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Cloth VS. Disposable Diapers: Which is which?

baby laying down in a changing pad

Whether you are expecting, or you already have kids you may find yourself wondering to go for cloth vs disposable Diapers..

But, no need to worry!

…we got you covered! 

In this article, we will be answering all your questions about these two types of diapers, including:

  • How convenient are cloth versus disposable diapers?
  • What do I need to think about in terms of my baby’s health when deciding?
  • What is the level of clean up involved?
  • And how likely is this to work outside of a home situation?

Let’s take a closer look Mommies and Daddies!

Introduction

Today, the biggest camps are between cloth and disposable diapers.

But with the options available today, it is all about what is best for your child and your lifestyle.

To make it easy and simple, we gathered  some information to help you decide which would work best for you.

Keep in mind, though,

..this is not an article to choose one over the other!

In our society today, both have their place and often parents choose a hybrid approach.

Here are some of the things you should consider when deciding on a cloth or disposable diaper.

Related: 5 Best Baby Disposable Diapers

Convenience: Cloth VS Disposable Diapers

It is one of the biggest hurdles when considering which diaper to use.

If you are out and about in public, it may feel more acceptable and convenient to use a disposable diaper.

There are less steps to using a disposable diaper.

These include needing to dispose of poops in the toilet, and bringing the cloth diaper home. By weight per diaper, disposable diapers are lighter than cloth diapers.

If you are going to be traveling around a lot, this may be an important consideration. 

Let me explain…

Some designs of disposable diapers make it very appealing to parents.

That’s said,

..a good diaper with the best pull ups could help when a parent is in a bind.

cloth vs disposable Diapers

For example: if your family is out and away from a changing room, laying a baby down for a quick change with a disposable diaper could be what you need. 

We will say though, that gone are the days of old where a mother will swaddle her baby and risk pricking her child.

Could you believe what a long way we have come from having to safety pin diapers?

Cloth diapers today come with different convenient designs made of velcro or snaps. They either provide prefolds or inserts. They go into a cloth-lined diaper with a waterproof outer lining.

Usually, velcro and snap designs are one size fits all.

They also have adjustable sizing depending on how big your baby is. This adds to convenience in the long term, after finding the right diaper that fits your child. 

The lining and insert feature materials such as microfiber, cotton, polyester blend, or even bamboo. They absorb messes, big or small.

The majority of cloth diapers allow for extra inserts.

Thus, you can adjust the absorbency to fit your needs.  It depends on the level of mess your baby makes, or whether you are at home or outside. The learning curve is small but comes down to the willingness to learn.

After getting used to it, using cloth diapers is a breeze…

Related: 6 Best Baby Cloth Diapers For First-Time Parents

Savings

This is the strongest argument that supports cloth diapers, if you are willing to do an extra bit of work.

Babies need a change every two to three hours.

No matter the brand of disposable diapers you are using, the cheapest diapers will still cost more. The range in cost can be in the tens to hundreds of dollars saved by using cloth diapers.

Is it Really Environmentally Friendly?

Cost savings sometimes are also good for the planet.

Cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly by materials. If you are trying to strive for a smaller footprint, or going all natural, then they may be the best step for you.

The upfront costs of a cloth diaper vs. disposable diaper is higher than for the same pack of diaper.

Her is it …

..It all comes down to how you are washing and using the diaper in the day to day to reduce your waste footprint.

With disposable diapers, you throw a little piece of plastic, every time your little one goes. Even though there are more eco-friendly disposable options, cloth diapers are the best. 

Extra Costs

Some argue that switching from disposable diapers to cloth diapers ends up being more expensive. This is because some accessories can be more costly in the beginning.

For example, if your child makes big messes, you may need to buy extra inserts for cloth diapers.

With disposable diapers, you can just buy a different kind. You might also want to consider the cost for accessories. Purchasing a bidet attachment can make washing the poop from the diapers easier.

And it’s not just that…

There are also overall energy costs to washing cloth diapers so often.

With disposable diapers, they will cost cents every use, but in the span of several years, may actually add up!

twins - girls

It is up to you to decide which one better suits your lifestyle. Some say cloth diapers are more costly, and others say disposable diapers are more.

It is definitely commendable to aim for consuming less overall. As this helps with cost savings in the long term.

The better quality a cloth diaper and insert is, the longer it lasts. Some parents report keeping their diapers for multiple kids in the family.

This way you can try them out first, and also get tips from other parents. 

Health

Disposable diapers have materials such as plastic blends and polymers.

Some of them are: dioxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Sodium polycarbonate, tributyl-tin (TBT), and fragrances. Fragrances especially can cause your baby to have an adverse reaction.

The rash creams and gels that disposable diapers sometimes need, can also be an irritant to the skin.

Chemicals, like sodium borate, petroleum jelly, and fragrances can cause irritation in children. Some parents may want to make it easy and avoid any synthetic materials or creams.

We do not want you to stress out over the titles and names of these plastic and synthetic materials.

You should seriously consider them if your family has a health history. These include respiratory and skin sensitivities. The jury is out on the respiratory effects these blends and chemicals have on your baby.

It is possible that your baby’s skin may have an allergic reaction.

They are usually caused by the plastic blends in disposable diapers. The chemicals in creams can also cause allergy in sensitive children.

A Note On Diaper Rashes

Beside some types of food allergies, diaper rashes can come from yeast bacteria. This can happen while wearing something form fitting with moisture.

They look red, blotchy, or swollen..

They usually appear at the fitted and elastic parts of a diaper.

For example, at the leg holes or where the elastic meets skin. Sometimes though it looks like scaly skin in very moist areas.

baby sleeping

It is a result of irritated skin from a diaper that has been sitting for too long or one that is too tight. The important thing to remember in preventing diaper rashes is keeping it dry.

Other important factors are making sure they are clean, and fitted, but not too tight.

With a well fitted diaper, cloth or disposable, your risk of diaper rash can really go down…

Babies with more sensitive skin may enjoy trying cloth diapers. Especially if you find they get diaper rashes fairly easily.

Some parents find that with cloth diapers, there is less need for a diaper cream. Thus, less accessories and other things to use on your child and to buy.

Your concerns for your child’s health is ultimately at your discretion.

Cleanliness

There definitely is a mental hurdle to the idea of cleaning your child’s own poop.

But given that having a baby means messiness is unavoidable, this may not be as relevant to you. Disposable diapers have huge appeal.

If you find yourself in a situation that is not convenient, disposable diapers may be for you. You may also find you forgot to bring a diaper bag for your child.

Again..

Then you need to keep the diaper for storage until you get home or can change it.

Accidents happen…

With disposable diapers, you get an additional sliminess that comes with using diaper creams and gels. This may result in more clean up when changing your child.

On the other hand…

For cloth diapers, there are accessories available now that are super convenient. They make it easier to clean your baby’s mess in a toilet.

sibilings

For example, a bidet attachment at home helps with easy clean up in the toilet. And there are pails you can use in conjunction that help with easier washing.

There are also accessories today that help with transporting your mess. Most cloth diapers sell wet bags or diaper bags for easy travel and convenience.

The Issue of Blowouts

Blowouts are not pleasant…

Especially seeing poop come up from behind your baby’s diaper and up their back. The problem is a result of a tight diaper that does not allow room for breathability. It also has little or no room in the back for movement.

Generally, with a well-fitted disposable diaper, this is avoidable. A well fitted cloth diaper runs less of a risk of blowouts. Even their one size fits all options run less risk than a disposable diaper.

Use Outside The Home

There may be hesitation from others to use cloth diapers in daycares and nurseries.

Often, this is a matter of volume and convenience to the daycare system.

With many children to consider and change, sometimes it is not within their time to use cloth diapers.

If this is something you are passionate about as a parent, it is possible to change their minds.

It is a simple process, yet needs so much patience..

Begin by checking what they need from you to make the transition as simple as possible.

little boy playing with a blue small car

Most daycares and nurseries nowadays though, are very accommodating to parents!

Besides, most states allow for cloth diapers in child care facilities…

For cloth diapers, all-in-ones are preferred. But make sure to have an open conversation with your daycare about your wants and needs for your baby.

There are some questions to consider…

like whether the facility has the capacity like a diaper service that they can use to clean the diaper. As well as providing them with your baby’s wet bag and other materials for them to use.

Deciding What is Best

Today, cloth and disposable diapers can be used in tandem, or you can even stick with one all together.

It really all depends on your lifestyle and your behaviors and those around you.

It is truly just as convenient to use cloth diapers now as disposables. Even when traveling, there are ways around used diapers for easy travel. 

The savings and health issues are the main points people make.

If you have a more sensitive baby, cloth diapers may be something you want to consider. Also if you have concerns about limiting the amount of waste you produce, cloth diapers are a great option.

Besides that…

The cleanliness and the common use of them still make disposable diapers a relevant part of our lives.

Nurseries and daycares may not be as versed in using them yet, but things are changing.

In summary, there are many things to consider when determining what is best for you and your child…


Here are some questions you can ask yourself before deciding:

  • How willing are you to give up convenience? How much are you willing to learn?
  • How important is it to save money in this way by not buying diapers?
  • How important is it to me that my child not be exposed to possible risks? How important is the environment in this?
  • How am I able to deal with the cleaning? Will my child and family help with cleaning?
  • Are others able to help me or are other factors stopping me from considering cloth diapers?

We hope that this guide helps you decide what is best for your child and baby as you move forward!

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is only a guide for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for advice from a medical professional or healthcare provider.

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