I chose to write about diapers today because earlier I was blessed with a lovely blow-out diaper while my son was sitting on my lap. This wasn’t the type of diaper that you hear fill up, or feel getting full. No, this diaper was made with no noise.
This article is about disposable diapers vs. reusable/cloth diapers, the pro’s & cons of each to help you make an informed decision. I also include what my wife and I chose and why; along with an external link to an informative page on reusable/cloth diapers.
There are pretty much two different kinds of diapers… disposable diapers and reusable/cloth diapers (there are subcategories of each as well).
Disposable diapers – Are the kinds that everyone envisions filling up landfills, being pretty expensive because you go through so many and being bad for the environment. Having said these things though, there are a lot of good reasons to use disposable diapers.
Advantages of Disposable – These diapers are convenient, easy to travel with, there is no clean-up or maintenance of the diaper itself, when finished just seal diaper and dispose of properly.
Disadvantages of Disposable – These diapers, depending on what type you use can range in price and as your child ages you will get fewer and fewer per bag. They can have a poor environmental footprint as they end up in our landfills and they take oil to make. Your child may have a skin reaction due to the type of chemicals used to make them and with two main manufacturers, with very sensitive skin you could run out of options quickly before going to upscale diapers (potentially more $$$).
Reusable/Cloth diapers – Are what people envision as coarse cloth, biologically stained that may or may not fit your child properly and end up leaking everywhere. Perhaps better for the environment, perhaps cheaper, tons of laundry!
Advantages of Reusable/Cloth – These diapers can save money over the long-run. There are no chemicals in the diapers that will be on your child’s skin. When soiled, they do not get thrown away or end up in landfills, they are reused. These diapers can even be used across multiple children although you may need to replace individual diapers over time.
Disadvantages of Reusable/Cloth – Reusable diapers do require more maintenance. Once soiled some advise the diapers go into a soaking solution of water & vinegar or water & baking soda as soon as possible. This soak helps break down the biologicals in the diaper before it gets laundered in your home. Uses more water/detergent/laundering in your home. Will require liners, covers, snaps/Velcro to stay in position properly over the life of your baby. May require additional clothing items (diaper liners, which can be plastic, so no waste can get on the clothes) if you want to have fewer accidents on your child’s clothing.
What Did We Chose?
We ended up going with disposable diapers for the convenience but we do care about what is on our baby’s skin so we are using Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers. We order them through the Amazon Mom program which has a Subscribe & Save feature. You can sign up to receive items at regular intervals and they will give you 20% off plus free 2-day shipping for a certain amount of time (I believe 12 months). We know that we pay a little bit more per diaper (I believe it works out to $0.24/diaper versus $0.18/diaper for the non Pure & Natural) to use the Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers, but we feel better knowing that there are less chemicals against the skin for two+ years.
You mentioned sub-categories?
Yep, there are a few different kinds of each diaper…
Disposable – has standard (Huggies/Pampers), “natural”/fragrance & dye free, store-brand (Target brand, Rite Aid), and lesser known but popular such as Seventh Generation. Consider each one of these a tier and know that there are only a few really big players in this arena of diaper making (Kimberly Clark [Huggies] and Procter & Gamble [Pampers]) along with some smaller ones (Seventh Generation). By the way these are not listed in any order of preference or quality.
Even the budget brands of disposable diapers like Luvs are made by the big players (Luvs is made by Procter & Gamble, the maker of Pampers).
Reusable/Cloth – Fitted, all-in-one, pre-fold, flat.. these are all types of reusable/cloth diapers. Through trial and error you will have to decide what works best for your needs or you can take the advice of parents that have used them. I found this article from Earthy Family very informative on reusable/cloth diapers and also realized that I still had some misconceptions about them (along with old information). If you choose to go with the reusable/cloth route I would second their suggestions of a diaper service as I think that combines the convenience of disposables with the many advantages of reusable/cloth, the only trade-off there is the cost. I believe things would be close to balancing out but you would have to check for diaper services in your specific area.