Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable: The Pros and Cons of Each

Growth and Development
Cloth Diapers v. Disposable Diapers:

Diapering is one of the largest components of a new parents experience. Not only do parents seem to change diapers all day long, but they are also constantly purchasing new diapers. Although disposable diapers are now most common, cloth diapers are making a resurgence as both frugality and eco-consciousness become increasingly popular.

Cloth diapers have moved far beyond bleach buckets and rubber pants. With modern designs and the ability to shop online, parents researching cloth diapers are faced with a surprisingly broad array of options.

All-in-one diapers are the most similar to disposable diapers and just as easy to put on and take off. They are usually the most pricy, but hold up well. All-in-ones are available in sizes or in one-size adjustable options. Some of these one-size all-in-one diapers will last from about six weeks into early toddlerhood.

Flat and prefold diapers are the most economical. Separate covers must be used. Diapers do not always need to be fastened under the covers, but fastened diapers may contain messes better. The Snappi closure is an easier alternative to the traditional pins. Flat and prefold diapers wash easier and dry faster. They are the best option for those who line dry. Most covers are made of a waterproof PUL material with snap or Velcro closures. Other covers are made of fleece or even wool.

Many options in between exist. Fitted diapers are designed for use under covers and do not need special folding and fastening. Pocket diapers are similar to all-in-ones, but the absorbent layers are removable. Diaper fabrics range from natural cotton and hemp materials to high-absorbency microfibers. Cloth diapers can be reused for additional children or resold. Well-cared for diapers are always in demand.

Disposable diapers are more convenient. They do not involve washing or special care. Parents do not need to carry used diapers around and bring them home.

Disposable diapers are trimmer and fit better under clothing. Although the bulk of cloth diapers do not seem to bother babies, some parents don’t like all the bulk between their child’s legs. Disposable diapers fit more easily in carseats and child carriers. Most daycares and other caregivers also feel more comfortable with using disposables.

However, in addition to the expense, some parents are concerned with the sheer volume of disposable diapers filling landfills. Others are uncomfortable with the materials and chemicals that make disposable diapers so absorbent.

Choosing to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers is not only a question of expense, but also of lifestyle and personal comfort.

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