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Cloth vs Disposable: The Ultimate Diaper Debate

cloth vs disposable diapers

Whether you’re expecting your first child or are just dang sick of buying diapers, you may be considering using cloth diapers for your little one. There are certainly pros and cons to each, and you’ve probably been exposed to a “diaper war” of sorts at some point. 

It would seem that some parents are adamant that cloth diapers are the way to go, whether they be the “crunchy” parent type or just prefer the perceived cost savings. Then, there are other parents who swear that disposable nappies are a lifesaver. 

Cloth or Disposable Diapers?

Whatever your personal opinion, I’m not here to change your mind! But I do want to share the pros and cons of cloth versus disposable diapers to help you make the decision for yourself. 

Disposable Diapers are Insanely Convenient

If you dream of diapering your little lovie in cloth diapers, thinking it’ll be easy and convenient, just wait. The first time your little angel has a messy accident in the mall while you’re shopping for boots, you’ll change your mind. 

The diaper change itself is simple, whether you’re doing cloth or disposable diapers. Parents become very adept at the “stand up diaper change,” the “tailgate diaper change,” even the “don’t tell my neighbor I used his couch as a changing table” diaper change. 

The difference is in the disposal options. Disposable diapers can be simply folded up, secured with their own sticky tabs, and tossed in a trash can. They can even be set on the floor of your car to dispose of later. 

Cloth diapers? No. You need equipment. Trust me, you don’t want to “just set” the cloth diapers on the floor of your car to deal with when you get home. Cloth diapers require preparation. 

Cloth Diapers are Super Easy to Use

Gone are the days of prefold diapers – you know, the rectangles of cloth you had to secure with diaper pins. And while those still exist (and are actually kind of easy if you get the hang of it) they’re no longer necessary. 

Cloth diapers are just as easy to secure onto your little one’s bottom as are disposable diapers. the only difference is they’ve got snaps instead of sticky tabs. You’ll change your baby’s diaper with the same ease as you would with disposables – before long you’ll be doing it one-handed!

Cloth Diapers are Ridiculously Cute

When you shop for disposable diapers, you’ll have about two options. Diego for the boys, Dora for the girls. That’s it, unless your local store has a generic teddy bear on a cloud version. 

Cloth diapers can be your baby’s first statement to the world that says, “I’m a cool cat.” Seriously, there are literally too many options to choose from. From bold bright patterns to soft pastels. From dinosaurs to aliens and spaceships. If you’re looking for it, there’s a cloth diaper in that style. If not, someone on Etsy can make it for you. 

Disposable Diapers May Be More Expensive

The average baby uses almost 3,000 diapers in his first year alone. It’s estimated that the average parents will spend upwards of a thousand dollars each year on diapers. 

As you know, there are many “premium” cloth diapers which can be quite pricey, too. But, of course, you’re reusing them. There’s a school of thought that using disposable diapers is like taking money and throwing it in the trash. While most disposable diapers don’t actually cost that much per unit, that’s kind of true. 

Cloth diapers also have the distinct advantage of potentially becoming hand me downs. The first baby will require a bit of an investment, yes. But who’s to say her little sister can’t use the same batch?

Cloth Diapers May Not Be More Eco-Friendly

Most people tend to think that disposable diapers are terrible for the environment. They clog up the landfills or get duped into the ocean, and so it’s better for the environment to use cloth diapers. 

Another camp of people think that’s just not true. When you factor in the laundry, it may be that your cloth diapers are just as harmful to the environment as disposables are. The water footprint of a cloth diaper is quite large, and when you wash, you’re obviously using soaps which could harm the environment. 

Only you can make this decision. If you’re using organic, eco-friendly soaps, that may reduce your footprint. If you choose to launder your cloth diapers as a large load, instead of a smaller batch, that may reduce the impact, too. 

Some Babies Just Have Preferences

Disposable diapers contain materials which wick moisture away from your baby’s bottom. Cloth diapers, of course, do not. In some cases, your baby may simply feel more comfortable in a disposable diaper than in a cloth diaper. 

On the other hand, there’s the risk of allergy. Some little ones’ bottoms are very sensitive, and that sensitivity can extend to the materials put in disposable diapers. for this reason, it could be that your baby is more comfortable in a cloth nappy than a disposable one. 

Want to find out? Just ask your baby! Try one of each – cycle through a week of disposables then a week of cloth diapers. You’ll quickly learn which type of diaper your baby prefers. 

Not All Daycares Love Cloth Diapers

In most states, daycares are required to change your baby’s diaper every other hour. Not all daycare providers will be accommodating if you ask them to use cloth diapers. In a nutshell, cloth diapers are much more time consuming than disposables. 

First, soiled diapers are most literally a biohazard. Your daycare provider may have no place to store the soiled diapers until you can pick them up. Secondly, you’re going to have to pick them up. A bag filled with stinky, soiled diapers that have been sitting out all day long is no treat, trust me. 

Thirdly, you’re going to need a lot of cloth diapers. a typical 9 hour day at a daycare will mean you’re bringing at least 6 diapers to school every single day. Do you have time to do that laundry? In a daycare setting, usually disposable diapers are easier – and strongly preferred. 

Cloth Diapers vs Disposables: Which Should You Choose?

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you use cloth diapers or disposables. They’ve both got their shortcomings and they both have their benefits. Why not try some of each – try cloth diapers on a weekend day when you’ve got time to fully see how they’re working out. Then, bring some disposables along with you on your next trip to the mall. You’ll develop a preference, and there’s a good chance your baby will, too. 

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