There always seems to be such a debate on whether to use cloth or disposable diapers between parents or soon-to-be-parents. I just recently read an article that once again brought up the issue of cloth versus disposable; and the author said he did not know whether he and his wife could brave cloth diapers. I do not understand how cloth diapers got such a terrible reputation for being so difficult. I have been using them for 7 months with my daughter and find them to be very user friendly. Although I will say that cloth is not for everyone, such as parents who have their children in day-care. Since this is a topic very much so related to the environment and our children's health, I have decided to put together a list of points that will help educate and guide parents on making better decisions, whether it is purchasing durable cloth diapers or healthier disposable diapers.
1. Cloth diapers are only marginally more green than disposable diapers. I wish I could say they beat out disposables by a long shot, but sadly that is not the case. Two major reasons cloth diapers are not as green as they appear are because of cotton crops [if you do not get organic, pesticide usage; and high amounts of water are used to support cotton crops], and the water needed to wash cloth diapers. Check out these research articles here and here . Regardless of cloth diapers not being a perfect "green" product, they are still better than plastic disposable diapers that make up two percent of all U.S. garbage and they may take hundreds of years to decompose.
2. Cloth diapers are just as user-friendly as disposable diapers. For some reason cloth diapers have gotten the reputation as being difficult to use. However, they are very simple, especially now days with such user-friendly designs. Instead of safety pins there are snappies , which are much easier to put on the diaper and a wiggling child. If you do not want to use pre-fold diapers with a cover, there are many different brands and design options for all-in-one diapers. These all-in-one diapers function very similarly to disposable diapers in that there are no separate pieces and they have velcro or snaps to keep them on your little one. Check out pre-fold diapers here and all-in-ones here .
3. Cloth diapers need to be washed. Sadly yes cloth diapers do create a little extra laundry, but what is one extra load when you are probably already doing laundry that day. If extra laundry seems daunting to you and money is no object, then consider finding a diaper service to clean them for you. From my experience, cloth diapers add 3 additional loads of laundry a week.
4. Cloth diapers are cheaper than disposable diapers. Cloth diapers, especially all-in-ones, are a little expense initially because you have to buy everything and wash it several times to make them absorbable. However, the overall savings is undeniable and much appreciated when you are on a tight budget like I am. Numbers vary based on the cost of your water, electricity and type/brand of diapers you use. Overall, within a two to two and half year period you would likely save between $800 and two thousand dollars!
5. Babies exposed to chemicals. Traditional disposable diapers contain dioxins from bleach, dyes, perfumes, and sodium polyacrylate to make them super absorbant. Although there is a lack of good quality research on the effects of these chemicals on infants and toddlers, exposing a developing baby to such chemicals seems unnecessary when unbleached, organic cotton cloth diapers are available. Do beware that if you use cloth diapers avoid traditional dryer sheets and use a gentle detergent that is perfume and dye free as well. There are also disposable diapers that are dye and bleach free. Check out healthier disposable diapers here and here .
6. Cloth are re-usable whereas disposables are not. Cloth diapers can be re-used as burp clothes and towels to clean up various messes around a house. This greatly extends the life and function of cloth diapers, making them more green then disposable diapers. Check out some additional information here
I hope this information on cloth and disposable diapers is helpful in your quest to find the right diapers for you and your little one. It is not always an easy decision to make, but with the right information and support from family and friends it can be a smooth one. Good luck!