The Diaper Debate: Cloth Diapers
There are the potty-training rumors: babies in cloth diapers are said to potty train faster than those in disposables.
And the health concerns: many disposables contain VOC chemicals that can be absorbed and inhaled causing some babies to have respiratory problems and skin irritations.
But for most parents, reducing the impact on the environment is a key motivator for choosing reusable cloth diapers. But how green your cloth diapers really are depends on lots of things, including your washing and drying habits.
If you are set-up to wash cloth diapers at home – and by that we mean you have chlorine alternatives and a washing machine with really hot water – then cloth diapers are economically and environmentally the best investment you can make. There are countless companies selling cloth diapers and several systems to choose from. Here is a run-down of our favorite systems, and information on how many diapers you’ll need and the costs associated.
All-in-one diapers (AIOs) have an outer cover and an absorbent core insert that are sewn together. These diapers are most comparable to a disposable diaper in that there are no separate parts to manage. This adds some convenience when performing a diaper change and is often preferred by daycare centers or babysitters who are either reticent or intimidated by cloth. But because the system is all one piece, you’ll have heavy wash loads and will be purchasing a supply of dozens of diapers.
Recommended Supply: 30-36 diapers
Lifetime costs: $600 to $920
All-in-two (AI2) systems rely on two parts: a separate waterproof cover (sometimes referred to as a “wrap” or “shell”) and an absorbent insert that is simply laid into the cover. AI2 systems take less time to prepare for placing on baby during a change and, even better, there is less laundry bulk. Also, there is a reduced overall cost because you can often reuse the cover if it isn’t soiled.
We recommend AI2 systems because of their convenience and flexibility. With AI2 you can use prefolds, biodegradables, cloth – or a mixture. The AI2 approach also offers the lowest lifetime cost and is, in our opinion, the best value diapering system.
Recommended supply: 10 covers, supply of inserts
Lifetime cost : $300
A pocket diaper uses a cover that has an inner layer of soft material; this layer is sewn with a pocket opening where an absorbent insert is stuffed. This is something like a kangaroo’s pocket, where you can stuff in an absorbent core of cloth material. Pocket diapers are a great option, but many parents tire of stuffing diapers day after day.
Recommended Supply: 30-36 pocket covers along with a supply of inserts.
Estimated lifetime cost: $720
No matter which system you choose, keep a look-out for diaper covers that don’t contain plastic, especially PVC. There are plenty of organic cotton or wool versions available. If you aren’t set-up to wash cloth at home, disposable diapers are a good option – but remember to use environmentally-friendly disposable diapers like Bambo Nature.
Diaper Stat Resource: www.babygearlab.com