Should You Put Your Child in Cloth Diapers?

If you’re going to have a baby, then there is a lot to discuss. You have to think about bedding, clothing, and food. The list goes on and on. There are probably a million things running through your mind about what’s best for your baby. Oh, and did I mention that everyone has an opinion about everything! It can be incredibly overwhelming. Especially, if you’re unsure about which type of diaper to use. Diapers are essential to your well-being and the well-being of your home. Your baby would be fine doing their business just about anywhere. The biggest debate about diapers revolves around cloth vs disposable diapers. Whether you’re considering using cloth diapers or not, there is a lot that you should know. Hopefully, all your questions will be answered. Then, you’ll be able to decide whether you should put your child in cloth diapers, or not.

The History of Diapers

Like any good story, it’s important to start at the beginning. In ancient time, babies wore diapers made of animal skin, moss, linens, and leaves. Fast forward a couple thousand years, and babies started to wear diapers made of cloth. These cloth diapers weren’t anything like they are today. Basically, they were a piece of cloth pinned to a baby’s bottom. Usually, parents wouldn’t change the diaper for days. Needless to say, those things were pretty nasty. In the 1940’s disposable diapers were introduced. Mothers everywhere were thrilled about the diapers because they were convenient beyond belief. Disposable diapers were new and exciting. Now, in 2018, people use both disposable diapers and cloth diapers. Some use one or the other, and others use both. As you can see, we have come a long way when it comes to diapering.

Cloth Diapers are Made of Durable Materials

Cloth diapers, today, look a lot different from the cloth diapers of the past. They come in many different styles and fabrics. Most modern cloth diapers are made of waterproof plastic materials and have an outer layer called a shell. Sometimes, the shell is decorated with super heroes or other fun designs. The absorbent part is made of synthetic microfibers or soft materials. Typically, the soft materials used are cotton, hemp, or bamboo blends. Also, there are plastic free options that you can buy. These diapers have a wool cover and are more environmentally friendly. Many years ago cloth diapers were held together with pins. Now, cloth diapers are held together with Velcro or snap buttons. All of these changes have improved how cloth diapers help you and your baby.

How do Cloth Diapers Compare to Disposable Diapers? 

Babies go to the bathroom a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean 12 times a day! Babies use about 2,920 diapers a year. Disposable diapers are thrown away after each use. However, it’s convenient to simply throw away a stinky diaper. All of those diapers end up in landfills. Sometimes, they sit there for more than 500 years. Also, there aren’t many recycling options for diapers. These diapers are made of synthetic materials and wood pulp. Wood pulp takes lots of water to make. Some disposable diapers are made from plants like wheat or corn. However, those also end up in landfills. Both cloth and disposable diapers have pros and cons. The main difference is the material the diapers are made of. Comparing cloth diapers and disposable diapers is a difficult task. Therefore, I will fill you in on the pros and cons of using cloth diapers.

cloth diapers, designs, duck

The Pros of Using Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are great and have many pros! The three main pros are that they are better for the environment, are healthier for your baby, and are cost effective. I will explain each of these pros in detail.

Environmental Impact

Cloth diapers are designed to be reused. You can use them over and over again. Cloth diapers are 40% less harmful to the environment than disposable diapers. However, cloth diapers are washed after they’re used. If you plan to wash the diapers one a week, then you’ll need 75 to 80 diapers. That’s a small number compared to disposable diapers. Overall, you use less diapers when you use cloth diapers. You don’t have to buy more once you’ve used them all. Once they’re used, you simply wash them. Also, once your child is grown or the diaper has worn down, then there are ways to reuse the diapers. First, you can turn the diaper into a rag and clean the house. Second, you can resell the diapers to friends. Lastly, you can donate the diapers to a cloth diaper bank. A cloth diaper bank helps families that can’t afford diapers.

They're Safer for Your Baby

Most disposable diapers are made of synthetic materials and have chemicals in them. These chemicals are used to make the diapers smell fresh. Chemicals are never safe for your baby. Disposable diaper companies aren’t reckless. They won’t use chemicals that could severely harm your baby. However, cloth diapers don’t use any chemicals and are made from natural materials. These risks aren’t even relevant with cloth diapers. Also, cloth diapers force you to dispose of waste differently than disposable diapers. Solid waste goes into the toilet. Overall, that’s safer for your baby because there isn’t any fecal matter lying around in the trash. It’s dumped and flushed away.

They're Cost Effective 

Diapers are a huge cost for a family with a baby. Since cloth diapers are used over and over again, you don’t have to buy diapers once they’re gone. You wash them and reuse them. You may have to pay for more if a diaper rips or falls apart. Otherwise, it’s basically a one-time cost. In the long run, cloth diapers save families a lot of money.

cloth diapers, baby, funny saying

The Cons of Using Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are great, but they’re not perfect. There are four main cons of using cloth diapers. First, they still have an environmental impact. Second, it takes a lot of time to maintain the diapers. Third, they aren’t as absorbent as disposable diapers. Lastly, there is still a large cost for using cloth diapers. I will explain each of these cons in detail.

There is an Environmental Impact

Cloth diapers are reused not thrown away. However, it takes a lot of water to clean those diapers appropriately. Basically, you need to do four loads of laundry to wash same set of diapers thoroughly. First, shake solid waste into the toilet and flush it down. Next, wash diapers with detergent. Then, wash them again with detergent. Lastly, rinse the load twice before drying it. A washing machine uses a lot of energy and water each time it’s used. These things add up and negatively impact the environment.

It Takes Time to Clean the Diapers

One of the most exciting things about disposable diapers was that they were convenient to use. Once the diaper was dirty, you would throw it away. Simple as that. Cloth diapers require a lot of cleaning. Doing four loads of laundry, which is how you clean the diapers, takes time. Also, you have to wash the diapers. Once they’re used, they have to be cleaned in order to be used again. If you don’t have time to wash the diapers appropriately, then they probably aren’t the best option for your family.

Cloth Diapers Aren't as Absorbent as Disposable Diapers

If cloth diapers were perfectly absorbent, then we wouldn’t have disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are made of synthetic materials that make them more absorbent. This means that your baby can sit in their “number 1’s” a little longer because the liquid absorbs right up. Cloth diapers need to be changed more often because they aren’t as absorbent. The more diapers changes there are, then the more diapers there are to clean.

They Come at a Cost

Like I said before, cloth diapers aren’t perfect. They do save families money in the long run. However, washing the diapers can be costly. There are two main options. First, wash the diapers at home with your washing machine. This means that your electricity bill will very high. It takes a lot of energy to run a washing machine once. Imagine how much energy it takes to run it four times. I said four because that’s how many times you need to wash them in the machine to clean them properly. Second, you can call a cloth diaper cleaning service. They will pick up your diapers and clean them for you. However, it costs about $20 a week to use this type of service. Either way, it costs to clean them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cloth diapers are a great option. However, they have their flaws. There are plenty of brands to choose from when looking at cloth diapers. They are popular and many people enjoy using them. That doesn’t mean you have to. Some people use just disposable diapers and others use solely cloth diapers. On the other hand, some families use a combination of both. So, if you’re worried about choosing a type of diaper to use, then try both. Your baby won’t notice if they’re wearing a cloth diaper one day and a disposable diaper the next. Find out what works best for your family. When it comes down to it, parenthood isn’t black and white.  

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Bailey Longhurst
 

I am amazed every day by the beauty that this world provides for us and think it is important to preserve it! Taking care of ourselves and our earth is crucial and I want to help people discover new ways to do both. Publishing for Green and Growing is a unique way that I can get my message across, and I hope you all enjoy what we write about!

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