Making The Switch To Cloth Diapers Is Easier Than You Might Think

FAIRBANKS — I have lived in Fairbanks for most of my life. Growing up here, you become tuned in to all of the signs to watch for that tell you that spring is around the corner — the melting snow, the shining sun, the chirping chickadees, the geese heading this way.

We also are headed into a time where we will use our wood stove less.

Like many Alaskans, we are dependent on our wood stove at our house. Although we have a Toyo, our wood stove provides our major source of heat.

Our stove is also essential in drying cloth diapers.

My husband installed a large coat rack on a ceiling beam near our wood stove before the birth of our first son. Once we wash a load of 30 diapers, we place them on pants hangers and hang them on the coat rack to dry. During the winter, with our wood stove ablaze and the ceiling fan on, the drying time is hours. It’s amazing and wonderful. No need to run the dryer, and the baby loves the feel of soft, toasty diapers.

Spring and summer are a different story. The return of spring and summer sun means it is time to lay the diapers out to remove the stains. The sun is a natural disinfectant and stain remover. A few hours in the sun will erase most stains and leave your best diapers looking renewed.

In the summer, we can hang the diapers outside to dry, but during the spring months, we are left with a much longer drying time. Nothing can quite replace the wood stove, it seems.

I never imagined myself using cloth diapers, but the first thing you start to stock up on is disposable diapers when you have children. Depending on the brand you choose, the cost can easily be $75 per month. After suffering from sticker shock, I began my journey in cloth diapering. I headed to the Internet and found that cloth diapers had changed — not so much in function but in the selection. The variety available was incredible and a little overwhelming.

Now that I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers, I needed more information. So I signed up for a class at Blueberry Baby. Owner Lara Lotze covered such topics as the benefits and the best detergent to use. Her enthusiasm and knowledge for cloth diapering furthered my desire to not only save money but also to provide my precious baby with a healthy bum.

Armed with the basic functions I needed in cloth diapering, I started to purchase a few. I bought prefolds, some inserts, some fitted and a couple covers.

If you have ever bought cloth diapers, it can be addicting. These are not run-of-the-mill white diapers with plastic tabs but beautiful brightly colored coverings that give your baby that distinct round-butt look. Cloth diapers are much like cars — there is the economy model and then there is the Bentley or the Aston Martin. They have a great resale value, too.

I realized right away that my budget would not allow me to have a diaper pail of the luxury model, so I enlisted the help of my grandmother. She made the diapers that I wore as a baby. She sent me the same pattern that had been used in my family for more than 30 years. I began my journey unable to thread my sewing machine, and by the end, I could sew a straight line.

Cloth diapers are not for everyone. I think people are always turned off by the idea of dealing with the No. 2 portion of things, but once you tackle your first few loads of laundry, you realize it is not that bad.

There are a few things that have evolved during the years. You can buy biodegradable liners for your diapers or install a diaper sprayer on your toilet. And there is no longer a need to soak them in bleach; just toss them in a hamper lined with a wet bag.

I still can’t resist buying a new cloth diaper every now again. If you have ever thought about trying it but were turned off by idea, I encourage you to give a try. There are diapers for everyone’s budget. It is chemical-free for babies with sensitive skin and keeps a few more disposables from entering the landfill. You don’t have to exclusively cloth diaper, either.

Great Cloth Diaper Change

On April 20, babies in 15 countries will have their diapers changed at the same time in an attempt to break the world record during the Great Cloth Diaper Change. I will join this fabulous group of moms this year.

To participate and show your support, contact one these Fairbanks area resources: Blueberry Baby, a Fairbanks store where you can get information, join a class or buy new and used diapers: FNSB Cloth Diapering Mamas, or Fairbanks and North Pole Area Cloth Diaper Swap on Facebook, where you can sell, buy and ask questions about cloth diapering.

Information about the Great Cloth Diaper Change is also available online at

Have comments or suggestions for Jennifer Willeford? Email her at [email protected]. You can find her on Twitter: @jwilleford7.

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