Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers: Which Is Right for Your Baby?

Every new parent wants to do right by their baby, and choosing the best diaper is one way to get them off on the right foot. While a huge majority of parents in the United States choose to use disposable diapers over cloth, the popularity of the old-fashioned cloth diaper seems to be growing. Looking at the main factors every parent looks for, including the comfort and health of the baby, possible impact on the planet, cost, and convenience, we’ve evaluated the pluses and minuses of each diaper type. Find out how cloth and disposable diapers stack up, and determine which choice is best for your baby and your family.

Baby’s Comfort
When it comes to your baby being comfortable in his or her diaper, the main factor is keeping it clean. A clean, dry diaper is the best way to ensure it is comfortable and will help your baby avoid painful diaper rashes. With their new designs, cloth diapers now include snap and Velcro closures, absorbent liners and waterproof material around the legs and waist. However, while cloth diapers have come a long way in the last century, they are still not as absorbent as disposables and need to be changed more frequently. For babies with more sensitive skin, cloth diapers may still be a better choice because they are softer than disposables and contain no added chemicals or fragrances, as some disposable diapers do.

The Environment
In the past, cloth diapers were believed to be the more environmentally friendly choice for parents, but recent research has since contested this thought. While cloth diapers don’t fill landfills like disposables, they do require frequent washing. Doing laundry more regularly to circulate clean cloth diapers costs energy and water, leaving behind gallons of dirty water on a regular basis. Because of this, the environmental impact of each seems to be about the same.

The Cost
The average amount a parent will spend on their child’s disposable diapers over roughly 2 years can be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. Cloth diapers, by comparison, cost between $800 and $1,000 upfront. Depending on how you have them washed, either through a pick-up and delivery service or in your own home, the cost will vary.

The convenience of disposable diapers versus cloth diapers is also a toss-up, in a few ways. Disposable diapers do not require washing and can simply be thrown away, whereas cloth diapers require that parents do a lot of laundry. Depending on the number of disposable diapers you purchase, you may end up doing loads of cloth diaper laundry daily. On the other hand, through a diaper cleaning service, this is a non-issue. With disposable diapers, the drawback is constantly needing to restock your supply. Whereas parents with cloth diapers need only run a load of laundry when the diaper stock gets low, parents using disposable diapers will need to run out to the store.

In short, with modern advances, the benefits and downsides of cloth and disposable diapers are nearly the same. Cloth diapers, when washed at home, are less expensive and may be slightly less harmful to the environment, but disposable diapers are more absorbent and, arguably, more convenient. When deciding which is best for your baby, consider their skin sensitivity, (very sensitive babies may benefit from cloth diapers), and which choice sounds more practical for your family and household.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.