Cloth Vs Disposable Diapers: Here’s Why You Must Make the Switch

Here are 7 things you must know before switching to cloth diapers.

6 min read
Cloth  Vs Disposable Diapers: Here’s Why You Must Make the Switch

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The basic things any human being needs for survival are food, water, shelter and clothing. But ask a new Mom and she’ll add one more to the list – diapers!

If you’ve ever been a parent you know that the first few years are probably the messiest, till the time your little munchkin is fully toilet trained. That’s why diapers are always at the top of every new parent’s grocery list, and they’re forever on the lookout for the best deals online.


The Deal with Disposable Diapers

The manufacture of disposable diapers requires 20 times more raw materials and generates 60 times more waste than cloth diapers.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Unfortunately, our love for the environment doesn’t match our love for disposable diapers. While the term ‘disposable’ means that they’re out of our homes once they’re used, by no means do they suddenly cease to exist! They accumulate in landfills, lying there for about 500-600 years, all the while leaking toxic garbage into our waterways. With one child contributing 600,000 diapers to the landfills, imagine what the entire population’s contribution must be?

And that’s just the last part of the story.

To begin with, the manufacture of disposable diapers requires 20 times more raw materials and generates 60 times more waste than cloth diapers. What’s more, disposable diapers are made with all kinds of chemicals – petroleum, Dioxin, Tributyal-tin (TBT), Sodium Polyacrylate and others which have links to cancer.


The Case for Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers can be used over and over again!
(Photo: iStockphoto)

With so many issues with disposable diapers, it’s only natural (pun intended) that we consider cloth diapers. Cloth diapers can be used over and over again, and when they eventually end up in a landfill, they take about 5 months to break down. Besides, diapers made from organic materials can also be used as compost!

However, the very mention of cloth diapers conjures up images of doing laundry 24x7 or worse – scraping off stuck-on poop with your bare hands! This was probably the scene 50 years ago, but cloth diapering has come a long way and is almost as convenient as disposable diapers. They are much better designed, available in several patterns and are super cute to boot! We also have better washing machines and detergents, and special accessories that make cloth diapering easier.

So if you’ve been thinking about making the switch to cloth diapering, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 things you MUST know before taking the leap, so you can make a fully well-informed decision.


Cloth Diapering – 7 Things to Know Before Making the Switch

Here’s a list of seven things you must know before switching to cloth diapers:

1. You’ll Save Money

Disposable diapers aren’t cheap – it is assumed that a single child uses up about 2000$ worth of diapers. While cloth diapers may cost more initially, they last much longer, making them a much more cost effective option in the long run. And if you get diapers that grow with the baby, you won’t need to spend much more than this initial investment.

Another fact is that you may need a few extra supplies like a diaper pail, waterproof diaper covers for traveling and diaper liners, but even with these, the overall cost works out to be cheaper.

2. You’ll Have Many Options to Choose From

Cloth diapers these days are pretty high tech! There are so many options out there you’re sure to find one that suits your baby to the T.

The most common kinds of cloth diapers are prefolds, Hybrid, All in Ones and Pocket. Do your research and read reviews to narrow down your choice.

You can always try one of each initially to find your fit and then stick to it.

And that’s just about the kinds of diapers. When you start looking at cute patterns and colours, you’ll find that there’s a whole world out there – so much better than plain white disposables!


3. You Don’t Have to Scrape Poop With Your Hands

One of the biggest horrors of new parents – scraping stuck-on poop! First of all, once you decide to become a parent, poop automatically becomes part of the equation – there’s no escaping it. Cloth diapers actually make this easier, since they are much less prone to blowouts than disposable diapers.

When it comes to laundry, you don’t need to do anything as long as your baby is exclusively breastfed since the poop is basically liquid. After that, your best bet is to get a bidet or sprayer, which can easily spray out the gunk straight into the toilet. That’s it – no poop hands!

4. Your Child Will Potty Train Faster

When using cloth diapers, babies are more aware of the wetness, and give clues of their discomfort.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Research shows that back in the ‘50s, children began potty training much earlier, and were almost completely dry by two years. Compare that to today’s kids who are taking at least a year longer to get potty trained. The reason? Disposable diapers!

Even today, babies in certain cultures are potty trained sooner than others.

When using cloth diapers, babies are more aware of the wetness, and give clues of their discomfort.

This helps them make the connection between not peeing in the diaper to being comfortable, which is the first step in potty training. At the same time, parents are also more aware of baby’s cues, since they’d rather have the baby pee and poop in the potty than wash a load of diapers!


5. You Will Have to Plan Your Laundry

After the ‘handling poop with my hands’ part, laundry is the next big concern of parents thinking about cloth diapering. If you have a sprayer or bidet, that’s half the work done right there. Doing the laundry daily or once in two days is a personal choice and depends upon each family.

The best thing to do is to follow the diaper manufacturer’s guidelines for laundry. Usually, it is recommended to use skin-safe detergent and hot water cycles to wash, and then sun drying to kill remaining germs and get the stains out. Sunlight also keeps the diapers feeling and smelling fresh for your baby. Skip fabric softeners since they can affect the life of your cloth diaper.

6. Your Baby Will Have Fewer Rashes

There are actually many reasons for diaper rashes, ranging from diet to allergies – to detergent, creams or the diaper itself.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Studies find that the incidence of diaper rash has increased since the 1950’s, mainly due to the increase in the use of disposable diapers. There are actually many reasons for diaper rashes, ranging from diet to allergies – to detergent, creams or the diaper itself.

If you were to ask any expert, their advice to prevent diaper rash would be to change diapers frequently. And that is best done with cloth diapers, since they are changed as soon as they are soiled.

On the other hand, since disposable diapers don’t give babies the sensation of being wet, they often end up sitting in their excrement for longer. Add to this the chemicals in disposable diapers and you have the perfect recipe for diaper rash.


7. Regular Diaper Creams May Not Work

Many commercial diaper rash creams contain ingredients like petroleum and zinc oxide which can ruin cloth diapers. Such ingredients may settle in the fabric over the course of time and gradually decrease their absorbency.

For this reason, it is recommended to use cloth diaper-specific diaper rash creams.

Coconut oil is a great substitute and works well for minor rashes. Some mothers also swear by breast milk – apply a little on the rash, let it dry and then cover up with the diaper.

If you’re still wary, get a small stash of a few cloth diapers and try it out for a certain part of the day, for a week or two. You may find that it’s a lot easier than you expected! You can make the switch gradually, opting for disposable diapers at bedtime, or when traveling. When starting out, it’s good to get support by joining cloth diapering groups on Facebook. Before you know it, you’ll have a happy baby crawling around in a cute little cloth diaper – that won’t take several lifetimes to decompose!

(Pratibha Pal spent her childhood in idyllic places only fauji kids would have heard of. She grew up reading a variety of books that let her imagination wander and still hopes to come across the Magic Faraway Tree. When she's not rooting for eco-living or whipping up some DIY recipes to share with her readers, Pratibha is creating magic with social media. You can view her blog at or reach to her on Twitter at @myepica.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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