Over the last 4.5 years I have been asked numerous times about cloth diapering. Everything from, why I cloth diaper, how I handle cleaning them, what I do when I travel, how did I get my husband on board, what brand I use, does it effect their walking, and so many more. I figured it was time to sit down and put answers to all of these questions in a series. As the title suggests, this one will cover all the major benefits of cloth diapering. So if you're on the fence about which way to go, hopefully this will help.
Now that I have successfully cloth diapered two kids from birth to potty training I feel I'm able to answer almost any questions thrown my way. And yes, you read that right, neither of my kids have ever been in a disposable diaper before!
Have you ever tried to find cute accessories for a baby boy? This is ultimately what started my personal cloth diaper journey. I was pregnant with my son and had no clue what I was going to do. I am the epitomy of a girly girl. Cloth diapers were a fun way to accessorize with all the cute prints and colors. My reason quickly changed when I did my research and learned of all the benefits it held. To name a few. they are eco-friendly, cost effective, do not contain harsh chemicals, better for sensitive skin, I could go on and on.
Lets take a look into some of these benefits in more detail.
1. Cost Effective
The average baby has their diaper changed 8 times per day over the course of 3yrs. Disposable diapers cost .28 per diaper. Over the course of a year a baby uses approximately $817 worth of diapers. That's $2450 over 3 years assuming you are using a brand such as Pampers and not a higher end brand and that cost doesn't increase in that timeframe. A high end cloth diaper such as GroVia, a mom owned company based out of Montana, will run you approx $24. A moderate recommendation cloth diaper "stash" would consist of around 30 diapers. This will give you enough to wash every 3 days. This "stash" would cost you $724. Not only is your entire cloth diaper stash less than a years worth of diapers, but would you believe me if I said that this stash will last you your entire diaper journey AND there is a resale market so you can actually make some of that money back? That's right, with places such as GroVia BST, Mercari, Kidizen, Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, and Poshmark, cloth diaper moms are always on the hunt for a good deal and since they know how to disinfect and throughouly clean diapers, the fact that they are preowned doesn't matter to them.
Keeping in mind the math we just did for cost above, each one of those 2,920 disposable diapers will eventually make it's way into a landfill where it will sit for up to 500 years studies indicate. Each cloth diaper should last you your entire diapering journey and still be in good enough shape to last approximately 2 more babies through their journies.
One of the biggest arguments I get from "anti-cloth diaper" parents when I bring up the topic of eco-friendly is that "it can't be any better because you're using so much water to wash all the time". It takes 9 gallons of water to make one single disposable diaper. Cloth diapers are washed approximately twice a week and use anywhere from 15-30 gallons for the entire load. This brings us to 30-60 gallons of water to wash a weeks worth of cloth diapers versus 504 gallons to make a weeks worth of disposable diapers.
3. Potty Training
One of the things that I personally feel is a huge benefit of cloth diapering is that it seems to be easier to potty train however, cloth diaper parents tend to potty train later than those who use disposable diapers. Let's delve deeper.
Disposable diapers have super absorbent polymers which soak up urine making the child feel no wetness even after they have peed, this is actually a huge selling point that each disposble company advertises. They all sell their diapers with the idea that your child will not get a rash because they don't feel wetness against their skin. This sounds wonderful, no one wants their child to rash. However, come potty training this is a huge setback. With cloth diapers, the child feels the wetness which they do no want to feel which can aid in faster potty training. Afterall, who wants to sit in wet pants?
Although potty training can be easier with cloth diapers, those of us in the cloth diaper community tend to do so much later than disposable parents. Why is that? Well, it comes down to two reasons. One, we live a different type of lifestyle. Most cloth diaper parents consider themselves to be crunchy and practice things such as gentle parenting, montessori learning, etc. Part of this lifestyle and parenting style is to wait until our child is truly ready to potty train. Many in our community refer to it as Potty Learning not Potty Training, this indicates that we teach them how but ultimately follow their lead. Studies show that children who start potty training later are less likely to have accidents and wet the bed during their potty training. The other reason is that we don't have the same financial motivation. We aren't having to pour money into expensive disposable diapers every few weeks so we have no reason to hurry and get them out of diapers. This isn't to say we don't have other motivators to be done with the diaper phase. Our motivation is never having to do an extra 2 loads of diaper laundry again.
I hope you found this article helpful and follow along for more on cloth diapering.