Diapering Options is Cloth really better

Thousands of babies are born each day, and, each day, hundreds of thousands of dirty diapers are wrapped up and tossed in the garbage. Yes, you’re right. This is a lead to yet another lecture on cloth versus disposable, but this discussion goes further.

What You Already Know

First, disposable diapers take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill. So, in comes Diaper Company B, who advertises chlorine-free, biodegradable diapers, able to break down in less than two months. Sounds good, huh? You can keep the convenience and containment of a disposable and still help the earth. Think again. A landfill is not the same thing as a composting pile. In a compost pile, air circulates through the matter, helping to break it down quickly. In a landfill, the garbage is packed airtight, so most objects in there will take some time to deteriorate, biodegradable label or not.

Between conventional disposables and cloth, we move to cost. A box of disposable diapers costs around $20, and the price per diaper averages out to around $0.35. Going through several boxes each month adds up over a period of two to three years, or longer in some cases, until potty training is complete. Cloth diapers have an initial cost higher than a box of disposables, but once everything needed has been purchased, the only other cost to arise will be for laundry detergent and any desired washing aids (baking soda, borax, vinegar).

If the health of your child is top priority, there is much to consider. Simply put, the inside of a disposable diaper is unhealthy. It is filled with an absorbent material that turns to gel when it comes in contact with urine, and that gel is covered in a synthetic, plastic-like fabric. A disposable diaper, especially the inner layers, contains contaminants that not only pollute the earth, but can carry on to sensitive areas.

So, Cloth is the Best Choice, Right?

Not necessarily. Cloth diaper companies market the fact that diapering your children in cloth will give them a healthier alternative to something that cannot be avoided. Most diapers – flat folds, prefolds, contoured, or fitted – are made from cotton. Natural cotton, in its various forms of knit, flannel, and terry, remains the best material for absorbency. If you want a truly natural material, look for organic cotton, grown without pesticides and other added chemicals. However, if it is just cotton, it will leak, so when using cloth diapers, a cover is needed.

Diaper covers are constructed of a waterproof material. As well, the convenient pocket diapers, hand-stuffed before each use, or all-in-ones, with all layers sewn together, must have a waterproof outer layer. Most often, this waterproof material is polyurethane laminate. Sure it works, but what is it? Polyurethane laminate (PUL) is a synthetic, or man-made, fabric that has been coated with a layer of laminate to make it resistant to water. The chemicals in this material are very poisonous, not only to the environment, but also to the people in contact with it. It is loaded with carcinogens which may lead to cancer.

What You Can Do

While a cloth diaper really is a better option, your best bet is to use all natural materials on the outside, too. Wool is a natural fiber, and though it is not actually waterproof, the lanolin it contains allows it to hold a good bit of liquid before it leaks. Thankfully, unlike the itchy sweaters you dread to wear, wool for diaper covers has a soft finish that will not irritate baby’s sensitive skin. An added bonus to using wool is its breathability. Since wool allows air to move through, and a cotton diaper does the same, instances of diaper rash practically vanish.

How to diaper your child is a lot to think about, added to the already immense pressure of caring for an infant, so parents must examine the options and select which diapering method will work best for them and their lifestyle.