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Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

Updated on August 19, 2010


A cloth diaper or a disposable diaper, which is better?  There has been great debate over the years about what is better.  Cloth diapers have change quite a bit over the years.  Cloth diapers come in a variety of styles.  There are still the plain white cloth diapers with the pins but there are also All-in-One diapers, One-size diapers and Bamboo diapers to name a few all of which have snaps or Velcro. 

The debate has been which is better for your baby, but also which diaper is better for the environment.  Disposable diapers come in a range of sizes and shapes and very absorbent.  However, they only have one use before they get thrown out.  The pros for disposable diapers are:

  • Ease of use, they are convenient to travel with
  • They can be thrown away after use and don’t require washing
  • Have a snug fit so they leak less and are absorbent

Some of the cons for disposable diapers are:

  • When compared to price of buying cloth diapers, disposable diapers are more expensive of the years that your child will be wearing diapers
  • Disposable diapers add to the landfill and can take hundreds of years to breakdown, which is bad for the environment
  • Toddlers won’t feel wet so it could become more difficult to potty train
  • Parents tend to find babies have more diaper rashes with disposable diapers
  • The chemical used for the super absorbency of the diaper, Sodium polyacrylate, can be bad for certain babies and has been linked with Toxic Shock Syndrome and can cause allergic reactions

Some of the pros for cloth diapers are:

  • You will spend less money on diapers over the course of your baby’s life in diapers
  • If you plan to have more than one child you can re-use the cloth diapers
  • Cloth diapers tend to result in less diaper rashes because the natural fibers found in cloth diapers breathe better
  • Toddlers tend to potty train earlier because the moisture is held closer to the skin
  • Most cloth diapers now have snaps or Velcro to fasten them, not pins

Some cons for cloth diapers are:

  • Some daycare centers will not accept cloth diapers
  • Can be messy to travel with for soiled diapers (some cloth diaper users actually use disposable diapers while traveling)
  • If not properly sealed or fastened, cloth diapers can leak more than disposable
  • Adds at least one additional load of laundry a week

When looking at the environmental consequences of cloth diapers and disposable diapers the biggest concerns are that cloth diapers use more energy, use more water and add more waste to the water being filtered at wastewater plants.  However it should be noted that the additional water used to wash cloth diapers at home is the same as an adult flushing the toilet four to five times a week.  Finally, flushing the solid waste down the toilet and washing the diapers in the washing machine funnels the dirty water into the sewer system, which then is taken to wastewater plants to be treated. 

However, with disposable diapers, the solid waste and urine can be leeched into the ground, which could then contaminate ground water supplies.  As well it can take up to hundreds of years for disposable diapers to be broken down.  As most diapers are tossed into garbage bags where oxygen doesn’t get at the diapers, which slows down its decomposition.

In the end you need to select the diaper that suits your needs and what you feel is best for your baby.  There will always be people second guessing your choice.  Do your own research and make the decision that you feel is right.  Is it cloth diapers or is it disposable diapers or is it both? 

For more information on children take a look at How to Relieve Infant Gas, Cold Remedies for Infants, Facts for New Parents, Tips for a New Father and Umbrella Stroller Information.


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      sord87 7 years ago

      A very common factor but still the huge credit goes to cloth diapers especially the cost.