Deciding to use cloth diapers on our babe was a decision made easily enough during pregnancy. It also helped that my sister used cloth on her babies, which gave us a fairly realistic idea of what that would look like. Here are some reasons why we chose cloth diapers.
Cloth, especially taking care in choosing soft, organic cotton, feels nice against baby’s delicate skin.
You can tell when cloth is wet, which means more frequent changes – and that’s healthy for babe.
Cotton allows for more air circulation
The breathability of cloth means less build up of high temperatures
Frequent changes and breathability means baby’s bum is less susceptible to rashes.
Less rashes means less gunk on baby’s bum if a rash does develop.
Moms, just think of how relieved you feel at the end of your menstruation cycle and how breezy and liberating a pad-free panty is. Consider then how it feels for babies and their sensitive skin to wear a hot, clammy, soggy plastic diaper 24/7. For me, it doesn’t get any more convincing than that, but just in case here are a few more reasons.
Cost and Environmental Impact
Let’s face it, the baby industry is massive and the cost of it all astounds me. Expectant mothers are told they “need” all sorts of contraptions and products and the shopping list seems never ending. It seems sort of ridiculous when you think of it considering what a baby really needs is a loving caregiver to feed and hold as babe adjusts to his new environment. But, if I were to consider any thing fairly necessary for baby, diapers would be on the short list.
To help us make the choice over cloth or disposables, my sister shared this great article in which cloth and disposables are compared based on cost. Beyond the initial purchase of the diapers, the author considers the cost of initially purchasing the diapers, laundering including water and detergent costs, and garbage disposal. These figures are calculated from birth to thirty months, which is the average amount of time it takes for a child to potty train. Here’s the breakdown:
Cloth $775 (not including the savings of resale after use)
Don’t forget that cloth diapers can be used on multiple children and that’s when you really see a savings.
Cloth diapers have a lesser environmental cost as well. Disposable diapers contribute significantly to municipal waste. This is compounded over the five hundred years it takes for diapers to decompose. Before you make the argument that laundering cloth diapers uses water, I’d like you first to consider the environmental footprint from the production of disposable diapers. “Manufacturing consumes 2.3 times more water than the manufacturing, using and washing of cloth diapers,” says this CBC article.
Safe for Baby’s Sensitive Skin
One of biggest concerns in choosing diapers is the dangers of harmful chemicals leeching into my baby’s system and genitals through his diaper. Toxins are everywhere in consumer products and where I can I choose products carefully in order to reduce, minimize or delay Finn’s exposure. This means choosing organic cotton for his diapers as I have been doing for his clothes when I can.
Disposable diapers can contain cancer-causing dioxin from bleaching.
They can also contain polyurethane, adhesives, inks used to create the cartoon images found on many disposable diapers, and lotions used to coat the diaper liner.
Most disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a super-absorbant gelling material. Sodium polyacrylate’s material safety data sheet indicates that “the respirable dust is a potential respiratory tract irritant.” The dust “may cause burning, drying, itching and other discomfort, resulting in reddening of the eyes,” not to mention lung irritation.
Choosing cloth may be simple, but selecting a brand can be overwhelming. Again, I was lucky in that my sister had done the cloth trial and error for me. Trusting her judgement, we began amassing Peachy Green diapers. This is an American company, but PG diapers can be ordered online through their Canadian retailer, Lagoon Baby. We use sized All-in-Ones so that our babe has the most fitted diaper possible without compromising coverage. With these diapers, only organic cotton touches baby’s skin. They also launder well after a lot of washes. It doesn’t hurt that they come in adorable colours and prints either.
What we use for nighttime
Better resembling the cloth diaper your mother might remember, we used prefolds cloth diapers at night.
Wool is ideal for use as a cover since it absorbs much of its own weight in moisture.
Wool also is good for regulating temperature as it is just as breatheable as it is warm.
Another benefit to wool is that it neutralizes the smell of urine and left to the fresh air, these diapers become hygienically clean and can be used again the next night. Conveniently, these can be worn many nights in a row between washing or lanolizing.
Should you determine cloth isn’t for your family, here is a handy chart comparing eco-friendly diapers and their claims. Please note that the environmental footprint of eco diaper remains similar, though some brands claim to have a more sustainable production, and that the claims of these brands have not been tested to be true.
Babies spend virtually all of the day and night in diapers. It’s worthwhile taking the time to consider what that diaper is made of and how it might affect your baby’s – and the Earth’s – wellbeing. What diapers do you use on babe? Is there a brand or diapering tip you’ve discovered that other moms might benefit from?