Diapering is a messy business. A baby can go through up to ten diapers a day on a good day. That does not include the amount of diapers your baby will go through on the days he has explosive diarrhea. So what type diapers do you trust to put on your baby’s bottom. There are many different diapers on the market but they all break down into two types. There are reusable cloth diapers and there are disposable diapers. Some parents choose to use only cloth diapers. Other parents choose to use only disposable diapers. Still other parents decide the best way to go is to use a combination of cloth and disposable diapers. They use cloth diapers at home and disposable diapers when they are out or when baby needs an extra absorbent diaper. Parents have many different reasons for choosing the type of diapers they do. For some the reason is cost and for others it is environmental reasons. Still others choose their diapers based on looks or absorbency.
The cost difference between cloth diapers and disposable diapers is significant. Cloth diapers cost approximately between $1,400 and $1,700. Included in this amount is the costs of diapers, needed accessories, and washing for roughly the entire time your child is in diapers. On the other hand, disposable diapers cost approximately $2,900. This includes the costs of diapers, wipes and a disposal system for roughly the entire time your child is in diapers. The difference between costs is around $1,200 to $1,500. So, there are economical reasons to choose cloth over disposable diapers
Parents have other reasons besides cost to buy cloth or disposable diapers. Environment, material, absorbency, look, and more are all reasons that parents have when choosing the type of diaper they will buy.
As opposed to the traditional picture of a cloth diaper, a piece of cloth held together with safety pins, cloth diapers have come a long way over the years. Cloth diapers are now held together with Velcro or snaps and come in many different styles. There are Flat, Pre-fold, All-in-Ones, Contour, Fitted, and Pocket diapers.
A Flat Diaper is what you would traditionally think of when you think of a cloth diaper. A Flat Diaper comes as a square piece of fabric. This is the least expensive type of cloth diaper on the market. Parents can close a Flat diaper with either the traditional safety pin with a plastic cover or parents can close the diaper with clips. Similar to a Flat Diaper is a Pre-fold Diaper. A Pre-fold Diaper comes as a square piece of fabrics. However, unlike the Flat Diaper which is the the same thickness all the way through; a Pre-fold Diaper has extra thickness in the middle for better absorbency.
An All in One diaper is, of all the cloth diapers, the closest to resemble a disposable diaper. The All-in-One is a fitted diaper with a waterproof outer layer and an absorbent material sewn into the inside. This is an extremely easy to use diaper that closes with either Velcro or snaps. It is simple enough that older children can help change baby’s diaper. A spin off of the All-in-One is the All-in-Two. The only difference between these two styles of diaper is the absorbent material in the All-in-Two is detachable.
A Contour Diaper is either a T-shaped or hourglass piece of fabric with an absorbent layer in the middle. It is designed to fit a baby’s body closer than other cloth diapers. This diaper is closed with a Diaper Cover. Similar to a Contour Diaper is a Fitted Diaper, also referred to as “Baby Shaped”. A Fitted Diaper has elastic at the legs and absorbent layers in the middle. Unlike the Contour Diaper a Fitted Diaper closes with snaps or Velcro.
Last but not least of the different cloth diaper styles is the Pocket Diaper. A Pocket Diaper is a two piece system. The outer layer of the diaper is waterproof and the inner layer is absorbent. At either the back or the front there is an opening or “pocket” in which a parent can insert a Liner for extra absorbency.
Besides the different styles of diapers there are also some accessories a parent should be aware of: Doublers, Liners, Inserts and Diaper Covers. A Doubler is an absorbent pad that can be used in Pre-fold, All-in-One, and Fitted diapers. It is to be used for when extra absorbency is needed. Similar to a Doubler is a Liner. A Liner is a multi-layer absorbent pad that is placed inside a Pocket Diaper. An Insert is made from either biodegradable paper or polar fleece. It is placed between the baby’s skin and the diaper and its purpose is to help parents clean up dirty diapers. The Insert stops poop from sticking to the diaper. The biodegradable Inserts can easily be thrown out or flushed down the toilet for easy clean up.
Lastly, Diaper Covers are a waterproof outer layer for cloth diapers. They ensure that nothing leaks through your baby’s diaper and onto the floor, car seat, or other surface. An All-in-One diaper has a diaper cover built in but for at least Fitted and Pre-fold diapers a Diaper Cover is needed. Diaper covers can also be used to keep certain cloth diapers (Contour) closed.
Advantages and Disadvantages
There are advantages and disadvantages to using cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are less expensive in the long run than disposable diapers. In the beginning it may seem like you are paying more money because you need to buy approximately 24 diapers not including any Diaper Covers, Inserts, Liners, or Doublers you may need. However, this up front cost pays off within the first 6 months. In the long run, you will pay $1,400 to $1,700 on cloth diapers for your first child and less for subsequent children because the same diapers can be used for more than one child. On the other hand you will spend up to $2,900 for disposable diapers for each child.
To go along with the expense of cloth diapers is the fact that cloth diapers are reusable. You can wash cloth diapers over and over again. They are made from materials such as cotton, milled fleece, bamboo, velour, and hemp, each of which is washable.You simply have to empty the diaper into the toilet, wash the diaper, and rinse the diaper before putting it back on the baby. Any stains can be cleaned by soaking the diaper right away and using water and detergent. If that does not work to your satisfaction, then stain remover will. Cloth diapers that are well taken care of can be used for multiple children.
The materials cloth diapers are made from are breathable making them comfortable for babies to wear. There are anecdotal accounts that cloth diapers help cut down on diaper rash, irritated bottoms, and other common complaints associated with diapers. At this time there is no scientific evidence to support these accounts. There are also less chemicals associated with cloth diapers or no chemicals if you buy organic cloth diapers.
Cloth diapers are easy to use. Most of the new cloth diapers are closed using Velcro and snaps rather than safety pins. They also come in cute colors and designs. The last advantage of using cloth diapers over disposable is that cloth diapers help with potty training. Due to the fact that cloth diapers are less absorbent, a child will feel wet and uncomfortable earlier. In turn, this gives a child incentive to go potty and wear underwear.
Cloth diapers have disadvantages as well as advantages. Since money was the first advantage mentioned money will also be the first disadvantage. Some believe that the costs difference between disposable and cloth diapers is evened up when the electrical and water costs of washing disposable diapers is factored in. Cloth diapers need to be washed which takes both water and electricity, costing money. However, when you have a baby you will be doing more laundry anyways mitigating the cost washing dirty diapers has on the price difference between cloth and disposable diapers.
Another option, if you do not want to wash diapers yourself, is to hire a diaper service. A diaper service essentially rents diapers out to families. A service drops clean diapers off at your front door and picks up the dirty ones. A diaper service costs approximately $25 a week, $1,200 a year. In total, the costs of a service is comparable to what you are going to spend on disposable diapers, factoring out the price incentive of buying cloth diapers.
Another disadvantage of cloth diapers are they are bulky. This causes the diapers to be harder to store at home or in a diaper bag. Bulky diapers can also make clothing tight. Also, when you take your baby out or on a trip you will have to cart dirty cloth diapers home with you. Cloth diapers are inconvenient to some parents. It is much easier to throw out a disposable diaper than put the effort into washing out a cloth diaper
There are all sorts of disposable diapers available on the market. Different brands, different sizes, different prices all readily available at any store. With all the differences available there are certain types of disposables diapers that stay true. There are Newborn diapers, Older/Crawler diapers, Toddler diapers, and Trainer diapers/Pull-Ups. Newborn diapers are, as they’re called, for newborns, babies in their first months of life. These diapers are ultra-absorbent and the tabs can be reused for easy changing and re-fitting. Older/Crawler diapers are for babies who are moving around. The diapers are made to fit a baby’s body and has an elastic at the legs for better movement. A Toddler diaper is the stretchiest of all the disposable diapers. They are made for spirited 2 – 3 year olds. Lastly, a Pull-Up diaper is meant to help transition a toddler from diapers to underwear. These diapers can be pulled up and down like big boy underwear so a child can go to the bathroom as needed but still have the absorbency of a diaper.
Disposable diapers are sold by size, which is determined by weight. However, not all sizes are the same across all brands. A size 2 diaper by Huggies is not going to be the same as a size 2 by Pampers. If you are not buying your usual brand, read the package to make sure you have a diaper made for your baby’s weight.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Disposable diapers have their own advantages and disadvantages. Disposables are readily available. They can be found in pretty much in every corner store. Disposables are made to be absorbent and protect against leaks. The diaper companies’ record on this has proven to be effective. Disposable diapers are comfortable for babies to wear and easy to change. Older children will be able to help out and change the babies diaper, it is that easy.
Disposable Diapers are light and thin making them easy to store. These diapers fit easily into closets, drawers and diaper bags. Speaking of diaper bags, another advantage is you do not have to carry around dirty diapers when you are out. Disposable diapers require no electricity or water usage. They do not need to be washed because, in the end, disposable diapers are quick and easy. You change the diaper and throw it out. No more thinking required.
A big disadvantage for many families these days is money. Disposable diapers cost roughly $1,200 to $1,500 more than cloth diapers. Other disadvantages include concerns over the chemicals put into the diapers. These chemicals include dyes, the bleaching process, and sodium polyacrylate (used for the absorbent gel). Linked with the chemicals are environmental concerns. Disposable diapers are thrown out and taken to the landfill where it can take over 100 years to decompose. The average parent will throw out thousands of diapers before their child is potty trained. In improperly built landfills the viruses and bacteria living in diapers can leach into the ground water. Another disadvantage of disposable diapers is that the tabs can break if you pull to hard, which, according to Murphy’s Law, is likely to happen at the worst possible moment.
The advantage of cloth diapers helping to cut down on diaper rash is also a disadvantage for disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are linked to increased incidents of diaper rash. The extra absorbency of disposable diapers means babies sit in dirty diapers longer because neither baby nor parent realizes the diaper is dirty. The bacteria in the diaper sits next to the babies bottom causing irritation resulting in rashes, infection, etcetera. Also, just like cloth diapers can make potty training easier, disposable diapers can make potty training harder. Disposables are more absorbent than cloth diapers, to the point where a child may not feel the wet uncomfortable feeling that comes from a dirty diaper. Without that uncomfortable feeling there is no incentive to use a toilet or switch to underwear
Cloth and disposable diapers are both equally good choices. However, if you break down the advantages and disadvantages of cloth and disposable diapers you will find some interesting facts. Cloth diapers are economically and environmentally friendly. Cloth diaper cost more than $1,000 less than disposables and do not have all sorts of chemicals in them. Cloth diapers also do not get thrown out and though it takes water and electricity to wash them the environmental footprint from this is negligible considering your washing goes up anyways with a new baby. Disposable diapers are convenient to use. You don’t have to wash them, it is use and throw out. This means there are no messy diapers to carry around when you are out. But with that convenience comes environmental concerns. There are a lot of chemicals that go into the making of a disposable diaper and after a diaper is thrown away it takes hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. There are two other things to consider before you make your choice. Cloth diapers, by all accounts, help keep incidents of diaper rash down and they also help later on with potty training. When it comes to choosing what type of diaper to use each parent has to make the decision that will best fit in with her lifestyle and ethics. There is nothing to say that a parent has to choose one or the other. Choosing to use both cloth and disposable diapers is always a choice.