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.