Cloth vs. Disposables: 10 Reasons Why You Should Cloth Diaper
I cannot tell you how many crazy looks I’ve gotten and the comments I’ve heard when people find out we’re a cloth diapering family. Eyes roll. Laughter ensues. Women look at their husbands and say, “No way, not for us; it’s too much work.”
Or, “Ew that’s so gross.”
“More laundry? No thanks.”
“You put poop in your washing machine?”
“Wait, you touch poop?”
Yes, I’ve heard it all and then some. I’m fine with it; I just smile and move on with my day. I respect that parents can make their own decisions in the diapering department. But really, in all honesty, what bothers me most is that most people are simply under-informed or misinformed about cloth diapering. I wish I had the time to come back with all the reasons why I love Team Fluff when I’m in those moments, but people are busy and many don’t really care to hear the answers. But for those of you out there who do care to know why the heck I put my baby in cloth, here are 10 reasons why I prefer cloth diapers versus disposables:
- Disposables contain a lot of chemicals.
It should not be a big surprise that there are a lot of icky chemicals in disposable diapers. You may think the fact that some disposables can absorb 100 times their weight in pee is pretty miraculous, until you know what that gel stuff is really made of; it’s not so good. Disposables are plastic and made of polyacrylate, chlorine, and other chemicals that have yet to be proven safe. Sure, diapers are just for holding waste, but keep in mind: your baby’s bum is sitting in these all day, every day; that means his or her skin is rubbing up against these chemicals all day. Our skin is our largest organ; it absorbs. No, I’m not a scientist, and I can’t prove disposable diapers are harmful; however, I find it hard to believe something that is in contact with a baby’s skin 24 hours a day isn’t going to have some effects, so why not avoid the possibility altogether? That’s my theory: take it or leave it; that’s totally up to you as the parent. I don’t have ill feelings towards anyone who chooses the disposable route. I just simply choose not to. It’s OK: we can still be friends.
- Cloth diapering can save you money.
This is the main reason we decided to join Team Fluff. The thought of spending so much money on disposables that will just be thrown away seemed like a waste (pun intended). Plus, after giving birth myself and wearing disposable adult diapers myself during postpartum, good Lord: those things are so uncomfortable! That material, especially when soiled in any type of bodily fluid, is just bleh! Sure, they’re just babies, and sure, they’re just pooing and peeing in these diapers, but even so, why not allow them to be comfortable in cotton or fleece or another soft, breathable material, just like we wear comfy cloth underwear, that can be reused time and time again? That’s the way I see it.
Now listen: there are up-front costs, of course. I know a lot of people shy away from cloth right away just because of the price tags they see. But you have to look at the big picture. These are reusable; they last, if you treat them well; they’re especially big money-savers if you do, or plan to, have more than one child; and with how many types and brands there are available these days, you can choose the route that best meets your budget (yes, some types are less expensive than others). If you want more concrete stats, here’s what I know:
– One child costs about $2,000 to diaper. You can get a couple dozen cloth diapers for less than $500, not to mention they’ll last through several children if you don’t abuse them and care for them properly.
– It’s even possible to cloth diaper a child, from birth to potty training, for $100. It has been done. Many couples will spend that much in a single month on disposables.
- Cloth diapers often mean less blowouts and less leaks.
I legit get concerned when my son leaks through cloth. Umm…why? Because this is so rare in our world that I’m baffled as to how it happens, when it does happen, though it’s rare. We honestly, rarely ever have blowouts or leaks. When I say rarely, I mean…maybe once, maybe twice every couple months. I don’t even remember the last time Bennett had a blowout. Oh wait…I do remember: it was when we were on vacation, and we were using sposies–Seventh Generation brand, to be exact. It was a mess, and though I don’t mind dealing with poop whatsoever, it’s nice knowing cloth keeps everything contained, if you do things right.
- Cloth diapers should mean less rashes.
Generally speaking, cloth diapers render less rashes; in fact, many mamas claim they never get rashes while in cloth, but when putting their children in disposables, it’s another story. For us, I admit: we’ve had rashes…BUT I attribute this more to the fact that our son tends to get rashy when he’s teething. Other than that, our rashes have been scarce. If we do get a little red in the diaper region, we make sure to use a cloth diaper safe cream (Beautycounter Baby Balm usually), and it clears up in a snap! Trust me: rashes suck; you want to do everything you can to avoid them. We’ve been lucky that ours have been few and far between, and we can always pinpoint when they’re coming (hello little white tooth bud). If you go the wool route, it’s even more highly unlikely you’ll ever get a rash because wool is self-cleansing and naturally antibacterial. Whether you choose wool, cotton, bamboo, fleece, whatever: the material is more breathable than the typical disposable, and that alone is likely the reason cloth rarely causes a rash.
- Cloth diapers can make it easier to potty train.
I cannot speak to this from experience (yet), but it totally makes sense: transitioning your child to using the potty is a smoother ride when you previously used cloth. Why? Well, a child in cloth is typically more aware of that “loaded diaper” feeling: the heaviness, the wetness, the squishy stink; therefore, they make the connection with the sensation much quicker. They don’t want to sit in that stuff anymore, and they’re much more open to trying out that potty, just like mom and dad. Fingers crossed this works in our favor!
- You can sell your cloth stash when you’re done.
This is seriously awesome. There are SO many resources out there to make selling your stash easy-peasy. There are countless buy, sell, trade groups on Facebook, and really, even word of mouth is sometimes enough because trust me: there are moms out there looking for deals on cloth, and they’re not afraid of used diapers. Again, the better you care for your diapers, the more you can get for them. This also makes the sometimes daunting task of choosing a cloth diaper type/style a lot less scary. If you happen to invest in a kind you just don’t end up loving, sell it! I did this when our super active son was having some reactions to wetness in combination with a lot of moving and friction; I sold half of my favorite Thirsties PUL covers and a dozen prefolds and replaced them with woolies and flat diapers. This way, I wasn’t out a ton of money and have a system that works well for my boy’s fluffy butt. (See #10 for more on this.)
- The laundry is always done around here.
If you’re going to cloth diaper, you can’t be afraid of poop, OK. It’s just poop. With that being said, you can’t be leery of throwing some clothes into the main cycle with your diapers, either. Seriously, if you do a pre-wash on your dirty diapers first (which you should always be doing, by the way), the poop and urine gets all washed away, and it’s perfectly OK to then add clothes or towels to the main wash cycle with your diapers. I can’t tell you how much this has changed my life. I used to have piles of dirty clothes stacked for days and days before I started cloth diapering. I just hated laundry and waited until the last possible second to do a load, and then it would end up being a 24-hour ordeal with 4+ loads to get done. That never happens anymore because I know that I can’t let dirty diapers sit and fester in the wet bag for too long (or else you get mold, awful stench, and sometimes worse); therefore, I stay on top of my diaper laundry, washing every 2 days roughly, and that means washing clothes and towels every 2 days along with it. It’s a solid routine, and I love it.
- Cloth diapers don’t contribute to landfills.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped in landfills each year, accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste; not to mention, it takes about 500 years for a single disposable to decompose. Ya. Seriously. That is insane. A lot of people also don’t know that even with disposable diapers, you are supposed to dump the poo into the toilet. It’s true: read the labels/instructions on disposable diaper packs. I don’t know many–if any–people that actually follow this rule, and that means there’s always going to be the risk that viruses or bacteria in the fecal matter in landfills could potentially leak into our ground water. Not good. When you use cloth, you avoid all of the above.
- Cloth diapers are so stylish.
I mean…it’s no secret that cloth diapers are way more stylish than disposables. They are seriously adorable, and there are brands and prints and colors up the wazoo for you to choose from. You can do solids; you can do patterns; you can go simple; you can go wild; and you can even go custom. There’s nothing better than a baby sporting a cute diaper. When you decide to cloth diaper, don’t be surprised if you start matching your outfits to the diap, or simply letting baby go free with just the diaper alone. Anyone on Team Fluff understands: you gotta show off a cloth butt!
- Cloth diapers save space and hold their value.
Because a lot of brands of diapers actually fit baby from birth to potty training, you can save yourself a lot of space (and again, money) by having your simple stash and not stacks and stacks of disposable diapers. I know a lot of mamas that put their small stashes on display. Mine are stowed away in drawers and tucked in a cloth rack that hangs on the back of the door.
Cloth diapers also totally hold their value, so you can go ahead and sell your stash when your children are out of diapers. As I mentioned before, the buy, sell, trade diaper groups out there are endless, and I guarantee: if you take great care of your diapers, they will sell, easily. There’s always someone in the market. Even diapers with shot elastics and stains sell these days. It’s pretty spectacular. If you buy used, it’s recommended that you do a thorough strip or soak on the used diapers, and boom, they’re good to go. This is another way to save money and get money back.
And if you do, one day, decide to sell your beloved cloth diapers, just think: your diaper legacy will live on with another family. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.