Using cloth diapers never crossed my mind when I went to create our baby registry. I thought disposables were the easiest and cheapest thing. I did no research on the topic because frankly, the idea of reusable diapers seemed like too much dirty work.
Before I get started, let me just say I’m not going to get into the “green” issue here. It is obvious what is better for the environment…but we are Mommy bloggers so we’ll focus more on the cost effectiveness and ease of use factors. In an effort to make Captain Planet happy I will say “looting and polluting is not the way!” so please recycle when you can. ;o)
Here’s the low down on how each diaper system works:
Cloth diapers typically come in two parts- the water/stain proof cover and the absorbent liner. When changing baby, take the dirty liner out and replace with a new one. This means you’d purchase more liners than covers since the covers don’t normally get soiled (hopefully anyway…). The diapers usually come in two sizes: newborn and infant/toddler. Dirty diapers can be stored in a lined garbage bin.
Cleaning the diapers consists of either tossing them straight them in your washing machine (just wet) or rinsing off using a sprayer attached to your toilet and then putting them in the wash. Sometimes your normal clothing detergent can be used or you can purchase a special soap just for diapers.
Most of us are familiar with how disposables work. There are several sizes to choose from depending on your child’s weight. Baby gets a brand new diaper each time they are changed. Dirty diapers get stored in your regular trash can or sometimes a diaper pail. Your local garbage company gets the honor of picking up your dirty diapers once or twice a week with your other trash.
So now that you know the skinny on each “system” let’s talk about cost. DiaperDecisions.com has broken down the cost of several cloth diapering systems vs. disposables:
* The average cost (including washing expense) of a cloth diapering system range from about $381 to $1,600 TOTAL. That range is based on a lower to higher quality of diaper brand.
* The average cost of disposable diapers (calculating the same amount of diaper changes needed with cloth) is $2,600. This does NOT include costs for a diaper pail and refills for those.
Weighting The Advantages and Disadvantages
Take a look at that price difference and you can already see what my number one advantage to a cloth system would be. Even with the higher quality brand, cloth diapering comes in almost a thousand dollars cheaper than disposables. And that’s just with one child! That’s money in the bank with any additional children since you won’t need to purchase additional diapers…talk about a nice beginners cushion for college funds!
Another advantage of cloth is that your child may seem more comfortable in a natural feeling diaper. Babies with several diaper rash issues or major skin sensitivities can really benefit from going cloth.
I know I wasn’t going to mention this but come on…it really is better for our environment to use cloth.
Although there are some major advantages to cloth, there are some pretty significant inconveniences. Cloth diapers tend to be a bit bulky taking up lots of precious space in a diaper bag or when traveling. Speaking of traveling…vacations with cloth diapers would be a serious pain without the convenience of your home sprayer and a washing machine. And going out in general is a bit of a pain because of the chance you’ll have to carry around a dirty diaper until you get home.
Although more expensive, disposables are so easy to get rid of. No waiting for a load of laundry to get done for clean diapers, no spraying (score!) and no bulky diapers to tote around. Need more diapers? Just go to any local store and pick up a box! Disposables might also provide a better fit for your child at some of those awkward weight stages that occur through infancy.
So what’s better? Whatever feels right to you! I’ll tell you what I wish I would have done- grabbed a couple of cloth and a box of disposables and tried both. That way I could try out the cloth with out the big initial investment, but fall back onto disposables if it wasn’t working for us.
So how did you diaper your baby? And have we made cloth diapers seem “doable”?