The Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers
One of the most frequently asked questions we get from parents about diapering is "Are cloth diapers really worth it?"
Our response is the same here as it is with most things birth and parenting....For some YES. And for some No.
Three reasons families choose to use cloth diapers:
Disposable diapers are convenient, but over time they definitely add up! Disposable diapers can cost anywhere between $1000- $2000 per child, depending on how quickly they potty-train.
Cloth diapers are more work, but the savings can be massive. A good cloth diaper stash can cost you anywhere from about $250-$400 total. Plus the cost of soap, water and energy to wash and dry them.
If you have multiple kids, reusing your cloth diapers over time can save you potentially thousands of dollars. Plus, cloth diapers are an investment that surprisingly hold their value very well, if taken care of. When your diapering days are done, you can sell/consign your stash for a good return on your investment.
2). Sensitive Skin/Toxins
Some babies’ skin does not react well to the materials or chemicals in disposable diapers, especially when mixed with pee or poo. Using cloth diapers can lead to less rashes for your baby....which equals less tears for you. There is plenty of research showing how the chemicals, dyes and fragrances in disposable diapers can be toxic. Some of the of the toxins have been shown to negatively impact the nervous, respiratory, endocrine and reproductive systems.
Keep in mind that cloth diapers do not wick away moisture as well as disposables, so be sure to stay on top of diaper changes to avoid those soggy bums. Side note – this is quite convenient when it comes to potty training down the road, since your baby will be able to associate that wetness to their bodily functions more easily.
3). The Environment
According to recent research, disposable diapers are the third highest single consumer item in landfills. Also, it is unknown how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but estimates are around 250 years.
For those who cloth diaper, even part time, Mother Nature and our future generations thank you!
The Cons of Cloth Diapers
This may seem obvious, but it's worth exploring the details a bit. Using cloth diapers in itself isn't necessarily the hard part. It's the washing them that can become the biggest drag.
If you happen to live somewhere with a diaper cleaning service, this may be a great option for you. However, if not, expect to be doing lots of laundry. The average parent will need to wash their diapers every 2-3 days to maintain a big enough stash of clean diapers on hand.
If you're washing machine is not in a convenient location, then cloth diapering may be very difficult for you to maintain.
2). Initial Investment
While cloth diapering can save you TONS of money in the long run, not everyone is able to invest the initial $200-$400 it takes to get started.
Consider buying used at consignment shops (our favorite local place is Bluebird Exchange), or online. Or add cloth diaper items to your baby registry.
3). Ick Factor
It may not bother you in the slightest, but some parents get very squeamish when it comes to their child's excrements. Dealing with soiled diapers may sound like torture to some parents.
While disposable diapers don't get rid of the problem entirely, they are a little less hands on when it comes to getting dirty.
Side note – Exclusively breastfed babies will have relatively sweet smelling poop. We call it "angel poop," because it really doesn't smell very foul. But one you introduce solids or formula you will be venturing into stinky territory.
Do what works for you
Each family has their own reasons for committing to cloth diapers. But it doesn't have to be black and white.
Some families go "all the way," starting from day 1 and using cloth diapers 24/7 while others may choose to ease into it after a few weeks and even stick with disposables while traveling.
Many hard core cloth diapers parents will still choose to use disposables at nighttime, which can usually help baby sleep through the night a little bit easier, and make for quicker nighttime changes for you.
Find what works for you, and prepare yourself with lots of options.
How do I use cloth diapers? How do I clean them? Which ones should I buy?
Curious about cloth diapering? Check out our free mini-course on how to use cloth diapers.
The free course covers:
- The three types of cloth diapers and how to use them
- How to clean cloth diapers (free wash routine printout included)
- The best places to buy cloth diapers (locally and online)
- How many cloth diapers you'll need
- Other helpful tools and items for diapering
- Stories from moms about diapering