Disposable diapers are gross!
They fill up landfills, take hundreds of years to decompose, and use up mind-boggling amounts of wood, petroleum, chlorine and water to manufacture (Real Diaper Association). They contribute to groundwater contamination by transporting human feces to landfills (The Disposable Diaper Myth). Environment Canada estimates that North Americans throw away about 29 billion diapers every year (bynature.ca).
|Photo by Erin OK|
They're expensive! An average family spends about $2800 to diaper one child for three years (bynature.ca).
Cloth diapers are great!
They're much more economical! While some adorable diapers can be quite expensive ($30 for one diaper for some all-in-ones), you don't have to spend nearly that much. You can cloth diaper a baby for three years for under $400 (bynature.ca). And, you can reuse those same diapers for multiple children.
They're better for the environment! Even when you are finally done using them, many cloth diapers (prefolds at least) make great rags! Many leading brands of of cloth diapers use organic and earth-friendly materials, and ethical business practices. You do use a lot of water and electricity laundering cloth diapers, but it's still less than the energy and water used to produce disposables (RDA). This article compares the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers to the amount of water most households waste flushing inefficient toilets (The Great Diaper Debate), so you could offset your water use in other ways. Bynature.ca lists tips on lessening your environmental impact while cloth diapering.
|Photo by Heather Holder|
They're healthier! While I have heard one person say that her baby was so sensitive to wetness that all cloth diapers gave him a rash, I have much more often heard the opposite. Disposables are at least as likely to cause rashes and infections as they are to prevent them. A 1982 study reported no difference between cloth and disposable diapers in incidence of rashes (RDA), but many moms report less rashes upon switching to cloth. Also, new breathable waterproof covers (PUL) decrease issues caused by the rubber pants used by previous generations.
Drawbacks to using cloth:
The only thing I can see being a real deterrent to using cloth diapers is washing them, if you absolutely hate doing laundry. Washing them is not difficult, and they don't create more smell and mess than disposables, but you do have to wash them frequently. I do a load every day, and personally don't find it that big a chore. (You can do it every two or three days if you have a bigger stash). If you do detest laundry, you could use a diaper service. They pick up your dirty diapers and drop off clean ones for a price comparable to what you'd pay for disposables.
Other minor disadvantages are that they're bulkier than disposables, and that it takes a little while to figure out how to use and wash them, and what system works best for you. Also, in general you have to change cloth diapers a little bit more often than disposables (though new stay-dry fabric liners can help keep babies dry longer).
|Photo by Erin OK|
Cloth Diaper Basics: Newborn Diapering (Becoming Mamas)
The 411 Behind Cloth Diapering 101 (Simple Mom)
New To Cloth Diapers? (All About Cloth Diapers)
Getting Started (Diaper Pin)
Cloth Diapering 101 (bynature.ca)
And a few more resources, to get carried away:
What are the biggest factors for you in choosing whether or not to use cloth?