Diapers. They used to be what caught your babies waste. Now they’re a grey area in a “green” world. Google cloth diapers and you’ll reach all kinds of websites. Some
talking about how using cloth is the environmentally friendly way to go. Some advocate that cloth is cheaper. Some lay down the argument that cloth isn’t really greener or cheaper when you factor in the cost of supplies and laundering. In the long run, it’s a personal decision that every family must make for themselves.
My husband and I discussed it and decided to use cloth for a few reasons. My husband was a fan of not adding to landfills, I was a fan of not having to spend money on diapers weekly, and we both thought they’d be more comfortable for the baby. However, as a family that travels frequently we knew that they had to fit into that lifestyle. Our first trip with our 8 week old daughter was to see her 6 year old brother 3000 miles away, so we test drove cloth diapers for travel.
Cloth Diapers on the Road
Before our trip began I drew up a list of items that I would pack. I settled on 4 diaper covers (+2 in diaper bag), 1 Snappi on the baby and 1 in the diaper bag, 6 doublers (+3 in diaper bag, one pail liner, 30 liners (they come in a roll so I tore off a bunch, folded them and put them in the pouch with the wipes in the diaper bag), 12 prefolds (+6 in diaper bag), diaper laundry soap, baking soda, a Handy sack travel pack, and of course our handy wet/dry sack (always lives in the diaper bag).
Our experiment began with two connecting flights on Friday. With the diaper bag loaded we stepped on feeling confident. Wet diapers went in the wet/dry sack, we had enough items, and magically she slept well on the plane during our 6 hour second flight.
On a daily basis on our trip cloth diapers were no more difficult than disposable. We did start throwing wipes and liners into the wet/dry sack when there were no trash cans around.
Upon arrival to the hotel room I set up a diaper table. We were very happy to have a chest of drawers in the bathroom which made the perfect diaper table. The liner hung from a drawer pull and our supplies were folded into the top drawer.
We planned to do laundry twice while there. It doesn’t sound fun but it was easy. I packed a Ziploc bag with 4 scoops of Charlie’s soap powder in it and another one with 2 loads worth of baking soda (I labeled both bags clearly in Sharpie for any curious TSA agents!). Upon landing we went into a convenience store and bought a small bottle of vinegar for under $2. Our hotel had washers and dryers and I easily did our laundry on Saturday night after the kids were in bed. On Monday I did another small load.
Our cleaning method was adapted to a high efficiency washer. Baking soda went into the softener slot, Charlie’s into the detergent slot and vinegar went into the bleach slot. I added an additional rinse and the machine only had to run once.
We flew back Monday night on a redeye with another fully loaded diaper bag. Any diapers that were dirtied between Monday mornings laundry and the flight that evening were tied off into plastic Handy sacks and consolidated into the clean liner. We packed these in our checked luggage.
On Tuesday around 3am somewhere over Kansas the motherload hit- a blowout poop-filled diaper. After calling to my husband from the lavatories changing table (thank you JetBlue!) for a backup pocket diaper, I placed all poop covered items into a Handy sack (since I couldn’t swirl in an airplane toilet). I tied off the bag and put it in the wet dry sack for later cleaning.
The bottom line is it is very possible to cloth diaper on a cross country trip. Three tricks to keep in mind:
1) Plan on doing laundry during the trip. Don’t pack every single diaper you have.
2) Bring a travel pack of Handy-Sacks or a bunch of plastic bags for possible blowouts when you are out and about.
3) When you arrive in your hotel room set up a diapering station similar to what you have at home.
Good luck and safe travels!
More Traveling Mom cloth diaper info is available:
Spina Bifida Mom writes about G-Diapers here.
More Plane Travel with Babies info is available:
Elizabeth Pederson writes about Flying with Babies here.
Nasreen Stump is a freelance writer who lives in Vermont, when she isn’t on the road for work. Find food recipes and Vermont life at her website ramblingstump.blogspot.com. Check her out on Twitter @ramblingstump .