The Art of Diapering For Longterm Budget Travel

Dear Asher,

We knew before you were born that we wanted to use cloth diapers. Both of your parents were reared in cloth diapers but within one generation, using cloth diapers has nearly been replaced with using disposable diapers. For us, the reasons for using cloth diapers are plentiful.

First, it is far better for the environment. When comparing to cloth diapers, disposable diapers use twenty times more raw materials, two times more water and three times more energy to manufacture. It takes 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose under ideal conditions, and landfills are not ideal since oxygen and organic materials are needed to improve biodegradability. Some people argue that cloth diapers are bad for the environment because of the water needed for extra laundering but the water use for laundering is comparable to, or less than, the water use required to manufacture disposables.

Second, it is more cost effective to use cloth diapers. The average family in Canada is now having two children. The average cost for disposable diapers for two children from birth to potty training is $4800. Your Charlie Banana cloth diapers cost $20 each and we only needed twelve of them. So our diapers cost us $240 (6 were a gift from my colleagues at St. David School and 6 were donated by Charlie Banana for our trip), and these diapers can be used for more than one child as well. The additional laundering cost for cloth diapers is minimal especially when clotheslines are used for drying.

Lastly, babies in cloth diapers are less prone to diaper rash and tend to potty train earlier (because disposables are very absorbent which make them too comfortable). You have been using the Charlie Banana cloth diapers now for six months and have never had anything close to a diaper rash.

When your mother was pregnant with you and we were waiting for our midwife appointment, I noticed a book on the shelf called “Elimination Communication.” We both read the book from cover to cover and could not believe what it was telling us. Could babies really communicate their elimination needs and do their business over a toilet (bucket or bush) instead of in their diaper? There was really nothing to lose so we took the advice. At three and a half weeks old, you had your first bowel movement on the toilet. By three months old, you had more than 75% of your bowel movements on the toilet and by six months, that number was well over 95%. In fact, we have been traveling for 18 days now and you have not had one bowel movement in your cloth diapers. When considering the art of diapering, Elimination Communication (EC) is the DaVinci of methods. You also do not pee in your diaper all that frequently during the day, but we have decided to let you pee in your diaper at night so as not to disturb your eleven hour long sleep. Altogether, you do not use more than two or three diapers a day. Your mother is entirely responsible for the success of your EC progress. She has become masterful at reading and responding to your cues and your father is her apprentice.

Laundering your diapers on the road is a breeze especially because I am only laundering out urine. Since you require more of your mother’s time than mine right now, I have insisted on making all of the meals and doing all of the laundry for our trip. This partnership has been very successful as revealed in your consistent level of contentment. For laundry, I fill a narrow dry bag with about one liter of water, I wipe down the diapers with a bar of laundry soap, then vigorously mash them in the bag of water for a few minutes. Afterwards, I dump out the gray water and refill the bag with another liter of clean water. I then mash the diapers again to rinse out all of the soap. All in all, it takes no more than five to ten minutes a day to wash your diapers, and the rest of our laundry, by hand.

Everyone on our trip is amazed with your ability to communicate your elimination needs. When Couchsurfing Mitchell stayed with us in the summer, he said, “I never would have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.” Now cliché among self-development trainers is Ghandi’s famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Asher, there are dozens of backpackers returning home with the inspiration of one day traveling with their baby and a new understanding of the abilities of a developing mind. To “pamper” is to indulge with attention. In this context, the brand Pampers is misleading. We use disposables so attention to elimination needs is not required. Though you are unaware of the necessity to have a concern for our natural environment, you are already doing your part because diapering with a small footprint takes effort from both baby and parents. Asher, in your infancy, you are shifting paradigms and teaching those around you the art of diapering for long term travel on a budget.

5 thoughts on “The Art of Diapering For Longterm Budget Travel

  1. So interesting!!! In my kids time, we had different sizes of cloth diapers, so we needed a few more. However, as you say, we used them for the next child and gave them to friends after. The Charlie Bananas look very good, very good thinking. We sadly were not aware of that great potty training program, but I do know that with cloth diapers I was trying to be alert, the kids potty trained quickly; I am sure it has also to do with the cloth diapers. Kudos for you 3 in doing this!
    Big hugs, Liesbeth


  2. Dear Asher,
    How many days at the camp I watched your Mom and Dad hanging out your cloth diapers to dry in nature’s sun! I loved using cloth diapers but I never knew about EC. It makes a great deal of sense when I think of mother and child in countries where there are no disposable diapers. I loved doing cloth diapers and watching the sun naturally whiten them. I like the concept of Charlie Banana because of the insert inside the diaper and the fact that the outside pants are adjustable and reusable. Advancement! That is quite a fact about how long it takes to breakdown a diaper in our landfills and how expensive they are for families! I am happiest too, that you have never known a diaper rash!
    Hugs to everyone.


  3. Cloth diapers are so much nicer now than what we had to use on little bottoms. The Charlie Bananas are an ingenious design and Asher looks most handsome in them!
    I agree with couch surfer Mitchell – if I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed it. Alyssa and Asher are pros at EC!


  4. Hi, we met on the beach in playa del Carmen on the last day of your trip. We ask you to take of picture of my husband and I with our 2months old baby. We chatted for a bit and you told us about Charlie Banana.
    I wanted to thank you for suggesting those to us. We were looking to buy some cloth diapers but felt a little lost.the ones we had bought when he was a month old leaked. Anyway, we are really happy with these.

    Again thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you and your lovely family.

    Damaris, Jacques and baby Mateo


    1. Of course we remember you! I’m glad to hear you are still rocking out the cloth diapers. We love the Charlie Bananas. These ones still leak the odd time when he sleeps through the night…but that is expected when he wears then 10 hours straight. Also, look into elimination communication. Our little guy is now sitting on the toilet to do his poops and he is only 11 months old! We still have to read his cues to bring him there…but NO POO diapers! Awesome.


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