The Big Diaper Debate

Instead of Friday favorites, I decided to write something that has been on my mind for a long time – diapering options!

There are basically two types of diapers that parents can choose for their babies with lots of choices within those two: cloth vs. disposable diapers.

Throughout my entire pregnancy and before, I thought cloth diapers were definitely the way to go.  They had two perks that caught my interest: they are supposed to save money and be better for the environment.  These are two issues that I’m most mindful of, so this made perfect sense to me.  When I started researching cloth vs. disposable diapers, I started to see both sides of the debate.

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The Pros of Cloth Diapering:

  • Helps create less impact on the environment.  There are an estimated 18 billion single-use diapers thrown into our landfills yearly, sometimes taking as long as 500 years to fully decompose.  Disposable diapers make up the third largest source of solid waste in landfills (newspapers and food/beverage containers are first and second). 90% of babies in the U.S. wear disposable diapers which takes 250,000 trees to manufacture them. (Source: Real Diaper Industry Association).
  • Health benefits.  Let’s face it – disposable diapers have lots of nasty chemicals that keep babies “dry.”  They contain sodium polyacrylate, a super absorbant chemical, dyes, perfumes, pulps, etc. that lie right next to your baby’s skin, while cloth diapers contain, well, cotton.
    • In 1955 nearly all babies were diapered using cloth and this transitioned into 1991, where 90% of babies used disposable.  The rate of diaper rash went from 7% in 1955 to 78% in 1991. (Source: Real Diaper Industry Association)
  • Kids potty train sooner.  There are studies out there that say that kids notice that they are wet sooner in a cloth diaper and this is incentive enough to start wearing regular underwear sooner.
  • Saves money.  This is always a benefit that the supporters of cloth diapers use.  Now, it all depends on how you cloth diaper.  If you use just plain cotton cloth diapers (not the newer, trendy ones), they’ll run you about $300 until your child is potty trained.  They say disposables will cost $2,000.  Now, with that said, there are a ton of newer brands out there that have shells (which usually run about $18 each) and then have biodegradable insert pads that work similarly to disposable diapers.  In my opinion from looking at prices, these cost similar to what a disposable diaper costs and you must buy the shell on top of that.  The startup for cloth diapering is more than disposable diapers.  In my opinion, this is a little up in the air depending on how you choose to cloth diaper.

The Cons of Cloth Diapering

  • They can be messier.  Again unless you have the disposable inserts, cloth diapering is messier than disposables.  If you’re out and about and don’t use disposables then, you will probably have to carry some soiled diapers home with you.
  • More laundry.  You’ll definitely be doing more laundry… that’s a given! This also means higher water and electricity costs.
  • Less convenience.  I look up to moms so much that cloth diaper their babies.  I think it takes a tremendous amount of dedication.  I’ve researched and read lots and lots of stories over the past several months of moms that use cloth.  A lot of them have problems with leakage because the outside material isn’t absorbing as it should and then it’s recommended to “strip” them, which means washing them about 5 times.  I’ve heard that in some cases, this only mildly helps.  I know disposables have leakage problems too though.  There is special laundry detergent that they must be washed in as well.  Most child care centers won’t do cloth diapers as well.  There’s a lot to think about before making the jump into the world of cloth diapers.

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Pros of Disposables

  • Convenience.  They are easy and fast to change the diaper and once the dirty one is off the baby, it’s over with and there’s nothing else to think about.  Traveling is easier too.  These diapers are based upon the baby’s size and weight and can fit a little better (especially when they are young) thus allowing less leakage.

Cons of Disposables

  • Expensive.  They are expensive.  There are always deals for them, but nonetheless, you have to keep buying them for years.
  • Chemicals.  Like I mentioned above, there are dyes, perfumes, and chemicals in these that are definitely not the greenest and healthiest way to diaper your baby.
  • Environmental damage.  They go in landfills for years with raw and untreated sewage.  That says enough.

With all this said, I think families need to take their own needs and lifestyles into consideration when they are making this decision.  No two families are the same.

My verdict:  I have decided that especially while Aiden is a newborn and we are getting used to being parents, I am going with disposable diapers.  It pains me a little to say this because I felt so strongly about cloth for so long.  After thinking about the logistics of it and the upfront cost, I decided this was best for my family.  A new baby is a huge adjustment in itself along with breastfeeding (which I’m going to try my hardest to do).  I feel like I don’t want to make life harder with trying to master cloth diapers right from the get-go.  I’m trying to avoid having the “super mom” syndrome and being realistic about my needs, David’s needs and of course Aiden’s to make this as smooth a transition as possible!

Now, much like Kath, David and I might decide to try cloth diapers when Aiden is older and we’re more familiar with this parenting thing!!

This is the longest post in history… I hope you all have a great weekend:)

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