Cloth diapers are the best! There should no longer be a debate comparing them to disposables. The cloth diapers on the market today are nothing like the messy, rubber-panted ones we were diapered in as babies. State of the art technology has revolutionized fabrics, so today’s diapers sport moisture-wicking fabrics near baby’s skin and water-proof barriers on the outside. Velcro and snaps have replaced poky pins, so they are simple to use with no risk of hurting baby.
Cloth Diapers are Best for Baby
Cloth-diapered babies have a much lower rate of diaper rash. It has become the norm to expect babies to have diaper rash, but that is only because disposable diapers are the norm. Cloth-diapered babies have only a 7% rate of diaper rash as opposed to 83% of babies with disposables.
Disposable diapers contain very harmful toxins, notably Sodium polyacrylate. This toxin can be fatal if a pet or child accidentally consumes it. It has been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Cloth diapers are more gentle on babies bums. Feeling a soft piece of cloth next to baby’s delicate skin is so much nicer than stiff paper loosely covering chemicals.
They are absolutely adorable, available in vivid colors and fun patterns if you want.
Another fun fact: because cloth diapers are a bit bulkier than the disposables, baby has a built-in cushion for the inevitable falls of budding mobility.
Cloth Diapers are Best for Mama
The financial savings are huge, especially if you have more than one child. Cloth diapers cost between 50 and 70% less than disposable diapers. You will probably purchase just 2 sizes before potty training. We have spent about $650 on diapers, buying top-of-the-line cloth diapers. Add another $50 for laundry costs. This was for 2 kids, for 2 years so far. Our second child has been diapered for free. Free! We may sell our used diapers on ebay, so it is possible that we could recoup even more.
Cloth-diapered babies potty train 6 months to 1 year earlier than disposable-diapered babies. Hallelujah! Cloth diapers enable babies to feel wetness, so they cultivate a stronger awareness of their bodily functions earlier, a crucial factor in determining toilet readiness.
Yes, cloth diapers are more work, but it’s not that bad. I use pocket-style diapers, which I strongly recommend. If baby is wet, I simply pull the cloth insert out of the cover and put it in the hamper. If it’s poopy, I knock the solids into the toilet and give it a quick spray with a washer hose connected to my toilet. It doesn’t need to get perfectly clean before putting it in the hamper. Before washing them, I do a soak cycle to remove the extra waste. I have enough diapers to launder them about 3 times a week. All in all, not too bad.
Cloth Diapers are Best for Mother Earth
5 million tons of waste each year are created by disposable diapers. That waste will remain on Earth for about 350 years, not a nice present for our great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren.
2 million tons of urine and fecal matter are trapped in that waste, so it will not biodegrade. Instead, it will heat and create methane gas, depleting our ozone. Cloth diapers enable human waste to enter the sewage system where it is properly treated.
200,000 trees are chopped down each year to make disposable diapers and 80,000 tons of plastic are used to make them too. This does not include the disposable wipes that go hand-in-hand with the diapers or the packaging they entail.
Tips from the Trenches
I don’t want to recommend any specific brand because I have only tried one myself. I urge you to do your own research. I do recommend using a pocket-style, whichever brand you choose. Also, consider choosing colors and patterns carefully if you plan to use them for multiple children. I chose basic white, because I knew more than one kid would use the diapers, but I had no idea what sex they would be. I also knew I would get freakishly perfectionist when it came to matching diapers and outfits, but that’s just me.
Most retailers have deals if you buy them in packages. You’ll need about 24 diapers for your newborn. They go through a lot of diapers in a short amount of time. When you move up in size, you will need less; 16-18 will be fine. Don’t buy 2 sizes upfront though, because you don’t know how your baby will grow.
Your diapers will come with specific detergent recommendations. Many of these are hard to find. I always use Arm and Hammer Essentials®. Once a week I don’t use detergent, but throw in a few scoops of Oxiclean® to prevent build-up. (Oxiclean® works best without detergent.)
Disposable wipes don’t work with cloth diapers because they obviously need two different wastebins. Luckily, wipe solution is very easy to make. I have a great recipe which cleans baby bums beautifully and naturally. We keep a large batch of it in an old orange juice jug. Next to our diapers we have a squirt bottle with the solution and a stack of inexpensive baby washcloths.
- 4 cups water
- 2 T baby oil
- 2 T baby wash
- 10 drops tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic, also great for mosquito bites)
- Put all ingredients together and shake.
- Squirt solution onto a baby washcloth and clean baby. You can also squirt it directly onto baby's bum if it is very messy.
If your area has a diaper service, check it out. My nana always used to give new mommies a gift certificate to one as her baby shower gift. I have found that many cities no longer have these services, so I can’t offer any advice. If your city does have one, it is certainly worth a try.
Please choose cloth diapers. You, your baby and our shared world will benefit from that choice. Certainly a small effort is worth it for a verdant planet for years to come.