Cloth Diapering vs. Disposables
All throughout my pregnancy I researched cloth diapers for two reasons: 1) overall they can cheaper especially if you plan on having more than one child and 2) I don't like all the chemicals that can be found in disposables.
Ultimately, I didn't take on cloth diapering until my son was 5 months old and when I did, I tried to set myself up for success by joining a Facebook group filled with a bunch of knowledgeable parents, spoke with a lovely local lady at a boutique that sells cloth diapers and did countless hours of research...... still we only lasted for two months before going back to disposables!
Below I have broken down the pros and cons of cloth and what I have ended up using.
Cloth Diapering Pros:
• Can be cheaper
• If you are purchasing organic cotton or bamboo, there are no toxins from the diaper against your babys skin (make sure the manufacturer of your covers state they are formaldehyde free)
• No blowouts. While cloth diapering I never had any baby poop make it's way up my sons back and breastfed babys are famous for that!
Cloth Diapering Cons
• So many options and one brand/style doesn't work for every baby. The upfront cost of finding the brand and style that works, can be extremely expensive and then if you planned on saving money and using the diapers for a second baby, there's no guarantee they will fit your second child appropriately. Then you're back to square one and the expense all over again.
• I quickly learned that the main reason I liked cloth (no toxins) was a moot point as I couldn't use my toxin free laundry detergent. Most chemical free laundry detergents are plant based and multiple resources have shown that plant based detergents are not strong enough to break down the bacteria.
• Cloth diapers must be washed every two to three days. If you have public water and you pay for your water, consider that added expense into your budget.
• Washing machines made now are designed to save on water. This is bad for diapers. So you basically have to trick your machine into using more water (adding a large wet towel so the washing machine detects a heavier load), but not too much water because the diapers have to be able to agitate against each other. They call it "stew" vs "soup" consistency.
• How much detergent is the right amount? Depends on your washing machine, the brand of detergent you are using, the hardness/softness of your water and the number of diapers you are washing. If you use too much detergent you can create a buildup on your diapers and cause diaper rashes. If you don't use enough detergent, your child can end up with ammonia rashes that look more like burns.
• Second rinse or not? If you second rinse, you can deposit minerals back into the diapers that can cause buildup, odor and bad rashes. If you don't do a second rinse and you have any detergent left on the diapers, it can easily build up and cause repelling so your diapers will no longer absorb.
• Many resources state if you have even mildly hard water you will need to add a water softener such as Borax. Most diaper companies state not to use borax or other softeners and if you do, you've voided the warranty on your expensive diaper stash.
• I've mentioned water hardness a couple of times, yup - you should probably have your water tested so you know the pH levels and appropriate way to wash for your water type.
• Once your baby starts on solid food or if your baby isn't breastfed, you must rinse the poop off of the diapers before washing them. Think scraping with a rubber spatula or spraying with a diaper sprayer. If you go the diaper sprayer route, make sure you use a barrier so the poop doesn't splatter on your walls and toilet. If you use a dunk method in a bucket, be prepared to still scrape.
• You will need to size up in clothes to make room for the "fluff butt"
Disposable Diapering Pros
• Less mess to deal with
• Dependng on the brand, can have many harmful chemicals
With research and a proper system, cloth diapering works for many. For us, I stopped cloth diapering because I would not use a chemical laden laundry detergent and the more natural detergents were not cleaning my diapers well enough. So now I use disposables that have fewer toxins in them and I budget shop for them.
Hope this helps!