My name is Erin, and I’m a cloth diaper enthusiast. Promise, I’m not a weirdo. I’m not going to wax poetic about the beauty of the diaper change, but opting to use cloth diapers has been one of the easiest ways our family has found to cut down on the waste that we produce. And, well, that’s been kind of beautiful.
We used Diaperkind, a New York City diaper service, for all of our diapering needs with Faye, and we recently started our service up again when Silas was born.
Yes, it’s very sweet to wrap a bit of organic cotton around a tiny bum, but the very best part about cloth diapering is knowing that the enormous bag of diapers we dirty each week is headed to a washing machine and not a trash can. The truth is, even disposable diapers marketed as green alternatives use sodium polyacrylate gel, a petroleum product that doesn’t break down in landfills. Cloth diapers are gentle on baby bottoms and gentle on the environment. They’re hands down the most eco-friendly option out there (and if you’re able to launder them yourself, they’re the cheapest option, too). Since we don’t have a washer or dryer in our apartment (or building), we rely on Diaperkind’s Weekly Cloth Diaper Service.
As service subscribers, managing cloth diapers is as easy as getting our diapers into the diaper pail after changes, getting the diaper pail out the door on pickup night, and keeping a rotation of diaper covers washed, dried, and at the ready. Using Diaperkind’s Weekly Prefold Diapers Service means that each week we put our pail of dirties outside our apartment door and someone from the service swings by to pick them up and deliver a bag of freshly cleaned ones.
Even for a family like ours, with two working parents, we’ve found using cloth diapers to be super simple. It’s a many-times-a-day habit that we (and the other caregivers in our life) got used to quickly. Still, like many things related to parenting, cloth diapers exist in a bafflingly tricky-to-talk-about space. For folks who use them, the choice seems relatively mundane—like deciding to use a swaddle, or breastfeed—but I’ve found that for folks who don’t use them, misconceptions abound. I’m here to tell you, cloth diapers are just diapers that get washed instead of thrown away. Cross my heart, they’re not scary and we’re not super humans for using them.
Pictured above: The Diaperkind prefold diaper (Diaperkind Weekly Prefold Diapers Service; Pre-fold Diapers for Home Launderers).
I love the analogy that Diaperkind co-founder, Liz, uses to explain the cloth diaper work load: “We often tell people to imagine it like washing dishes: Sure, sometimes they are really gnarly after they’ve been sitting in the sink overnight, but no one would ever really consider replacing all of their dinnerware with paper plates! Why? Because it’s just not that big of a deal to wash them and the experience of using something non-disposable is far better.”
Pictured above: The Diaperkind fitted diaper (Fitted Diapers Service; Fitted Diapers for Home Launderers).
Diapers and Covers
Diaperkind offers two models of cloth diapers for their service customers and in their online shop. There’s the classic prefold diapers that we use (available in either conventional or organic cotton options), and a new fitted diaper with a contoured shape that doesn’t require folding. (We took the fitted diapers and cloth wipes for a test drive recently, and they’re both terrific.) Both diapers get secured with diaper clips and both get used in conjunction with a waterproof cover of your choice to ensure everything stays dry (and contained).
Pictured above: Flip Diaper Cover.
There are tons of different cover options in the Diaperkind shop. They run the gamut from 100% wool covers to waterproof covers with snaps and waterproof covers with velcro. Many of the covers are adjustable and made to expand along with the growth of the baby so that you don’t need to buy new covers each time you size up with diapers.
Pictured above: Babee Green Wool Longies, Babee Green Wool Diaper Cover, Thirsties Snap Duo Wrap Cover, Thirsties Hook + Loop Duo Wrap Cover, Flip Diaper Cover, and Imse Vimse Organic Cotton Diaper Cover.
For pattern-phobes like me, there are plain, neutral-colored covers and for folks who want something a bit more playful, there’s no shortage of cheery designs.
Pictured above: Thirsties Snap Duo Wrap Cover.
Creams and Cloths
I get a lot of questions about non-toxic diaper creams and I find Diaperkind’s philosophy on this to be incredibly refreshing. Like me, they recommend a coconut oil-based cream and sell one that they call Organic Coco Balm. In case of diaper rash (something I admit we’ve had to deal with only when we’ve occasionally used disposable diapers while traveling), they sell a basic zinc-oxide-based Rash Relief Cream in their shop.
For folks using cloth wipes (or for cleaning up any particularly impressive poops) Diaperkind recommends their Castile soap cleaner—Sudsy Bottoms Foaming Solution—for easy cleanups. Diaperkind service customers can subscribe to the Diaperkind Weekly Cotton Wipes Service and home launderers can buy a pack of 12 Cotton Wipes for washing at home.
Pictured above: Diaperkind Coco Balm, Diaperkind Rash Relief Cream, Diaperkind Sudsy Bottoms and Cotton Wipes.
Extra Help, Etc.
If cloth diapering is still seeming daunting, Diaperkind offers a monthly hands-on Cloth Diapering 101 class in their Brooklyn space. For folks who aren’t local, Diaperkind isn’t only a diaper service for families living in New York City, they also offer private consultations to help families around the country get set up for home laundering. And they stock Pre-fold Diapers, Fitted Diapers, and Cotton Wipes in their online shop for home launderers looking to get started. For anyone with gifts on the brain, Diaperkind sells Gift Certificates that can be applied to their shop or weekly service fees.
Pictured above: Silas hanging out on a Kaiser Natural Lambskin from Diaperkind.
If you’re interested in giving cloth diapers a shot, mention “Reading My Tea Leaves” at checkout to receive either 50% off your Diaperkind diaper service registration fee, or 15% credit back on your first retail order of $100 or more. Details here.
PS. If you have any other questions about my experience with cloth diapers, shoot! We’re in the thick of middle-of-the-night changes right now, so I’ve got diapers very much on the brain.