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Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Introduction to Cloth Diapering

What are the pros to using cloth diapers?

Cost: While cloth diapers may seem expensive to purchase upfront, they are cheaper than disposables in the long run. (And if you use the homemade laundry detergent that was highlighted in the January 2010 meeting, the soap cost will only be 3 cents per load!)

Environmental Impact: It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone. Although some disposables are said to be biodegradable; in order for these diapers to decompose, they must be exposed to air (oxygen) and sun. Since this is highly unlikely, it can take several hundred years for the decomposition of disposables to take place, with some of the plastic material never decomposing. While cloth diapers do require washing after each use, the waste that is flushed/washed away is being properly treated at wastewater plants instead of accumulating in landfills.

Skin & Health Concerns: Cloth diapers do not contain the dyes and chemicals that disposables do, making them a good alternative for children with sensitive skin. Many parents who use cloth diapers on their babies report significantly less diaper rash. This is attributed to the fact that babies who wear cloth diapers are likely to be changed more often than babies who wear disposables.

What are the cons to using cloth diapers?

Initial Cost: While they may seem costly to purchase initially, they will more than pay for themselves over time compared to disposables. (Please see below.)

Convenience: Cloth diapers need to be washed after each use instead of simply being thrown away. Some may also find them a bit more work to use while traveling. (Many opt to use cloth diapers at home and disposables on trips.) With the newer style of cloth diapers that are on the market, however, disposable diapers are not much more convenient that cloth diapers. The new multiple layer, Velcro/snaps fastening cloth diapers are just as easy to put on and take off as disposables. Cloth diapers do not really need to be presoaked, or even rinsed out. Flushable liners can be used with cloth diapers that let you lift the soiled liner off the cloth and flush the liner and the poop down the toilet. If you don’t use liners, you can just dump the older baby’s solids down the toilet. Cloth diapers usually only add about 2 extra loads of laundry a week to your schedule.

(see The New Parents Guide for more information)

Where can I buy cloth diapers, and how much will they cost?

There are literally dozens of brands that are sold online (too many to mention here)! A great place to start would be to contact someone you know who has used cloth diapers and get an opinion on which brands/types she/he enjoyed using. Or, try a few brands and see for yourself which you like best. If you would like to try to save yourself the cost of shipping, it may be worthwhile to find a seller in your town. USA Baby and Well Rounded Mama are a few local boutiques that sell cloth diapers.

There are different types of cloth diapers, namely: Prefolds with covers, pocket diapers with inserts, and all-in-ones. The cheapest route would be using prefolds with covers. This option, if you were to use them on your child from birth until 2-1/2 years, including the cost of washing, comes out to be approximately $380 total. The most expensive cloth diapering route would be a combination of all the cloth diaper types and comes out to be approximately $1,470 total. The total estimate to outfit one child from birth until potty training in disposables is about $2,577, approximately $1,100 more per child than even the most expensive cloth diapering option!

(see Diaper Decisions for more details)

1 comment:

  1. We found, with our girls, that they were toilet trained faster. Cloth diapers do not wick away the moisture and so the child knows he/she has gone to the bathroom. As for inconvenience, we never found it too bad ... just carry a few spares and the velcro covers were good. We used these.