Cloth Diapers: Are They Worth the Struggle?

If you are a parent, then you have probably been exposed (on more than one occasion) to malicious debates about cloth diapers versus disposable ones. For some reason, parental activists have sunk their teeth into this issue and refuse to let go, despite the fact that it is each parents’ decision one way or another. Some make it an environmental issue, while others speak about the damage to your child’s posterior by using a disposable diaper, and I think that still others just like to have something about which to argue. In any event, this is a red-hot issue in the parenting world.

So how do you decide? Cloth versus disposable; the eternal debate. Should you worry more about the environment than about your own time washing clothes, or should you give up the crusade and buy Pampers at the grocery store? Obviously, there are pros and cons to each side, and I will try to list all of them so that you can make an informed decision.

Cloth Diapers

Advantages – As I mentioned before, one of the main issues concerning cloth diapers is the environmental issue. It is true that cloth diapers can be reused over and over, and that they don’t take up space in landfills across America. They are also made from natural fibers, which can be softer against your baby’s ‘tushy’ and they are less expensive than buying disposable diapers each week. And later, when your babies grow up, you can use the old diapers as rags around the house, which is an added bonus. Also, there are now companies that will wash your diapers every week and return them to your home for an extra fee. These companies can be found in most major cities.

Disadvantages- For the environmentally conscious, you do have to realize that you will be using water and energy to wash and dry those diapers each time you run out, which may or may not be comparable to the diaper-filled landfills. They are very tough to keep clean because you are constantly forced to wash over and over, which is difficult when raising a newborn baby. Parents must realize that they will be swamped with other chores, and that washing diapers every day may just not be in the cards. Cloth diapers also spring more leaks than disposable ones, and since you have to wash them first in the toilet, they create more expended energy than just throwing used disposables in a garbage can.

Disposable Diapers

Advantages- Obviously, disposable diapers are easier to handle and create less of a mess. Their elastic outer lining helps prevent against leaks, and they can be tossed away as soon as they have been used. Travel and outings are easier because you don’t have to carry dirty diapers with you on the trip home – trust me, your neighbors on the bus will thank you. And when it’s time to potty train, you can progress to pull-ups, which are a natural transition from disposables.

Disadvantages – Disposable diapers aren’t biodegratable, which means that they don’t disintegrate, which is the environmental issue. They are also very expensive for parents, as babies go through several every day.

My advice for the confused parent is to use a combination of both – cloth for the home and disposable for travel. This way you save money when you’re home, but you never have to carry a poopy diaper around the zoo.

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