Cloth diapers. Let me count the ways I love thee. It’s a “parenting” choice that probably gets overlooked more often than not. Most people don’t realize that there is a reasonable alternative to disposable diapers, and a really great one at that!
There is a ton of information out there with the whats, whys, and how-tos of cloth diapering. Sometimes so much information can make it seem harder or more complicated than it needs to be.
This Cloth Diapers for Beginners series is meant to break down the essential information you need to cloth diaper your baby, and even enjoy it, without overloading you with too much nitty gritty.
So without further ado…
Cloth Diapers for Beginners Part 1: Why Choose Cloth Diapers
Lets start with the biggest one: Cost
Disposable diapers cost a lot of money, and you are literally throwing all that money right into the landfill! Depending on the brand of disposable diapers and wipes you choose, you can expect to spend between $2000-$3000 on one baby from birth to potty training! That’s a LOT of money!
With cloth diapers, you buy all the diapers and wipes you need once, and never have to spend money on diapers again! There are a lot of different cloth diapering options (see Cloth Diapers for Beginners Part 2: Cloth Diaper Types), so depending on the type of cloth diapers you choose, you could pay as little as $150 on all the diapers you will need for your baby (when using prefolds and covers)! All of the cloth diapers that I use cost me $300. From birth to potty training. That’s it!
Cloth Diapers are Reusable, and Resalable
The money you save by choosing cloth diapers can be multiplied when you have future children. The same cloth diapers you use for your first baby can be used on your second and sometimes even third baby. Many of the diapers I am currently using with my 3rd son are the same ones I used with my first son, 7 years ago! So if you divide the initial investment in your cloth diapers by the number of babies you use them with, the cost to cloth diaper is even less, as little as $50 per baby when you use them for 3 babies!
Not only are they reusable, cloth diapers are also resalable! Believe it or not, there is a huge market for used cloth diapers. There are many websites and groups on facebook, like the Cloth Diaper Swap (which has almost 50,000 members!!) designated for the sole purpose of swapping and selling cloth diapers. So when your last baby is out of diapers, you can resell them to recoup part of your cloth diaper investment. That is one thing you definitely cannot do with disposable diapers!
Cloth Diapers are Better for Baby
Though current studies say that the amount of chemicals found in disposable diapers are acceptable for your baby, are you comfortable with them? Disposable diapers rely on super absorbent polymers like sodium polyacrylate to soak up urine. They also contain tributyl-tin (TBT) and dioxins which “are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones” according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, and petroleum.
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, do not rely on chemicals and polymers for absorption. They rely on cloth. The absorbent material in cloth diapers are made up of cloth fabric, be it cotton, bamboo, hemp or microfiber. The outer waterproof layer is made up of one of a few different options. The most commonly used are PUL (polyurethane laminate) and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). Both are a thin waterproof barrier that is sealed, usually with heat, onto an outer piece of fabric. Other water barrier options include fleece, or wool which is 100% natural!
Your baby wears their diapers 24/7 for the first 2 years or more of life. Choosing cloth diapers gives you peace of mind, knowing that you are limiting or even eliminating a huge source of direct contact with potentially harmful chemicals.
Cloth Diapers are Better for the Environment
The average baby will go through nearly 7000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained. That’s 7000 diapers that will end up in our landfills, per baby! The Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped in landfills each year here in the U.S., accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste!
Since disposable diapers have only been around for about 70 years, we have yet to see how long it will actually take for a disposable diaper to decompose, but scientists estimate that it was take some 500 years before they decompose. Not only do the diapers themselves take up valuable space on this Earth, but the chemicals and waste will begin to leach out of the diapers into the soil around them.
“The Good Human, a website dedicated to discussing issues related to environmentalism, points out that more than 200,000 trees each year are lost to the manufacture of disposable diapers for babies in the U.S. alone. In addition, it takes 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil every year to make diapers. What it comes down to is that disposable diapers use 20 times more raw materials, two times more water and three times more energy to make than cloth diapers. Besides depleting natural resources, manufacturing disposable diapers also utilizes non-renewable energy sources.” Livestrong.com
Cloth Diapers Can Facilitate an Easier Potty Training Transition
You can read my thoughts on how cloth diapers helped my boys to potty train faster and easier in my post How to be Fully Potty Trained by Age 2. Basically, since cloth diapers do not have all those super absorbent polymers like disposable diapers do, the inside of the diaper remains a bit damp after your baby wets his diaper. Rather than every bit of wetness being sucked away as soon as they go, this slight wet feeling will help a toddler who is learning to potty train to be more aware of when they are wet.
Cloth Diapers Are Stinkin’ Adorable!
I’m not kidding you, cloth diapers are almost as fun to buy as baby clothes are! If you don’t end up saving much money cloth diapering, its because you got sucked into buying too many awesome printed diapers- which is totally possible! Don’t ask me how I know… Cloth diapers come in so many different solid colors and print options, that there is something for everyone to love. You can’t help but want to give a love pat to a cute and fluffy cloth diapered butt!
As you can see there are so many great benefits of choosing to use cloth diapers. Any one of them alone is enough to have you considering them, but put them all together and how can you not? I’m telling you, you’re not going to want to miss the rest of this series! If you’re not already a part of our VIP list, sign up HERE so you don’t miss Cloth Diapers for Beginners Part 2: Cloth Diaper Types. In the meantime, head over to Nicki’s Diapers.com to drool over their awesome diapers and prints- my new favorite is their Underwater World, its gorgeous!
Do you have questions about cloth diapers? Let us know in the comments what you’d like to see in the rest of this series!