cloth diapering – tips and the basics from a professional
Can you introduce yourself, please?
Hey! I’m Liz Turrigiano. Co-founder of Diaperkind and Esembly, and mom to two wacky little Brooklynites.
How did you get interested in cloth diapering?
I was working as an art producer at an ad agency in Soho. I became (rather unexpectedly) pregnant with my daughter. I knew nothing. None of my friends had babies. I dove headfirst down every pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care rabbit hole I could find.
When I learned that newborns go through almost a dozen diapers per day, I knew my husband and I needed to find a better solution than disposables. Together we decided that despite being pretty overwhelmed by the lack of cohesive cloth diapering information online, that we would cloth diaper our baby. It just felt right! We registered for our diapers and then when I was about 8 months pregnant, a coworker at Wieden + Kennedy approached me and asked if I would test out the new cloth diaper service she was preparing to launch called Diaperkind. Fast forward a few months, I was not only using Diaperkind on my little girl, I was a partner in the company!
What are the main differences between cloth diapering and disposable diapering?
Oooo. I love this question!
The most obvious difference is that when dirty, disposables get thrown in the trash, and cloth diapers get thrown in the washing machine!
The less obvious differences are:
- Disposables diapers are notorious for blowouts (big messy leaks) and our Esembly diapers are designed to be blowout proof (no leaks outside of the Outer)
- Disposable diapers and wipes cost families approx $75-$125 per month. Esembly diapers and wipes are a one-time purchase that can save approx $2,000 PER BABY.
- Babies in disposables will use over 6,500 diapers by the time they potty train. Esembly babies need only 44 diapers in that same time. (and those 44 diapers can be saved and passed down to future babies).
Why is cloth diapering getting lots of press these days?
My guess is that there are 3 reasons for all the buzz lately.
- Folks, especially younger folks, are becoming increasingly aware of the ecological crisis we are facing (climate change) and are seeking ways in which they can change their customer behavior in order to reduce their impact on our planet. This is especially important to new and expecting parents who are growing the next generation of planet-dwellers!
- When the pandemic exploded in March and everyone was scrambling to “stock up” on food and essentials, I think a lot of people realized how many disposable diapers their baby goes through each week and how many diapers they would need to pre-purchase in order to be “set” for even just a few weeks (the answer for those that don’t know is hundreds!). The anxiety over diaper stocking, compounded with the scarcity of disposables and the supply chain issue, made for added stress when diaper shelves in stores were empty and online subscriptions were being unexpectedly canceled. Suddenly, the “convenience” of single-use diapers was no longer very convenient and many people turned to reusables. Because… if your diapers are reusable you can never run out!
- The last reason is cost. Disposable diapers and wipes are a rather expensive recurring monthly expense, and with the rising rate of unemployment and wage cuts in our country, families are looking to save $ however they can. With Esembly, after your initial purchase of diapers and wipes, your only recurring cost is running laundry twice a week. Using our system from birth through potty training can save approx $2,000 over the cost of disposables! And for those families that struggle with the up-front cost of the Esembly diaper purchase, we’ve integrated an interest-free, 5 month payment plan which makes it so the monthly cost of your “diaper investment” is less than what you would have otherwise been spending on disposables in that time. So they feel the savings in both the long term AND the short term.
Is cloth diapering for everyone?
Well not everyone, we recommend they be under the age of 3 and not potty trained
All kidding aside, yes! Anyone can (and should) consider cloth diapering. Single-use disposables are costly, they leak, and they are terrible for the planet. Babies need diapers, there’s no getting around that. The Esembly product line equips families with everything they need to radically reduce waste- from organic diapers and skincare to patent-pending laundry and storage. How a family diapers is one small choice among many. We aim to inspire new parents to question the way things have been done in the past, and empower them to make choices that have a positive impact on their family, community and planet. Just 2 loads of laundry per week is all it takes (and we provide straightforward, step-by-step wash instructions and specially formulated diaper cleaning detergent!)
Can you tell us the basics of how cloth diapering works?
It’s so super simple, and not that dissimilar to using disposables.
Change and wipe your baby at regular intervals (same as you would when using a disposable). But instead of tossing the diaper in the trash, stick it in a laundry bag (we call it a Pail Pouch). Twice a week walk the Pouch with all of your dirties over to your washer. Dump everything into the machine, including the Pouch you were collecting them in, and run the cycles as per our recommended wash instructions. When the cycle is done, move everything to the dryer. Once dry, diaper your baby in fresh clean diapers and the whole process starts all over again!
What material do you use for your cloth diapers?
Our Esembly Diapers are made up of two parts- an organic cotton Inner for absorbency, and a waterproof Outer made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles (we’re turning trash into treasure!).
How do you wash them?
Laundering diapers is our thing. At our service Diaperkind we’ve been washing over 15,000 diapers per week for a decade+. There is indeed a science to it, but it’s not hard to master when you have the right tools and the right instruction (if it were, we’d be long out of business!). Our recommended Esembly wash process and our Washing Powder are designed based on the years of research we’ve done through Diaperkind. All you have to do is follow the 4 step instructions we give you (on a magnet that sticks to the side of your washer) and that’s it! To learn more, you can read our process and watch a cute little video here.
How early or late can a baby be using cloth diapers?
You can start with the Esembly system anytime after birth and before your babe is potty trained. Most families stock up when they are expecting and start when their baby is first born. But there are many other families who decide to make the switch later. Some after periods of rash that won’t go away in disposables, or after seeing the sheer quantity of diapers that are being thrown away. The right time to start is whenever it feels right to you! Our diapers come in two trim-fitting sizes. Size 1 fits babies from 7-17lbs and Size 2 fits from 18lbs through potty training.
Can you be a part-time cloth diaper parent or do you have to go all-in?
Absolutely! Every cloth diaper you use is one less going into a landfill!
What do you love most about cloth diapering and why should someone try them out?
I love that they are cost-effective, blowout proof, sustainable, natural, and gentle against babies delicate skin. And if I’m being totally honest, I’m obsessed with how totally adorable they are!