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The Benefits of Cloth Diapering: Is it REALLY Worth the Trouble?
You’re here because you’re wondering, “Are cloth diapers worth it?”
Better yet, let’s ask: Are they right for YOU? Today, we’re doing a deep dive into the pros and cons of cloth diapering because I realize cloth diapers are not going to work for everyone.
Sure, there are tons of awesome benefits of cloth diapering, but it can also be a lot of work.
We have a lot of factors to consider before deciding to use them. While I believe cloth diapers are a great choice, I am not here to try to convince you that they are the only way to go…
I want to give you as much information as I can so you can make an informed decision.
Here’s what I do know: I used cloth diapers from the time my daughter was two weeks old until she was seven months. And I plan on using them again in the very near future.
Below, I’ll break down the benefits and disadvantages of cloth diapering, and I’ll explain why you may or may not want to use cloth diapers.
Pros of Using Cloth Diapers
Are cloth diapers worth it? Let’s go over some of the benefits of cloth diapering.
1. You can save money using cloth diapers
Some people will argue that, considering the upfront cost of the diapers and the cost of laundering them, you aren’t saving money in the long run. That’s not necessarily true.
Disposable diapers can be very expensive, especially if you’re picky about the brand (like I am!).
I comparison shopped and spent about $3 per cloth diaper for my newborn size, which you can use for up to six months (or up to approximately 22 pounds).
I also bought around 20-25 used cloth diapers (from my sister) in the larger size for about $65.
You can use cloth diapers over and over again, well into toddlerhood…until your child potty trains.
News Flash: You don’t need to buy hundreds of cloth diapers. To get started, you will need about 20-25 of each size.
And if you use a cloth diaper service, you don’t even have to buy the diapers (plus, you save on the cost of running your washing machine, laundry detergent, and so on).
If the upfront cost of cloth diapering is what worries you, you can find cloth diapers for a good price on Amazon.
2. You’re keeping disposable diapers out of the landfill
Believe it or not, cost was NOT my main deciding factor in choosing to use cloth diapers. One huge deciding factor is less waste.
By cloth diapering, you are keeping disposables out of the landfill.
Did you know that it takes about 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose?! (source)
Yeah, that’s pretty crazy — and a really good reason to ditch the disposables.
3. Cloth diapers are gentle on baby’s sensitive skin
Another huge deciding factor: Disposable diapers often contain toxins, such as dioxin. Some brands will even cause sensitive babies to break out in horrible rashes.
I don’t like the idea of toxins being in contact with my children’s skin. For this reason, I am very selective with all baby care products…but I’ll save that for another post (like this one about newborn essentials!).
Be sure to use a gentle detergent — we use Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda because it only has four ingredients — when washing your cloth diapers.
Cloth diapers with bamboo inserts are a great choice because they are gentle on the skin, while holding a lot of moisture.
4. Cloth diapers can help make potty training easier
Since cloth isn’t as absorbent as disposables, the wetness will sit against your toddler’s skin, often causing discomfort.
Many toddlers are more likely to use the potty because they don’t like this feeling.
Then again, some toddlers don’t care and are happy to stay in diapers forever!
5. They are just plain adorable
Honestly, have you seen today’s cloth diapers? You can get them, not only in a variety of styles, but also in limitless designs.
What’s cuter than a baby wearing a cloth diaper? Okay, all babies are cute, but a baby in a cloth diaper is extra adorable!
(Seriously, though, how cute is my toddler in her Thirsties Stargazer diaper cover??)
Cons of Using Cloth Diapers
Are cloth diapers worth it? Here are some of the drawbacks of cloth diapering.
1. You could end up spending quite a bit on a laundry service
As I mentioned above, the benefit of using a laundry service is that you don’t have to spend money on laundering at home.
However, some services can be pretty expensive, so you would will need to compare the costs and benefits of going this route (if it’s an option in your area).
2. Cloth diapers aren’t always great for nighttime or traveling
There are several instances where I will choose disposables over cloth:
- Firstly, I prefer to use disposables until baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off. Some cloth diapers could rub against the stump (not good).
- I don’t like cloth diapers at nighttime, especially for heavy wetters. If you are good about frequent nighttime changes, it shouldn’t be a problem, but if not, you could get a lot of leakage.
- Lastly, I always travel with disposables. After all, who wants to carry around stinky diapers, or wash diapers while on vacation?!
Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers have always been my go-to for disposable diapers because they are gentle on babies’ bottoms, especially when they are really young.
3. They need to be changed more frequently than disposables
As I mentioned above, cloth diapers aren’t as absorbent as disposables, so your baby will actually feel the wetness on their skin. We wouldn’t want to sit for hours in wet underwear, so why should your baby?
For this reason, cloth diapers need to be changed pretty frequently (every 2-3 hours or as soon as you realize it’s wet/dirty).
One of the main reasons I stopped cloth diapering for a while? I was working outside the home and had no control over how often my daughter was changed.
Unfortunately, wearing a wet diaper for too long can cause a baby’s bottom to break out in a rash.
4. It takes time to launder cloth diapers
Another huge reason I stopped using cloth diapers was due to the time it took to care for them. I was working full time and, when I wasn’t at work, I was taking care of my baby.
Somehow, I managed to squeeze in time to wash, dry, and “stuff” (put the inserts back into the diapers) them every two days for more than half a year.
However, I was exhausted, and decided it wasn’t worth the hassle while I was working.
5. You have to use certain types of diaper rash cream
Many types of diaper rash creams contain ingredients, such as petroleum, that will clog the fibers and cause them to repel urine rather than absorbing it.
For this reason, you have to carefully consider the type of cream you’re going to use. Personally, this is another product I am very picky about anyway, so it’s really not an issue for us.
Are Cloth Diapers Worth It?
Before deciding whether cloth diapers are right for you, carefully consider the above points.
Do you want to save money and lessen your environmental footprint? Do you have the time and energy to wash them every other day?
News Flash: There’s nothing wrong with using a mix of both cloth and disposables (like us!).
Were cloth diapers worth it for me? The reasons I started cloth diapering primarily involved environmental reasons, and time was a huge factor when I decided to stop using them for a while.
However, I will soon be on maternity leave with my second baby, and plan on starting to use them again — not only for baby, but for my toddler as well.
So yes, in our case, I feel they were worth the investment because I will be able to use the same cloth diapers for the next few years.