I have recently been asked by a few people why I use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. Realizing that, although I had good reasons for doing so, I didn’t have concrete facts that were backed up by research. This caused me do some research. You can view my sources (and find additional reading in their sources) by clicking on the links.
Here are some of the reasons that helped me decide that using cloth diapers is the best choice for my family.
Cloth diapers do not contribute to landfill issues. Obviously, cloth diapers are not disposable and, therefore, are not thrown away after one use. Over 92% of disposable diapers end up in a landfill and it is estimated that it takes 250-500 years for a them to decompose. Cloth diapers are used multiple times and then can be used for dust rags, etc when no longer needed.
Disposable diapers contain dioxin, which is a toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process and is banned in many countries, but still used in the United States. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to this chemical can produce skin legions, immune system and hormone problems and even cancer with long-term exposure.
Disposable diapers contain TBT, a pollutant that is known for causing hormonal problems in both animals and humans. In 2000, it was found in certain Pampers diapers in tests by the Greenpeace.
Also known as acrylamide, sodium polyacrylate is the primary ingredient in the polymers that make disposable diapers so absorbent. It becomes a gel-like substance when it becomes wet. (Have you ever seen the little gel balls that are in a wet disposable and often gets on a baby’s bum?). Unfortunately, it is known to cause cancer and even nerve damage in high doses.
In 1999, a study showed respiratory problems with the use of three different brands of disposable diapers.
The use of disposable diapers is linked to significantly higher scrotal temperature in boys, which could lead to reduced or abolished testicular cooling mechanism needed for normal spermatogenesis.
Most often diaper rashes are caused by skin irritation from sitting in a wet diaper. This happens more often with disposable diapers because they don’t feel wet when they already soaked with urine, but “dry” doesn’t mean “clean” in this case. Whether using cloth or disposable, it is best for newborns to be changed about 1-2 hours and older babies every 3-4 hours. (Diaper rashes can also be caused by allergies, changes in diet, viruses, etc.)
With the growing popularity of cloth diapering, there are very convenient choices available to those to don’t want to go the old-fashioned pre-folds and pins route, including fitted diapers and disposable diaper liners. Also, for those that don’t want to mess with the “mess”… If you look at the disposable diaper package, all fecal matter is supposed to be disposed of in the toilet. The place for poo is in the sewer system, not the trash!
Cloth diapers are more cost effective in the long run. Even though one may spend a fair amount of money up front to get started, cloth diapers usually pay for themselves within months. This online calculator can give an idea of how much one can save. If a family has more than one child, the savings are even more because the same cloth diapers can used for each child.
Cloth diapers are just so darn cute! This is my non-practical reason. Because I am using pre-folds, I mostly find the cloth diaper covers that are fun and attractive.
Obviously, choosing to use cloth or disposable diapers is a personal choice. I don’t judge friends that use disposables, just as I hope people don’t judge me for using cloth. I heard somebody once say that you have “pick your poison” because you can’t get away from every harmful thing on Earth. However, for me and my family, I feel that using cloth diapers is just one way to live a healthier, more prudent life.
What are your thoughts on cloth diapering? I would love to hear from you!