There always seems to be a great debate around the choice of cloth versus disposable diapers. Many proponents of cloth diapering advocate that cloth diapering is cheaper, healthier for baby and more environmentally friendly than disposables. While that may still hold true, there are other things to consider when choosing which is best for your family.
Before the birth of my eldest I didn’t have a diapering plan. I admit I was smitten by the cute covers and the thought of saving waste from landfills if we used cloth. We weighed the pros and cons and ultimately the decision to use disposables was made by my husband. It was the right decision for us.
Most moms I talked to said cloth diapers are a challenge when traveling so they tend to use disposables for convenience. We liked to travel before kids so when our son arrived, our lifestyle didn’t change and he went everywhere with us—his first camping trip was at 4 ½ months old—and so did the diapers and wipes.
Moms who opted for cloth did so because they didn’t want the waste created by disposables and those who ultimately decided to use disposables said they felt guilty about the waste but that was not the only reason.
Things to consider when choosing cloth diapers over disposable:
Be sure to educate yourself on caring for them. It is important to use the right laundry soap and butt paste; you can’t use zinc or petroleum-based products as the ointment coats the cloth and makes it no longer absorbent. You will have residue issues causing stink and absorbency issues.
Consider your time is money. Cloth diapers need to be washed every two to three days and you must stay on top of the laundry. If cloth diapers sit too long, the odor stays in the fabric and they become unusable. Consider budgeting the cost of a diaper service to help maintain clean diapers for your child should you choose this option.
One mom said she did not want to wash soiled diapers in the same washing machine as she did the family laundry so she would have had to purchase another washing machine. Another mom found using a top load washer to be more efficient than a front loader. The front loader did not use enough water to rinse the soap and urine out. The more you wash and rinse the greater your utility costs.
Other moms didn’t start cloth until their children were 6 weeks old because of the number of diaper changes (read: all that extra laundry) and the learning curve to figure out which cloth diaper wasn’t so bulky around the legs to fit their newborn.
Do your homework. Take time to find a brand that works for you and consider how you will clean them. If you take good care of your stash, then you’ll be able to use them for other children or even resell them.
When all is said and done, it seems that cloth and disposable are both responsible choices. So do what works for your family!
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility with the less is more mindset.