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Question of the Week: Why do you use disposable or washable baby diapers?

2009 March 9

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Cloth baby diapers require cleaning and care, but avoid replacement costs.  Disposable diapers are convenient but must be purchased and disposed of properly.

Why do you use disposable or washable baby diapers?

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203 Responses leave one →
  1. Rosalie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    About the environmental studies, I’ve been looking for these studies for years, but to the best of my knowledge, there was just one study. And, it was done by P&G, who sell a lot of diapers! It also assumed that cloth diapers would only be used for one kid (rather than passed on) and assumed that disposable diaper users dump the poop in the toilet (no one I know does this!)

    I have also been pleasantly surprised at how easy cloth diapers are!

  2. Jacky Law permalink
    March 10, 2009

    Cloth diaper is time consuming in no questioning. In a well developed country, every minute can be counted in money. Therefore, mostly choose disposable option for convenient. However, due to economics meltdown and harsh cost control concern, many people would turn to cloth diaper instead.

  3. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    What disposable diapers are you using where “waste is contained in an area separate from the child’s skin” (referring to defacation). Every time my kids poop in a disposable, it MOST CERTAINLY is all over their skin. My toddler’s mushy poops are all over him, and my newborn’s breastmilk poop shoots out the back of the diaper every time, and when I open it up, it runs everywhere. The cloth we use, by comparison, actually absorbs any liquid in it. I have NEVER had a poop leak with cloth, but have it all the time with disposables. Also, with cloth, at least human waste goes where it belongs…in the toilet. We who use cloth are also pretty conscious of when our children go and change them accordingly. I’ve seen many moms who use disposables leave them on their kids until the diaper is about to burst.

  4. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    If you have diaper rash with cloth, chances are you aren’t washing them properly. Also, there are some of us who still use pins, and no, you don’t injure your child by default simply because you use them. I’ve got two in cloth and have yet to poke anyone but myself.

  5. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    Are YOU kidding ME??? I have two under two and a deployed husband and it’s barely a hassle at all to wash three loads of diapers a week.

    How much water and how many chemicals are used to make your disposables? How many resources are used to get them from the manufacturer to the retailer to you?

    By your logic, it’s ok to throw away human waste because people are already throwing away things…well, by that same logic, I’m already doing quite a bit of laundry a week, so what’s another couple loads?

  6. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    I’m not worried about the cost, but it sure is nice to know I spent $200 on diapers that will last two children instead of a couple thousand dollars.

  7. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    a.) many cloth users line dry
    b.) you don’t use as much detergent per load when washing, and many of us use more environmentally-friendly detergents that rinse thoroughly.
    c.) cloth diapers do not automatically equal a stinky pail. Come to my house and I’ll pay you $100 if you can find my pail using your nose. Bet you can’t do it.

  8. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    It’s nice to have beliefs about things, but even nicer to have facts. You might want to read up more on cloth diapering before making statements about what’s healthy or not.

  9. Jennie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    That’s the really old-fashioned (and incorrect) way to wash cloth diapers. Cloth diaper rashes are the result of putting diapers on a baby that are not completely clean. There’s a lot more info out there now, thankfully. I have yet to have a rash with either baby while using cloth.

  10. Linzie permalink
    March 10, 2009

    We use cloth for a whole lot of reasons, but one that I haven’t seen brought up is to support work-at-home-moms. I know this is an eco-based argument, but I’m sure the waste spewing from the factory making ‘sposies is horrendous compared to the WAHM’s house!

    Also, in terms of waste, we’ve been using the same one gallon jog of natural concentrated laundry soap for 3 years!

    My daughter exclaimed “No more diapers!” one month before her second birthday. Simple as that!

    Now my son is wearing all the same dipes his big sister wore, and actually the one’s he’s grown out of have been handed down to his little cousin. I’m smiling while I’m sitting here. It makes me proud to know there’s been such little waste!

    As for rash, both my daughter and son would get a rash around their legs from the disposables, but nothing with cloth.

  11. katina128 permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Goodness, so many of you are misinformed on today’s cloth diapers. Do yourself a favor and look up cloth diapers, Happy Heiny’s or Fuzzi Bunz, just to name a couple of mainstream brands and get familiar with what they look like today. No one spends hours slaving over washing diapers. Do you slave over washing your underwear? No, and it’s the same for cloth diapers. Dump them in, wash with detergent, line dry or dry them in the dryer, and fold. No big deal at all. I cloth diapered my boys who are now 5 and 8, and I also make cloth diapers for a living as a seamstress now. I love them. I will use them on the next baby as well. They are a great alternative to disposables, cost less, better for environment, better for baby, and are soooo cute. Would you wear paper underwear? I doubt it. Baby deserves to be comfortable in cotton too!!

  12. Hamidreza permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I dont use washable baby diapers

  13. Trish permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I have used both cloth and disposable. My first child was born in 2001. At the time there were cloth diapers with velcro closures available …sounded like a great idea. They were sized, as a result , I had to purchase four different sizes over the cost of my first childs development and covers becaused they soaked through. I washed them myself in Drift (sp?) detergent. All in all the cost savings was break even according to my calculations. Certainly by the second child however, I would have been ahead economically. That didn’t work out because my second child started getting severe rashes that disappeared with disposables. I never went back to it, becuase I had to retund to work after having our second child due to threatened layoffs at my husbands employer. Cloth diapers are not a doable thing for a working Mom …even if the daycare approves. I found going out to be a problem …you don’t avfterall throw them away …that means a zip lock baggy so you can bring it home with you to wash. By the way …the velcro doesn’t hold up at all on the diapers …just the covers …and yes I washed them folded inside out and secured as recommended.

    I do take great comfort in knowing I can diaper any baby any time (I held on to them) and do still use them occasionally to fill in when supplies are low,etc.

    If I were to do it again, I would get the flat diapers and pins (if you can find the large pins with plastic covers on the end) The flat diapers aren’t size specific and will go the life of the child, however the birdseye ain’t what it used to be …they shred now …probably due to the dryer use which when I was a kid the mom’s hung them out …not practical where I live now.

    I recommend a little of both …perhaps cloth at night but even that I can’t take credit for now …on my fourth kid …too much other laundry to do. And for that I strongly recommend 2 washers and dryer in any new home planning a decent size family. I’m not there but it’s a dream. The dryer is where the huge cost is and BTW …I had to replace both new washer and dryer after 7 years ,,,burned the motor out a couple of times while under warranty ….todays appliances aren’t as tough as they used to be.

  14. Homer permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Use disposable – acknowledging that they’re not good for the environment, we use 7th Generation exclusively (non-bleached….non-scented)
    Primary reasons –
    1. Daycare won’t use cloth or g-diaper-type.
    2. Don’t want to deal with all that cloth entails (at the beginning, wife indicated to do cloth diapering, we’d need a 2nd washing machine(!)).
    3. Figure unbleached/unscented and allegedly faster “biodegrading” is better than scented, bleached, and non-biodegrading (noting that *anything* headed to a landfill doesn’t really biodegrade anyway….bcz it’s buried, with no access to air)

    Tried g-diapers early on – but too close to #2 above….
    If I were a single parent, I’d probably do g-diapers…but as someone previously mentioned, pick your battles.

    We do farmer’s markets, local / natural / organic (where necessary), baby clothes (and mine) + baby toys from thirft stores / consignment sales / craigslist (cheaper + generally chemical free), etc.

  15. Richard permalink
    March 11, 2009

    We used both in the beginning, but the disposable diapers won out because of convenience, with less water and other chemicals needed to keep them clean. Disposable diapers can be discarded almost anywhere. Cloth diapers have to be carried around after being soiled.

  16. Sara permalink
    March 11, 2009

    We recently switched to gDiapers from disposables. We do use some cloth inserts in the g’s and the rest of the time use the flushable inserts. It makes much more sense to me to put my daughter’s solid waste in the toilet than into the trash. It can be properly treated at the waste water treatment plant, rather than going into the landfill. The used inserts without feces can be composted.

    We switched mainly because no matter what brand of disposable we used, there she was getting frequent rashes. Since the switch, and her bum is in a breathable diaper…no more rashes.

    Sure there is a higher initial cost if you go with hybrid or cloth diapers, but the flushable g inserts are no more expensive than name brand disposables, and they are so much better for the environment. I for one will gladly pay a few cents more to not have her diapers be around for my great great great grandchildren to deal with.

    The diaper stink is gone from our house now. And there was a definite stink around her diaper can before. It takes no more time to throw a cloth diaper into a wetbag than it does to throw a disposable into the trash. With a family of 4, soon to be 5, what really is one more load of laundry?

    I am actually saving money on detergent now. The traditional, and more expensive, detergents are not recommended to use on cloth diapers as they can cause a build up, and affect the absorbency of the cloth. Not to mention, cause diaper rash. I looked into what brands were best for the diapers, and found that the free and clear version I was already using was fine to continue. It wasnt the best, but it was 3 out of 4 star rating. However, I found a green detergent that is actually cheaper and highly recommended for cloth diapers. It is 1/2 the cost of the one I was using, and completely natural.

    As far as daycares go, there should be no more handling of waste with cloth than with disposable. If you use All in One cloth, then the whole thing is removed and put in the bag, same as you would do with the disposable. No one that I know who uses cloth dunks them in the toilet or even uses the wet pail method. Shake off any solids into the toilet, to carry baby poo away to where poo belongs, and put the diaper and cloth wipes into the bag. Some daycares even require and individual wet bag for each diaper. These are waterproof bags, so nothing is going to leak out.

    Sure disposable is easier, but so are paper plates and plastic forks. No one can argue successfully that those are better for the environment. Cloth diapers take no more time than separating your recycling. Convenience is not always the right way to go.

  17. Deb permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I started using cloth right away, but I think you could start anytime. If you buy (rather than renting from a service), you would save money by starting cloth sooner.

    I made the mistake of switching to disposables at night for my first child. It took them a lot longer to stay dry at night than the children I kept in cloth at night.

    The constant diaper changing of newborns is trying! I felt better that with cloth, I at least knew when they were wet. The few disposables I tried made it hard to tell. Bottom line (pun intended) – you don’t want them sitting in pee, whether in a disposable or cloth. Cloth makes it easier to tell when they are wet and to change them.

  18. tzweiner permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Honestly, it’s annoying to read the replies some people are leaving. You will not convince the others that YOU are more right. It’s a matter of what works for the family. If cloth works for you, great, but don’t try to tell someone who’s dead set on disposables that it’s sooooo wrong to use them.
    We use disposables and try to focus our efforts in other areas – drive our cars less, use less energy, less water, and so on. And we would have been doing that even if we didn’t have the baby.
    What I’m trying to say is that you can be environment-aware in so many ways that will cumulatively reduce your impact so much more than obsessing about your diapers. Baby rearing is difficult enough. Put your efforts into loving your baby and staying sane for him/her.

  19. Kristin permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Today’s cloth are a lot different. We use Fuzzibunz, which are a “pocket diaper”. They are fleece on the inside and laminated cloth on the outside. They snap closed (no pins) and the laminated cloth and elastic bands means no leaks. Because it is a pocket, I can stuff the inside with as many layers as I want. I get fewer leaks and never get blow outs like I’ve heard about from other parents, because the back seam is elastic and holds icky messes inside the diaper (as opposed to disposables with a flat back that allow the mess up the back)…

    I probably didn’t save much money with the first kid, because I had to buy all the diapers and inserts and energy and water cost to clean them, but I am on my second kid and have no costs other than water and energy for washing them.

    There are LOTS of diaper blogs that talk about cloth diapers and washing techniques so you don’t end up with rash. Mostly, it’s the detergent used to clean them. We use Charlie’s Soap which is really a simple coconut detergent with nothing else (no brighteners or enzymes). This simple detergent cleans great and rinses clean so there is no residue left on the diapers…

    The new technologies in diapers these days are really great and make things simple! It has never been easier to cloth diaper!

    Oh, and a little about me? I have 2 kids under two and work full-time. It isn’t that much time…

  20. Kimberly LL permalink
    March 11, 2009

    We use fleece lined, all in one cloth diapers and love them. Going into my pregnancy, I wasn’t committed to disposables or cloth, but after seeing how easy they are to use, we are complete converts. The soiled diapers don’t smell (especially for a breastfed baby) and it is no big deal to put the used diapers in a plastic bag to then go into the wash when we get home. Baby’s diaper rash was bad with disposables and has not happened again since moving to cloth. Time spent in the laundry room (3-4 minutes per load, 2-3 times a week) is no big deal and much preferred to having to go out and buy disposables. We use a really simple laundry detergent that is enviro safe. In all I have a happy babe, happy parents who chat over folding diapers, and feel like I am doing good by not putting chemically treated disposables on my babe or into a landfill.

  21. Utah Chris permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I’ve tried cloth diapers to no effect with my kids. It turned into a hassle unworthy of the time we invested. I was raised with my numerous sibblings with cloth diapers, but the savings in time and aggravations and mess was what drove us back to disposable.

    Plus now that I’m up there in years, the disposable will be so much more convenient for me in my later years. Cloth might leak through to my street clothes.

  22. Anon permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Dear Kicker,

    An eloquent and accurate posing. EPA’s public outreach seems more concerned with simply using new media rather than recognizing that they are tools and are only as effective as the topics they convey.

  23. Dorena permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I use cloth and disposables. When using disposables I try to use more environmentally friendly brands, such as 7th Generation or G Diapers (which biodegrade in 2 wks and are flushable). When I am at home with my son I have him in cloth diapers. I love using them. I did a lot of research on them to find the best ones. I use different ones, but my faves are All In Ones by Bum Genius. They are pricey, but so worth the cost. When he poops, I dump the poop in the toilet and at the end of the week wash my diapers in my washer and hang dry. They are so easy to use and water proof too. I love how natural and safe the cloth diapers are for my son, how eco-friendly they are, and how much money I am saving by using them! I highly recommend researching all the many cloth diaper options there are out there.

  24. Jenn permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I use disposable because our day care provider prefers that we bring disposable diapers. If I were at home with the little one, I would prefer to use cloth diapers.

  25. Breanna permalink
    March 11, 2009

    She did not handle the diapers while taking care of the babies. She put all the diapers in a pail in a room away from the babies, then at night would do laundry. While in contact with the babies she was in no more contact with excraments than a daycare provider would be with disposables. There is no greater health concern with cloth diapers, and let me remind you that ALL disposables are supposed to have the poop cleared out and flushed before tossing. Its a health concern when everyone misuses disposables and the poop is put in dumps, then human feces leach into our rivers and ponds. At least with cloth you know the pooh is ending up at a waste treatment facility as it should instead of our natural resources.

    My cloth diapers do not leak. When you find a type that fits your baby correctly, they dont leak. Disposables never fit on my daughter well actually. She had blow outs all the time.

    I use g-diapers if I am out shopping for a long time. Or I just carry a sealable water proof bag in my diaper bag… pretty easy.

  26. Breanna permalink
    March 11, 2009

    She did not handle the diapers while she watched the children. She put them securly away from them, then washed them at night after the babies went home. She handled excraments no more than a provider using disposables would. There is no added health concern with cloth diapers. What is a health concern, however, is when disposables are improperly used and the poop is left in them and thrown away (I have never heard of a person scooping the poop away out of a disposable). Since 2-3% of our landfills are diapers, the human feces ends up leaching into our streams and lakes… ew. At least with cloth you know the poop is ending up in the waste treatment facility where it dosen’t end up contaminating our natural resources.

    If you get the correct fitting cloth diaper for your baby they do not leak. Mine never do. Disposables actually didn’t fit my daughter well and she always had blow outs with them.

    I use g-diapers when I’m out for a long time. Or, i carry a waterproof sealable bag with me… pretty easy.

  27. March 11, 2009

    Thanks for everyone’s input. My wife and I are expecting in ~2.5 months, so we’re starting to investigate this stuff. We both make a lot of environmental decisions around the house, and in our lifestyle, but I like to think we are pretty practical and look at the whole picture (life-cycle analysis, relative costs to other actions, etc.).
    From what I remember in a case study we looked at in college, this question might be a wash. In that case, we’ll probably give both a try, use what feels right, and make changes depending on particular situations.

  28. Tracy permalink
    March 11, 2009

    After spending a lot of time researching and discussing this topic before my baby was born, I came to the conclusion that it must be determined locally.

    Cloth Diapers –
    In CA, we have a drought and significant water shortage so washing them myself would be a big strain on an already strained water system. Diaper services use chlorine bleach and as many have said above are a cause of diaper rash and is not a chemical I want near my baby. Additionally, for health and safety reasons, cloth diapers are not allowed to be used in daycares receiving CA state funding.

    Disposables –
    Disposables still have sodium polyacrylate gels or granules which raise additional, albeit still debatable, concerns over the safety. Although now you can find TBT-free, dioxin-free, fragrance-free, chlorine-free, unbleached versions and more choices with no plastic and more biodegradability than ever before. The biggest benefit to disposables are the variety of sizes that help to make sure baby stays dry as much as possible.

    Hybrid Diapers –
    Most have flushable and biodegradable liners but tend to be tough on old plumbing and septics systems. Many have one-size fits all features but I have found that they frequently leak around the legs because they are not sized low enough for newborns and so I used disposables until she was about 10lbs. The diaper covers are too easy for older babies to remove themselves so be wary if you have one of those active kids. Some outer covers are made with petroleum-derived liner or waterproofing materials but they are also the ones that tend to work the best. None that I have found are made from organic materials, except ones made from bamboo but it still requires another waterproof outer layer. They also require a significant investment per diaper so you may want to test with your plumbing before committing completely.

  29. Anonymous permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Hold in messes better?!?! Not on my kids! We got leaks every single time my kids pooped in disposables as infants or had diarrhea as toddlers before we switched. It just went everywhere. We get almost no leaks ever in cloth diapers, and it’s never the up to the neck blowouts we we had in disposables. I am so happy I switched.

  30. Alison permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Wow, that does sound awful! I’m glad I have a modern washing machine that is capable of handling heavy soil, making toilet swishing, chemical wet pails, and excessive bleach a thing of the past.

  31. Cassiopia permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Both my husband and I use only cloth diapers on our daughter. The biggest reason has been health. We simply do not trust that amount of chemicals against such sensitive places on our children for the average amount of time that a child is in diapers. My daughter has NEVER had a diaper rash. We do not use pins, prefolds or rubber pants, her diapers are all inclusive and breathe so she is not uncomfortable. The second reason is savings. We do one extra load of laundry per week, and with the choice of diapers we have made, we will be able to diaper our subsequent children without spending any additional money. What person using disposables can say they bought diapers once and never needed to again, even though they had many children?

  32. Brunhilde permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I agree with disposables not containing messes as well. I used pricey brand name disposables and my kids would end up with poop up to their necks sometimes. We’ve had more poop blowouts than I can count with disposables, but in 9 months of cloth we’ve had maybe… 3 or 4 leaks… and that’s between the two kids. Even so, the leaks that did happen weren’t as bad with cloth as with disposables.

  33. david permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I suppose there will be alot of new borns wearing diapers now that the economy is in such dispair.

  34. Cassiopia permalink
    March 11, 2009

    When using cloth, it is VERY important to wash with detergents that are FREE of any perfumes or additives. Dreft has a lot of both, and is a vehemently advised against in the cloth diapering world. I use either Tide Free and Clear or Purex Free and Clear. Chances are your cloth diapers had severe build up. That can be remedied by a hot wash with Dawn (yup, original, dish-washing Dawn), a little goes a long way, and it’s grease-cutting ingredients pull the additional soap out of diapers that are causing rashes, leaking, or repelling. Then they need to be rinsed WELL (as in, when you look in the washer during a rinse, you DON’T see any soap bubbles). That solves the problem about 90% of the time. I would try that with your diapers if you still have them and see if it works (easiest way to tell is to smell them out of the wash. If you smell “nothing,” then you’re good to go!). As far as going out, your best bet is to get a bag that is specially designed for cloth diapers. Mine cost $8 and I’ve used it religiously for over a year now:) When it gets dirty, just toss it in the wash with the diapers!

  35. Cassiopia permalink
    March 11, 2009

    BumGenius, GoodMama, Sustainable Babyish, Swaddlebees, First Class Baby, Rumparooz, etc, etc, etc..

  36. Cassiopia permalink
    March 11, 2009

    No more time consuming than driving to the store, walking down the aisles, picking up the sposies, waiting in line, driving allllll the way home, unpacking diapers… as opposed to:

    a trip to the drawer, toss in the pail, 4-5 days later a load in the wash/dryer, back in the drawer.

  37. Nicole permalink
    March 11, 2009

    We use cloth diapers and have since the birth of our second child, with no exceptions.
    Yes, it is more work. Yes, the initial start-up cost can be staggering. But the environmental benefits, and health benefits to my child, are far too important for me to say that a few moments of my time are more valuable.
    That’s what’s gotten us to the point where we are anyway. This consumer driven, all about convenience, what makes MY life easier mentality is what’s polluting our air and filling our landfills and poisoning our food sources.
    Yes, my time is important. But my time is not more important than the well-being of the planet.

  38. Elizabeth permalink
    March 11, 2009

    You ARE aware that you’re supposed to dispose of baby poop the same way in disposables as with cloth, right?

  39. Nicole permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Literally speaking, we started at day five. We used disposable diapers in the hospital, and until the extras the hospital sent home with us ran out.

    I don’t consider changing a lot of diapers to be a problem. I think children’s diapers should be changed every time they are wet or soiled, regardless of cloth or disposable. It’s a part of caring for an infant.

  40. Elizabeth permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I cloth because:

    1) It’s better on my son’s skin. We switched to cloth after the chemicals in his disposables mixing with urine/poop caused a bad rash that blistered and turned into a staph infection. He was hospitalized for 4 days while he was treated for MRSA. Because he was too sensitive to use disposables.

    2) It’s better for the environment. This one’s obvious. A single disposable diaper takes 250-500 years to decompose. Count how many you use in a single month. 80 disposables? Times 12? Times 36 if your baby doesn’t potty train until they’re over 3. That’s disgusting.

    3) My babysitter uses them and loves them. All she does is wrap up the dirty diapers and wipes and stick them in reusable & sealable wetbags and when I go home at night I dump the waste into the toilet, throw them in the dry pail and I’m done!

    4) I spent about $300 on my diaper stash that will last me through my next children. $300 vs. thousands on disposables? Detergent costs me $10 every 2 months.

    Cloth is way different than it was when our parents used them. They make them to look just like disposables, with snaps or velcro to secure them. They have adorable prints, and they have very trim diapers to fit in jeans. I’m a single parent and I go to school full time, and really, it’s so much more convenient to cloth because I don’t have to make late night trips to the store for diapers or wipes, and like someone above said, it takes 60 seconds a week to throw them in the washer, maybe 120 seconds to use the dryer.

    Plus, if you read the packaging on disposable diapers, you’re supposed to dunk the diapers in the toilet and remove the waste because poop is a biohazard. How many of you actually follow these rules?

  41. Gem permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I am having my first child this summer and plan on using cloth diapers. I feel that it is better for the environment, gentler and more natural on my baby, user friendly and affordable. The daycare center we have chosen are fine with cloth and we will provide a daily supply of clean diapers along with a diaper bag for dirties. I take these home daily for cleaning.

    It really is not that big a deal to CD and I have several friends that do it.

    Surprisingly, after I made my decision to cloth diaper, I found out that my mom did it for my sister and I over 30yrs ago and for similar reasons.

    Cheers.

  42. Sarah Egan permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I used disposable diapers on my oldest son and switched him to cloth when it got too expensive and he wasn’t potty trained until he was nearly 4. I was already using cloth with my oldest son and decided to use cloth on my youngest to keep expenses low.

    I stay with cloth because my younger son skin does not tolerate disposable diapers or wipes. He gets bleeding rashes from the disposable diapers. I stay with cloth because I find it easier than disposable diapers and I like all of the money I save. I also stay with it because I do not want to stick anymore disposable diapers in landfills.

    I spent almost $2000 to diaper my eldest son and about $400 to diaper my youngest for his entire time in diapers. I have bumgenius diapers and they’re a one-size fits all diaper. They’re nice, with velcro and no pins. Best of all, I can proudly say that I don’t stick my son in paper diapers.

  43. Myra permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I completely agree with Tracy. I have used all three and beleive there are costs and benefits to both. When we were living in a hot climate with passive solar hotwater and could bleach and dry them in the sun, I used cloth. When we were living where we had no easy access to a washing machine I used disposable. Now with my youngest we are using mainly hybrid diapers because 1) we can not dry and bleach them in the sun here and all the diaper services here are very expensive and use clorine bleach 2) he hates cloth and wakes up with the slightest wetness 3) we can compost the wet inserts in our backyard composter and flush the poopy inserts even with our old plumbing

    Disposables are convenient for travel and when the laundry still isn’t done, but I have trouble justifying the waste going into landfills.

  44. Amanda permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I have used cloth with my 2 year old AND my 6 month from birth. It is not an issue on having to change them more often. If your child defecates in a disposable, you change them – I went through tons of diapers because of constant pooping from my breastfed babies. So unless you are letting your kid sit in crap for hours, that is a non-issue.

    Cloth is easy and convenient. And diapers can be reused by many children, further reducing waste.

  45. Marisa permalink
    March 11, 2009

    We started with my first son very very gradually. I had had a c-section, I was overwhelmed learning about breastfeeding, and many people had given us packs of newborn diapers. Anything that made my life a bit easier in those early weeks was fine with me!

    I had cloth diapers (flat prefolds) on hand, though, and I would use them occasionally when I felt up to it. I started with using them only when we’d be at home, and then worked up to using them out on errands and trips. By 3-4 months the “OMG I’M A PARENT” thing was wearing off, and I felt like I had more of a handle on things. :)

    By the time my son was 9 months old I was comfortable using them overnight (I figured out that a pocket diaper, stuffed with three inserts, was enough absorbency to last him through several hours in a row of sleep).

    It doesn’t have to be all or nothing in those trying early weeks. Even just using cloth at a few changes a day was enough to save us money and reduce our garbage. I probably bought a pack of diapers every other week instead of every week. And of course it was nice to work toward eliminating those purchases entirely after a while, instead spending the money on reusable cloth that my second baby is now able to wear.

    With baby #2 I started with cloth as soon as we were home from the hospital — but that’s because I’m used to it now. I would never blame someone for “easing” their way into it, if that’s what works!

  46. Marisa permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I wonder if you had such trouble with leaking because of the Dreft. Cloth diapers shouldn’t be washed in detergents with softeners, etc. because it can affect their absorbency.

    It sounds like you were using the Gerber (birdseye) prefolds, too. Real diaper service prefolds do actually come in sizes (newborn, infant, toddler) and they hold up far far better than the Gerber ones. I used Gerber in the beginning too, before I found places to order the diaper service quality ones — and I would have given up on them too!!

  47. Lorena permalink
    March 11, 2009

    I’ve used cloth diapers on my children, and disposables when required (not often). Daycare was more than happy to use cloth diapers. Send them in daily, take them home at night, washing every other day, even with two parents working outside the home full time.

    With cloth diapers, my children had far fewer rashes; my only problem came at potty training time as I couldn’t find a washable pullup style diaper that worked for my kids. We swapped to a ‘friendlier’ paper diaper with minimal dyes, chemicals, and perfumes, but rashes were rampant. A speedy time spent potty training got us back into cloth (standard underwear) shortly thereafter.

  48. Sharon permalink
    March 11, 2009

    For both my kids, I used cloth diapers and a service. My main reason was because they are better for the environment than disposables and they are better for kids bottoms. My kids never had a diaper rash. They’ve come out with some nice diaperwraps for cloth diapers – no need for pins or tape – and in the summer its comfortable and looks nicer than a plastic diaper. Love the cloth diapers!

  49. jsk permalink
    March 11, 2009

    11 months was me. That’s because it’s when I got brave. Next baby will be from birth! I’ve done both and even working FT (~50hours/week) I didn’t find cloth a burden.

  50. jsk permalink
    March 11, 2009

    With respect, you can’t have researched cloth that closely if you think you need a “bucket of bleach in the house”. I have never, ever bleached diapers, except occasionally hanging in the sun, and there are few if any stains. As far as I know, not many people bleach. In fact, you can’t bleach any of the pocket or all-in-one diapers as the bleach ruins the materials.

    Have you considered the energy and resources required to manufacture the disposables in the first place?

    I have no particular opinion about how others choose to diaper their children, but it drives me nuts when I read misinformation like “you need bleach and/or lots of chemicals to clean them” – it’s simply untrue.

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