Cloth vs. disposable: It's the great diaper debate, but is one type of diaper really better for baby and the environment?


As parents we sometimes find ourselves in a quandary. Are cloth diapers more eco-friendly? Are there worrisome chemicals in disposable diapers? Which diapers will keep Junior drier and hence, less prone to diaper rash?

Like almost all parenting choices, the right one is what feels best for you and your child. 


You can stick to whichever one of the two types of diapers that work with your lifestyle or you can alternate — a cloth baby diaper, say, when you’re home and disposable baby diapers when you’re out and about. 


Are cloth diapers or disposable diapers better for the environment? 


Research has suggested that both disposable and cloth diapers affect the environment negatively -- just in different ways. For example, disposable diapers require more raw materials to manufacture. And they generate more landfill solid waste that can take an extremely long time to degrade. But cloth diapers use up large amounts of electricity and water for washing and drying.


Pros and cons of cloth and disposable diapers, read on:


Cloth Diapers 


Pros - cloth nappies are available is cotton, terry cloth, or flannel.They can be bought with refolded pieces of cloth liners or as an all-in-one (a diaper and cover that looks similar to a disposable diaper). 

Cloth nappies will save you money. And if you’re worried about the dyes and gels used in disposables, then using a cloth baby diaper is a more natural way. Plus, the fact that these types of diapers are less absorbent than disposables means more diaper changes (a con), but it may mean fewer diaper rashes in the long run (a pro!). Another plus: It may be easier to start potty training because kids will notice they’re wet sooner, which can be an incentive to get into underpants.


Cons - Cloth diapers can be messy — although some come with disposable liners and you can use some with nappy pads, that make them easier to clean — and they’re more cumbersome to change. You’ll be doing more laundry, too. And unless you’re using disposables when you’re out, you’ll probably have to carry a few poopy (and smelly!) diapers back home with you.


Disposable Baby Diapers


Pros - They’re convenient and quick to change, thanks to the strips attached to the back panel that fasten in front. You can easily pick a size based on your baby’s weight and age for best fit. Traveling is easier, too, because you can just toss dirty diapers without having to cart them back home. What’s more, you’ll be changing fewer diapers a day since disposable baby diapers are ultra-absorbent, have an inner liner that keeps wetness away from the skin, and don’t tend to leak.


Cons - Although there have been no studies that show that the chemicals (like dioxin), dyes, and gels used in disposables cause harm, some parents might be very vary of all that stuff next to their baby’s bottom — and some babies can have an allergic reaction to these types of diapers. 

The ultra-absorbency in disposables can also make potty training harder because toddlers are less likely to feel wet and uncomfortable, they don’t have much desire (or interest) to say bye-bye to diapers.


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