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What are the Advantages of Cloth Diapers?

Disposable diapers can be less economical than cloth diapers.
A main advantage of cloth diapers is they are cheaper in the long run than disposable ones.
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Many new parents struggle with the choice of cloth or disposable diapers, and it helps to consider the advantages of cloth diapers when thinking about diapering choices. The most important thing to know about modern cloth diapers is that they aren't your momma's cloth diapers. While many people associate cloth diapers with painstaking folding and pinning, cloth diapers actually come in a range of styles today, including very convenient designs which are just as easy to use as disposable diapers.

Many parents cite the savings involved in cloth diapers as a very significant advantage. Although the upfront cost of using cloth diapers can be high, these diapers are much cheaper, in the long run, than disposable diapers. Using a diaper service can also cut down on costs, as diapers are delivered in small batches as needed, rather than being purchased as a lot, and parents don't have to spend time, energy, and money on laundering.

Cloth diapers are also generally better for the environment, with a few caveats. The disadvantage to disposable diapers is that they take up large amounts of landfill space, and they release raw fecal material into landfills, potentially contaminating surrounding soil and groundwater. Cloth diapers don't take up landfill space, but they do use a great deal of water. However, they don't contaminate the environment, because washing water is typically processed through sewage systems, and when a diaper service is used, diapers are washed in large, energy-efficient batches, greatly reducing their environmental impact.

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In addition to being generally better for the environment, cloth diapers are also better for babies. They don't contain the chemicals found in disposable diapers, and because they naturally breathe, they reduce the risk of diaper rash. Cloth diapers also encourage frequent changing, since they do not mask wet bottoms, and frequent changing is an excellent way to avoid painful diaper rash. Cloth diapers are also cooler, thanks to their breathability, which can be nice in hot weather, and many parents believe that they are more comfortable for babies to wear.

According to parents who use them, cloth diapers can also help with potty training. Because children are more aware that they are wet when wearing cloth diapers, they tend to be more eager to learn about using the toilet, accelerating the pace of potty training. Babies who were raised in cloth diapers also tend to be less prone to accidents after the diapering stage, since they are well aware of the consequences of voiding in one's clothing.

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BambooForest
Post 15

I know a few very creative people who have gotten pregnant or had babies in the last couple of years. They are all knitters, sewers, or both, and have used this as an opportunity to expand their crafts. There are just so many ways you can sew or knit diapers and diaper inserts for cloth diapers, and the best thing is that they are reusable for future babies and use up cloth scraps that might otherwise not get used. I think it's a great idea, and if I have children, I would seriously consider it too.

sweetPeas
Post 14

The modern type of cloth diaper - with tabs, rather than pins and pre folded would make the decision to use either cloth diapers or disposable easier. Do these diapers have plastic on the outside, or do you still have to put rubber pants on?

As far as the environment goes, disposables are becoming an environmental hazard. Using cloth diapers are healthier for the infant.

I hope the trend of new parents using cloth diapers instead of disposables ones continues.

BoniJ
Post 13

Back in the day, I used regular cloth diapers for my children. The disposable diapers were way too expensive for everyday use. We only used them on vacations and short excursions.

There were drawbacks to the old fashioned kind - like accidentally sticking baby with a pin. The rinsing, soaking, washing and folding were a bit of a drag. They were expensive to buy initially, but considering they lasted through two babies, it wasn't too bad.

I always wished that I had a diaper service. I used to dream about having one. But I survived doing them myself.

starrynight
Post 12

@strawCake - I actually wouldn't be surprised if we see a resurgence in prefold cloth diapers sometime soon. I think that most people who were in their 20s when the recession hit think about money a lot differently than previous generations. And when they have children, I think they'll be a lot more willing to look past all the commercialism and do things a bit more cheaply.

Plus, blogs about frugal living are fairly popular, and I know a lot of them advocate cloth diapering. Since so many people are online these days, I really think it's just a matter of time before cloth diapers become mainstream again.

strawCake
Post 11

I'm 26, so when I was a baby it was way more common to use disposable diapers than fitted cloth diapers. However, my mom decided to use fitted cloth diapers for a lot of the reasons cited in the article. Then, when my sister came along she reused them!

Honestly, I think I will do the same when I have children. I'm also planning on breastfeeding. Disposable diapers and formula are expensive, and I believe doing things the natural way is better for babies.

I think the only reason a lot more people don't use cloth diapers is because we're so inundated with commercials for disposable diapers. It would be pretty bad for those companies if too many people decided to go back to using cloth diapers.

Sara007
Post 10

@manykitties2 - Washing cloth diapers is actually not as hard, or nasty, as many people would have you believe. You can buy a mini shower for your bathroom and rinse the soiled diapers into the toilet. After that, just drop them into a pail with a bit of baking soda to control odors until you are ready to wash them.

When it comes time to wash the diapers, about two dozen are acceptable for a load in a regular household washing machine. Just make sure before you load them up that the pre-fold cloth diapers have any tabs secured to prevent them from sticking to each other. Also, use less soap than you normally would on a load to prevent soap build up. Rinse well and dry, and your diapers are ready to go again.

manykitties2
Post 9

Does anyone know how you go about washing cloth diapers at home?

I am expecting my first child and have been seriously considering buying pre-fold cloth diapers and taking care of them myself to save on costs. I know there are services out there that will do the dirty work for me, but I don't think that is going to fit into my budget at the moment.

I know my mom used cloth diapers on me back in the day because the disposable ones just weren't as big at the time. I also feel that cotton cloth diapers are a lot healthier for a baby to use.

cloudel
Post 8

I belong to a sewing club, and when one of our members announced she was pregnant, we all made it a project to craft a ton of cloth diapers for her. She didn't know about it, because we met in secret on a different day than usual to work on this.

We used all breathable material and made one hundred diapers in different colors and patterns. We knew that she didn't have enough money to be buying disposable diapers all the time, so we thought this would help her out a lot financially.

We gave her the diapers in a giant gift box at her shower. She was so touched that she cried. Even after her baby learned to use the toilet, she kept the diapers for sentimental value, and in case she ever had another baby.

Perdido
Post 7

@StarJo – The urine doesn't actually seep through the diaper. You can just see that it is wet, and you can feel a bit of moisture if you touch it. It's not dripping from the cloth or anything.

As far as keeping things sanitary, I keep a plastic bag handy whenever I change a diaper. If there is poop in it, I immediately put it in the bag. When I'm done changing my baby, I take the bag into the bathroom, pull out the diaper, and rake the poop off into the toilet.

I keep the dirty diapers in the bag until I have enough for a small load. My washer has a self-cleaning option, and I use that to sanitize it after a diaper load.

StarJo
Post 6

Cloth diapers just sound so unsanitary to me! I mean, doesn't the wetness seep through the material a little and get on the furniture or floor?

Also, I don't see how you could keep from spreading fecal matter around. If you have to wash these things out by hand, you get it in your sink. If you put them in the washing machine, it's possible that some of it could linger behind in the washer and get on your other clothes next time you wash a load.

I've always felt that if you get poop or pee on something, you throw it away. There's just too much risk of contamination. How can cloth diapers be sanitary?

bear78
Post 5

I love using hemp cloth diapers! They are awesome, so soft and comfortable! My toddler loves them and has not had any diaper rash since we switched over from disposable ones.

When my best friend told me to switch to cloth diapers when I complained about my little one getting too much diaper rash, I almost laughed! I thought we left cloth diapers in another century! But apparently hemp cloth diapers are the new trend these days.

Hemp is said to be super-strong than both cotton and disposable diapers and very absorbent as well. I didn't believe it until I tried it, it made a huge difference. The rash completely disappeared and did not come back. I'm very much impressed with them and do not plan on using anything else.

discographer
Post 4

@SailorJerry-- I haven't heard of those before, but I know how expensive ready-made cloth diapers are. I guess if you plan on having more kids, it might be worth investing in these because you could use them again with your next child.

I actually made my own organic cloth diapers for my daughter. I like sewing and crafts and decided to try it when I found a step-by-step for making cloth diapers on a blog. I used organic cotton fleece and flannel, cut around the print that was available for free and sewed it up. It turned out great and cost little to nothing to make. I saved so much money this way.

turquoise
Post 3

Disposable diapers weren't very common when I was a baby, so I grew up on reusable cloth diapers. My mom always says that cloth diapers are the best because they are made of cotton which is the healthiest fabric for our skin. It helps our skin breathe and absorbs sweat. So it's definitely true that it helps prevent rashes and it's the best choice for premature babies and babies with extra sensitive skin.

I'm newly married and don't have any children yet. But when I do, I plan on using cloth diapers as well. It's so much more convenient to use them now thanks to diaper services. I heard they come by everyday to pick up dirty diapers and deliver fresh ones. So you don't actually have to do any cleaning, which is great.

ElizaBennett
Post 2

@SailorJerry - The BumGenius are pretty great, yeah. They don't really necessarily fit from birth, though, unless you have a larger baby, and even then they will not fit until after his umbilical cord falls off. Personally, I just use all-natural disposables until then because I don't find it worthwhile to buy a bunch of newborn cloth diapers that only get used for a month or so.

If you're interested in one-size pockets, there are cheaper brands like Kawaii, Sunbaby and Alvababy, but personally I didn't like them as well. BabyCenter has a swap board for cloth diapers where you can pick up used diapers for a cost savings.

My advice would be get several different kinds to try, different brands of pockets as well as fitteds and prefolds. It's hard to know what you will like until you try it for a few months. Some people find that they prefer natural fibers, for instance - the microfiber inserts that most pockets come with can really get stinky. (You can also get pockets that are stuffed with hemp.)

And no, you're not crazy, but be prepared for your friends and family to think so! Lots of people cloth diaper these days. (If your wife wants support, she might try a La Leche League meeting - lots of moms there cloth diaper, at least at my group.)

SailorJerry
Post 1

My wife and I are expecting our first child soon and we were thinking of cloth diapering. Are we crazy?! My wife will be a stay-at-home mom for a while, so we don't have to worry about daycare and whether they'll like it or not.

We were thinking of the bumgenius cloth diapers. Are these as good as they sound? Lasting from birth to potty training sounds pretty great, plus apparently they actually feel dry to the baby so he doesn't get a rash. But they sure are expensive!

We've spent probably hours and hours researching cloth diapers and other baby gear. It's so confusing! I'm still not sure I understand what all the different kinds are.

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