One way in which parents adopt a sustainable approach to parenting is by using reusable cloth diapers. When choosing local cloth diapers, moms and dads prevent hundreds of thousands of disposable diapers from ending up in landfills which lessens their impact on the environment and overall carbon footprint.
The environmental benefits are not the only advantage that baby cloth diapers offer, as they also present health and economic benefits. If you are dissatisfied with disposable diapers and the conglomerates, cloth diapers are a good alternative to consider. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about reusable diapers.
What is a cloth diaper?
A cloth diaper is a reusable diaper that is made from cloth fabric. It is like a disposable diaper but instead of throwing it away, you put it in the washing machine to reuse it. Reusable diapers have an integrated waterproof cover and an absorbent inner layer.
They are fully absorbent and waterproof so they are perfect for babies. The cloth material they are made of is more comfortable for your baby’s skin and minimizes the chances of developing diaper rashes. They are available in an array of different designs and are more visually appealing than the average disposable diaper.
How long do cloth diapers last?
Most cloth diapers last anywhere from two to three years, but if well looked after and washed regularly, they can last longer. The main reason you need to change your cloth diapers is when your child outgrows them. However, depending on the style and diaper brand, some are designed to grow with the baby!
The adjustable cloth diapers you buy can be used and remain in the drawers of your baby’s changing table until your little one is fully potty trained. Plus, reusable diapers can then be passed on to the next baby in your family or in your friend group. This means that you need to buy less reusable diapers than you would need disposable diapers.
Newborn babies go through about 10 diapers per day once they start getting regular bowel movements. This decreases to around 8 diapers per day when they reach 18 months old and 6 per day after that. If you consider that a pack of diapers usually contains 40 diapers, on average that means that for a newborn, you need to buy a new pack of diapers every four days minimum.
Types of cloth diapers
There are different types of cloth diapers. Here are the most popular models on the market:
Flat cloth diapers
Fitted cloth diapers
All in one diapers
Flat cloth diapers
These are the original cloth diapers, the kind your grandparents probably used on your parents, but they are starting to become popular again. They are called flat diapers as they are just flat pieces of cloth.
It’s important to know that they do not come pre-folded and ready for your baby to wear. They require a bit more time and effort to put on your baby. However, if you are a stay-at-home parent who has the time, and that is not worried about the pinning and origami-like activity that it entails, this might be the perfect option for you.
The main appeal of these types of cloth diapers is that they are extremely cheap as they do not have all of the additional features that mainstream popular reusable diapers have. However, if you want them to be fully waterproof, you will have to invest in an additional wrap or cover. Expect a messy trial and error period!
Fitted cloth diapers
Fitted cloth diapers are the preferred option for parents on the go since they are a lot easier to use than flat diapers. The design of a fitted cloth diaper is similar to a disposable diaper, so they make the transition for parents who are used to disposable diapers much easier.
They mold to the baby's body and are secured with either velcro or snap buttons. Similarly to flat diapers, they are not waterproof on their own which is a slight drawback. However, they are a great option if you are looking for a more convenient version of the flat diaper.
Pocket diapers offer the convenience of a fitted cloth diaper but they are a superior option since they are waterproof. Although they are not an all-in-one system, their design is extremely clever. They are made of a waterproof outer layer and a wicking inside layer. These layers are sewn together and there is a pocket on the inside for you to insert an absorbent material.
The best part is that you can use anything absorbent as an insert. You can buy pre-made inserts which are specifically designed for these diapers, but you can also use absorbent towels, which are popular amongst parents.
These are virtually the same as pocket diapers but you do not need to buy an absorbent insert, as it’s an all-in-one diaper. While these might seem more convenient, in reality, they can catch you off guard as they take a lot longer to dry than other reusable diapers. Many parents like to just buy a couple of these for emergencies or if someone is looking after their baby, to make things easier for them.
How many cloth diapers do I need?
We recommend buying at least 20 cloth diapers to ensure that your baby is always dry. One of the best ways to start building your stock of reusable cloth diapers is to ask for some as baby shower presents.
If your newborn baby is going through 10 diapers a day, you are going to need a significant amount on hand, especially when you are just starting to establish a cloth diaper routine. We also recommend that you buy one-size-fits-all diapers, as they will grow with your baby, and you will not need to buy new ones during the first few months when your baby is growing at an exponential rate.
How much does cloth diapering cost?
You can expect cloth diapers to cost anywhere between $13 to $20 per unit, depending on the type and quality of the materials. A full collection to fill your baby’s changing station will approximately cost you around $ 300 $ 500.
This is a smart investment when considering the comfort and sustainability of cloth diapering. If you compare the cost of cloth diapers with the cost of disposable diapers, you will find that on average babies go through around 8,000 disposable diapers throughout their life before they are potty trained. If you do the math and consider that a disposable costs around $ 0.25 average, in the long run your stack of disposable diapers will cost you around $ 2,000.
How to wash cloth diapers
Washing cloth diapers is simpler than most people assume. First, you need to dispose of any solid waste that is in your baby’s diaper by throwing it down the toilet. Then, you should rinse the cloth diaper off by soaking it in cold water, to the point that it is dripping wet. You can then leave them in a diaper bin before washing them with your other reusable diapers.
Once you are ready to put your diapers in the wash, you should first wash them on a cold wash. This does not have to be a long wash. You can just set it to a quick pre-rinse wash without any detergent. After this, give it a proper wash with hot water and detergent.
Are cloth diapers better for the environment?
Cloth diapers are definitely better for the environment as they prevent thousands of disposable diapers from ending up in landfills every year and reduce overall diaper consumption. Even with the additional electricity used for washing, your environmental impact is lower.
Using cloth diapers is also better for the health of your baby as they are often made from organic materials which are 100% safe for your baby’s skin. Unlike disposable diapers, they do not contain absorbent chemicals that cause irritation and skin problems for babies. Reusable diapers are the superior option in every way!