Once upon a time, if you had a baby, you were using cloth diapers because, well, there was no other option. And then along came disposable diapers, and moms flocked to them because they were new and oh so convenient! But I don't have to tell you that times have changed, do I? Moms are using cloth AND moms are using disposable, and there's a never-ending argument over which one is better.
So what's the answer? Is one better than the other?
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The Stir chatted up moms who have done both, and from what we can tell, it's all about what works for your family. BUT we did get some pretty clear pros and cons of using cloth diapers ... to help you figure out just what it is that DOES work for you:
- Buy a cloth diaper, and you get your money's worth -- it's yours to keep and reuse over and over and over again! According to Consumer Reports, if you're using disposables, expect to spend $1,500 to $2,000 or more by the time your baby is out of them. That price rises to an average of $1,600 to $2,500 if you use more "eco-friendly" brands.
- If you use a cloth diaper service, you save on the cost of running your washing machine, buying detergent, etc.
- If you're using a service, you could be racking up quite a bill. Services range anywhere from $20 a week on up.
- If you're not using a service, you have to add the cost of electricity and water usage for your washing machine, plus buying detergent for all the extra laundry.
Cloth diapers can be reused, so they're not being added to the landfills. Even once they're "retired" from service, a cloth diaper makes a great rag -- once again keeping it out of the landfill.
The fewer you have to buy, the fewer that have to be manufactured.
Disposable diapers may fill up the landfill, but cloth diapers require a lot of electricity and water usage to keep them clean. There have been studies to compare the two eco-factors, but none has been completely clear on which is better for the environment.
Buying diapers is a one-shot deal. You buy a whole lot, and you just reuse them.
It's unlikely that you'll run out of diapers, especially if you're washing them yourself. You just grab a clean one out of the hamper.
When you're out and about with a cloth diapered kid, if they have a dirty diaper, you can't just throw it out. You have to bring that dirty diaper home with you.
Just like disposables, cloth diapers vary in quality. Some parents prefer the new moisture wicking technologies in disposables that make for fewer diaper changes.
You have to actually clean cloth diapers, even knocking the poop out into your toilet. Disposables you just fold and drop in the nearest garbage bin.
Some disposable diapers have been found to contain toxins such as dioxin.
Moms of babies with sensitive skin report that the only thing their kids could comfortably use were cotton-based cloth diapers.
Some moms reported more rashes when their kiddos were in cloth diapers because they were less absorbent and didn't have a barrier to keep moisture from the skin.
Potty Training --
Some moms say their babies trained earlier because in cloth, they could actually FEEL the wetness.
Some moms say their kiddos didn't care whether they were in cloth or disposable; they were happy to stay in diapers forever!
So what will it be? Cloth or disposable for you?
Images via CarbonNYC/Flickr; iStock