Grow Ages & Stages Newborn & Infant Sustainability

10 Reasons to Choose Cloth

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Written by Jennifer Saleem

To cloth or not to cloth? That is a question that has increased in frequency these days. There are a myriad of reasons that women are looking into “going back” to cloth and with the evolution of the cloth diaper, it has become a very appealing alternative to disposables.

While every cloth diapering family has their own reason or reasons why they choose cloth over disposables, these are the top ten common reasons to use cloth diapers.

1 Cost – Cloth diapers are cheaper. It is said that a child will use up to 7,000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained. This adds up to $2,500 or more in disposable diapers. While the upfront costs of cloth diapers may not seem to be worth the investment (depending on the type you choose), cloth diapers are reusable. You can even save them to use on your next child. Therefore the savings are long-term. If you are worried about the cost of laundering them, please know that the actual cost of laundering cloth diapers is minimal.

2 Health – Cloth diapers are made of natural fabrics which are better for your baby’s skin. Do you know what’s in a disposable diaper? Ever wonder why there are no ingredients listed on the package?

Disposable diapers contain toxic chemicals that are dangerous to both your baby and you. Disposables contain the chemical dioxin, a harmful product used during the paper bleaching process. The EPA lists it as one of the most dangerous substances and have linked it to cancer. Dioxin is banned in many countries but not the United States. TBT, also known as Tributyltin, is also found in diapers. It is known to cause hormonal problems in animal testing and humans. It is also extremely dangerous for the environment. Medical and news reports from Germany and England now suggest there is a link between the use of disposable diapers (TBT) and infertility in boys (due to lower sperm count).

Here is a little experiment for you to try. Cut a disposable diaper in half. Pour water on half and watch what happens. There are tiny chemical crystals that turn into a spongy gel when water hits them. This is the sodium polyacrylate (the super absorbent gel) that has been untested for safety in children’s disposable diapers, but has been linked in the past to toxic shock syndrome and allergic reactions, and is very harmful and potentially lethal to pets. Why would you want to put this on your baby’s virgin skin?

3 Environment – Here are a few fast facts for you:

• There is absolutely no way that a disposable diaper can be recycled. Proctor and Gamble showed the infeasibility in a study conducted in 1991.

• Rinse water and gray water (from laundering diapers) can be recycled and/or reused. Nothing about a dis- posable can be reused.

• Disposable diapers can account for 50% of a family’s waste while the baby is in diapers. Think of how much waste your family generates each week and double it – and then consider the additional costs of waste collection simply to deal with disposable diapers.

• A disposable diaper is used for 2 hours – a cloth diaper is used for 2-3 years per child. Think of all the resources used to produce a product that will last for only 2 hours and then be thrown away.

• Where do all the billions of throw- away diapers end up? In landfills, our oceans, and polluting what little precious open space we have left.

• Babies learn by example. You can teach them the responsible way of dealing with waste by example. You don’t just wrap it up and throw it away.

4 Safety – The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an estimated 8,469 incidents involving disposable diapers occurred in the year 2000 alone. One main risk is that disposable diapers come apart, leaving your baby at risk of choking on the parts of the diaper. The absorbent gel inside the diapers can cause choking. Ingestion of as little as 5 grams (a pinch more than a spoonful) of the absorbent gel has been known to cause death in humans and animals.

5 Comfort – Cloth diapers come in many different sizes (some are even adjustable in more than one location) so you can be sure to find the right fit for your baby. Cloth diapers are made from cushy, breathable fabrics like velour, micro-fleece, and cotton knits that surround your little one with softness. Many cloth diapers also have moisture-wicking inner fabrics to provide a stay-dry feeling on baby’s bottom. Cloth diapers don’t have plastic that rubs against tender skin or crunchy corners to dig into baby like many disposable diapers do. Have you noticed what disposable diaper commercials advertise? “Cloth-like” outer layers – they know that cloth is most comfortable too! Cloth diapered babies also tend to experience fewer outbreaks of diaper rash as the material is typically not an irritant. A rash free baby is a comfy baby!

6 Potty Training – You can probably expect your baby to toilet train a year earlier in cloth diapers than she or he would in disposables. Babies diapered with cloth tend to toilet train more quickly because they know when they are wet. With the advent of single-use pull-ups, it’s not uncommon to see four and five year old children who still aren’t completely potty trained. This not only has obvious implications for your budget and convenience, but it is highly significant for your baby’s development.

Toilet training is an important step on the way to increased competence, confidence, and sense of self. Late potty training has an obvious negative impact on a child’s self-esteem.

7 Cute, Adorable, Fun – Cloth diapers these days come in so many colors, styles, fabrics, patterns, prints, and the like. They have fun closures. Many cloth diapers are customizable (think embroidered or bedazzled). Cloth diapers are so stylish in fact that they can serve as the only item of clothing needed on your baby’s bottom during warmer months (or in a warm house). Add a cute shirt and a pair of leggings or socks and your baby is ready for the day!

8 Better cushioning for baby’s bottom – Consider a cloth diaper to be the helmet for your baby’s bottom! Babies and toddlers tumble and fall often. The cloth diaper provides a nice, soft landing for your little one and one less spot to be bruised and bashed!

9 More reliable than disposables– Is there anything worse than a blow-out? Disposable diapers are notorious for leaks of all kinds! Correctly fitted cloth diapers are much better at containing leaks and keeping messes in the diaper and off your baby’s clothes. In addition, you can always add extra linings and inserts to certain types of cloth diapers if you have a heavy wetter. You can double a disposable but will probably still have the leak.

10 Community – There is a whole wide cloth diapering world out there. From diaper swapping, to giveaways, to work-at-home- moms making some of the cutest diapers on earth, to cloth diaper forums, to cloth diaper blogs, to cloth diaper photo hosting sites…you name it, it’s out there!

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to using cloth diapers. Yes, they are a bit more work but the payoff is great. Most parents who choose cloth do not regret their decision and continue their cloth diapering adventure with each addition to their family. And for many parents, cloth diapering becomes a fun addiction!

About the author

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Jennifer Saleem