Some parents may be nervous about trying cloth diapers. Although cloth diapers require some adaptability, they have many advantages over disposables, and are easy to use.
There are quite a few parents out there who have never considered switching from disposable to cloth diapers. It must be admitted that disposable diapers do have some advantages over cloth, largely in terms of convenience. They are easier to use, and thus more appealing to other caregivers and day cares. They require less handling and expertise. They leak less (sometimes).
For busy parents (that is, all parents), convenience is a huge factor in diaper choice. Cost is also a big motivator, however, and for more and more parents, so is environmental impact. Once these other issues are factored in, cloth diapering becomes a very attractive option. Cloth diapers are also much easier than many people imagine. Here’s some information to help parents take the plunge!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloth Diapers
Advantages of Cloth Diapers
The following are some reasons to opt for cloth diapers:
Cheaper – one set ($350-$600) can last through toilet training, and can even be used for a second child, whereas disposables can cost up to $3000 over the years a child stays in diapers. Compare prices on cloth diapers
Less smelly (due to frequent washing)
Healthier for baby’s skin (fewer occurrences of diaper rash)
Reusable – No waste goes into landfill
Require less energy to manufacture
Require fewer chemicals to make and use
Earlier toilet training – babies know when they’re wet
Cuteness factor – cloth diapers come in bright, fun colors and patterns for that already adorable tush.
Environmental Advantages of Cloth Diapers
Users of disposable diapers will argue that cloth diapers are no less harmful to the environment than disposables as they require water. energy and detergent to launder, and must be washed so often. While it is true that cloth diapers still have an environmental impact, it is much, much smaller than that of disposable diapers. Parents should consider the following:
Pulping the wood and paper for disposable diapers requires gallons and gallons of water, harsh chemicals, and bleach.
Manufacturing disposable diapers is energy-intensive. Every new package of disposable diapers requires that the above harm be repeated over and over again. The plastics and paper products then end up in landfill, and may take centuries to decompose.
If these considerations are compared to an extra load of domestic laundry done every day or two, it becomes clear that cloth diapers still carry a smaller ecological footprint than disposables. And by choosing the right detergent and then only using less than half of the amount recommended on the package, parents can reduce that impact even more. There are also some natural alternatives to detergents that are worth exploring.
Perceived Disadvantages of Cloth Diapers
Still, cloth diapers are not always easy to use. The following are some reasons many parents prefer not to use them.
Messy – a big problem for squeamish parents
Leaky – Difficult to use while travelling
Extra laundry is too time-consuming
Dealing With the Mess of Cloth Diapers
The good news for squeamish parents is that many cloth diapering systems that work exactly the same as disposable diapers exist, except that solid waste (A.K.A. poo) gets emptied into the toilet. And this usually doesn’t involve actually handling it! Disposable, flushable liners for cloth diapers are available that rest inside the diaper. When baby has a bowel movement, waste can be rolled up in the liner and dropped in the toilet.
Now, that’s not to say that baby will always have perfect aim, but using the liners makes cloth diapering way less messy than many parents fear it will be. And face it, all parents will end up handling more than their share of poop in their time, no matter what diapering system they choose.
Do Cloth Diapers Leak More?
Some parents, determined to use cloth diapers, just accept leaks as a fact of life and simply get organized to change baby more often. Other parents, however, find that if they experiment somewhat with sizes, inserts and brands, they usually find a system that works without frequent leaks. Solutions such as extra liners or inserts can often prevent leaks even during baby’s heaviest wetting times.
Of course, some parents who are quite devoted to cloth diapering nevertheless revert to a disposable diaper overnight. After all, parents have to do what works!
Cloth Diapers On the Go – Using Cloth While Traveling
The only difference between cloth and disposable diapers while traveling is that parents have to carry the soiled diapers home with them. More and more, however, public places that have high baby traffic are requesting that parents carry away all soiled diapers, in order to control smells and prevent infections. Parents who use cloth diapers will be prepared with a washable wet bag or disposable diaper sack to bring diapers home, and they will have flushed the smelly stuff anyway, so their diaper bags will be much fresher.
Choose the Right Style of Cloth Diaper
In fact, all of the perceived disadvantages of using cloth diapers can be addressed by good habits, a good system, and the right style of diaper. It is true parents of cloth diapers will do more laundry than parents using disposables, but the advantages far outweigh this minor inconvenience. Determined parents can easily overcome these obstacles and start their babies off with a smaller ecological footprint, healthier skin, and a cuter bum.
Watch these helpful videos if you are considering cloth diapers: