Monday, September 12, 2011

Cloth and Disposable Diapers: How do they stack up against each other?

With all of the chaos surrounding our move, Nadia's offer to write a guest post couldn't have come at a better time! Take a look at her balanced comparison between cloth and disposable diapers!

If you’re a soon-to-be mother, you’re likely readying yourself for your newborn by stockpiling on the supplies you’ll need as soon as your baby comes into the world. Diapers would rank chief among those baby supplies. If you get informed about the nuances of certain types of baby diapers (it seems crazy, but it definitely matters!), you’re in a position to make a key choice about a very critical aspect of your baby’s first few years. As you may know, most parents choose either cloth or disposable diapers, with strong arguments to be offered on either side. I’d like to offer a comparison of both diapers based on three criteria—cost, utility and impact—so you can make an informed decision yourself!


You’ll first need to take a look at the cost of putting your baby in either type of diaper. You can choose to look at the cost from a long-term or short-term perspective. In the short-term, there’s no way around the fact that cloth diapers will set you back a pretty penny. Experts recommend purchasing around 30 cloth diapers for your baby’s first year, and the prices on that number of cloth diapers (and wipes) can exceed $150.00 upfront. An economy pack of around 150 disposable diapers on the other hand would cost you about $35.00. It’s important to keep in mind that could be changing diapers at least a dozen times a day for the first few months, so those 150 disposable diapers would disappear pretty quickly.

In the long-run, the cost of disposal diaper would far exceed the cost of cloth diapers for one major reason: reusability. $35.00 for a huge pack of disposable diapers doesn’t sound like much, but those costs add up as the weeks drag on and your baby continues to do what babies do. With cloth diapers, all you need to do is judiciously rinse the diaper and toss it in the wash to reuse again and again. Some people estimate the utility costs in multiple washes add a significant price to cloth diapers, but cloth diapers are still a much cheaper option in the long run after factoring this in.


There’s certainly an appeal to the disposable diaper’s change-and-go utility. It’s tempting to just throw away diapers and not worry about washing them, much less reuse them.  They’re also better at absorbing your baby’s mess than are the cloth diapers. But there’s the disposable diaper’s absorbability is a double edged sword: while on the whole they’re better at absorbing your baby’s mess, they do so partly because of the chemicals added to them. However these chemicals can also cause your baby to experience frequent bouts of irritating dryness and rashes (diaper rash) could keep your baby in a constant ill-temper.

Cloth diapers are as useful as you let them be. If you buy enough cloth diapers in bulk and you’re on top of washing them, you’ll never be wanting for a fresh diaper. While the average cloth diapers might not be particularly great at absorbing huge messes from your baby, you can certainly special order bulkier diapers to accommodate your baby’s needs. And since cloth diapers aren’t soaked in chemicals, your baby will experience far fewer rashes.

Environmental Impact

You may have attended a baby shower where the mom-to-be gets nothing but disposable diapers.  And this is for good reason: you’ll be changing your baby’s diapers at least a dozen times a day regularly. Take a moment to consider how many mothers are using and throwing away disposable diapers, at least a dozen a day, piling them in the trash. The scale of the daily waste caused by disposable diapers is pretty astounding.

While cloth diapers are admittedly more work, I’d argue that they’re the smarter choice for your baby, your pocketbook, and the environment. With cloth diapers you want be dedicating entire trash bags of your family’s garbage to diapers. You can reuse cloth diapers endlessly, and even pass them down to other children. Disposable diapers are certainly an easy choice, but cloth diapers seem to be the smarter one. 

Author Bio:
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @

For more information about cloth diapering, please check out my Cloth Diaper Series!

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1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing a balanced post on this. I think something to remember is that if Henry VIII had been in disposable nappies; they'd still be in landfill now. Often it's hard to envisage the future, but when we reverse the psychology it can be pretty profound. I started with disposables for my DD but found she was much more comfortable in cloth; she never had rashes with them or go sore like she did with disposables...


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