Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers: The Pros and Cons

If you are a parent and wondering whether you should choose cloth diapers or disposable ones for your child, I hope this post will help you decide which one will suit you and your baby.

The choice between cloth or disposable diapers is really a personal choice, but if you are trying to be as ‘green’ as much as possible and reduce your impact on the environment, then choosing cloth diapers is definitely a better option.

clothvsdisposablediapers

Disposable Diapers And Their Environmental Impact

Did you know that at least 18 billion disposable nappies are placed in landfill sites each year?

Can you imagine 18 billion dirty nappies with contents still inside just breeding all kinds of bacteria and viruses in the landfills?

Disposable diapers are not good for the environment. But some people believe that laundering of cloth diapers is just as bad for the environment as using disposables. According to a landbank report, disaposable diapers use 20 times more raw materials, 3 times more energy, twice as much water, and generate 60 times more waste.

So, in general, disposable diapers have a greater negative impact on our environment!

Disposable Diapers Pros and Cons

disposable nappiesAdvantages:

  • Convenience: One of the main benefits that many people choose disposable diapers is convenience. It is hassle-free and easy to use. Just use it once and then throw it out. No need to wash them. Good for travelling.
  • Super absorbent material: Super absorbent granules, which are made of chemicals such as dioxins, swell to absorb urine. This means fewer diaper changes. But it also means higher risk of nappy rashes too.

Disadvantages:

  • Costly: It usually costs more in the long run. Just imagine the number of diapers you need to use each day for your baby until he/she is potty trained. The costs can really add up.
  • Wastage: It adds to the landfills and are not eco-friendly. According to the National Association of Nappy Services (NANS), disposable nappies form 4% of all household waste in the UK.
  • Not breathable: It may be a little bit of a concern for baby boys as it raises the temperature of the testes and scrotum. However, there is no conclusive evidence that suggest it would cause any problems with fertility.
  • Chemicals: Skin contact with chemicals from disposable diapers can cause problems such as diaper rash, irritated bottoms, and other common complaints. 

Cloth Diapers Pros and Cons

cloth-nappiesAdvantages:

  • Eco-friendly: Cloth diapers can be washed and reused over and over again. The landfills are better off when at least one person makes that change to cloth diapers. 
  • Comfort: Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers are more comfortable for the baby. 
  • Less time in diapers: The baby is potty trained quicker as they can feel when they are wet.
  • Save money: Over time, cloth diapers will save you money as it gets reused over many times.
  • Avoid chemical exposure: The baby’s skin is not in contact with chemicals, so it’s actually better for them.

Disadvantages:

  • Frequent changes: This may not be convenient for busy people. But it is required for keeping the baby’s bottom drier and avoid nappy rash.
  • Requires washing: Factors to consider include time to launder the diapers, cost of electricity, soap, water, and wear on your washing machine and dryer. You can even find a diaper service if you don’t want to wash them yourself.

Treating Nappy Rash

If your baby gets a sore bottom, here are some great tips to help with the recovery process.

  • Avoid acidic foods such as fruit juice and oranges
  • Let the child run around without wearing any diapers as much as possible
  • Avoid products with fragrance
  • Avoid petroleum based products that create a waterproof barrier on the skin and seal in the moisture.
  • Change diapers frequently

Elimination Timing

No NappiesIf you are interested in trying out a super green method, then elimination timing is something that you might want to explore with your new born baby. This method is used in most traditional cultures to potty train their baby and doesn’t involve using diapers!

It involves realizing and getting into sync with your baby’s natural toilet cycles so that you know when he/she needs the toilet. You can start using this method before the baby is 6 months old.

This can be done by holding your baby comfortably and securely over his potty on a regular basis so that he/she will associate sounds and positions with his potty.

Conclusion

There are advantages and disadvantages of both disposable and cloth diapers. So which one you choose for your baby ultimately depends on your personal preference and lifestyle.

If you haven’t tried cloth diapers before, this post will show you how to use it. CLICK HERE!

If you are comfortable, you can even try out elimination timing with your baby to see how it goes. It does take a bit of time and patience with this method. But it is one of the cheapest and greenest choice that a person can make.

If you can master this method, you don’t need to spend money on nappies at all! Imagine the enormous savings considering that a baby normally needs to be in nappies for up to 3 years. 

Now that you know the pros and cons of disposable diapers and cloth diapers, which one would you choose? Would you consider the elimination method? Please leave some comments below.

9 comments

    • Teresa says:

      I actually recommend the all-in-one style of modern cloth diapers because they are shaped or prefolded and have the waterproof outer layer with the absorbency built inside the diaper. They can be fasten with either snaps or hook & loop (velcro). They are a bit like a disposable diaper, but made of cloth.

  1. PY says:

    Im definitely pro cloth diapers. Its sad to see irresponsible parents disposing diapers without care especially when they are on family holiday. Ive seen used diapers on the beach..what a sight for sore eyes.Thanks for the interesting info, I will spread the news to my mommy girlfriends!

    • Teresa says:

      Dirty diapers on the beach doesn’t sound very hygienic. Thanks for sharing this info to your girlfriends. I’m sure they will find it useful and hopefully give cloth diapers a try to reduce wastage in the landfill sites.

  2. Amanda says:

    I think one of the disadvantages of cloth diapers that wasn’t mentioned is the smell. It may not be that way for all cloth diapers, but it certainly was when I had to use them for a child in daycare. Each diaper change meant pulling out the rice paper, with feces on it, tossing it, then putting the soiled diaper in a bag for the parents. There was always an odor coming from the baby that was not from elimination, just a funky smell, and that really turned me off of them. I use disposable diapers, always have, and I decided, after reading a “cloth vs disposable” article, years ago, that I would probably stick with disposable. One of the main advantages for me is more time with my child then having to care for the diapers. I totally understand that it is better for the environment, and appreciate that, but I personally chose disposable. I have never heard of the elimination method. Interesting concept though. :-)

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks for sharing your opinion Amanda. I do understand that there are people who will stick to disposable diapers even though they are not as eco-friendly. People will choose what suits their lifestyle.

  3. Sylvia says:

    I’ve heard my mom and sister discussed about choosing cloth diapers or disposable diapers.
    My sister chose disposable diapers for the convenience.
    It’s really not eco-friendly and costs a lot of money.
    However, I can understand her decision, it’s quite hard to wash and change the diapers frequently everyday.

    • Teresa says:

      People have busy lives so it’s not a surprise why many people still prefer the convenience of disposable diapers.

  4. Cash Lab says:

    The major con we noticed is that cloth diapers are bulky. We almost felt like they were holding our baby back from crawling and other types of movement. We’ve found liners are a must, laundry isn’t that bad and we generally get leaks in the all in one diapers actually.

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