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Each one of us, from time to time, sits down with our parents and reflects on our childhood. The conversation usually turns to how easy it is nowadays to run a household or raise a child compared to several decades ago. However, some ways of parenting should always remain the same, not out of nostalgia but because they were smarter, healthier and better for the world we live in. One of these antiquated practices that disappeared with milk deliveries, green stamps, catching fireflies, and the ice cream man was the cloth diaper service.
Many young parents today were diapered in the same manner they are now diapering their own children: using disposable diapers purchased in bulk at a local store or supermarket. These bulky packages come with several dozen to a package in all sizes, and are often perfumed and adorned with colorful characters. They are compact, use plastic stripping for quick changing, and are disposed in the trash and carted away to a landfill. This modern practice sounds simple enough, but how was it done before disposables became available in the early 1960s?
Diaper services, the predecessor to the disposable diaper, were a popular part of child rearing, especially in households where washers and dryers were not efficient enough to handle batches of soiled diapers, and hand washing was not a desirable alternative. Just as reliable as a milk delivery, a predetermined amount of diapers of a specific size were delivered right to your door and the soiled diapers were taken away and cleaned commercially by your service. These services were reliable and everyone in the neighborhood usually used the same service. The only negative was using pins to secure the diaper, which often opened up and woke the sleeping baby. An important advantage of diaper services was the way they enabled our mothers to preserve our environment. Human waste was disposed of properly through sewage systems without impacting our environment by entering a landfill via a full diaper. So why would anyone want to replace something that made sense and worked effectively for decades? Unfortunately, that wasn’t up to the consumers. This smart service was eliminated by big corporations who developed the plastic non-biodegradable alternative that now contaminates our environment.
Out of concern for the health and development of our children and the world we live in, the cloth diaper service has been reintroduced to families and communities. Diaper services are also working fantastically for those with a busy lifestyle.
There are two kinds of diapers in the world. One is the simple, three-panel rectangle of five to seven piles of soft and natural cotton that is used by diaper services. The other is a tremendously complex combination of heavily treated paper pulp, polyethylene (along with other plastics), glues, dyes, synthetic perfumes, and above all, a super absorbent chemical called sodium polyacrylate that absorbs urine and holds it in a “gel” next to babies skin. Along with the invention of the recent diaper came diaper rash, which is why so many mothers of the 60s and 70s continued to use their cloth diaper services even though there was a “modern” alternative at their local store. Eventually, mothers had no choice, since the corporations that produced disposable diapers squashed all of the local diaper services, leaving no alternatives. These corporations marketed disposables as a convenient alternative to the cloth diaper despite the fact that chemicals and absorbency materials used in their product caused health problems and allergic reactions like diaper rash. Health issues like asthma, a weakened immune system and impaired hormonal systems have all been attributed to this diapering alternative. Years later, it was discovered that disposables were not only making our kids sick, but they were contributing to an unhealthy environment too. Again, the corporations that created this product attempted to convince the public otherwise.
An independent study commissioned by one of the largest manufacturers of disposables contended that cloth diapers required so much water to wash that they were less environmentally friendly than disposables. These findings are false, and the same study actually reported the opposite of this. The study found that commercial diaper services are the most environmentally friendly way to diaper your child, but the large corporation that commissioned this study took artful license and eliminated that vital fact from its findings before making it public. Common sense tells us that “reusing” cloth diapers that are laundered in a local facility using eco-friendly cleaning products in high efficiency machines is better for the environment than disposables often made overseas from a combination of bleached plastics, dyes and chemicals, trucked across the continents, used once and then discarded where they spend hundreds of years decomposing. Not to mention, the human waste discarded along with these diapers leaches bacteria and virus into the water system. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone!
In addition to keeping both your baby and the environment healthy, it is convenient and may get your child out of diapers sooner, which would mean less money and time spent on diapering!
Studies have also shown that babies who wear cotton diapers are “potty trained” sooner. Babies who wear disposables are not exposed to wetness and do not feel the sensation of a wet, soggy diaper, which does not make potty training and urgent matter. However, not having to diaper as often, or twice as much if there is more than one diaper aged child in the house, is not the only lifestyle convenience diaper services offer. Most services offer complete start up kits that provide all the tools necessary to easily ease right into cloth diapering. Diaper pails, citrus deodorizing circles, pail liners, waterproof cover pants, flannel baby wipes and best of all, non-pin diaper fasteners, are all some of the useful components offered or included with some services. Cloth diaper services will also arrange supplemental orders for day care providers. All of these services are quickly arranged and the supplies are brought right to your door! All you have to do each week is leave the bag outside your door. This saves you weekly trips to the store transporting bulky packages and gas. Many services offer full online conveniences and are easy to use. Your orders are scheduled to be picked up and delivered on the same day each week to the same location, all fluffed, folded, stacked and ready to use. Diapers orders are also adjusted in size and quantity as your diaper needs change. Some services even guarantee that you will always receive your own personal diapers back with each delivery. A tagging and bagging system assures this much like that of a dry cleaning service.
The final and most common misconception of all is that cloth diapers services are costly. In actuality, a basic services run about $23.00 per week with some additional start up costs. This is about the same as purchasing disposables. Premium services are slightly more and include some of the supplies mentioned above. You can pay month-to-month for a service or arrange for a six month or one year membership. You will find that most services will tailor any existing plan to meet your needs and strive to offer the utmost in client services.
If you are considering lifestyle alternatives for your family, a smart choice may be to try a cloth diapering service. There is no denying the health benefits, which are an investment in your child’s future. Not to mention, these services also offer a host of conveniences. Parents who choose to use a cloth diaper service are bringing back something that makes sense, as well as sending a strong message to their community and young children about what they are doing to preserve the environment.
Editorial provided by Dana Scinto, Innovative Diaper Service, the green cloth diaper service for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.