The Diaper Wars

Young boy in diapers with bottom in the airThe recent going green frenzy has sparked the debate over cloth versus disposable diapers all over again. Which is better? Which is safer? Which is more cost effective? The truth is that each and every family is different and deciding which route to take is a personal decision that should not be indicate of what type of parent you are. For many moms, the sheer thought of cloth diapers is revolting while others are very comfortable without the ease of disposables. In order to help you decide, here are a few things to consider.

Decades ago, cloth diapers were the norm. Today, cloth diapers are made from all sorts of organic materials from bamboo to organic cotton and they are designed to be easy to care for and safe for a baby's sensitive skin. If you choose cloth diapers, you should purchase at least 36 diapers and fasteners to get you started with the realization that they will need to replaced every few months. This starter package can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 depending on the brand you choose. Keep in mind that while you won't find cloth diapers cluttering up landfills, they do consume a great deal of energy in order to wash, dry, and sanitize. Even if you hire a diapering service, they too are using immense amounts of energy and charging you a monthly fee. Environmentally speaking, the effects on the environment can be just as harsh. One benefit to cloth diapers is seen in children who have extremely sensitive skin, as they are the most hypoallergenic diapers you can get. Since they do not whisk away wetness, much care has to be taken to change the diapers regularly.

Disposable diapers are used by approximately 83% of all mothers. They are easy to use and at around $10 for a 5-6 day supply…can be an expensive investment in your child's life. Many parents do a lot of trial and error until they find the brand and type of diaper that works best for their child. The best way to save money is to write to diaper companies and enroll in mailing programs that will supply you with deep discounts. While store and off brands can be very cheap, they often leave a residue on your baby's bottom and require you using twice as many to compensate for leakage. Yes, diapers do not disintegrate very quickly in landfills across the world. If this is bothersome to you, there are several brands of biodegradable disposable diapers that give you the convenience of a disposable whilst helping you remain environmentally conscious. Most of these brands are found online or in specialty stores and cost twice as much as regular disposable diapers.

There are also other things to consider when it comes to diapers. For one thing, this isn't a lifetime thing and many children can be potty trained before the age of two. One recommendation is to use the disposable diapers for nighttime use and begin using cloth diapers or padded underwear around the 18-month mark. This will expedite the potty training process greatly as the cloth diapers and underwear enable your child to know when they are wet. This will also save you money and ensure you aren't washing crib sheets every night. Obviously, the sooner you can get your baby potty trained – the better for you and for them.

Before making a decision about whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, you also have to consider who is caring for your baby. There are few daycares who will work with cloth diapers and it isn't exactly fair to send your baby off to a sitter and expect them to willingly accept cloth diapers without an option. If you are in the cloth diaper niche, chances are you will be the one changing and cleaning them. Even if you are completely set on using cloth diapers, you may want to consider disposable diapers for their ease of use during travel, outings, or long car rides.

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The battle of the diapering decision, as heated as breast versus bottle moms, will no doubt ensue for the ages. The truth is that making a decision based on what works for you and your family is the number one indicator that you are a good parent.

What do you think?

The Diaper Wars

Tell us what you think!

34 comments

  1. Profile photo of Tiare Tiare says:

    I’m thinking about using both types of Diapers…Cloth for Home, and Disposables for On-the-Go. It seems easier that way. I have been researching about this for almost a week and I want to make the right decision b4 baby comes 🙂 I see Pros and Cons to both types. I like the Fact that you can save money with Cloth Diapers being that you can Reuse them after being washed, also it helps with the environment…less diapers in the Landfills. The two concerns I have is…1) Not sure what brand(s) is best for fit and cost wise because prices per diaper are from $5-$17. My Second concern is not the fact that I have to wash them in the Washer (which I dont mine doing the Laundry), It’s not knowing if I would be washing them correctly in the washer…if you improperly wash them, it can be harmful to baby..and will it leave residue in the washer? As for disposables, Pros are that they are easy and coveniant. The Cons to me is Enviromental wise, they aren’t the best unless you get Biodegradable like the article said, which are more expensive than the Regular Disposables. Second, you do have to keep buying them, which of couse adds up to more than Cloth Diapers even if you have to replace your Cloth Diapers. Finally, Disposables do have Chemicals in them which can annoy Baby’s skin that can cause Diaper Rash. I know there are Organic Diapers like The Honest Company, but those are kind of expensive. Idk I’m torn between the two but will likely use both types like I said 🙂

  2. Profile photo of bmattler92 bmattler92 says:

    I used disposable for my son but my sister-in-law uses cloths and they are both useful. I am terrible at keeping up with laundry so cloth wouldnt work for me.

  3. Profile photo of Casey Kerver Casey Kerver says:

    i want to use cloth diapers but my other half wants disposable. since he already said he will not change the diaper either way i think we’ll go with cloth but have some disposable as back ups

  4. Profile photo of LIZ says:

    i use most of the time disposable ones but i did both some cloth diaper if any bad rash occurs

  5. Profile photo of mommy nhoj mommy nhoj says:

    I bought one cloth diaper before my baby was born – just to test how it goes but I never got the chance to use it. It was too big for her size then and then I totally forgot to use it!

  6. Profile photo of Tina Tina says:

    We are going to do disposable

  7. i’m opened to try anything once

  8. i’m opend to try anything once

  9. Profile photo of KaelinRae KaelinRae says:

    I would love to do cloth diapers, but I’m not sure if that apartment I will be moving into will have a washer and dryer. I really don’t feel like toting dirty diapers to the laundromat.

  10. Profile photo of Marilyn Marilyn says:

    Cloth diapers sound nice lol

  11. Profile photo of PrettyBoogs PrettyBoogs says:

    I support those who want to use cloth diapers. Why not save all that money and the planet 😛 BUT they are not for me. They would not fit my life style and my needs. But i would consider them and an option if needed. Allergies etc.

  12. Profile photo of Zoaea Zoaea says:

    Me either, but I want to aim for biodegradable disposables even if its a bit more. That way I feel less guilty.

  13. Profile photo of Zoaea Zoaea says:

    I don’t think the breast milk vs formula is any where near the same argument (unless you ment bottle with the pumped breast milk). There is a medically proven difference when it comes to moms milk, while the diaper debate dosen’t affect the health of your child unless they had a sever allergy…

  14. Profile photo of Amy Amy says:

    Personally I use disposable diapers but I’m not against ones who use cloth diapers. Its a personal decision.

  15. Profile photo of meridethann meridethann says:

    We’re doing cloth, not because of the environmental aspect (I’m a natural resources conservation major, so don’t think I don’t care), but because in the long run, they are slightly cheaper. We’re doing flats and prefolds with covers from amazon, craigslist and family. I’ve changed plenty of cloth before, so we’re prepared and I’ll be staying home with the baby for the first year, so I know we won’t have to worry about anyone else changing the icky cloth day to day. We did register for some disposables. We live far from our families, so disposables would be great to have for road trips, and once our little guy comes we’ll know whether or not he’s a heavy wetter and needs disposables at night.

  16. Profile photo of fenderferyl fenderferyl says:

    I feel like this article was a little pro disposable diapers… We’re doing Cloth diapers, and I am prepared to do most if not all of the work of getting them cleaned!

  17. Profile photo of ErinF ErinF says:

    I’ve built up a pretty sizable cloth diaper supply from Craigslist, eBay, garage sales and online groups; most were gently used, so they were much cheaper than retail but still in great condition. I like that I’ve spent a couple hundred bucks up front and will never have to buy another diaper (unless I find a good deal on something cute that I can’t pass up), and I can reuse them with the next kid(s). My friends who have cloth diapered their kids have recommended line drying when weather permits, reducing energy costs as well as staining. I think the savings will be worth the effort put into learning how to use and care for cloth.

  18. I dont want to have to wash poopie diapers so i’m going disposable.

  19. Profile photo of Jeanetta Jeanetta says:

    I can’t afford disposable diapers for every day use so I’m going to use cloth during the day and disposable at night.

  20. Profile photo of Hope Hope says:

    I’m going with disposable only because I’m a bit lazy and don’t want to wash dirty diapers. I’m getting a diaper genie also.

  21. Profile photo of marichinno marichinno says:

    Since I work during the week I will be using disposible diapers.

  22. Profile photo of Julie Julie says:

    I am going to go with disposable…

  23. Profile photo of meredith meredith says:

    I wish we had done cloth diapers; maybe on baby #2.

  24. Profile photo of lisa_iowa lisa_iowa says:

    I love using cloth. I make my own from recycled flannel sheets and receiving blankets and use my clothesline to dry. Makes for cheap and easy cloth diapering.

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