Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers

Reviewed on 5/21/2021

Cloth or disposable?

The diaper woes plague new and old parents alike.
The diaper woes plague new and old parents alike.

The diaper woes plague new and old parents alike. Which is safer? Cloth or disposable?

A few main criteria that need to be considered when it comes to choosing the best diaper for the baby are

  • How it fits the baby
  • Its absorbency
  • Level of comfort
  • Ease of movement

The choices differ, and it all depends on what best suits the parents, their lifestyle, and budget. For most new parents, it comes down to the choices between cost, environmental impact, and convenience. Also, it admittedly can be awfully hard to get past just how easy using disposable diapers can be.

Cloth diapers

It is an old-school terry toweling, fold-it-yourself method (props to you), but most modern reusable cloth diapers are cut to fit. They can involve lots of different layers, absorbent inserts, inners, and boosters made from different kinds of materials with leak-proof covers that can be washed and dried.

Advantages:

  • They are eco-friendly because they can be reused. It can also be used for more than one child if needed.
  • These save money. It is believed they save as much as half of the cost of disposables diapers.
  • They are made from natural materials (cotton or even bamboo) that some people prefer.

Disadvantages:

  • They require washing. A newborn may require up to 12 diapers a day, and toddlers need around six to eight diapers a day.
  • They can be inconvenient. If a person goes out or travels a lot, then they need to pack and prep the diapers. They need to pack spares and will need to keep a leakproof, waterproof bag to keep dirty diapers in until they get home.
  • These require large upfront capital because the initial investment for cloth diapers is much more than disposables. Eventually, the costs will even out because the diapers are reusable, but it is expensive to get started and get the required things together.

They have some hidden costs that go beyond the diaper itself. Parents need to consider washing (very hot water is required to kill bacteria) and drying costs that include electricity, detergent, and water. Parents also need to budget for the number of diapers required need when considering washing and drying times.

Disposable diapers

No one can deny the ease and the convenience of disposable diapers but the growing awareness regarding the cost and environmental impact is something that some just can’t ignore.

Advantages:

  • They come in a wide variety and provide several choices when it comes to size, type or need, so parents don’t need to worry about making the wrong choice for the baby and wasting money.
  • They are more absorbable, and parents don’t need to change as regularly for the ease of wearing.

Disadvantages:

  • They have a massive environmental impact with some brands taking up to a staggering 500 years to break down.
  • They are a major contributor to greenhouse gases because very few people get rid of the poo in the toilet before throwing them away, and they end up decomposing on the landfills and releasing methane in the process.
  • They contain materials that some argue can contribute to sensitivity and irritation to the baby’s sensitive skin.

Skincare for the baby will always be better with disposable because they are built with better wicking capabilities to draw moisture away and have a higher retentive capacity. Cloth diapers will require more changes to avoid excess exposure to humidity to the baby’s bum, including a higher commitment on the parent’s part to overnight changes. Choosing between disposable diapers and cloth diapers can feel overwhelming. However, after getting to know the basics of each, it is easier to decide. The choice depends on personal preferences and lifestyle. There are options for every family, and one can choose to switch between the two kinds of diapers.

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References
Stanford Children's Health. Disposable vs. Cloth Diapers: The Straight Poop. October 2019. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=disposable-vs-cloth-diapers-the-straight-poop-88-p11030

University Hospitals. Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers: What's Best? December 19, 2019. https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2019/12/cloth-diapers-vs-disposable-diapers-whats-best

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