Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Diapers: Cloth vs Disposable

There are 2 parenting decisions that I've really debated about. The first was circumcision, I've decided to wait on that one until we know the gender of the child, but I'm at least leaning more one way than the other. But when it comes to diapers, I'm completely torn.

I went to 2 different organic baby stores in town today, looking for Cooper's bottles, and took a look at the cloth diapers while I was there. I think I'm even more confused than I was before.

From what I've read, the cost isn't horribly different. For disposables it's about $50 - $80 per month. For cloth, once you add in the cost of extra water and detergent it's about $25 - $60 per month. Plus we'll have to get a new washer if we go with cloth. Eventually we'll need a new washer anyways, ours is fading, but we're hoping to make it last a bit longer.

It's clear that cloth is slightly better for the environment. I would say much better aside from the fact that you use more water and electricity cleaning them.

Pros for cloth:
less expensive, better for the environment, supposed to be better for skin but it really depends on the baby.
Cons for cloth:
cleaning poop is just gross, lots of extra laundry, can't use diaper creams, need a new washer, people seem to have more leaks with them, bulky, some babies have a harder time learning to roll over because of the bulk, people who use these all seem to be a bit arrogant - even if they don't think they are.

Pros for disposable:
easy, can use diaper creams, I know how to use these, fewer leaks.
Cons for disposable:
more costly...

If we do the cloth thing we would use disposables when we're not at home and probably at night too. If we go with disposables we'll order ones that are dye free, I've used them before and they work just as well as the big brands.

Luckily I have a while before I have to decide on this, but I'm much more stressed over this than I should be. I'm open to suggestions, any ideas?


Jennifer Harris said...

That's a toughy. We used generic disposables from Sams, so the cost was not too bad, on par with the upper end of your estimates of cloth diapers. I think a combination of the two is the way to go. It's what I'll do if we have another. Probably cloth when I'm home with the baby and disposables when the baby is in daycare (as most daycares I've seen here don't allow cloth diapers).

Don't let the arrogance factor stop you, as long as you aren't trying to make people feel bad for their choices. Everyone has to do what is right for them, hopefully taking into account the environmental and financial costs together with practicality.

Jennifer Harris said...

I should clarify that we probably spent between $30-$50/month on diapers from Sams. They use fewer diapers as they get older, of course, but this range holds true for the early months. We bought our milk there too, and we figured out that the difference between buying milk there and at the grocery store more than made up for the price of the membership. The same would hold true if you only bought diapers there. Of course, they're not dye free, but Emily never had a problem with them. The diapers we used were fit just like Huggies.

little b said...

I guess I'm one o those arrogant people who don't think they are.

We use cloth most of the time, but disposables for night time and if we're going to be out of the house for more than a couple of hours. I can address a few of the cons of cloth, from our experience.

They do leak if you don't change them often enough. More than three hours and they will definitely leak. The laundry isn't bad. I do a load of diapers every two or three days. We haven't noticed a higher water bill, but we have a high efficiency washer.

I think the more water argument against cloth probably doesn't take into account the water used in the production of the two types of diapers.

When we use disposables on vacation, I'm shocked by how much garbage we produce in a week. But I'll never use cloth diapers on vacation, so the landfills will just a bit fuller when we travel.