One of the great parenting puzzles is how your bundle of joy can produce bundles upon bundles of, well, the opposite of joy.
Truly, diapering is one the more unsavory parts of parenting, but it’s certainly a necessary one. For at least the first two years of your child’s life, you’ll be neck-deep in nappy changes, so you’ll have to make the call between cloth and disposable diapers from the get-go!
Here’s a quick explainer on the merits–and downsides–of both, so you can pick a side in the great diaper debate.
At the end of the day, though, there is no right or wrong way to diaper your child. Parenting is already tough enough as it is, and there’s no need to make a big stink (so to speak) over your child’s early potty habits.
Your run-of-the mill disposables boast the following pros:
- Convenience. You can find disposable diapers in any store where baby needs are sold. The myriad brands out in the markets means you’re spoiled for choice and free to find the best one in terms of compatibility with your child’s skin, absorbency, and fit.
- Ease of use. Despite the archetypal image of new parents putting their baby’s nappies on backwards or lopsided, disposables are pretty intuitive to use. Some brands even incorporate easy-to-spot markings into the design–perfect for new parents still getting their bearings in the harried, sleep-deprived first few months. Bigger babies can move on to pull-up pants that slide on and off like regular underwear.
But disposable diapers have come under fire for two major reasons:
- Environmental impact.Disposable nappies are notorious for taking literally forever to decompose in landfills, making them a poor choice if you’re conscious about living a greener lifestyle. There are now biodegradable options available, but these are more expensive and therefore not a viable choice for all.
- Big expense.It can cost roughly up to 3,000 USD to kit out your child in disposable diapers until he is potty trained.
Cloth or Reusable Diapers
This more sustainable way of diapering entails a fair amount of commitment, but here are some of the best reasons why it’s worth it:
- More eco-friendly.A disposable diaper looks innocent enough, but for someone passionate about the environment, it represents a lot of waste: Trees lost to make the materials needed, petroleum products and chemicals used to assemble them, fuel burned to transport them both to stores and later on to landfills… the list goes on. Cloth diapers minimize your carbon footprint, because you’re simply reusing the same ones and not contributing to the production and disposal of non-biodegradable diapers.
- More cost-effective.Sure, you’ll be shelling out a pretty penny for your stock of cloth diapers and their accompanying inserts, but since these are adjustable and grow with your baby, they’re pretty much a one-time expense. Some cloth diapers proponents estimate the most you’ll be spending to kit your baby out with top-of-the-line cloth diapering gear is 500 USD. However, you will notice a slight increase in your water and power bills–cloth diapering means an extra load of laundry, after all.
- Minimized allergic reactions. When washed and cleaned right, cloth diapers offer less risk of skin irritation and allergies compared to disposables. The inserts used are highly-absorbent and help wick moisture away from baby’s sensitive bottom.
- Extra work. Figuring out how to stay on top of a long list of chores while working and caring for a child (or children!) is a tough nut to crack, and most families are still trying to figure it out. Cloth diapering isn’t as simple as just tossing a soiled nappy into the bin–you’re going to have to rinse off the poop, pop ‘em into a bin to soak, then find a way to get them all washed, dried, and folded along with your baby’s other clothes in a timely manner. It’s an extra chore, and not always easy if you don’t have an extra set of helping hands.
But there is one major downside to cloth diapering: