Cloth vs. Disposable
Babies are tiny little people that create a ton of waste. Initially babies can go through upwards of 12-14 diapers a day but as they grow and begin eating solid foods this number will decrease by about half. There is great debate as to what is best for baby and the environment when it comes to diapering. Disposables create a lot of waste which ends up in the landfill and can take centuries to breakdown whereas cloth diapering creates a lot of laundry resulting in increased power and water consumption. Below are a few things to think about when choosing what is best for you and your baby:
The beauty of the disposable diaper is when baby makes a mess, diaper can be folded into a neat little package and tossed in the bin. Disposable diapers are inexpensive, lightweight and can hold a lot of fluid - at least 1000 times their weight. In order to be so absorbent disposables are made of several toxic chemicals including but not limited to: Dioxin, Tributyl-in, and Sodium polyacrylate. In addition to the chemicals and plastic that ends up in the landfill so does your baby's waste. Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest consumer item to end up in the landfill and nobody knows how long they take to breakdown though it is estimated it takes 250-300 years.
Cloth diapers are initially quite expensive but soft, breathable and quite absorbent. There are several types to choose from but most are designed to grow with your baby so the expense although more at first, over the course of 18 months to two years ends up being much less then the alternative. Also, if you have more then one child the diapers can be used again and again. You will likely need about 24 diapers which initially means laundry every two days and eventually that will be every 3 days. You will have to flush and rinse diapers containing solid waste - not a pleasant process. Your water and power bill will go up. It is said that children who are cloth diapered tend to potty train faster as they are more aware of being wet or soiled.
Although I have decided to cloth diaper my baby, it is certainly not for everybody. It is important to consider the environment, your baby, and your lifestyle and figure out what is best for you. There are several disposable diaper companies that are producing biodegradable diapers which is a whole new product to take into consideration.