Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers

On the fence about using cloth diapers? Trying to convince a spouse? Are you wondering what the
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advantages/disadvantages are? Take a look at our pros and cons list to help you with your decision.
The Pros: $ Savings Your baby will go through an astonishing 6000 or more diaper changes from birth to potty training. By choosing cloth diapers and wipes, a family will actually save up to $1000 or more over disposables. You can add to the savings if you use your diapering products for more than one child. Sustainability
  • Using cloth diapers will greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Even when factoring water/power/detergent usage, materials, and manufacturing processes, cloth diapers come out ahead of disposables in conservation. Sixty times more solid waste and twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp, are used in the manufacturing of disposable diapers. In fact, 25 million trees are consumed and manufactured into baby diapers each year! The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.
  • Cloth diapers also save space in the landfills. Compare a pile of 6000 disposables to a pile of 60 cloth diapers used to diaper one child. As the third largest contributor to our landfills, all the toss-away diapers of today will still remain in tact 500 years from now.
  • If kept in good condition, your cloth diapers can be used for more than one child.
  • Prefolds are the workhorse of cloth diapers, and can be multi-functioned and repurposed!
  • Made in the USA – All of Thirsties diapering products are made in the USA. We also keep the operations close to home, cutting down on transportation and keeping money circulating in our own communities!
Environment/Health Your baby's delicate skin functions as a sponge and what we put on it goes in it. Disposable diapers contain various toxins, which can be avoided by choosing cloth diapers and accessories. Cloth diapers keep raw sewage out of landfills, and keeps contaminates out of our water supply. Natural fiber cloth diapers offer natural and often organic options for cloth diapering. Choosing sustainable natural and/or organic products help to protect the health of ourselves and our planet. The Cute Factor Gone are the days of bland diapers! Thirsties Cloth Diapers are available in over a dozen fun colors and several adorable prints. Our reusable diapers will turn some heads and fashionably compliment your baby's style. Check out our new Hoot print! Comfort Cloth diapers are not called “Fluff” without reason. Many cloth diapers are made from super soft materials such as cotton, bamboo, and fleece so that they are soft and comfortable next to babies skin (as well as being absorbent). Resale Value for gently used diapers There are many avenues to sell gently used diapers, in which you can recoup up to 50% of your original investment. You can also start out using gently used diapers to save on initial start-up costs. This is another form of recycling! Cons: Up-front expense A stash of cloth diapers can be a large financial investment for some families. You should plan on spending from $250-$450 on a beginning stash of Thirsties (plus accessories). Here are a few tips for making cloth diapering as affordable as possible:
  1. Do your research. Read reviews and use trial programs to find out what system will work for you. Mommy blogs, online forums, and FB are a great source for word of mouth from other cloth diapering families.
  2. Try before you buy. There are many retailers who offer cloth diaper trial programs so you don’t purchase a whole stash before investing.
  3. There may be a cloth diaper bank in your area, or another organization such as a pregnancy center or county health department that may be able to help you with a donation.
  4. You may find some great deals on Thirsties products in our Outlet Store.
  5. You can save BIG by purchasing used diapers. There are many sites available, such as www.diaperswappers.com.
Washing and Drying Washing and drying cloth diapers will generally take about 2-3 hours per week. You will use water, power, and laundry detergents/additives in washing cloth diapers. However, the water, power, and resources used to wash cloth diapers still do not compare to the water, power, and resources used to make disposable diapers. The extra time to care for cloth diapers is certainly worth the benefits! Manufacturing pollution Manufacturing fabrics, materials, or any product involves pollution of some kind. Do your research and purchase from a company that has sustainable practices and offers organic options. Bulk There is no way around it – cloth diapers are bulkier than disposables. It can be difficult to fit cloth diapers under some clothing, such as pants. Keep in mind to avoid clothing such as baby jeans, that are to slim to fit over cloth diapers. Daycare Restrictions Daycares are coming around as far as cloth diapers are concerned, but some still will not use cloth diapers in their facilities. Call the daycare providers in your area and ask them if they would be willing to use cloth. Some will use easier systems such as AIOs. Convenience Cloth diapers do take some extra time. Two piece cloth diapering systems will take additional time, as well as folding and fastening prefolds or flat diapers. Laundering diapers will take about 2-3 hours a week, but you will not have the routine shopping trips to buy diapers every week! Availability It is hard to find cloth diapers in some areas. Individuals without internet access for ordering have more of a challenge. We look to the future where every town and city will have cloth diapers readily available.
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3 comments

  • If you’re looking for a cloth-diaper-friendly daycare, check the directory here: http://daycare.realdiaperindustry.org. If you’re already using cloth diapers in daycare, make sure your provider is listed so that other families can find and use them. You can add providers to the directly right from the home page.

    Heather McNamara on
  • Thanks for the comments, ladies!

    Yes, a diaper service is handy and can be very useful for those who do not have time to wash, or are a bit “grossed out” about washing diapers.

    I did try to make the article unbiased with no sugar coating. :) Some articles claim that you will save $2000 or more, but when you take the washing, detergent, and energy into account, it is actually more like $1000+. Still a hefty savings!!

    ~Sonya

    Sonya on
  • This is a great, and unbiased, list of what the benefits and down falls of cloth diapering. I would add that cloth diapering is also available via services, and there are a number of options with cloth diapering for every situation of diapering. Also, they are sometimes a little less convenient when traveling. But the biodegradable inserts are very useful.

    Mary Green on

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