Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers

The Scoop on Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are making a comeback in today’s parenting world. Traditionally, squares of cloth were used as diapers. Once soiled, the diaper would be cleaned and hung out to dry, which seems to appeal to parents wanting to take a more natural approach. When disposable diapers were first produced in 1948, it changed the way we cared for our babies, becoming mainstream in the 60’s and 70’s. So why are cloth diapers making their way back into the baby scene?

Modern Cloth Diapers

While the concept of cloth diapers is the same today as it was in grandma’s day, there have been some significant improvements. Modern parents aren’t limited to a basic diaper secured with an oversized clothespin. There are options – such as hybrid, pocket, and all-in-one reusable diapers – that come with a range of features and prices. Still wondering if cloth diapers are right for you?


  • Cloth diapers save money. It costs an average of $1600 (and 6,000 diapers!) to outfit a baby in disposable diapers for two years, but a supply of cloth diapers ranges from $100-$500. To really save money, you can use old t-shirts or towels to start your supply.
  • Cloth diapers are better for the environment. A disposable diaper is used once and tossed into the garbage can (then buried in a landfill), but cloth diapers can be used over and over again. It’s estimated to take 250-500 years for disposable diapers to decompose in a landfill.
  • Cloth diapers don’t contain chemicals. Disposable diapers contain traces of toxins. Having those chemicals touching your baby’s skin 24/7 is not a comforting thought.
  • Cloth diapers contain the mess better. Some mothers who use cloth diapers insist that the infamous disposable diaper “blowout” doesn’t happen as often.
  • Cloth diapers could help with potty training. Since they aren’t as absorbent, toddlers feel wet in cloth diapers and that uncomfortable feeling could make him or her want to begin using the potty.


  • Two words: More laundry. While it’s true you can wait to change an older baby every 3-4 hours, a newborn baby is changed more like every hour. That adds up to a lot of diapers for just one day! Doing more loads of laundry would add to the cost of cloth diapering in energy bills and detergent.
  • Poop doesn’t clean itself off the diaper. Not fun. But there are tools out there to make this a bit easier, such as diaper sprayers or flushable liners. A diaper service company delivers fresh, clean cloth diapers to your door and picks up the dirty ones, but there is a monthly cost involved.
  • It takes longer to change a baby in cloth diapers. Depending on the type of cloth diaper you choose, it can take a bit longer to take off the cover, unpin the diaper, and replace.
  • You might have to carry smelly diapers around with you. If your baby poops when you are out of the house, you’ll have to carry that smelly diaper around with you until you get home to clean it out.
  • Up-front costs to start your supply. Rather than buying diapers as you go, you’ll need to invest in your cloth diaper supply in the beginning. You’ll want about 6-dozen diapers for one child.

If you are unsure about how to change a baby diaper, consider taking a childbirth course or even a class specific to cloth diapers. When it comes to choosing diapers, the correct decision is the one that will meet the needs of you and your baby best. You may even decide to use cloth diapers for some of the time and disposables for others. Do what works best for you. Before you know it, your little baby will be out of diapers and onto the next exciting thing.

Have you used cloth diapers? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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