You’ve painted the nursery, assembled the crib, and even picked the name. But after the many, many, many decisions you’ve already made for and about baby, there’s one that still has you wondering… are cloth diapers a good choice for my family?
Cloth diapers are known for being environmentally friendly, chemical-free, and easy on your budget. But deciding whether to use cloth or disposable diapers really depends on your personal preferences: is there a type of cloth diaper that will feel intuitive and easy for you to use? How much of a priority is a ‘green’ lifestyle to your family?
Still can’t decide? Keep the following ideas in mind:
There are a wide variety of cloth diapers available, all with different designs and prices, but even the more expensive cloth diapers will help you save a LOT of money when compared to the cost of disposable diapers. The average cost of disposable diapers is anywhere from $1,500 for “generics” to $2,500 for “earth-friendly” choices, while most cloth diaper systems will cost between $400 to $600. Even after factoring in the costs of detergent and energy used by laundering, reusables will still cost much less than disposable diapers. For a more detailed breakdown of the costs of cloth, read more in our ‘Disposables vs. Cloth Diapers’ article.
After you consider all the environmental costs of manufacturing, distributing, and disposing of thousands of diapers over the course of a child’s lifetime, the argument in favor of cloth is even more compelling. A typical child uses about 7,000 disposable diapers before potty-training. (Seven thousand!) Meanwhile, each of those disposable diapers will take up to 500 years to de-compose in your local landfill. That means those diapers will potentially STILL be in the landfill during your baby’s great, great grandchildren’s lifetime! By comparison, a child who wears cloth diapers will only need 20-40 diapers total, each of which will be used hundreds of times. Remember from your grade school days: the 3 ‘R’s of the environmentally savvy are reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Health concerns that drive many families to use cloth diapers include recurring rashes and other sensitivities attributed to some of the ingredients in disposable diapers. Though many children may be able to use disposable diapers without any kind of problem, others find incredible relief and comfort when their parents switch them to cloth diapers—particularly with brands that offer absorbency layers made of natural fibers.
Many parents are also concerned about potential environmental damage caused by the chemicals that are used in the production of disposables—and even more importantly, the possibility that trace chemicals may come into contact with their baby’s most delicate anatomy. Though there is not yet documented evidence procured from peer-reviewed studies of negative side-effects of the chemicals contained in disposable diapers, at least in the amounts in which they are used in those diapers, it is reasonable to question the level of chemicals that your child is exposed to every day. Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics used in the manufacture of cloth diapers—and also one of the least allergenic. Our experience is that children who face chronic rashes or have sensitive skin will often benefit greatly by using cotton diapers. Interestingly, this result can be further amplified through the use of certified organic cotton—an option you may want to review when researching various cloth diaper choices. (By the way… If you are going to the extra expense of purchasing organic, make sure that the product really is organic by reviewing the manufacturer’s organic certification.)
Our GroVia cloth diapers come in many styles, from the traditional prefold diaper, to the hybrid style (that uses either cloth or disposable absorbency, depending on what your lifestyle demands), to the simple “all-in-one” style. One of the best things about cloth diapers is that no matter what your budget and lifestyle, there is a diapering option that will work for you.
Prefold diapers with covers are usually the most economical. The hybrid diaper is an excellent choice for families on the go, as the menu of absorbency options allows it to work in almost any situation—including daycare and travel. The simplicity of the all-in-one cloth diaper makes it what we have always called “dad’s favorite.” The unique design of the GroVia All-in-One makes it fit similarly to a disposable diaper. Fans call it “sposie-trim!”
While flexibility, adjustability, and convenience have made cloth diapers easier and accessible to more and more families, the various colors, prints and patterns available make your baby fashion ready at all times! Might as well make diapering as fun as it can be!
Most families find washing their modern cloth diapers at home to be easy. That said, diaper services (usually only available for prefolds, covers, and hybrid shells) are gaining popularity all over the place. Whichever approach you choose, soiled cloth diapers will go into a dry pail (or waterproof laundry bag), which is emptied for washing an average of 2-3 times per week. That’s right, you should only expect 2-3 extra loads of wash per week when using cloth diapers!
(To learn about disinfecting your cloth diapers, read this article: What Do I Need to do to Disinfect My Cloth Diapers?)
Still unsure about cloth diapers? Don’t sweat it! We believe that there are some situations or times where cloth diapers may not be right the right choice. Some families find that using cloth diapers at home and disposables on the go works best. Others just can’t make cloth work every day. It’s also worthwhile to keep at least a few disposable (or hybrid) diapers on hand as part of your family’s disaster kit should you go without power or water for several days.There are some medical situations in which disposables might be recommended, so always check with your pediatrician if you have any hesitations.
No matter what you decide, using cloth diapers even just part-time will result in the same benefits as full-time users on a smaller scale. Give it a try… you’ve got nothing to lose!