Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable: Consider Some Pros and Cons

One of the things that may surprise you after having been a parent for some time is the amount of energy and thought parents put into their child’s poop. A conversation about the frequency and consistency of your child’s bowel movements sometimes starts before birth. It continues until you are confident that wiping, flushing, and washing are all happening consistently.

Meconium, or your baby’s first stool, is a thick black substance that acts as a sort of plug to your baby’s digestive system, and if dispelled while in utero, is a sign your baby may be in distress. Next are counting and tracking. How many bowel movements is your baby having a day, becomes a question that indicates your baby’s system is working well, or is off, or, can be a part of troubleshooting slow weight gain. 

The next way parents occupy their time with baby poop is with encouragement! Seeing how hard your baby has to work, or not, sometimes elicits a, “Wow! Great job!” or a sympathetic, “I know it’s hard; you can do it.” Meanwhile, your baby is displaying a spectacular grimace and grunts through his or her process. 

Besides tracking the consistency and color in their first weeks of life, another popular poop conversation is the sheer force and explosions that can happen. Poop-splosions and exploding diapers that cannot contain the mess mean parents are sometimes elbow-deep in their kid’s poop. 

But what about the diaper? Your baby is so precious that choosing what to put on their sensitive buns makes sense. If you are at the point of considering or re-considering your baby’s diaper, here are some practical pros and cons to consider.

 

Cloth Diaper

Pros: 

  • Produces less landfill waste
  • Modern cloth diapers come in a wide variety and often work exactly like disposable diapers with tabs and snaps
  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Can be a cost-effective way to diaper your child, costing a few hundred dollars for the span of your child’s use instead of thousands. 
  • They can be charming, with patterns and colors!
  • Depending on where you live, hiring a diaper service may be an option if you are not interested in washing the diapers yourself. 
  • Can be helpful for potty training, as the baby can feel when he or she is wet

Cons: 

  • Time requirements: You’ll need a system and schedule for making sure you don’t run out of diapers! Washing and Drying often take multiple hours, or more, to process
  • Unless washing often, the diaper pail can create a severe funk
  • You usually can’t wash your diapers in public wash facilities or communal wash spaces, like apartment buildings or Laundromats. 
  • Traveling can still happen, but there is some extra planning necessary. 
  • A family member may not understand your choice, and there may be conversations about parenting choices and style being none of their business. 
  • Daycare centers often don’t allow cloth diaper use.

 

Disposable Diaper

Pros: 

  • readily available. If you run out of diapers, you have options at almost every drug store, grocery store, and big box store, not to mention same-day delivery from Amazon
  • You can manage the diaper funk smell by taking out the trash
  • You can add them to your registry, and have a stockpile to offset the cost
  • They are easy. On, off, change, done. 

Cons: 

  • Cost. On average, your baby will use 8-12 diapers a day for 2.5-3 years, or roughly $70-$80 per month. 
  • Cost on the environment: Disposable diapers take roughly200-300 years to decompose in landfills, and introduce pathogens into the environment during that time. 
  • Skin sensitivity. Disposable diapers have many chemicals that could make your baby’s skin irritable.
  • Can delay potty training, as the materials in diapers surround the wetness, and babies don’t often feel when they are wet. 

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