Once I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. Being an Army wife, I knew lots of other Army wives with babies who swore by cloth diapering. It’s money-saving, less wasteful and all around a better choice for those tiny, cute baby booties!
I actually didn’t start using the cloth diapers I purchased until Little Bash was 2 months old. I didn’t want to mess around with newborn sized diapers that wouldn’t last very long, and I was changing him about 15-20 times a day! Once he comfortable fit into the diaper I bought, there was no looking back! Now we only use disposables when visiting family–I find most people don’t want you to put poopy diapers in their personal washing machines 🙂
So far I have only spent about $200 on everything I needed for cloth diapering. This includes about 40 diapers (more than I will EVER need), 3 wet bags, additional inserts and homemade wipes. I was lucky enough to find a bunch of BumGenius diapers that were brand new at a thrift store for $2 each (normally $20 each!)
So why use cloth?
1. Its cheaper than disposables
Guess what? Disposable diapers are expensive. How much money you will actually save depends on what you are comparing. If you use the estimate that a disposable diaper costs 36 cents and your baby is in diapers for 2-3 years you’ll easily spend over $1000 in just one year of diapering. Depending on which cloth diapering system you purchase, how many diapers you get and how many children you use those diapers on – you could spend as little as $100-300 to cloth diaper one child from birth through potty training. There is no exact calculation here though because of the varying cost of disposables and cloth diapers. One family may only spend $50 on cloth diapers by purchasing them secondhand; while another family may spend $500 on cloth diapers and only have to do laundry once a week. However you look at it though – cloth diapering will save you money.
2. Cloth diapers are free of chemicals
A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health (1999) says that disposable diapers should be considered to be a factor that may cause or worsen childhood asthma and respiratory problems. Also, a baby’s skin is sensitive to these harsh chemicals and may contribute to rashes and allergic reactions. Taken from livestrong.com, the following is information about these specific chemicals:
Most disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine, resulting in a byproduct called dioxins that leach into the environment and the diapers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science and are listed by the EPA as highly carcinogenic chemicals. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function, as well as impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.
Sodium polycarbonate is a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage. Sodium polyacrylate is often visible as small gel-like crystals on the skin of babies and is thought to be linked to skin irritations and respiratory problems. This chemical was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. As it has only been used in diapers for the last two decades, there is not yet research on the long-term health effects of sodium polyacrylate on babies.
Many disposable diapers contain a chemical called tributyl-tin (TBT). According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms. TBT is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in our food chain. TBT is also an ingredient used in biocides to kill infecting organisms. Additionally, according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Disposable diapers frequently contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers.
Other chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics and petrolatums. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.
3. Potty training happens at an earlier age
A benefit to using cloth diapers is that babies who have been cloth diapered tend to potty train at an earlier age. This is because babies can feel the wetness immediately, rather than have an absorbent diaper, and it is uncomfortable. The idea is that babies will make the connection and will be more apt to potty train.
4. It’s better for the environment
Disposable diapers are destined for the landfill where they will sit for over 500 years. Now consider the fact that the average baby will need about 6,000 diaper changes until they are potty trained – that’s a lot of diapers sitting in a landfill – for ONE baby! Yes, it can be argued that cloth diapers cause their own impact to the environment due to the amount of water needed to launder them but I still argue that the impact is far less than disposables. Remember that a disposable is made from petroleum, probably produced overseas, travel a long way to get to you, and require even more gas and waste to get to their final resting place in the landfill. With cloth diapers you can at least feel good knowing that when your child is potty trained those diapers can be reused by another child.
5. Its easy!
There are tons more cloth diapering options nowadays compared to 20 years ago. Yes, you can still use prefolds with pins, but with the invention of snappis, you dont have to worry about accidentally jabbing your baby. Or if you prefer a simpler route, you can use fitted diapers with or without covers, pocket diapers, or all in ones, which is a one-step diaper. All you need to do is snap the diaper in place or use aplix (Velcro). After you change your diaper, you dump the waste and throw it in a diaper pail or wetbag. Then you wash your diapers every 2-3 days.
6. Cloth diapers are cute & fun!
There are so many cloth diapering options and 99% of them are cuter than disposable diapers. As was mentioned earlier, these diapers come in all sorts of styles, materials, and prints, so your baby’s bottom can be squishy, adorable, and yes, even a fashion statement instead of just a boring diaper. With all the fun prints you’ll start coordinating outfits with your baby’s diapers. A cute t-shirt with a diaper is really all your baby needs for the day! Pair that with a pair of baby legwarmers and you can go anywhere!