I knew that newborn babies needed diapers but I still got a bit of a shock when I learnt I would have to change my baby up to ten times a day. That would mean using around 70 disposable nappies per week! It seemed like an insurmountable hill of plastic was coming my way, plus multiple trips down to our building's central waste bin and the supermarket to buy more supplies.
The idea of cloth diapers has always appealed to me, mainly because I hate having any kind of plastic close to my body and imagine that my baby might feel likewise. Once you dig a bit, there is a lot of negative information about disposable diapers out there - toxins in the materials, overly absorbent pads hindering potty training, aggressive marketing campaigns over-promoting diapering into late toddler-hood, and so on and so forth.
However, while cloth diapering sounds simple, dipping your toes into the cloth diaper world is terrifying. Allow me to demonstrate:
Number of decisions required to buy disposable diapers: One - What size is my baby?
Number of decisions required to buy cloth nappies: Too many - First you need to choose from one of nine different types of cloth nappy...
To be honest that was as far as I got before my brain imploded. Can you imagine doing the research, making all these decisions, buying all these products and then finding out your baby has chicken legs and needs to use disposables anyway?
I also had some clear evidence from my mother that, as much I was basically in favour of it, cloth diapering was not for me. Back in the 80s when I was born in hippy-dippy Germany her friends convinced her that "cloth nappies were the only way to go". Well, my mother tells me that after eight days of buckets full of nappies and s**t she had had enough. Disposable nappies it was, and we both lived to tell the tale.
This might be a different story if I lived in the US and had a friendly diaper shop around the corner to advise me and a diaper service to cart away the dirties. The reality is that I live in Brazil: my washing machine is a glorified bucket with a stick in it, nobody owns a dryer and I wouldn't even know where to buy anything fancier than a simple muslin cloth.
It seems I and my baby are doomed to disposable diaper-dom.
Here's a crazy idea to wrap your head around: the diaper-free baby. Apparently, all over the world people are astounded that western mothers don't know when their baby is going to pee or poop.
The gist of the idea (also known as elimination communication) is that from very early on babies can communicate their need to eliminate. Mothers (and fathers) can learn to read these signs and then, instead of letting the baby pee or poop in the nappy, whisk it to a toilet or potty. It sounds nutty at first, but how many times have you seen parents glance dotingly at their offspring saying, "Oh, look, he's just doing a poo!” Instead of watching the baby poo in its diaper, why not whisk it off to a toilet?
In short, this is my newborn diapering plan:
* Start with disposables to avoid extra stress during the first few weeks after birth
* Try reading the baby's signals when I feel ready
* Have a couple of simple cloth diapers at hand, should elimination communication go extremely well
* Play it by ear and enjoy my beautiful baby!
Dear readers, what are your thoughts?