Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers: The Cloth Rationale
by Elodie Planche
Becoming a parent means double duty when it comes to decision making. You, more than ever, have to make the best choices in order to preserve your self, energy and sanity. And with a new baby in your life, most of your time will be spent researching pointers on new baby-related questions that come up for you daily, with the hope you make the best informed baby-related choices.
Credit: Elodie Planche
You can get a head start on the expected, well-publicized subjects during pregnancy: Breastfeeding vs. formula, co-sleeping vs. crib, pacifier vs. not.
But when my friend asked me, 8 months pregnant, what diapering system we had picked—cloth or disposable—I was caught off guard. What do you mean cloth diapering is a relevant 21st century option?
In my mind, a cloth diaper was a square-shaped piece of fabric our grandparents attached on our parents’ bum with safety pins (for lack of a better system, may I add). Well, I was told I needed a major update, and here is what I learned.
Cloth diapers come in many shapes or forms. While Indian pre-folds (the square with the pins!) still exist, most parents use diapers that look exactly like disposables, except you wash them after use instead of throwing them out.
That information offered a promising start, and from there I became a cloth diaper convert for three main reasons.
First, safety. With all we hear about chemicals in baby products (yes, diapers and wipes included), knowing that only fabric touches my baby’s skin was the biggest plus. Diaper rash cream is not an option because it could clog the fabric, hence altering absorbency. It turns out I never needed, used or bought any diaper rash cream, despite my baby’s 10-hour nights.
Second, when I learned, using cloth diapers saves over 1 ton of waste (wipes not included) from the landfill per child (a disposable diaper needs 500 years to decompose), I knew using cloth diapers would satisfy my need for a personal contribution to the state of the planet we’ll leave to our children. I’m normally very environmentally aware anyway and this environmental component offered a highly relevant benefit.
Third, yet not the least, was the $1,500 average savings I gain from using cloth vs. disposable diapers. The average upfront investment of $350 for a recommended 12 to 18 cloth diaper stash quickly pays for itself. More kids? More savings.
Convenience is often pinned as the cloth diaper’s weakness. Yet, the handling is pretty straightforward: drop #2 in the toilet bowl, rinse off #1, store the soiled diaper in a laundry basin (or ziploc bags during the day at daycare) until laundry day (every 2 days) and enjoy the dryer-friendly convenience. With a regular laundry routine, you’ll never experience the middle of the night diaper shortage again.
This is how I joined the (slowly but surely growing) cloth diaper community. And after my first child was cloth diapered all the way to potty training, doing it again when baby #2 came along was a no brainer.
You’ll find lots of information and options at CottonBabies.com, a rich resource and retail site. To find your perfect cloth diaper, enter your criteria in the cloth diaper finder.
Elodie Planche is passionate about everything green and strives for a more sustainable, eco-conscious life. She lives in West New York, NJ with her husband and their two young children and tweets @beltwits
Tags: CHOICES, recommended