Cloth Diapers Vs Disposables
The debate of re-usable cloth diapers versus disposable diapers is one of the many questions that both new and experienced parents alike face. The difficulty in answering this age old question stems from the personal nature of the answer. Different diapers will fit with different babies and different parents lifestyles. In a perfect world, all parents would choose cloth diapers as they are much better for the environment, and may help prevent your children from growing up in a world covered in landfills. Unfortunately with todays busy schedules, and families with two working parents, the extra time cloth diapers can require pushes people towards disposables. Many parents are finding a balance between the two options and using cloth diapers when at home and disposables when they are out or need the extra convenience. The newer cloth diapers on the market today are also much more convenient than they were when you were a baby. Cloth diapers today are a far cry from the cloth diapers your parents used.
When choosing between cloth diapers and disposable diapers there are a few areas you should become educated in before you make your decision. You should also realize that your decision could easily change as your baby grows and as your expectations change. Make sure you are open to this change if necessary. There is no reason to lock yourself into one option or the other. The following factors may influence your decision.
Skin Care & Health Issues
Parents greatest concern in regards to diapers is keeping their childs skin healthy, dry, and free of rashes. Diaper rashes can be caused by a variety of things including, but not limited to, prolonged wetness, lack of breathability, and chemical reactions (soap, dyes, plastics). One of the main concerns many parents had when disposable diapers became widely spread have been about the dyes, super absorbant gels (sodium polyacrylate), and the after affects of the bleaching system (dioxin).
In the past, sodium polyacrylate has been linked with numerous health issues including toxic shock syndrome, and allergic reactions. It can also be very harmful to pets if ingested. According the EPA, dioxin can cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. Fragrances used in disposable diapers have also been linked to causing headaches, dizziness, and rashes, especially to those with chemical sensitivities.
The sticky plastic tabs found on most disposable diapers can also be harmful to your babies tender skin if the diaper is put on improperly, and the glued tab comes in contact with the babies skin.
It is important to note that these reactions to disposable diapers are extremely rare, so will most likely not affect your child. Cloth diapers can also cause diaper rash if not changed frequently enough, or if not cleaned and sanitized properly after being soiled. The detergent used to clean the cloth diaper may also cause an allergic reaction in your baby.
If your baby is having a negative reaction to either disposable or cloth diapers, you should consider trying a different type. The key to reducing diaper rash, whether you are using cloth or disposable diapers is to change the diaper frequently, and not let the baby sit with a soiled diaper for any length of time.
Cost of disposables vs cloth diapers
The cost of diapers can be one of the deciding factors for parents when deciding between cloth and disposable diapers. When determining the costs of diapers, it is important to not just look at the price to purchase them. Cloth diapers also have the continuing costs of cleaning and sanitizing, and lower quality cloth diapers may need to be replaced as they can wear out. An estimated monthly cost for disposable diapers is between $50 and $80 dollars per month.
When determining the cost of cloth diapers you need to not only take into account the up front cost, but also the cleaning costs. Using a diaper service will often vary from $50 - $80 per month, depending on a number of factors including the number of diaper service companies in your area. Washing and sanitizing your own cloth diapers is quite a bit cheaper, usually coming in at approximately $25 - $60 per month, depending on how thoroughly you sanitize them.
Overall if you choose to go with cloth diapers and launder them yourself, you will usually be looking at pretty considerable savings.
Environmental impact of disposable vs cloth diapers
Due to the significant ad dollars spent by disposable diaper companies the debate about the environmental impact of disposable vs. cloth diapers has raged for quite some time. Pro disposable diaper proponents argue that the extra water required to wash cloth diapers is as harmful to the environment as the production and disposal of disposable diapers. When looking at all the environmental impacts of disposable diapers, this argument can be seen for the falicy that it is.
It is estimated that due to disposable diapers, approximately five million tons of untreated waste, and two billion tons of feces, urine, plastic, and paper are added to landfills around the world annually. It is said that disposable diapers are responsible for a significant share, estimated between 5 and 10 % of all household waste in Western countries. Just the diapers manufactured for american babies each year requires 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees. The untreated waste is a potential hazard for polluting ground water.
In order to appease greener purchasers, many disposable diaper companies now offer biodegradable diapers. What they fail to point out is that in order for these diapers to degrade, they require oxygen and sunlight. Both of these are difficult to come by when tossed in a garbage bag and buried in a landfill.
If you look at the water usage for washing cloth diapers you will also notice that it is relatively similar to the water used by an adult for flushing the toilet. Diaper services are even more efficient as they often are able to do larger loads, and have more efficient equipment.
Convenience of disposable versus cloth diapers
In the past, disposable diapers won hands down in the convenience department. Attempting to pin a cloth diaper on a squirming baby was an artform aquired by many a parent. Thankfully todays cloth diapers are not the same ones that your parents used on you. Cloth diapers now have multiple layers for better absorbancy, as well as a wide variety of built in fasteners including velcro and snaps. Thus they are just as easy to put on and remove as disposable diapers. Modern day cloth diapers can also accomodate flushable liners for added convenience.
Disposable diapers are still the most convenient solution when travelling or when not at home as they allow you to simply throw out the diaper rather than carrying around a soiled diaper. You can also usually get away with changing disposable diapers less often as they are more absorbant than cloth diapers.
Cloth Diapers - The Best for your Baby!