapers.  I felt bad about the situation but wasn’t sure what else to do.  I am sure that many parents feel the same way who are curious about cloth diapers.

Using disposable diapers was not easy.  My daughter had a particular talent for shooting poop up her back and into her sleepers.  The very first time I ever took her out in public by myself, she had an explosive poop that filled her sleeper and car seat.  I wanted to cry.  I had never even used a change table in a public bathroom before and here I was giving her a sponge bath with wipes while tying to scrub her car seat with hand soap.  Disposable diapers were smelly and disgusting and made me want to barf whenever we emptied her diaper pail.  I kept to a tight budget so I could afford diapers.  I exclusively breastfed for 6 months and grew veggies in our garden to make into baby food when our daughter started on solids.  All good things (and highly recommended) but often necessary to even be able to afford to use disposables.

When my maternity leave was over, I changed career paths and started working for the natural parenting  store.  All of a sudden, I was surrounded by people who used and loved cloth diapers.  My eyes were opened to the fact that it was no big deal, not a lot of hard work and much more affordable than disposable diapers.  So, when Amelia was 19 months old, using my staff discount, I bought my first cloth diapers.  They were fantastic.  All I could afford were pre-folds and covers but I loved them.  Then I invested in 2 pocket diapers and I thought I’d died and went to heaven.  No leaks, EVER!  She was comfy and happy and we were finally saving money.  The days of the “poo snake” (what we called the diaper genie cartridge bag thing) was over and her room smelled so much nicer.  And then before I knew it, she was done with diapers.  Dry overnight at 27 months.

I knew I would use cloth diapers from day one with my next baby.  I had seen the difference it could make and there was no going back for me.  When I was pregnant, I started to gather diapers.  I made it known that I would be only using cloth diapers and I did receive a generous gift card from my co-workers.  I got two new pocket diapers with my $50 gift card and later got some pre-folds, and covers.  Now I had 4 pocket diapers, 2 newborn covers, 2 one-size covers, 6 newborn pre-folds, 12 large pre-folds and several large covers.  I knew it wouldn’t be enough.  My aunt gave me a huge box of newborn disposable diapers and another huge one of size one diapers.  I didn’t want to fall into the old trap of what happened with my first daughter.  I used some of the disposables and then started on the cloth washing diapers every day.  I knew it wouldn’t work out unless I could buy more diapers.

The story from here on in is the story of Glow Bug.  Neta and I both needed more diapers so we did something crazy and started a company to fix the problem.  It took us a few months to get on our feet but eventually, Gloria had all the diapers she would ever need.

So now that our family is done with diapers, is this the end of our cloth diaper journey?  One of the greatest things about cloth diapers is that the end of one family’s cloth diaper journey could be just the beginning for another family.  I will be donating Gloria’s diapers to Cloth for a Cause which  is a wonderful Canadian organization that is sponsored by Glow Bug Cloth Diapers.  If you are interested in doing the same but live outside of Canada, there are lots of other cloth diaper banks all around the US that accept donations (links listed below are other cloth diaper banks that are sponsored by Glow Bug Cloth Diapers.)  One day, when my girls are older, I will be very happy to tell them that not only did we do our part to reduce our household waste and environmental impact by using cloth diapers but we were able to pay it forward to another family to help them do the same.  It feels good.

– Sarah Downey


Here are just a few organizations in the US that accept cloth diaper donations: