Cloth versus disposable diapers

By April Hall
Info Guru,

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Baby in diaper
Cloth diapers have come a long way, and there are many factors to consider when deciding between cloth versus disposable diapers
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Which is better?

If you are soon to be a new parent, so many questions are probably pressing on you: Should I go back to work? Should I nurse? Which type of formula is best? And the newest debate in many parenting circles: Should I use cloth or disposable diapers?

For many generations, cloth diapers, carefully sanitized by hand, were the only choice; however, disposable diapers have become the mainstay for modern parents whose lives are often so hectic that the thought of taking the time to dump out soiled diapers and soak them in sanitizing solution before hand washing them is simply unfathomable. But today's cloth diapers have come a long way, and there are many factors to consider when deciding between cloth versus disposable diapers.

Your Child's Skin

No matter which type of diapers you choose, keep in mind that your child's skin will be irritated if it is exposed to long periods of wetness. However, there are other factors that can cause diaper rash as well, including poor air circulation or allergies to soap, chemicals, or dyes. Many parents who choose to use disposable diapers will need to try several different brands if they notice that their child is getting repeated diaper rashes. Some children are allergic to the bleaching materials that most disposable diapers contain; in such a case, you may try to find unbleached diapers.

If you choose to use to use cloth diapers, you will need to change them as soon as they have wet the diaper so that your child does not have a soiled diaper for long, which can also cause diaper rashes. It is also important that you completely sanitize cloth diapers to remove all of the bacteria before placing the diaper back on your child.


Most new parents are intimidated by the potential costs of diapers. Any walk down the grocery aisle gives you a clue as to how expensive disposable diapers are. The lower cost of cloth diapers usually is the most advantageous reason to choose cloth versus disposable diapers.

However, parents can spend more or less on both types of diapers, depending on the quality they purchase. Some families choose to buy expensive name-brand diapers, which are quite costly; on the other hand, store brands do not cost quite as much. If you choose to use cloth diapers, you can opt for simple, white diapers with plain plastic covers, or you can purchase the most modern versions with Velcro enclosures and flushable liners.

Another way to save on costs for cloth diapers is to wash and sanitize them yourself instead of making use of a diaper service; however, using a diaper service makes using cloth much easier.


With everyone paying more attention to the impact of human consumption on the environment, some parents are interested in the overall waste production of cloth versus disposable diapers. The short answer is this: There is much more of an impact on landfills by disposable diapers than there is on the energy consumption used to wash and sanitize cloth diapers. If you absolutely are leaning toward using disposable diapers, but you are environmentally conscious, you may choose to use organic, biodegradable disposable diapers that are available from some manufacturers.


The belief that cloth diapers are much more work than disposable is not completely true anymore. The newer cloth diapers have Velcro enclosures and flushable liners, making clean up much easier than before; and there is not really a need to soak or rinse out soiled diapers. You can simply flush older children's soil down the toilet and put the diapers into the washing machine. On the other hand, disposable diapers are much more convenient for families that travel often or put their children into a day care.

In the end, your family will need to choose a type of diaper that works best for your family's lifestyle and budget. And the fact of the matter is that families often switch from cloth to disposal, or vice versa, once they figure out that their original choice does not work well for their child or their family.

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