Caregivers use cloth diapers for a whole plethora of reasons. Some parents love the cute prints and adorable fluffy bottoms. Some parents like the environmentally friendly aspect and some want to save money diapering their baby. There are so many benefits to cloth diapering and choosing to cloth diaper means you receive them all, even if you really are just in it because they are so darn cute.
Whether it’s reducing landfill waste or trying to eliminate diaper rash, there are so many great benefits to cloth diapering. In this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of cloth diapering and the reasons parents choose to cloth diaper.
Cloth Diapers Save You Money
Cloth diapers are considerably less expensive than disposable diapers, regardless of the brands you choose. Although cloth diapering costs more upfront, the long term payoff is definitely worth it.
Today, the very lowest regular price in the country of the most popular disposable diaper brand on the market today, would leave you spending $1802.00 to diaper your child for 24 months, given that you always purchased in bulk at these prices and were able to potty train your child at 24 months.
More realistically, let’s assume that you don’t always catch the very lowest price every single time, you need to grab a few small packs here and there and you actually do need to use that diaper cream (because the chemicals found in disposable diapers really can cause rashes!).
The breakdown: At the end of your child’s diapering years, given that your potty learning journey ends at 24 months, your specific choices could potentially mean that cloth diapers would save you anywhere from $1500 at the very least to upwards of $3000! Beyond that, each year your child is in diapers will save you hundreds and hundreds more. Hoping to save even more? Many parents who choose cloth diapering diapers will allow you to use your diapers across multiple children, which can multiply your savings two or even three times!
Cloth Diapers Reduce Landfill Waste
There is still no perfect answer as to how long it actually takes for a disposable diaper to completely breakdown inside our landfills. Current studies estimate that it takes about 500 years for 1 disposable diaper to completely decompose.
It’s also currently estimated that 20 billion disposable diapers per year are added to US landfills. That’s 3.5 million tons of waste added to our landfills that could have been prevented by using cloth diapers.
3.5 million tons of waste is about
- 7 million grand pianos or
- 1 million Asian Elephants or
- 500,000 adult T-Rexes or
- 3.5 million Great White Sharks or
- 44,871 Space Shuttle Endeavors
In other words, in just 5 years, the number of disposable diapers in our landfills will equal ALL of the items and animals mentioned above. And all it would take to avoid all of it is using cloth diapers.
Cloth Diapers Lessen the Chances of Diaper Rash
Babies and toddlers who wear cloth diapers are less likely to get diaper rash than those in disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are made with synthetic materials and chemicals which can react with the skin and cause burns or rashes. Because cloth diapers are made from natural materials and devoid of any chemicals, they are much less likely to cause rashes or burns.
Once your baby has a diaper rash however, those in cloth diapers are more likely to clear their rashes faster than those in disposables. Cloth diapers are made from breathable materials that allow air to flow freely and the skin to heal much quicker. There are also many safe and natural diaper rash creams that you can use in conjunction with cloth diapers to battle diaper rash. Because no one wants a teething baby who also has diaper rash.
No Harmful Chemicals
Disposable diapers often contain chemicals, such as dioxins, tributyl-tin and volatile organic compounds, that are linked to long-term health conditions. A study published in the "Archives of Environmental Health" in 1999 states that disposable diapers should be considered to be a factor that may cause or worsen childhood asthma and respiratory problems.
Dioxins are the byproduct of chlorine used to bleach disposable diapers and can leach into the environment and the diapers themselves. However, dioxins aren’t the only chemical in disposable diapers.
Sodium Polyacrylate are the small gel filled beads that make up the absorbent material in disposable diapers. If you have ever had a full disposable diaper explode… you know exactly how messy these little pee suckers can be.
Not only are they messy, but sodium polyacrylate was actually once used in the production of tampons and later removed due to concerns regarding toxic shock syndrome. There are currently no definitive studies concerning sodium polyacrylate’s long term effects on babies.
Potty Training is Easier
Children who are in cloth are more likely to potty train earlier and faster. Because of the lack of chemicals in cloth diapers, babies and toddlers feel wet when they are wet and begin to connect the concepts of urination and feeling wet much sooner. Because disposable diapers contain chemicals that leave baby feeling dry long after they have wet their diaper, toddlers in disposable diapers have a hard time making the connection between urinating and feeling wet.
This isn’t to say that every child in cloth diapers will potty train extremely early, just that when they do, those concepts will be easier to understand. Because cloth diapers and cloth trainers feel so similar to underwear, potty training kiddos can also grasp the concept of wearing underwear much sooner. Cloth diapers are more comfortable than disposable diapers and will help connect the dots between urination and removing underwear much faster as well.
Cloth Diapers Can Be Sold or Reused
Believe it or not, if you take care of your cloth diapers, have a great wash routine and have at least 24-30 diapers in your regular rotation, your cloth diapers can last several years. Many parents are able to use the same cloth diaper collection with multiple children, provided that you purchase quality brands that can stand up to thousands of washes and dry cycles. Brands like GroVia and Thirsties have high quality, workhorse cloth diapers that will last for years.
And what do you do when you are done cloth diapering?
Not only can cloth diapers last through multiple children, but some parents are even able to resell their cloth diapers once they are done. If you choose not to resell, you may be able to find your local cloth diaper retailer and ask if they have a pre-loved program where you can earn store credit for your used diapers or if they have a donation organization they work with. However, items like prefolds and wipes can have so many uses that you may not ever want to get rid of them!
I personally started cloth diapering due to the financial aspect of being able to save money and then resell my diapers when my kiddos were done with them. As our cloth diapering journey continued, I really enjoyed the environmental aspect of saving landfills from more disposable diapers. As we approached potty learning, I realized how much I would miss all the cute prints and fluffy looking bum, so I guess you could say that your reasons for cloth diapering may even change as your baby gets older too.
I’m often asked the question “Is it ok to just cloth diaper on the weekends?” and my answer is always the same: find what works for your family and do it. If that means you only cloth diaper at home, great. If it means that you only cloth diaper on the weekends, perfect. Any time you are replacing a disposable diaper with a cloth diaper, even if it’s only one or two changes a day, you are saving our planet from one more disposable diaper sitting in a landfill (and saving yourself some money too).
So, why do you cloth diaper? Feel free to share your reasons in the comments!
And remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. Do what works for you. Parenting is tough! (And toddlers DO. NOT. CARE.)
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