Before I begin, I'd like to point out that we used disposable diapers for both of our kids throughout their diaper-wearing tenure. For many of the reasons that parents cite today, we did not even consider using reusable cloth diapers, because disposable diapers keep your child clean and comfortable and they are super convenient.
It didn't take long, however, for me to stop and think about all the diapers that we were going through. When you get down to it, it's important for your baby to be clean and dry, meaning that parents need to continually change their diapers throughout the day. It has been estimated that over a baby's lifetime, they will go through 6,000 diapers, all of which will end up in landfills. Furthermore, there are growing health concerns over the synthetic materials that are used in disposable diapers, and the fact that they are in constant contact with your baby's skin.
In light of this, people are taking another look at the age-old staple of my infant years, the cloth diaper. While using a cloth diaper was pretty much unthinkable when we were young parents, the modern day cloth diaper has come a long way.
Indeed, after doing a some research, I learned that today's cloth diapers are a viable option to keep your baby clean and comfortable, and for a number of important reasons.
Prices and total costs will vary by brand and quantity. This is solely intended to give readers a rough idea of cost for comparison purposes.
With this in mind, however, cloth diapers are a pretty good bet for saving money over disposables. The total cost of disposables over a baby's diaper wearing tenure (2.5 years) is anywhere from $1,800-$2,500. When I did a quick check on Amazon, the 84 count box of Huggies Snug and Dry was $24.99, which works out to about 30 cents per diaper. Multiply that by 6,000 and you're looking at a total of $1,880.
BabyGearLab estimated that cloth diapers will set you back about $575 over the same time period, which includes the cost of washing the diapers and wipes, helpful accessories, and flushable liners. That's a fairly substantial savings, which increases with each child you have because the diapers can be re-used with each additional child.
Environmental and Health Considerations
If you have any concerns about the environment, than the impact of disposable diapers is hard to ignore. The EPA estimates that every year 20 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills, and those diapers aren't going to break down any time soon. Furthermore, most of us (myself included) don't know that throwing fecal waste into landfills is technically illegal in many areas because of the potential threat of groundwater contamination.
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are much more environmentally friendly. Not only are the diapers re-used and don't end up in landfills, but the waste ends up in the sewer system, where it is properly treated and disposed of.
Finally, most of the disposable diapers are manufactured using synthetic materials that will be up against your baby's skin 24 hours a day. While there is no conclusive evidence that these materials are bad for your baby, it may be a source of concern for some parents.
As I mentioned, we used disposable diapers exclusively for our kids. Cloth diapers were not even on our radar. They just seemed too daunting for new parents like us. We live in a fast-paced world where convenience trumps all, and cloth diapers are just not as convenient as disposables, mainly because they need to be washed.
However, it is important to keep in mind that cloth diapers have come a long way in terms of ease of use, and washing aside, can be just as easy to put on your baby as disposables. When you factor in the savings and environmental benefits, today's cloth diapers have a lot going for them. Plus, disposable diapers don't even come close to cloth diapers in terms of style options and the "cuteness" factor.
The Final Verdict
In the end, cloth diapers need not be as intimidating to parents as they seem. Sure, life is much simpler when you can dispose of things in the trash rather than wash them, but the same can be said of our plates and flatware at home.
And truth be told, it is easy enough to try them out. In fact, parents can try them while still using disposable diapers. It is not a lifelong commitment. Experts recommend waiting until your baby outgrows a size 1 disposable, which is about the first month.
The next big dilemma you'll have to confront is which diaper to choose, because there are many good options to consider.