Cloth Diapers Versus Disposable Diapers: Which Are Better?

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As parents become more eco-conscious, the debate rages between cloth diapers versus disposable diapers. It might seem like a no-brainer since cloth diapers don’t use plastic and you can reuse them, but things are never as simple as “pick Choice A” or “pick Choice B.”

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both types of diapers. Then, you can decide for yourself which one is right for you.

Better for the Environment?

According to WebMD.com, “Research has suggested that both disposable and cloth diapers affect the environment negatively — just in different ways. For example, disposable diapers require more raw materials to manufacture. And they generate more landfill solid waste that can take an extremely long time to degrade. But cloth diapers use up large amounts of electricity and water for washing and drying.”

When it comes to disposing of the diapers, the EPA doesn’t take a stance on which type is better. That’s because, “Disposable diapers fall under the category of municipal solid waste, which means the material is safe to be disposed of in a U.S. municipal solid waste landfill. In the U.S., modern landfills are well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations which aim to protect the environment from contaminants which may be present in the solid waste stream.”

That leaves it up to you. You may find disposable diapers are the better way to go given the environmental impact.

Better for Busy Parents?

According to Stanford Children’s Hospitals, disposable diapers are “thinner and fit better than older versions. Plus, they keep your baby drier, thanks to superabsorbent materials. Studies show that disposables may reduce diaper rash, compared with cloth diapers.”

If you’ve got other babies and lots of chores, using disposable diapers means you won’t need to change your baby as often. However, if you have help or this is your first baby and you’re able to take time off to focus on him/her, cloth diapers could work for you. Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to stick to one or another. You might find that disposable diapers work at first, but switch over later once you’ve got the hang of living with a baby. 

Better for the Baby?

Depending on how busy you are, using a cloth diaper may mean having to deal with diaper rash. Since reusable diapers aren’t as absorbent, you’ll need to change your baby more often. However, cloth diapers also don’t contain as many synthetic chemicals so they’re easier on your baby’s sensitive skin.

Better for Your Wallet?

Surprisingly, studies have found that there isn’t that much difference in savings when using cloth versus disposable diapers.

According to one study reported by Vox, “a two-year analysis of both and found that reusable diapers resulted in only marginal savings of a couple of hundred dollars over that two-year period. However, it’s not always just about the bottom line. Cloth diapers afforded parents more control over the money they spent each month. As opposed to paying whatever the grocery store decides disposables are worth each week. If money is tight, you could line-dry diapers for a while to save on electricity or sell some old ones to recoup the initial investment.”

Sources: Stanfordchildrens.com, Washington Post, Vox, WebMD