Cloth vs. Disposable
Deciding whether to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers is a matter of preference, environmental concerns, and what works best for your baby. Most parents would love to find the ease of disposables and the low cost of cloth all rolled into one perfect package. But all things diapers are not as they seem.
Cloth diaper advocates warn of possible allergic reactions to the chemicals used in disposable diapers and claim cloth diapers are safer for your baby's skin. Disposable diaper advocates claim cloth diapers don't absorb wetness as well and lead to repeated diaper rash. In fact, either diaper is going to be safe for your baby.
Babies are different and may develop sensitivities or allergies to a variety of items, including the chemical in disposable diapers or the fasteners used to close cloth diapers. Babies are prone to diaper rash if they are left sitting in a wet diaper for too long, regardless of the type of diaper. The best way to prevent diaper rash in both cloth and disposable diapers is to pay attention to your baby's elimination cycle and change your baby frequently.
Many parents believe cloth diapers to be a one-time investment, unlike disposables that you buy continually for three years. Cloth diapers may last through to your last baby, spreading that investment even further. All things considered, cloth diapers aren't really free after your initial purchase. You may buy several types of cloth diapers hoping to find the perfect fit. All cloth diapers are not made equal and trying different brands will increase your initial cost. You also pay for the water, electricity, detergent, and time you use for laundering those cloth diapers. The total cost may not add up to the monthly cost of disposables, but it can come close. Compare the total cost of cloth to the low-cost, very competent, generic diaper brands and you may not notice that much of a difference.
Modern cloth diapers can be as quick and easy to use as disposable diapers, but they will cost a lot more. If you want to save money, you can go with the prefold cloth diapers that don't require pins, but they do take more time preparing and diapering. Overall, cloth diapers do take more time to prepare, diaper, and wash. Cloth diapers require a trip to the toilet, a rinse in the sink, a soak in the bucket, and finally a cycle through the wash. Many parents don't mind the extra time required using cloth diapers, but some don't have the extra time needed to diaper using cloth or to do 3 extra loads of laundry a week. Many day care centers and child care providers won't touch cloth diapers and require all children to use disposable diapers.
There is much debate concerning the impact of disposable diapers and cloth diapers on the environment. Disposable diaper advocates claim the chemicals used to process cotton and water used to wash cloth diapers is just as hard on the environment as the production and disposal of disposable diapers. Cloth advocates show how the production of disposable diapers requires chlorine gas to make them white, and by-products which include chemicals such as dioxins and furans.
Both tax our environment, although disposable diapers do create a waste issue unknown to cloth. Every baby uses at least 6000 diapers before potty training. This is equivalent to approximately four to five trees, 325kg of plastic waste, and 1 ton of landfill per baby. Consider the number of babies in disposable diapers and that equals 1.6 billion diapers per year in Canada alone! Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose in landfill sites, making them one of the worst environmental contaminants.
After environmental concerns are considered, the great debate rages on and probably always will. Sometimes you just don't have the time for cloth. Sometimes cloth only works out to a savings of $600 a year -- not enough for some to stress about when compared to the loss of time. If you live in an apartment building, the cost difference is even less, with a wash and dry totaling $3, the savings may only be $225 per year. If you want your cloth diapers to be as easy as disposables and opt for the all-in-one cloth diapers, in most cases, there is no cost difference. The decision ultimately depends on your budget, lifestyle, and what works best for your baby. Choose and choose guilt-free!