Jan
11
2009

  Diaper Dilemma Is Over

Terry and I made the decision to use cloth diapers even before we agreed on names for our forthcoming baby. Primarily for environmental reasons-- we don't generate much trash here on the farm and we have no intention of starting. We compost a lot, recycle a lot, and only take trash to the dump a few times per year. But we also liked that cloth-diapered babies were usually toilet trained sooner than kids who wear disposable diapers.

But which cloth diapers to use? The choices are really overwhelming. I tentatively decided a few months ago that I'd like to use flat diapers (not pre-folded) with wool covers. But then I learned about the "EC" movement; it stands for "elimination communication" and trains your baby to use a pot from infancy rather than training your baby to pee and poop on itself while wearing a diaper.

Terry is in 100% agreement with me that this EC thing is the right way to go. Even more environmentally correct, even more convenient for us as the parents, even more comfortable for the baby. I read the book "Diaper Free" today, and am confident we can do this.

I'll still need to use some diapers in the first weeks, and it will be good to have some on hand for a variety of reasons. But since diapers will not be used exclusively, we'll need far fewer of them than called for by traditional guidelines. Ergo, which particular type we get is of less importance.

I'm still going to get flat diapers, but I'll make sure they are made from organic material. I'll probably get a few waterproof fabric covers, but during the day when we're at home we won't use them. It will be important to be alert to exactly when the baby pees, and if we use cloth without a waterproof cover we'll know right away. Instead of diaper covers, we'll invest in various waterproof pads that we can put on our lap, or on the sofa, or on the floor, and in the cradle to keep everything dry. I'll also need to get some of those Snappi diaper clips (which would have been unnecessary if we used fitted diaper covers exclusively).

The first few weeks I'll mostly be getting to know the baby, and it seems the best way to get in tune with the baby quickly is to wear it all the time, with skin-to-skin contact. So I researched various baby slings this evening.

I've decided I'll start with a non-padded ring sling. I ordered several sets of sling rings tonight, so I can use whatever fabric I prefer. I'm not sure the fabric shops around here carry organic fabrics, so I'll probably have to order fabric online, or pick some up while I'm in NYC next month. It should be warm enough in April that I'll be able to go topless and carry the baby naked against my body wrapped in a sling. The kind of sling I'll make will also give me enough coverage I won't be "indecent" should anyone come to visit, although visitors are so few, and neighbors so far away I've never really been much concerned about nudity around the house and yard (although I wouldn't walk all the way to the mailbox naked, and I don't usually go outside in the buff until afternoon since the UPS/Fedex/mail deliveries are usually all before 2pm and I wouldn't want to embarrass the delivery guys).

I'm currently reading the book "Growing Up Green" by Deirdre Imus, which has spurred my interest in organic fabrics. I've been on the fence about them for awhile, and have preferred natural fibers for myself for years now. But while Terry and I aren't convinced that environmental toxins are as harmful as some "greenies" go on about, we do suspect that there are indeed some chemicals that may indeed cause health problems. Our issue is that there really isn't much evidence about what chemicals in particular cause what problems when they're present in what concentrations. We don't think there's any cause to be alarmist, but we suspect there is some sort of problem, it's just too bad it's so difficult to identify.

And we've been eating exclusively organic dairy products and eggs, and primarily organic meats for years. When it comes to food, I do believe that the hormones and antibiotics pumped into dairy cows and beef cattle and chickens is disruptive when ingested by humans. I have no proof of it, really, but it just makes sense to me. And so Terry and I are quite willing to pay more for organic food than the regular stuff, since our health is important to us. And we also pony up extra for cage-free chicken eggs and free-range meats, since we are also in favor of the ethical treatment of animals. We happen to believe that it is ethical to kill them humanely for food, since they don't know they're going to die until they're already in the slaughterhouse, so there's no reason they can't have perfectly happy animal-lives every day until their last. It's not right for them to live miserable, cage-restricted, feed-lot lives. I think that sort of thing should be outlawed. Yes, it will cost more to raise animals in a nice way, but if demand goes up, the prices will fall. They already have for many organic products. And people don't HAVE to eat meat if they think it's too expensive.

But I digress. My point is that shifting to organic fabrics seems to me a logical progression from eating organic foods. Although I think skin naturally does a pretty good job of keeping what is outside of us outside, and what is inside inside. So as long as things don't break the skin, they probably won't contaminate us that much. Certainly not as much as food that is DIGESTED and spread throughout our entire system. But different things can certainly irritate the skin, and when I learned that formaldehyde is often used to process fabric that pretty much creeps me out. And babies have more sensitive skin than adults, so I'm somewhat more willing to pay extra to keep my baby in organic clothes than I am willing to keep myself in organic clothes. For me, the whole organic clothes thing for adults is more about sustainability than about environmental toxins. I really like bamboo clothes, for instance, and while they aren't technically "organic" there are certainly far, far fewer pesticides etc. used to create cloth from bamboo vs. conventionally grown cotton. Plus they wear really well, and are both comfortable and washable.