When most people think of cloth diapers, they think of a huge handkerchief that you put on with safety pins. And maybe a diaper service that comes and picks them up.
Well, some families still go that route, and that’s great. But that ain’t what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the new school of cloth diaper. New fabrics, super absorbent pads, easy to put on and take off, simple to clean in your own washer and dryer.
These diapers are great. And they’re way better than disposables. Here’s why.
1. Cloth Diapers are cheaper
Disposable diapers will set you back at least $2,000 before your child is potty trained. And if you buy premium or biodegradable options, that number will look more like $3,000.
Whereas twenty of the most expensive cloth diapers will set you back less than $400. Factor in detergent and water bills, and you’re still looking at half the cost of disposables.
Consumer Reports (July 8, 2009). “Cloth vs. disposable diapers: Getting started”.
2. Cloth diapers are way better for the environment
An average child will go through anywhere from four to eight thousand diapers in his or her life.
Nationwide, parents in the USA use an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers each year. That’s around 3.4 million tons of diapers that end up in landfills each year.
Now think about all the trees that are used to make the diapers. And all the plastic, which is made from petroleum. All the chemicals used in the process. And the water. Then all that water and chemicals returning to the environment as waste. Then the plastic packaging, the transportation – airplanes and trucks carting those diapers around the world – not to mention the energy you use driving to the store and back. And then the energy used to produce your garbage bags, the trucks to haul that trash to the landfills, the equipment used to manage the landfill.
The environmental footprint of disposable diapers is staggering.
Compare that to using the same twenty cloth diapers over and over, cleaning them with safe detergent in a high efficiency washer. There’s just no contest.
The number of diapers a child uses comes from the conservative estimate of six per day x 365 x 2 years = 5475 diapers used.
3. Cloth diapers are more absorbent
I speak here from experience. With a cloth diaper, I don’t have to change my baby in the middle of the night. With disposables, I do.
Then there’s the blowout factor. Cloth diapers are generous, and they contain. Disposables, not so much.
4. Disposable diapers contain nasty chemicals
Most disposables are bleached with Dioxin, which, in animal studies, caused nerve damage, birth defects, increased rates of miscarriages and changes to the immune system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified dioxins as a probable human carcinogen.
Next up is Sodium Polyacrylate, the super absorbent gelling material, or AGM, that allows your baby to go long periods in one diaper. Sodium Polyacrylate has been linked in the past to toxic shock syndrome, as well as allergic reactions, and it’s is potentially lethal to pets.
AGMs are also linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count among boys.
Now, big diaper manufacturers point out that these chemicals exist in very small doses in the diapers, and so don’t post a risk. And, sure, more studies need to be done. But Mama Natural says, why risk it?
Illinois Dept of Public health http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/dioxin.htm http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2004/04/63182
5. Cloth diapers may help protect your baby boy’s jewels
German scientists found that the skin temperature around baby boy’s genitals was significantly higher when they wore disposable diapers as opposed to cloth. While the scientists called for more research, they suggested that prolonged use of disposable diapers in infants could be an important factor contributing to the decline of sperm production in adult males.
6. Cloth diapers are cuter than disposables
Colors, patterns, textures. Especially when your baby is dressed in a diaper only. Cloth are way cuter.
1 Reason Why Cloth Diapers Ain’t Better
Occasionally, all babies will produce humungous and, frankly, baffling poops. The last thing you want to do is get all hands-on with that diaper, rinse it, wash it, etc. Throwing the stinking thing out would be so much easier…
BUT, that’s an infrequent and short-term bummer. In the long term, and by just about every single measure, cloth diapers are better for you, your baby, and the world.
What do you think? Why do you use cloth diapers?