Being an eco-conscious parent is easier than ever these days—from non-GMO organic baby food to BPA-free bubble bath, if you want to raise your children in a greener, cleaner environment, the options abound. But then we get to diapers, and that’s where most of us cry “uncle” and use disposables instead. The mess and laundry alone are enough to make most of us running straight for the hills (or the landfills). If you’re on the fence about whether to join the growing community of cloth-diapering mamas or to go for convenience, here is a pro and con list to help you decide.
Reasons to Choose Cloth Diapers
- Because it’s the eco-friendly thing to do! More than 92% of disposable diapers end up in a landfill, making them the third-largest consumer item in landfills in the U.S. More than 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstock and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers per baby per year.
- Because it’s better for baby’s skin. Diaper rashes are more likely to happen when a baby has been sitting in a wet or soiled diaper for a long time. You might not notice right away if a baby in a disposable diaper is wet. No way can you miss that fact if the diaper is cloth…you’ll likely be changing your newborn every hour!
- It’s less expensive. You’ll likely spend $50-75 on disposable diapers each month, while you might spend a total of $300-$1000 in a child’s entire lifetime on cloth diaper supplies, which can be reused with siblings. Eco-friendly cleaning products that work well for cloth diapers are similar in price to their commercial counterparts. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder and Charlie’s Soap Laundry Pre-Spray are must-haves if you choose cloth diapers, and they’re less expensive than your typical Tide or Dreft…and can be used on other clothing and household items, too!
Reasons to Choose Disposable Diapers
- Because some diapers actually are created with the environment in mind. The brand Seventh Generation Baby is free of chlorine processing, fragrances and latex and is produced with renewable resources. Earth’s Best makes diapers using naturally absorbent materials, such as corn and wheat, and also is chlorine-free. Plus, you can reduce the environmental damage to the environment entailed in one-time-use diapers by flushing solids rather than throwing them away and by using biodegradable baby wipes.
- Because disposable diapers are much more convenient, especially if you work outside of the home and/or have multiple children. Let’s be honest: cloth-diapering means changing the baby more often, having a back-up plan if you take your baby out for an errand or are traveling, and isn’t ideal if you or your husband tend to be squeamish. Your typical daycare is going to require disposable diapers, and even though you could use cloth on the weekends, you might already feel overwhelmed by chore catch-up then and not want to add to the laundry pile.
- Because fewer diaper changes may mean sleeping longer at night. A cloth diaper needs to be changed more frequently than a disposable one—which may mean your baby won’t stay asleep as long at night because of the discomfort of a wet diaper. We all do the best we can as moms, and a good night’s sleep can make the world of difference!
Of course, if you’re unsure whether you want to use cloth or disposable diapers, you can give both a try! And there’s nothing wrong with using cloth during the day and disposable at night, or cloth at home and disposable at daycare. Motherhood is all about trial and error, and it’s never too late to give something new a try!