As you may or may not know, I use cloth diapers on my children. I made the decision when I was pregnant with my oldest, who is now 4 years old, after seeing how much disposable diapers cost. I was concerned about whether we would be able to afford boxes of diapers on top of our other bills, and at the time didn’t know that I was going to end up being a stay-at-home mom. After maternity leave was over and we made the decision, I was even more glad we chose to use cloth.
Diapers are essential for babies, but 1 in 3 families struggle to buy diapers. This means that the child may end up wearing a diaper much longer than they should, in order to use as few a day as possible. Sometimes the parent must choose whether to buy diapers or another family essential. Cloth diapers help prevent this, but can be very expensive to buy initially.
The idea behind the Flats Challenge, which was started by Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry is to bring awareness to this issue and to show that using cloth diapers is possible for these families (though not always easy). While it can indeed be expensive to start a diaper stash, it doesn’t have to be. Flats can be much more cost effective, and because they are thin they wash and dry more quickly, so families don’t need to buy as many.
What I have done with my second child, who is now almost 20 months old, is to use flour sack towels as flats. These can be found at Walmart or Target in different size packages for roughly $1 each or less. When he was younger I only used one, and now that he is older I can add another half or whole FST for absorbency. Covers range in price depending on brand and whether you buy them new or used, but can be used for more than one diaper change because they can be wiped out and used again as long as they are not soiled. Covers are also much easier to wash and hang dry than thicker diapers, and are less difficult to sanitize if buying used.
The part of this challenge that will be most difficult for me will be washing by hand every day. Since Oliver is potty training, he uses fewer diapers a day, but he’s also very much into everything so it’s hard to keep up on chores. However, I normally have a working washer and dryer in my basement. This is not the reality for many families. Some must, or choose to because of cost or other reasons, hand wash their diapers. Going to a laundromat can be expensive and time consuming if a washer and dryer are not available, if it is even an option at all.
So, in short, I am participating in this challenge to raise awareness of the struggles many families face, and also to be able to better empathize with them. If you or anyone you know is in need of cloth diapers for your child, there are some amazing charities that can help with that, including Jake’s Diapers. If you have any questions you can leave a comment here or on my Instagram and I will do my best to help out.