Cloth diapers fall into the category of those things that have uses far beyond their obvious ones. They can be used as utility cloths, polishing cloths, even as a cushioning medium for fragile objects. These uses kept cloth diapers on the market after the disposable diaper took over in the baby care department. However, after a couple of generations of disposable diapers, many parents are going back to cloth diapers' traditional use.
The reasons for this switch are many, but mostly have to do with economy and the environment. Cloth diapers are just cheaper to use than disposable ones. Three dozen or so cloth diapers will often get a baby from birth through potty training. One or two purchases of cloth diapers will usually suffice. Parents may need to buy disposable diapers two or three times a week. Even the costs of energy and water used in laundering cloth diapers doesn't make them as expensive as the disposable kind.
Cloth diapers are also easier on the environment. They do not take hundreds of years to degrade and break down in landfills. They also take less fuel to manufacture, and may even be used beyond their first purpose, as mentioned above.
So how do young parents effectively use cloth diapers? They have to be prepared ahead of time, with enough diapers to do the job, diaper pins and either plastic pants or diaper covers. A diaper pail is obviously a must, as well. Three or four dozen cloth diapers should be enough, along with as many diaper pins. Plastic pants are one option for cloth diapers, but diaper covers made of lined cloth are also becoming increasingly popular. These usually close with velcro, and are washable. Gathered at the leg openings like plastic pants, diaper covers provide as much protection as plastic pants and are usually more comfortable. Parents may want to keep some disposable diapers on hand, for trips when they may not be carrying a plastic bag for wet cloth diapers.
Most parents will find the washing machine is running every day or every other day anyway, so a load of diapers might as well go in while the machine is in use. A diaper service might be one alternative, if it is available, but this service may be too expensive, even when compared with the cost of disposable diapers.
Parents need to get into the routine of rinsing diapers in the toilet and putting them in the diaper pail to be washed. They need to make sure the changing supplies are ready to hand on the changing table in order to make using cloth diapers convenient.
Having enough supplies, enough diapers and getting into a routine are the most important aspects of using cloth diapers effectively. It does take more time, but many parents feel the extra time is worth the benefits to their budgets and to the environment.