There are generally three main reasons why more and more parents are turning to cloth diapers for their babies:
It's no secret that diapering can be one of the biggest costs involved in the first few years of having a baby. Using cloth diapers instead of disposables can cut this cost down significantly. Once you've bought a large enough stash of cloth diapers to use them full-time, you can skip the disposables altogether. It's estimated that using disposable diapers can cost a family anywhere from $2000-3000, depending on what brand and type of disposables you buy. Using cloth diapers, even after accounting for the added cost of water, detergent, energy, and wear and tear on laundry machines, will only cost perhaps half that. In addition, you can reuse the diapers for additional children, saving even more!
On average, a child can go through 2,500 diapers or more per year. Disposable diapers are estimated to take approximately 500 years to decompose in landfills. In addition, the manufacture of disposable diapers requires plastic, wood pulp, chemicals such as sodium polyacrylate and dioxin, as well as higher amounts of packaging, transportation of materials to factory, and transportation of finished products to retail outlets. When all of this is taken into account, cloth diapers are a clear winner for our planet.
Many parents notice an improvement in their children's skin when switching from disposable to cloth diapers. Disposable diapers have been found to contain chemicals including sodium polyacrylate and dioxins, which the World Health Organization warns can have adverse health effects. In contrast, cloth diapers are available in a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics, including organic options such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp.
So with all that's right about cloth diapers, you may be wondering if there are any drawbacks. Well, my grandma used to tell me that there's nothing perfect in this world. That's true even of my beloved cloth diapers. Here are two drawbacks that should be considered when pondering the switch to cloth:
It's true that purchasing a full stash of cloth diapers all at once can be a daunting financial investment. Depending on the type of diapers you choose, it's possible to spend $100-500 on a large enough stash to enable full-time cloth diapering. To put that in perspective, however, a $250 investment in a stash of cloth diapers is equivalent to approximately just 3-4 months of disposable diapers.
Cloth diapers must be washed after use, unlike disposables. The average family will need to wash a full load of diapers every 2-3 days, depending on the number of cloth diapers on hand. Many manufacturers recommend using the same detergent for your diapers that you use for your baby's clothes, and they can be washed in any traditional washing machine.
BONUS Reasons to Use Cloth!
Many parents discover after making the switch that there are additional pros to be found in cloth diapers.
- A cloth diaper is actually more likely to contain that explosive poop than a disposable, thanks to the elastic that many cloth diapers have at the back of the diaper.
- Cloth diapers can actually be more convenient. A family using disposables will at some point come across the dreaded scenario of running out of diapers and being forced to make a run to the store at the most inopportune time. A family using cloth, however, just needs to run a load of laundry!
- Cloth diapers also come in as many colors and prints as you can imagine, thanks to the increasing emphasis on style by many manufacturers. It's almost a shame to cover up these beauties with clothes!