The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Health & Family

July 11, 2013

Cloth comeback? Better materials, fasteners give parents new reasons to use cloth diapers

JOPLIN, Mo. — There's a small revolution under way in infant care practices, and it has nothing to do with the at-home versus working-mom debates. It's not breast versus bottle, either.

It's a bit more end-result oriented: We're dealing with cloth diapers, folks.

The problem with encouraging new parents to use cloth diapers for their babies is that they've already heard their own parents' opinions. Thirty years ago, cloth diapers -- folded rectangles, safety pins and rubber pants -- were common, and they were commonly reviled. If you weren't dealing with diaper rashes from poorly ventilated bottoms, you were dealing with blowouts and leaking.

It wasn't a formula for fanaticism. When disposable diapers landed, they were a huge hit.

Fast-forward a few decades, though, and the cloth diaper situation is almost unrecognizably different. There are hundreds of brands of cloth diapers on the market now.

You can find organic hemp alongside microfiber or bamboo inserts. And forget about rubber pants -- today's diapers come with breathable outer shells in fashionable patterns of wool or polyurethane-laminated fabric. These shells are easier to use than old-school diapers. Many come with adjustable snaps and buttons, so a baby could wear the exact same outer shells from the newborn stage all the way up through potty training.

New parents who are considering cloth diapers can be overwhelmed by all of their options. There are hybrids, pre-folds, all-in-ones and pocket diapers, often with trademarked closure methods, all promising to be the simplest and most effective.

But cloth users also tend to be zealots -- they cheer loudly and often about the superiority of fluffy bottoms. Here are some things to consider if you're still trying to decide whether or not cloth diapering is right for your family.

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