Economics: The average family will use ~9,000 diapers per child and spend $1,500 to $3,000 on disposable diapers for 2-3 years of use.1 You can diaper your child with cloth and spend a fraction of the cost- see chart below for figures. Additionally, the diapers are reusable or can be sold to recoup a portion of the investment.
Environment: As stated above, in 3 years, one child will go through ~ 9,000 diapers (15 diapers/day for first 3 months, 8 diapers/day thereafter). These diapers end up in a landfill where it takes an estimated 450 years to decompose.2 Cloth diapers are reusable and enter the landfill when they are rags.
Health: There are synthetic chemicals, dyes and dioxins in disposable diapers.3 Diaper companies are not required to divulge what is in their product, leaving parents in the dark about the potential dangers.4 As a mother, it's important to me to know what is closest to my baby's most sensitive area.
Cute Factor: In my mind, this could really be #1- cloth is fun and cute! Cloth diapers offer a variety of prints, patterns and solid colors making your baby's bottom the cutest bottom around!
Cloth vs. Disposable?
All in One
All In Two/Hybrid
|Washing & Drying||$477.00||$477.00||$477.00|
|Total Cost per Child
Disposables: Cost estimates show parents spend $1,500 to $3,000 for disposable diapers (brand dependent). 3-year time frame- birth to completed potty training Note: this does not include wipes, rash cream, swim diapers, trainers, etc. As previously stated, ~9,000 disposable diapers used for 1 child from birth to completed potty training (15 diapers/day for the first 3 months, 8 diapers/ day thereafter). The average cost for 1 child using disposable diapers is $2,250.
Cloth Diaper: Washing and drying estimates one load of cloth diapers (includes 2 full washes, 1 rinse cycle) every 2 days at .22 cents per load. The cost per load for washing and drying varies, but average cost is .65 cents per load. So, for a 3 year span you will do ~ 548 loads. Pocket Diapers: 24 One Size diapers; All in One: 24 One Size Diapers; All in Two/Hybrid: $235 *not recommended prior to 6 months, therefore washing/drying price is adjusted.
In addition to the 1:1 savings listed, cloth diapers and accessories can be used on subsequent infants or resold, adding to the bottom line savings vs. disposables.
What about the poo? Good question! Your baby will go through different stages as they grow. Poo changes as your baby grows. Diaper liners and diaper sprayers are excellent investments in helping with the gross factor. They are wonderful and no touching of the poo is necessary!!
My diapers smell- why? You may not be using enough detergent. Or, you may be using too much detergent. To find out which is the case, put diapers in a warm wash cycle with no detergent. If you see bubbles, you are using too much detergent. If there are no bubbles, you are not using enough detergent.
Why do I need special detergent? Regular detergents contain enzymes, fabric whiteners, fabric brighteners, fabric softeners, scents, etc. These additives cause build-up within the diaper fibers causing the diapers to lose their absorbency and leak. My family uses Tiny Bubbles (and previously, Charlie's Soap) and been happy with the results.
Do I need to sanitize my washing machine after washing diapers? No! If the diapers are clean, the washer is clean. :)
Do I need to soak my diapers? Nope. Make sure you knock solids into the toilet before putting diaper in pail/wetbag. It is not recommended leaving diapers unwashed longer than 3 days.
What's in your diaper stash? Currently, we have 4 Little Bee pocket diapers, which are my favorite go-to overnight diaper. I have 5 GroVia All in Ones that I leave for my husband or toss in our diaper bag when my son will be in nursery. I have about 6 GroVia All in Two shells, 4 inserts and numerous prefold diapers that finish out our stash (I use the prefolds in the AI2s). The AI2s are my personal favorite because I can reuse them and because of their slim fit on my chunky son.
1: Consumer Reports: Diaper Buying Guide, January 2011
2: US EPA: Gulf of Mexico Program
3: US EPA: Environmental Health Perspectives: January, 2002
4: Healthy Child, Healthy World: September, 2010