Disposable vs Cloth Diapers – Which is right for you?

By Katie Roebuck

June 8, 2020

I am the mother of two children, an RN, Prenatal Educator, Lactation Counsellor, and Sleep Coach. My nursing career has been focused on Maternity and Obstetrics. I am based in the Niagara Region and I enjoy helping moms reach their goals with pregnancy and motherhood!

Not to add another thing to your choices as a new or expecting mama – but did you know that cloth diapers are back? Well, they never really went away but they have definitely come a long way from the days of our mothers and grandmothers.

So now you have a choice – disposable or cloth diapers! As a mama who did both with my children, I can help you find out which might be best for you! Here are some things to consider as you begin your research and deciding which might work for you.

Budget
Cloth diapers are a big investment up front, however over the course of your child’s years in diapers from newborn to potty training, cloth is cheaper than disposables. While cloth diapers can cost you $300 – $500 as an initial investment not including accessories like wet bags and a diaper sprayer, disposable diapers can cost around $1000 per year depending on the brand and number of diapers your baby goes through. You can also use your cloth diapers for multiple children, or buy them used. I bought them for our first child, briefly used them for my second, then sold them.

Convenience
This is where disposable diapers have a slight advantage – they are way more convenient then cloth! They are smaller, easier to pack, and easy to dispose of. If your out a lot or travel, disposables may be the way to go. We always used disposable when traveling because cloth wasn’t convenient at that moment. And keep in mind that not all daycare providers are willing to change a cloth diaper.
Cloth diapers do involve a lot of laundry and some prep to ensure you have enough diapers to get you through the day. If you want to do cloth, but laundry isn’t your jam, there are diaper services in most major cities who will do the washing for you, but this will obviously increase your monthly costs. Cloth diapers have also come a long way from the big sheet of cotton and a couple of safety pins. They now come designed just like disposable diapers and go on and off like one too! One diaper can grow with your baby from about 9 lbs to potty training. Plus, the available patterns in cloth diapers are adorable!

Health
There isn’t a big difference between cloth and disposable for the health of your baby’s bum. If left to sit in either diaper, babies can still get a rash. Some parents notice babies get irritation from certain disposable diapers, and some parents notice cloth babies are more prone to heat rash in the summer. But that’s where naked bum time comes in – it’s great for getting rid of diaper rash!

Environment
This isn’t as cut and dry as you may think! There are definitely some more environmentally friendly disposable diaper companies out there, but it’s estimated that 2,000 diapers per year per baby end up in the landfill. On the flip side, cloth diapers need you to do laundry every 1-3 days depending on how many diapers you have in your stash. This obviously uses more water and energy, but the only waste that is produced is dirty water.

So here’s the good news, you don’t have to decide or even commit to one or the other! Some families, like mine, choose to use a combination of cloth and disposable diapers. There can be some trial and error finding the brand of cloth or disposable that works for you because there are so many options out there. Take some time, do some searching, and pick what you think will work best for you and your family.

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