No one told me it was going to be this way. Babies go through lots of diapers and I figure I’ve done my share for a lifetime.
It was one of the first time dad surprises for me. Yes, I knew that I was in for changing diapers on our new born son. But I was totally unprepared for the amount. Maybe someone did tell me. However, I never fully realized the extent of the diaper burden until you experience it.
Essentially, for the first two months of a baby’s life, all they do is eat, sleep, and poop. And they do lots of it. Which also means that you go through lots of diapers. With new born babies, it is typical to use a dozen diapers a day!
We used cloth diapers for our first two kids. We bought about four dozen diapers and plastic pants. We were doing laundry continually making sure we added bleach to kill bacteria. Baby wipes didn’t exist so we washed with cloths and used a ton of zinc ointment to prevent and treat rash.
Disposable diapers were just introduced at the time of our first baby. They were not as well designed as today’s products. They leaked all the time and therefore we still needed to have the baby in plastic pants. We found the cost very high and for a family on a grad student’s income they weren’t affordable.
At the time I was doing my PhD in environment analytical chemistry, studying municipal waste incineration. It was hard for me to participate in an activity that would significantly increase our waste imprint. From an environmental consciousnesses point of view, I didn’t want to buy disposable diapers that added to municipal waste.
By the time we had our third child, we were tired of changing diapers. We had run thin of the original cloth diapers. We hired a diaper service. It was great. Just dump the solids and off they went. It was a more expensive than buying new cloth diapers but it was still a lot less cost than disposables.
With three children on the go, we gave in a little. Disposables offered a little convenience in a hectic world of child raising. We could afford disposable diapers and they were better designed. We decided to use them when we were out or when we had babysitters. The babysitters feared using pins on cloth diapers. One time we came home and the babysitter had fitted the diaper with masking tape!
We planned our children to be about two and a half years apart because we only ever wanted to have one kid in diapers. If you figure it out, it means that I spent about eight years changing diapers.
When I visited the urologist for a vasectomy after our third child he challenged me. He tested my resolve asking “What if you want another child?” I retorted, “If I live to be 80, I will have spent 10% of my life changing diapers – that’s enough for a lifetime.” He scheduled the procedure.