Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers: Which is Better?!
You’ve got the perfect baby name picked out, you’ve put together the crib (or watched as someone else did it!), and you’re so ready to hold that little dream in your arms. But before you give birth, there’s another big decision to make—one that could impact both the kind of world your babe grows up in, and that will also impact your wallet: what kind of diapers should you use?
Most parents still use disposables, but old-fashioned cloth diaper services are becoming more and more popular with families hoping to leave a smaller environmental footprint.I’ve done more than my share of research, both for my clients and for my own crew of little ones, and the truth is that there are pros and cons to both cloth and disposable diapers, and those pros and cons aren’t exactly what you might think.
As for cost, there are so many factors to consider, including where you live and what type of diapers you’re looking for. From one to five months, your little one can go through nearly 900 diapers—and yes, you read that right, that’s over just four months. Thank goodness for stink-beating diaper pails! And now to the number crunching: If you’re buying top-of-the-line major brand disposable diapers in bulk, that breaks down to $230 for the four months, or $150 for more inexpensive diapers that likely will need to be changed more frequently, and that may not keep baby as dry. Meanwhile, a diaper service in New York City would run you about $560 for the same amount of time, and one in Arizona costs roughly $340 for the same period of time. As far as the cost to your wallet, disposables are the clear victor.
But what about the cost to the earth? We all want our little ones to grow up and thrive in the cleanest, safest world possible, so shrinking our environmental footprint should be something we’re all working on. It’s not a pretty fact, but all those disposable diapers have to go somewhere after you throw them out, and for the most part, they end up in landfills, which we all know is bad news for our environment. The obvious alternative is cloth diapers, but some experts are now saying that cloth might not actually have a smaller carbon footprint than disposables due to all of the electricity and water use required to wash them, plus the fuel used by the diaper service delivery trucks adds to air pollution. Yikes. It seems like there’s no clear answer here. Happily, there are companies out there, including Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. who are throwing new options in the mix, including eco-conscious disposables made of sustainable materials and without some of the harsh chemicals used in major brands. Yes, these still end up in landfills, but they may be a better alternative for the planet.
Just like so many other aspects of parenthood, there’s no hard and fast rule about which kind of diapers is best, which means the best you can do is to think about your family, your needs, and what will make the most sense in your life.