Parents face many dilemmas – picking a preschool, piano or violin lessons, soccer or baseball…but parents today are faced early on with a difficult choice – cloth or disposable? I have friends that made the decision to use cloth, but I just jumped in and without much thought started with disposables. I thought it might be interesting to do some research and share the options.
First priority: Baby’s Health
- One of the pluses of disposables is the ‘wicking’ properties that keep baby’s bottom drier and more comfortable – however any diaper you choose should be changed every 2-3 hours whether it seems wet or not since any wet diaper can cause diaper rash if left unattended.
- The absorbent filler in many disposables has been linked to health problems in mice when exposed at high levels and some children may have an allergic reaction to the filler in disposables.
- No doubt disposables are easy to use – one use and you throw them away. They also generally provide better leak protection. One negative to disposables – Some say it’s harder to potty train since the kids don’t feel the moisture.
- There is an additional level of work with cloth diapers – they need to be washed and ‘handled.’ Some daycares and preschools do not allow the use of cloth diapers.
- Disposable diapers are bad for the environment; it is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste is deposited into landfills via disposables every year. For slightly less impact, dump the “organic waste” in the toilet before you throw them in the trash.
- Cloth diapers can lessen the impact on the environment – especially if you choose organic cotton (no chemical spraying.) Pre-rinse diapers, and then wash in warm, not hot water using non-toxic detergents.
- Cloth diapers can save you about $700 per child over 2½ years. (I know I spend about $100 a month in disposable diapers.)
- There are now disposables that are non-toxic, containing no dyes or fragrance.
- Some new disposables are corn-based, less harmful to the environment but not as effective for overnight (because they do biodegrade well) and some are made with wood-pulp and natural-blend cotton.
- Various new ‘hybrids’ have cute form fitted covers with Velcro or snap closures with snap in liners that can be washed. Also you can use absorbent biodegradable inserts that can be flushed – the result is minimal laundry and less going to a landfill. (One caution: some waste disposal plants say they do not degrade well, so check with your local waste management district for more information.)
I did find an enormous amount of information about the cloth versus disposable dilemma. In the end everyone needs to weigh out what works best for their baby, the environment, the associated costs and their personal lifestyle. I hope this information helps with your decision! Happy Diapering!