There are many reasons people consider opting for cloth diapers, some of which may be a bit misinformed. At first the thought of them is no doubt irksome to many, but when you consider the waste that diapers represent (up to 12 a day!), the cost and the fact that disposable diaper brands don’t need to reveal what their products are made of, cloth ones potentially becomes more and more appealing.
Let’s get the bad out of the way…
Plain and simple – cloth diapers are messy. Many first-time parents feel as though they’re constantly covered in poop when they’re using disposable diapers, so cloth ones certainly aren’t for the faint of heart, at least the very beginning (ahem blowouts…) – you will find yourself covered in poop. You also might want to consider going the disposable route when you’re on-the-go to avoid having to lug around soiled nappies in your diaper bag.
Speaking of meeting somewhere in the middle, many parents find it helpful to look for cloth diapers made with disposable liners since they’re easier to clean. Besides being messier, it’s also important to factor in that you’ll probably be doing laundry twice as often if you’re not going the disposable route and that too adds up in terms of water and electricity. Lastly, while disposable diapers get a bad reputation for potential chemicals and irritants they might be formulated with, babies actually tend to get more diaper rashes from cloth diapers because they aren’t as good at absorbing moisture. Note also that if you want to use diaper cream with a cloth diaper, opt for something very high in zinc oxide to avoid making the whole thing even messier.
Now for the pros of cloth diapers…
Despite the added electricity and water bills, you’ll probably save a little money using cloth diapers, but not necessarily as much as you might think. The biggest pro, however, is that cloth diapers are available in a variety of materials and you’ll know exactly what they’re made of. More and more parents are growing concerned over the chemicals in plastic disposable diapers and what effect that might have on their baby’s skin and on their health in the long run. Remember, just because something is sold on a shelf, doesn’t mean it’s safe! There haven’t been any large, long-term studies to prove that the chemicals used in most diapers, and subsequently absorbed by babies, are totally safe.
As far as the environmental impact it’s unclear whether cloth is actually better. As mentioned, they’ll up your utility bills and the fashion industry is one of the worst industries for the environment, meaning producing those cloth diapers is no walk in the park either.
Bottom line: while you might think the biggest pros for opting for cloth diapers are saving money and being environment-friendly, the only real reason to consider going the cloth route is because you want more control over what is touching your baby’s skin. That said, there are a growing number of brands that make disposable diapers, like Believe, that are totally upfront about the ingredients they use (and they’re all “clean”).