I’ve used cloth diapers on both of my boys. That’s nearly two full years of experience under my belt, so I’m fairly confident in explaining the pros and cons of this way of diapering to whoever is interested.
In my opinion, the pros vastly outweigh the cons, but I also understand that cloth diapers may not fit everyones lifestyle! I choose to utilize them while we are at home (which I’m sure is more than the average person), but only use disposables away from home, during naps, and at night. This diapering system works out very well for our family and saves us a ton of money (more on that later).
Perhaps my experiences and opinions will aid your in deciding if cloth diapering is best for your family!
Let’s discuss the pros and cons to cloth diapering. Learn from my experiences and opinions and decide if this is the best diapering option for your family!
The Pros to Cloth Diapering
- Cheaper than disposables
- Environmentally friendly
- Reduces baby’s exposure to chemicals
- Causes less diaper rash and leaks
- Support early potty training
- You never run out of diapers
- Catches more blowouts
- Have multiple uses
1. Cheaper than Disposables
This benefit alone is a reason to switch to cloth diapering! Disposables are not cheap.
According to the brand, bumGenius, the average cost per disposable diaper is 20 cents. Each baby will experience approximately 6,600 diaper changes from birth to 2 years of age. That results in over $1,000 in diapers over that span of time (not including wipes, diaper pail liners, and creams).
The lifetime cost for cloth is $600 – $1000.
If you use them for a second child, like I’ve been able to do, the savings are even more significant.
2. Cloth Diapers Are Environmentally Friendly
Another reason why cloth diapers are an excellent choice is that they are better for the environment than disposables.
Diapers end up in landfills and can take up to 500 years to decompose! That means every disposable diaper that has ever been used is still located in landfills. Wow!
Cloth diapers can be used over and over again before needing to be replaced. Even after disposal, the natural fabrics decompose much faster than the alternative.
3. Cloth Diapers Reduce Baby’s Exposure to Chemicals
Our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs everything that touches it.
Disposable diapers are filled with chemicals and non-natural substances, making them incredibly absorbent. While these diapers absorb and prevent messes, the babies who wear them also take in the toxins found within them.
4. Cloth Diapers Cause Less Diaper Rash and Leaks
When my son used cloth diapers, he had very few diaper rashes. I credit this to the more frequent changes that cloth diapers require and because fabric diapers’ lining is more natural and therefore better for a baby’s skin.
When cloth diapers are the correct size and worn correctly, they are great at reducing leaks!
5. Cloth Diapers Support Early Potty Training
Disposable diapers are engineered to pull moisture away and lock it in; that is one of their selling points and is excellent for a baby’s bottom.
However, the wetness is unlikely to be noticeable or bother them in a disposable diaper.
As children age into toddlers, they may dislike the sensation of being wet, and cloth diapers don’t mask the wetness the same way disposables do.
This may, or may not, aid in the transition from diapers to potty trained.
6. You Will Never Run Out of Diapers
Cloth diapers never force you to make a frantic grocery store run for more diapers. As long as you have a way of washing and drying them, reusable diapers are always there!
7. Cloth Diapers Catch More Blowouts
This is true! My oldest, now 2, wears cloth at home and has been since he was 3 months old. Our second son has been in them for the past 4 months. In that time I remember only 3 blowouts whereas disposable diapers have failed us many more times.
Most cloth diapers have small elastic bands in the leg holes that can be adjusted based on your baby’s size. When these bands fit correctly, it provides a lot of protection against messy blowouts.
8. Cloth Diapers Can Be Passed Down or Re-Purposed
The most obvious re-use for your cloth diapers is to save them for your next baby, or you could sell them second-hand and make some of your initial investment back. But there are other cloth diaper savings as well!
You can always give away your cloth diapers to a close friend or family member as well, helping another new parent save money. You may also be able to donate them to a resale shop.
Prefolds can also double as burp cloths while you are using them or to clean up spills! If you know how to sew, you can turn them into bibs as well.
The Cons to Cloth Diapering
- The upfront cost is high
- Lots of laundry
- No diaper creams
- Many childcare centers won’t use them
1. The Upfront Cost is High
Cloth diapers cost anywhere from $5-$25 each. Package deals are usually an option no matter what brand you choose, but the fact of the matter is that they are more of an initial investment than disposable diapers are.
2. Lots of Laundry
Cloth diapers come with lots of laundry. I currently have two littles in diapers, each one goes through 6 or 7 per day, so I usually wash the diapers every other day or every third day.
This portion of cloth diapering was very overwhelming at first, but after almost two years I have a great system down.
Washing the diapers is just another part of my weekly rhythm now, so don’t give up if this is what keeps you from making the switch!
3. No Diaper Creams
Diaper creams are said to hinder the absorption of cloth diapers, so it’s best to avoid using them. As previously stated, diaper rashes are not as much of an issue with cloth diapers as long as they are changed frequently.
4. Many Child Centers Won’t Use Them
Unfortunately, cloth diapers are usually a great option for babies who attend daycare because many such facilities don’t want to deal with them for various reasons.
A Few FAQ
Are Cloth Diapers Really Worth it?
In my opinion, yes, but only you can decide that for yourself. Consider what’s important to you and if cloth diapers fit that lifestyle; they aren’t for everyone.
How Long Do Cloth Diapers Last?
In theory, they can last years. But like other clothing, the more you wash them, the more wear and tear they will have. The elastic bands can last roughly three years, and you can replace them yourself.
More on Natural Living
- Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- DIY Natural All Purpose House Cleaner
- Non-Toxic Glass Cleaner
- The Health Benefits of Cooking with Cast Iron