I can’t tell you how many times people have shaken their heads and smiled strangely at me when I said I use cloth diapers. This usually means one of two things: “Just wait until you get tired of them and switch back to disposable” or “You are insane.” Shockingly, I am not insane and am anything but tired of my cloth diapers. I actually love them. One of my passions is teaching moms and dads about modern cloth diapers. If you have been kicking around the idea of trying cloth, here are the top five reasons to ditch disposables:
CLOTH WILL SAVE YOU HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS
Lately, it seems like everyone is watching their budget and trying to find ways to economize. Cloth diapering is a great way to save lots of money from birth to potty training. The savings aspect alone is reason enough for many parents to give cloth a try.
Say your baby uses an average of 8 diapers a day (they use a few more as a newborn and a few less as a toddler) over the course of 2 and a half years. That’s over 7,000 diapers (7,304 to be exact). Your average discount diaper costs about $33.99 for 204 diapers. That comes out to $.16 per diaper when I round down. So, 7,304 diapers at $.16 per diaper equals a grand total of $1,168.64 on disposable diapers for one baby in 2 and a half years. And my kids were not potty trained by 2 and a half!
Now, let’s take cloth. You want to have enough diapers so that you only need to wash every other day, so you buy 16 diapers. Choosing an average pocket diaper costing $17.95 a piece equals a total of $287.20. You will wash those diapers approximately 457 times over 2 and a half years. A great quality cloth diaper detergent costs about $9.50 for 48 loads and that comes to around $.20 per load. You will spend about $91.40 on extra detergent. Even if you throw in another couple hundred bucks for water, electricity, and some optional accessories that still only comes out to about $578.60. That’s a savings of over half compared to the $1,168.64 spent on disposables!!! And you can even reuse them for your next baby. That’s right, spend more on cloth diapers up front and save hundreds or even thousands with 2 or more kids down the road.
CLOTH IS GOOD FOR THE PLANET
According to the Real Diaper Association, it takes between 250-500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose under optimal conditions in a landfill. That means that more than 10 generations of your family will come and go while all 7,304 of those disposable diapers you used lay undisturbed in the landfill. I find that so disturbing. Not only do disposables create literally tons of waste after they are used, they create an abundance of waste in the production process. When I bring up all the benefits of cloth to my students I almost always get a comment about how much extra water is “wasted” washing cloth diapers. Yes, more water is used to wash them, but did you know that disposables use twice as much water as cotton diapers during manufacturing and 20 times more raw materials like wood pulp and crude oil? Talk about a big carbon footprint!
CLOTH IS HEALTHIER FOR YOUR BABY
Cloth diapers have long provided a solution for parents battling persistent diaper rash. Because cloth diapers are breathable and free of chemicals and toxins they are a natural choice for many parents. Disposable diapers, on the other hand, contain traces of Dioxin, a carcinogenic toxin banned in many countries for its links to cancer, birth defects, immune suppression, liver, skin, and genetic damage in lab animals. Conventional diapers also contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) another harmful chemical linked to hormone problems in humans and animals and Sodium Polyacrylate, a super absorbent polymer (SAP) which has been known to cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, fever, vomiting, and staph infections. Most parents have no idea that these toxins lurk against their babies’ delicate skin day and night for years.
CLOTH DIAPERS ARE REALLY NOT GROSS
One common objection to cloth is the gross out factor. There is a misconception that you have to touch more poop if you use cloth diapers. Ironically, the opposite is true since poop is better contained in a cloth diaper. The great leg and waist/back elastic on cloth diapers and diaper covers keeps messes in the diaper. My daughter was a blow-out queen in disposables. Her throw-away diapers had NO elastic around the back and this allowed high velocity poop to travel straight out of her diaper and up her back. We were changing clothes, bedding or car seat covers almost daily, until we switched to cloth. The washing process is painless too. Before washing, excess poop is removed from the diaper and placed into the toilet. You can use a diaper sprayer or a biodegradable liner to keep hands away from the waste. Then you stash your diapers in a dry pail until ready to wash. Diapers go straight from your pail to your washing machine. Your washing machine does the rest: one rinse cycle, one long, hot wash cycle, then an extra rinse. The hot water and soap cleans and sanitizes the diapers and your washing machine. No funky smells are left behind. Most diapers can then be dried in the dryer or hung to dry. Caring for your cloth diapers is truly easy once you have a routine.
CLOTH DIAPERS ARE SO STINKIN’ CUTE
No words necessary...
In our next article, I'll go over the various types of cloth diapers and explain the pros and cons of each; however, if you have more questions than we can answer, reach out. There is a vibrant cloth diapering community full of moms sharing ideas, helping those new to cloth, and even creating their own diapers. Catching the “cloth bug” will end up helping you, your baby, the planet, and your wallet!
Real Diaper Association- www.realdiaperassociation.org
NOVA Real Cloth Diaper Circle- http://novacd.weebly.com
The Cloth Nook- www.clothnook.com