While pregnant with my daughter I was asked on several occasions if I would use cloth or disposable diapers. My immediate response was, "disposables, I don't want to deal with dunking and washing cloth diapers."
The thought of having to clean diapers after each use seemed pretty gross to my husband and me. I also thought that cloth diapers would be a pain to put on the baby. Little did I know that several months after the birth of our daughter I would eat my own words.
At about 4 months old my daughter started to have constant diaper rash. We knew she had sensitive skin so we used sensitive wipes and diapers right from the beginning. However, the sensitive diapers were not cutting it anymore. It seemed like no matter what amount or type of diaper rash cream we tried nothing worked. The diaper rash was constant, and just would not go away. At this point I knew I had to figure something out and quick. My daughter was miserable and I felt horrible.
I started to research cloth diapers. I wanted to know about cost, benefits, types and ease of use. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.
There was a wealth of information on the Internet. Cloth diaper retailers were more then willing to help me out as well. Site managers sent me information through e-mail, and pointed me to several sites that I found super helpful. Real Diaper Association has a great write up on cloth vs. disposable diapers where many statistics and facts are noted.
After several nights of reading and lots of discussion with cloth diapering mothers, I began to kick myself for not looking into cloth sooner. I realized not only was I wasting our money, but also the amount of chemicals in disposables is crazy. I thought to myself, "No wonder my baby has a constant rash."
In reading the facts on the Real Diaper Association page, I found the following information. Disposable diapers contain traces of dioxin, a chemical that is listed as increasing the risk of cancer, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. This chemical is banned in most countries, but not in the United States.
Disposable diapers also contain TBT and sodium polyacrylate, two chemicals that could have a potential harmful affect on humans or produce potentially toxic bacteria, according to Real Diaper.
Since disposable diapers contain so many chemicals they take a long time to break down in the landfills, it is estimated that one diaper could take from 250 to 500 years to decompose completely, according to Real Diaper.
The idea of those chemicals touching my baby's bottom, and the fact that disposables are not good for the environment was enough to convince me to try cloth.
What really put me over the edge was realizing how much money we could save by using cloth instead of disposables. The average family spends from $1,500 to $2,000 dollars on disposables for one baby from birth through potty training, according to Real Diaper.
A stash of cloth diapers for 3 to 4 days costs $150 to $500 depending on what type of diaper you choose. This would mean you would probably wash your diapers twice a week.
For example, Econobum covers and prefolds by Cotton Babies cost $9.95 individually or $48.95 per kit. This kit includes three covers, twelve prefolds and a wet bag. If you were to purchase three of these kits you would spend about $150 and have a stash that will last you 3 to 4 days without washing.
If you wanted something a bit more simplistic, try Charlie Banana One Size diapers. They cost between $18-$19 per diaper. A six-pack of Charlie Banana costs between $100-$108. A stash for 3 to 4 days will cost about $375 dollars. Keep in mind the brand and type of diaper(s) you choose may cost more then these estimates. However, while doing my research it was nice to know that I could cloth diaper cost effectively using good quality brands.
Cloth diapering could save a family about $1,000 over several years. Of course this could be more or less depending on type of disposables used, water cost, and electricity cost. Cloth can also be used for more then one child if you buy gender neutral colors. Your savings could ultimately be thousands of dollars if you care for your diapers properly.
While I realize cloth diapers may not be for everyone, I urge you to consider cloth when making a decision about what to put on your baby's bottom. Take a look around the Internet, visit cloth diaper stores, or contact a retailer if you have questions.