Cloth Diapering Tips for Hesitant Dads and Caregivers: Getting Everyone on Board

By April Duffy •  Updated: 07/02/24 •  18 min read

As a parent, I’ve learned that the journey to raising a child is a shared one, even if those first few months feel incredibly lonely and frustrating.

It’s filled with joys, challenges, and lots of diaper changes. And while this journey can often feel overwhelming, it’s important to remember that we’re not alone in this. In fact, one of the most rewarding aspects of parenthood is the opportunity to share these experiences with our partners, our co-parents, our caregivers — if we can get them involved.

But what happens when you’re enthusiastic about cloth diapering, but your partner isn’t quite on board yet? You’re not alone. Many parents, especially dads, express some hesitations about using cloth diapers. Maybe it’s the perceived extra work, or unfamiliarity, or just old-fashioned discomfort with something new.

I get it. Really, I do. But here’s the good news: cloth diapering can actually be a wonderful experience for dads and caregivers once they give it a shot. It’s a chance to get hands-on with your child’s care, to make a positive impact on your family’s budget and the environment, and to contribute to your little one’s health and comfort.

So, let’s delve into this topic together. We’ll address common hesitations you can rebut, share the benefits of cloth diapering you can tout, and provide practical tips to get dad or any caregiver fully on board with cloth diapering.

Let’s get started!

Understanding Dad’s Hesitation and Concerns

Every dad is unique and so are their concerns. Some might feel that cloth diapering is too time-consuming, complex, or messy compared to using disposables. Others might be apprehensive about the washing and maintenance that cloth diapers require.

It’s perfectly okay to have these concerns. After all, we all want what’s best for our babies and we want to be sure we’re making the right choices.

The first step to getting dad on board with cloth diapering is to understand his concerns. Here are some common hesitations dads and other caregivers might have:

Showing Empathy and Understanding Towards Their Concerns

I get it, a lot is expected of us as new parents, but taking the high road, validating these hesitations and empathizing with them can only help you in the long run.

Remember, it’s not about proving them wrong or dismissing their worries. Instead, it’s about showing them that their concerns are understood and that there are simple and practical solutions and benefits that may outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

In the following sections, we’ll address each of these concerns in detail and provide tips to help overcome them. So, let’s get ready to demystify cloth diapering together!

Illustrating the Benefits: Showing How Cloth is Superior

To truly overcome any hesitations dads and caregivers might have about cloth diapering, they usually need to know they’re making not only a different choice, but a better one.

Cloth diapers come with a host of benefits, after all there are reasons so many families are making the switch in the first place. When working to bring a hesitant caregiver on board, it’s helpful to unpack these benefits, shedding light on why cloth diapers are an excellent choice for your family.

Outline the Financial Savings

Cloth diapers can significantly reduce the cost compared to disposable diapers.

An average child who is potty trained at three years old will use about 8,030 diapers. At an average cost of $0.25 per disposable diaper, parents can expect to spend about $2,007.50 per child on diapers.

In contrast, reusable cloth diapers, if bought new, cost between $6 and $30 each, averaging around $18. For a starting pack of 24 cloth diapers, parents would spend about $432, saving approximately $1,575.50 per child.

These savings can increase with less expensive or DIY cloth diapers and by using them for more than one child. Also, used cloth diapers can be sold to further reduce the cost.

The cost of washing cloth diapers, which includes water, energy, and detergent, is typically not substantial enough to offset these savings.

Of the parents I’ve surveyed in the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Community, most did not notice a significant increase in their utility bills due to washing cloth diapers, and they spent less than $5 per month on detergent​.

Click here to learn more about the financial expenses and savings of cloth diapers.

Discuss the Positive Impact on the Environment and Reducing Waste

One of the most significant advantages of cloth diapering is the positive impact it has on the environment. With the increasing concern about the planet’s well-being, it’s crucial to consider how our daily choices affect the world we live in.

First, let’s talk about waste. A single child can use anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 disposable diapers each year. That’s a lot of trash ending up in our landfills, and it doesn’t disappear quickly. Disposable diapers can take hundreds of years to decompose, meaning they’ll be a burden on the environment long after your child is grown. In contrast, cloth diapers can be reused hundreds of times and, at the end of their lifecycle, they are biodegradable, significantly reducing waste.

Another environmental benefit of cloth diapering is reduced resource consumption. Disposable diapers require large amounts of water, energy, and raw materials for their production and transportation. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, have a lower overall resource impact, especially when washed in full loads and line-dried.

Lastly, by choosing cloth diapers, we can help reduce pollution. The production of disposable diapers involves the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. Plus, once used, they often contribute to the contamination of groundwater and soil as they decompose in landfills.

While it’s true that cloth diapers also have an environmental footprint (they require water and energy for washing and drying), with proper care and efficient washing routines, this impact can be minimized. Plus, cloth diapers can be used for subsequent children or even resold, amplifying their environmental benefits.

Cloth diapering is an eco-friendly choice that not only benefits your family but also contributes to a healthier planet for future generations. By understanding these environmental impacts, dads and caregivers can feel good about the role they play in reducing waste and preserving the environment.

Don’t Forget the Health Benefits of Cloth Diapers

While we’ve delved into the financial and environmental benefits of cloth diapering, it’s equally crucial to consider the potential health benefits for our little ones. The concerns about the health effects of disposables are indeed worth considering​1​.

One significant concern with disposable diapers is the use of potentially harmful chemicals in their production, such as sodium polyacrylate crystals for absorbency, and dioxin, a byproduct of the chlorine bleaching process. Notably, dioxin is known to be a highly toxic carcinogen and endocrine disruptor, with trace amounts found on disposable diapers. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, don’t carry this risk​.

A study by Anderson Laboratories, found that lab mice exposed to disposable diapers experienced symptoms similar to asthma and irritation in the eye, nose, and throat. These symptoms were not found with cloth diapers, indicating a potential advantage for babies with sensitive skin or respiratory systems​​.

Furthermore, a 2001 UK study suggested that infant boys who wear disposable diapers could experience a slight increase in scrotal temperature, potentially impacting future fertility. This issue is not encountered with cloth diapers, providing another potential advantage for long-term health​.

It’s worth noting that you can further ensure the safety of your baby by choosing organic cotton cloth diapers. Organic cotton diapers are unbleached and free from toxic pesticides or herbicides, providing an even safer option for your little one​.

The topic of health benefits brings us a more profound perspective of the cloth diapering journey. It’s not just about the cost or the environment but also about providing a potentially safer, healthier option for our babies.

Addressing Hesitation: 5 Tips to Get Them on Board Early

Tip One: Start with Education

As with any new endeavor, knowledge is power. The more a hesitant parent or caregiver knows about cloth diapering, the more likely they are to feel comfortable and confident in their ability to be part of the diapering routine. While it might seem overwhelming at first, cloth diapering is a skill that can be mastered with a bit of time and guidance.

There are numerous resources available to help dads learn about cloth diapering. One excellent starting point is right here on Cloth Diapers for Beginners. Our Cloth Diapers 101 page is a comprehensive guide that breaks down everything you need to know about cloth diapering. It covers a wide range of topics, including the different types of cloth diapers, how to use and care for them, troubleshooting tips, and much more. You can find it here.

Tip Two: Involve Dad in the Decision-Making Process

Involvement in the decision-making process can also foster a sense of ownership and commitment toward cloth diapering. The world of cloth diapers is vast and varied, with numerous styles, brands, and designs to choose from. Encouraging dads to take an active role in researching and selecting the types of cloth diapers that appeal to them can significantly boost their interest and enthusiasm.

If you’re looking for a low-impact video on the different types of cloth diapers as a starting point I have this one for you:

It provides a comprehensive overview of the various styles, including prefolds, fitteds, pockets, all-in-ones, and hybrids, among others. Watching this video can help dads get a clear picture of what each type of cloth diaper offers and how they might suit their lifestyle and preferences.

Cloth diapers today are designed with convenience in mind. For instance, all-in-one diapers are as easy to use as disposables, requiring no stuffing or folding, while pocket diapers allow for customizable absorbency levels. Also, many cloth diapers come with adjustable sizing, making them suitable for babies as they grow. By exploring these options, dads and others involved in the care and changing of your baby can find a cloth diapering system that fits seamlessly into their daily routines, making the switch to cloth a lot smoother and more enjoyable.

Tip Three: Simplify the Process at the Change Table

It’s no secret that life with a baby can be hectic, and the idea of adding cloth diapering to the mix might seem daunting to some dads. However, it’s important to note that cloth diapering doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming. In fact, with the right system, it can be just as straightforward as using disposables.

One way to simplify the process is to opt for user-friendly cloth diapering systems that are simple to put on and take off. For example, all-in-one diapers are incredibly straightforward to use. As the name suggests, they consist of a single piece, much like a disposable diaper. There’s no need to worry about separate parts or pieces – you simply put it on, take it off, and wash.

Pocket diapers, on the other hand, are also simple at the change table, but will require some work to get ready. They consist of a waterproof outer layer with a pocket inside that you can stuff with absorbent inserts. The advantage here is that you can customize the absorbency to suit your baby’s needs. And once they’re stuffed, pocket diapers are just as easy to put on and take off as all-in-ones.

In terms of maintenance, many dads (and moms!) fear that cloth diapers will be a lot of work. While all-in-ones and pocket diapers are a bit more difficult than say flat or prefold diapers to wash, with your unique measure method wash routine cheat sheet by the washer, it’s easy enough to keep things clean and fresh. Plus, there are numerous accessories available, like diaper sprayers and liners, to make dealing with poop a breeze.

By choosing a user-friendly system and establishing a straightforward maintenance routine, cloth diapering can easily fit into the busy lives of dads and caregivers who need some easy wins up front.

Tip Four: Emphasize Teamwork (Don’t Become the Expert)

Cloth diapering, much like any aspect of parenting, is a team effort. It’s not a task meant for just one person to shoulder, but rather an opportunity for both parents to be actively involved in their baby’s care. Sharing the responsibilities associated with cloth diapering can not only lighten the load for the default caregivers but also foster a sense of teamwork and unity.

Open communication plays a crucial role here; don’t become the cloth diaper expert if you want others to be excited about cloth diapers!

It’s beneficial for both parents to be familiar with all aspects of cloth diapering, from changing and washing the diapers to troubleshooting any issues that might arise. This way, no matter who’s on diaper duty, everyone is well-equipped to handle it and the chore won’t always fall to the default caregiver, overwhelming them futher.

Moreover, cooperation in the cloth diapering routine can also pave the way for shared bonding moments with the baby. Whether it’s the simple act of changing a diaper or the occasional late-night laundry load, these shared experiences can bring parents closer together while providing the best care for their little one. So, dads, embrace the teamwork aspect of cloth diapering – it’s a journey you and your partner can embark on together, strengthening your bond as parents along the way.

Tip Five: Showcase Dad-Friendly, Custom Features

Cloth diapers today are not just about functionality; they’re also about style and personal expression. One of the fun aspects of cloth diapering is that they come in a wide range of designs, prints, and colors.

This is a feature that can be particularly appealing to hesitant folks, making the diaper changing process more enjoyable and personalized.

Have a football fan? There’s a diaper for that. Harry Potter head? There’s a diaper for that. Marvel geek? There’s a diaper for that too!

The copyright infringement discussion aside, there’s litterally a diaper to display every like and dislike; so let them have fun with it!

Aside from aesthetics, cloth diapers also have many features designed to make them as user-friendly as possible, and you can pick and choose among those features.

Cloth diapers have evolved from the traditional prefolds and safety pins, and today’s versions are designed to be as easy to use as disposables. Many cloth diapers use snap or hook-and-loop closures, which are straightforward and quick to fasten and unfasten. This means even during those challenging, wriggly diaper changes, dads can feel confident and efficient. No fuss, no fiddly parts, just a simple, secure fastening that’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Lastly, the leak-proof design options of many cloth diapers can be a game-changer for dads who might be worried about potential messes. With features like double gussets and extra absorbent layers, cloth diapers are designed to contain even the most explosive situations. This level of leak protection can give dads the peace of mind to go about their daily activities without worrying about surprise leaks or wardrobe changes.

In summary, all of the special designs and features can make the transition to cloth diapering much smoother and more appealing for dads who might be feeling hesitant.

Real-Life Stories and Testimonials

Hearing from other parents who have walked the cloth diapering path can be incredibly reassuring and inspiring. Here are some real-life experiences from parents who had to overcome hesitancy to cloth diapering*:

“My husband was not convinced at all when I first brought up cloth diapering,” shared Emily. “But after showing him the breakdown of how much we could save, he was willing to give it a try. I think seeing the numbers in black and white really helped him visualize the benefits.”

At first, I was apprehensive about using cloth diapers,” admits Mike. “I was worried about the mess, the laundry, and frankly, whether I’d be able to get the hang of it. But once I saw how much money we were saving compared to disposables and how we were reducing our environmental footprint, I was sold. The learning curve was there, but it wasn’t nearly as steep as I’d feared. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“When our daughter was born, my mother-in-law was set in her ways about disposable diapers. She’d raised three kids of her own, and in her eyes, disposable was just easier.
“But I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers for a multitude of reasons. So, I took a bit of a teaching role. I showed her the all-in-one diapers we got just for her, explained how they worked, and even did a couple of diaper changes in front of her to demonstrate. I talked to her about the health impact and the money we’d save in the long run. But what really convinced her was seeing how soft they were and how much more ‘comfortable’ our daughter was in cloth diapers and how it didn’t complicate our lives like she thought it would. Now she’s one of cloth diapering’s biggest advocates when she’s chatting with her friends at work. IAnyone can come around to the idea if given the right information and shown how easy they really are,” said Jenna.

*These stories were posted to the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook community, and the names have been changed to protect members privacy.

Conclusion: You Got This; Either Way!

In wrapping up, it’s important to remember that involving dads and caregivers in the cloth diapering journey is beneficial, but it’s also not always easy. From the financial savings to the environmental benefits and the potential health advantages for our little ones, the case for cloth diapering is strong, but change can be hard.

If you’re trying to get a loved one on board with cloth diapering, remember that it may take some time, patience, and understanding. You’re doing great work just by initiating the conversation and providing them with resources to learn more.

While cloth diapering doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, it may feel like a big shift for those used to disposables. There are user-friendly systems like all-in-ones or pocket diapers and a range of dad-friendly features that make cloth diapering accessible and convenient, but it’s also okay if the transition doesn’t happen overnight.

So, to those of you working to bring dads and caregivers into the cloth diapering fold, stay positive and persistent. Remember, even if they’re not ready to make the switch just yet, you’re doing an amazing job by considering cloth for your baby and for the planet.

In the end, the journey to cloth diapering is just as important as the destination. Every conversation, every demonstration, every shared article or video makes a difference. Here’s to your continued efforts, and to the community we build together on this cloth diapering journey. You’re doing an incredible job. Keep going!

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.