Diaper ( cloth diaper or disposable) is a must-have for babies. It is parents’ choice to choose a diaper for baby. Although most parents are using disposable diapers, there is still a small portion of parents prefer cloth diapers, like my husband and me. We started to use cloth diapers since my son had sensitive skin and couldn’t tolerate disposable diapers when he was a newborn.
Pros of clothes diaper
Cloth diapers have changed a lot over time. The traditional diapers made with only absorbent cloth sheet has been proven to cause irritation and diaper rash more easily than disposable diapers. However, the modern diapers with stay-dry top/liner are considered superior to disposable diapers. Modern cloth diapers may benefit both baby and our planet.
- Cloth diapers are with less chemical residual than disposable diapers. Baby’s skin may contact with more harsh chemical residue when wearing disposable diapers than wearing thoroughly washed cloth diapers.
- Materials of cloth diapers can be gentler to baby’s skin. The reusable diapers can be made with high-quality Disposable diapers have to be made cheaply. With current market price, manufacturers can only earn an average of 1 or 2 cents per disposable diaper, which greatly limits the selection of materials.
- Cloth diapers are more environment-friendly. An estimated 4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, which means 3.4 million tons of used diapers are added to landfills each year. According to a report from NH department of environmental services, a discarded disposable diaper takes up to 450 years to decompose. One study found that disposable diapers produce seven times more solid waste when discarded and three times more waste in the manufacturing process.
- Investment of cloth diaper for one laundry load every 3-4 days can be as low as $300 (including detergent), which is significantly lower than the 2-year spending on disposable diapers (from $1000 to $1500).
Cons of using cloth diaper
- Extra workload
Together with all the above benefits, choosing a cloth diaper also means extra workload in washing and maintaining. I bought cloth diapers before my son’s birth after learned all the benefits of using cloth diapers. However, because of the extra workload, we didn’t use the cloth diapers until my son developed a severe diaper rash in his first week of life. As a new mom, I was so worried at that time, so we decided to try the cloth diapers. After switching to cloth diapers, my son’s diaper rash cleared up within one week. The cure was visible on the very first day. The result is well worth all extra work caused by using cloth diapers. I would recommend trying cloth diapers if your baby develops diaper rashes frequently or is experiencing severe diaper rash.
- Stay-dry liner/insert is not diaper rash cream friendly.
Diaper rash cream is the effective way of supporting baby’s skin barrier function and helps greatly in preventing/curing diaper rash.
Instructions of stay-dry diaper insert/lining may state do not use diaper rash cream. Although cloth diaper manufactures may claim stay-dry material can wick urine away immediately and can effectively prevent diaper rash without a diaper rash cream, it is not proven on my son.
There are hard to reach areas for diapers that may be soaked by urine long enough to get diaper rash. When feces soiled diaper is not removed immediately (it happens to most parents), the diaper rash cream can provide temporary protection to baby’s skin.
A diaper rash cream and proper diaper area cleansing method (wipe or wash with water) should always be included in diaper changing routine. We used a squeeze bottle to wash my son’s diaper area, pat dry with a cloth wipe and applied diaper rash cream every time before putting a cloth diaper on him.
Proper laundry routine can wash off diaper rash cream from cloth diaper without affecting its performance. We soaked stay-dry inserts in hot water with Oxiclean every time before washing and ran a full cycle with hot water and natural diaper detergent, plus three more rinse cycles. After 14 months of use, the inserts kept their shape and color and can still hold the same amount of water when compared to a new diaper insert.
- Stay-dry liner/insert is picky with laundry detergent.
Microfleece stay-dry material cannot be washed with the same detergent as your other laundry. Ingredients in the detergents such as baking soda, enzyme, softener, and bleaches may reduce stay-dry material’s performance and cause leakage. I used Allen’s Natural, which worked well.
Following are top 3 reviewed cloth diaper detergents,
Allen’s natural: Best for Babies with Sensitive Skin. A completely natural detergent, and it is biodegradable.
Charlie’s Soap: Works for most and least expensive. Labeled as natural but without an ingredients list.
Rockin Green: Leakage issues are reported when using hard water.
- Washing cloth diapers consume more water and energy than using disposable diapers.