The One with Cloth or Plastic Diapers

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At our last baby prep class last night the teacher brought up something that I really hadn't thought twice about: cloth versus plastic diapers.
I'd always assumed I'd just buy plastic diapers; I feel like that's what the majority of people do and I'm all about being a lemming. But the more the teacher talked about the pros and cons of cloth versus plastic, the more I'm thinking about going the cloth route????....Am I crazy??!??! I'll be honest, I'm not a "green" or "granola" girl. I do care about the environment, but I'm more about what's practical for me right here right now. There, I said it. Here is what the handout has to say about cloth diapers:
1. Plastic diapers are not 100% disposable. Whatevs, a lot of things aren't. But perhaps this will be my first step to being more green.
2. Cloth diapers are chemical free, unlike some plastic diapers which may contain a chemical called super absorbent polymer that causes severe skin irritation, oozing blood from the perineum and scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting, and staph infections - no thank you!
3. Supposedly babies can feel their wet or dirty diaper easier in cloth diapers and will let you know when they need to be changed. I fear that if I use plastic diapers I'll forget to check if it's soiled so having Fox cry (hopefully not too loud, haha) when he needs to be changed sounds like a plan to me.
4. This newspaper says that earlier toilet training (up to a whole year earlier in fact) is possible with babies who wear cloth diapers because the child will know that they are wet and will feel uncomfortable. The earlier my kid is potty trained, the less diapers I have to change. That saves me time, money, sanity, and smellies!
5. Cloth diapers result in less diaper rashes due to overheating. I'll do anything to prevent diaper rashes, they look so painful!
6. I don't have to touch the dirty diaper, the whole kit and caboodle goes right in the free pail that's picked up and replaced every week. No need to soak the diaper or anything.

I feel like there's got to be a catch... Do cloth diapers make the baby look more bulky down there? Am I more about fashion or all these other things... Do they leak a lot easier resulting in a lot more clothing needing to be washed? My biggest deal breakers are the potty training factor, saving money, and comfortableness for the baby - can someone guarantee me that all these will come to pass? What's your take on cloth versus plastic diapers? I'd really like to know.


  1. Here I'm gonna mess with your head a little bit more - we used gDiapers. They're a cloth/disposable hybrid that is better for the environment to boot. AND, if you're brave enough (I wasn't but I live in an apartment with less than reliable plumbing) they're FLUSHABLE!

    We did use disposables the first two months because the covers are expensive to be paying that much for something that gets worn for such a short amount of time. Also, it was one less thing to worry about while we adjusted to being new parents. The Medium size fits for a long time though.

    We used them with cloth inserts at home, then used them with the disposable inserts while we were out because who wants to carry around a dirty diaper with them? Yuck.

  2. i was about to comment that you obviously have never changed poopy underwear of a potty training kid and had to rinse the poop out... but then I saw #6 and you got my wheels turning! I know we wore cloth diapers when we were kids, but we were poor and plastic was a new concept. And I can guarntee my mother would say plastic anyday (my two younger sisters wore plastic) but my mom also had to clean those cloth diapers.

    But what I want to know is how much do those pail picker-uppers get paid to clean random peoples poo??

  3. I have a ton to say about this! :)

    My first son I just did plastic. Didn't consider anything else. But he got HORRIBLE rashes. I'm talking bloody diaper rash. It was terrible. So a friend suggested cloth. I tried some and the rash cleared up. They maybe tended to leak a SMIDGE more. I would still use plastic when I was going to be out for a long time. (changing cloth while out is an adventure in storing poo) I did wash mine. The diaper service here is pretty expensive. I had these paper-ish liners that were flushable, so when it was poo I'd just flush that thing. I would wash them in my normal washer but totally alone. They did eventually get a bit of a smell. Not really a pee or poo smell, just not somethign I wanted all my clothes to smell like. he potty trained totally normal time table.

    meanwhile I had my second kid. Two in diapers. I didn't have the cloth for a tiny baby and the hospital and some friends gave me tons of the tiny ones anyhow, so I used plastic. Then moved to cloth. The cloth GAVE my second son a rash. I could not control it. He never fussed until I put him in cloth. He was miserable. So he went right back to plastic. This is all overlapping while my first kid is doing great in his cloth ones.

    The next thing, if you have a service this won't matter, but if you do not for any reason: YOU MUST DO THAT DIAPER LAUNDRY EVERY OTHER DAY AT THE LEAST. It takes about three days for a fly egg to hatch into a maggot. Maggots will happily eat poo. This will be the most discusting moment of your parenting life if it happens to you. I know. EWWWW.

    Cloth diapers are super cute by the way. They look adorable on kids and come in tons of fun colors.

    Both my kids potty trained at fairly average ages. I do hear the cloth helps but didn't have that experience myself.

    Good luck!

  4. HI Paige, Here is my two bits. I used disposable diapers for about 2months because the cloth diapers and plastic pants were way too big for our 6# babies. I also always used desposable on trips. Other than that, I used cloth diapers and plastic pants and washed them myself because it is SO much cheaper. However, I think the disposable diapers prevent diaper rash better than the cloth ones do and I was very good about checking for wet diapers. And as far as potty training goes...ask Chris how old he was before he wore "big boy pants!" Love, Mom Evans

  5. I ended up doing plastic diapers. Mainly because I was running out of time to make a decision! I think the cost came out to about the same for both, assuming you're paying for a diaper service. Plus, I do "The Grocery Game, (thegrocerygamedotcom) so I end up paying only 50% of the regular price of the good diapers. Most diapers nowadays have a line in the front that changes color when the baby has a wet diaper. And if it's a poopy diaper you can either feel it through the diaper most of the time or smell it. To avoid diaper rash at the beginning, I would check her diaper frequently or you can put a little Vaseline after a diaper change. I love Pampers, but for a second baby, it would be interesting to try cloth. The good news here is that all options are good ones! Good luck.

  6. We went the disposable route. DD is 15 months old, and the new dry-whatever that Pampers switched to a few months ago (that caused some babies all that pain you mentioned) hasn't given DD any problems. She's only had one diaper rash at about 1 week old because we tried Huggies wipes instead of the Pampers Sensitive we had been using.

    Cloth was very interesting to me, but honestly once we got in to the swing of it, I didn't think a cloth diaper would contain DD's poop. >_<

    And don't worry about forgetting to change Fox's diapers. On the smallest sized diapers, Pampers (and I think Huggies too) have a line indicator on the front to let you know if they're wet or not since newborns pee so little and they absorb so much. They also feel different once they're'll just know. :P

  7. My sister and brother-in-law started out with cloth diapers for their little one, but they had lots of trouble getting them fastened (theirs had these really hard-to-fasten snaps on them), AND they found that they leaked easier and often the diaper contents seeped through and onto their baby's clothes, resulting in more clothing changes throughout the day. So even though they got to have the diaper service pick up the soiled diapers, they had more soiled clothes to deal with. (Soiled clothes are inevitable to a degree, but who wants to deal with them more than they have to?)

    The fasteners on the diapers in the picture (is that velcro?) look a lot easier than the snaps they tried to deal with, so maybe they're different diapers and better all around.

    If you decide to try a diaper service, I'd be sure to have a package of disposables on hand, too (you may want them for easy traveling and whatnot, anyway), and then you can compare. Just know the terms and conditions of the service you get into so that you're not out a ton of money if you decide you don't like it.

  8. My mom used cloth with my brother, and I think we had more issues with the washing machine than anything else. But maybe my mom was cleaning them wrong. I dunno... I know there's probably a better way to do it now. I would use disposable when going out and then cloth while in the house. I don't have kids yet, so I don't know... I would say keep researching it. :) and asking too. :) Good luck!

  9. We went the easiest and most convenient route and are using disposable diapers with Karsen.
    He's never really had a diaper rash of any kind. We use the Pampers Dry Max Cruisers diapers (as someone else already mentioned) and they have been great! We also use the Pampers Sensitive Wipes.

    I just didn't want the hassle of cloth diapers, especially since I was going back to work and didn't want my mom to have to deal with it since it is more work. I don't know if you plan on going back to work at all, but that is definitely something to consider if you are. Some daycares require disposables.

    I also don't pay full price for diapers - I am a coupon shopper and get them for much cheaper!
    I also heard that with the cloth diaper service, you still need to discard any #2 into the toilet before putting the diaper in the hamper. Technically, you're supposed to do that with disposables too, but we don't...shhh! Don't tell! ;-)

    And you'll know when to change him. As soon as he arrives, your mom instincts will kick in! It's amazing! As a general rule, I try to check Karsen every 2 hours or so, even now at almost 15 months. The small diapers with the line in front are very helpful but they only come in the newborn to size 1s. You'll also know when he goes #2 by smell...lovely huh?

    Always remember to check a diaper from the back and looking down the top - don't ever look up the might get a present leak onto your hand! And since you are having a boy, make sure that whatever diaper you do chose, make sure his "little guy" is pointed down. If it gets stuck pointed up, he can potentially pee out the top of his diaper and all over himself. Just a few tricks I learned along the way. ;-)

    I also wanted to suggest getting an Itzbeen ( We used one and it is VERY helpful! It's just a timer that helps you keep track of how long it's been since the baby last ate, or had a diaper change and how long they have been sleeping or awake. They sell them on the Target website. I tell everyone about them! :-)

    Good luck!

  10. We are doing cloth for all the reasons you mentioned! But every mom and baby is different- so we are investing in a dozen or so cloth and keeping a bag of disposible around. Keep options open.

    Justin has put TONS of time into researching which cloth diapers to use also... (Let me know if you have any questions.)

    ALSO! I can't believe I missed you! Come back!

  11. I have never used cloth, but my sister is a FIRM believer in them. My niece is already potty trained and she is 16 months old. Every time they go on vacation she always used disposable and Alice would always get a nasty rash. My sister even washes them, and still doesn't think it's bad.

    I on the other hand have never tried anything but disposable, so I don't know how they cloth are. My babies have never gotten a single rash. Savannah potty trained very early, and never had accidents. Devin has a lot more leaks in his diapers, and I don't know if that is just because of outdoor plumbing or what...but that is my only complaint this go around.

    So excited to hear what you decide. Oh, and to cut down on cost, my sister got some cloth diaper covers and such from a friend that wasn't using them anymore.

  12. There is always the possibility that California will decide for you. Have a look. (that's for chris)

    Good luck deciding, either way we don't think Brooklyn will mind what kind of diapers little Fox wore.


  13. meh. i didnt want to pay for all the extra laundry and/or diaper service so for now we're doing disposable; jack hasn't had any rashes or anything. plus when they're brand new & tiny you are going through a millionnnn diapers a day so if i had to wash all those i'd go nuts. i might reconsider later on, but for now i'm sticking with my costco box of dipes :)

    and also -- dont worry, you'll know if they've got a full diaper. :) j hates being wet and will let me know...and when it's #2, you DEF know about it. :)

    let us know what you end up deciding and how it works!

  14. We did cloth with an occasional disposable when out and about. I was really concerned about the environmental impact of all that plastic and waste, and my child ended up being really sensitive so cloth worked out perfectly. I went with all-in-one diapers and pre-folds inside a cute diaper cover. Cloth diapers have come soooo far since when we were kids, and they are adorable and very easy to care for. Especially if you will be home with your baby.

    It's always best to try one or two in various styles to see how your baby fits before investing in too many. The upfront cost of cloth is more expensive, but it really pays off in the end.

  15. We use plastic for my daughter, but we've considered swapping to cloth because we plan to have multiple children. So, in the long run it would save money, but it's quite an investment up front. I read this blog and she uses cloth and can give you a little insight as to her thought process:

  16. with my oldest, we did cloth mostly because my dad paid for the diaper service for a year - it was AWESOME!! We loved it, the daycare loved it, and NO DIAPER RASH EVER with that boy. When he got bigger (he was a very late potty trainer so that theory is out the window as far as I'm concerned) we did go with disposable because, well, kinda embarrassing but he was just so big. But thank God he trained before starting school is all I have to say!

    My younger son we did not do cloth, we couldn't afford the service & dad said he wasn't paying for it again. Diaposable it was for my baby. He did fine with only getting diaper rash once or twice, but never bad. He potty trained before he was 2 MUCH eariler than his brother. I think they actually potty trained at the exact same time to tell you the truth about it.

    Such a hot topic! I love the hybird ones the first post mentioned... that sounds interesting. Alas, I'm done reproducing so enjoy!

  17. We used cloth and they have gone through three children, in hindsight I may have used a different type of cloth that wrapped round the baby a bit more but they were fine. Even without the luxury of laundry service here in the UK.

    The only problem was at night, we ended up using plastic then because otherwise we would have more wake time when the nappy leaked.

    Can't say any of mine were potty trained any earlier than normal but why rush, I'm still wiping my 5 year olds butt and he can still poop his pants when he wants ( oh and skid marks....)

  18. I use cloth too. I started with paper diapers. I used the 7th Generation brand but eventually switched to cloth. We wash ours at home, but I bet a diaper service would be great. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

  19. I used disposable diapers on you and you turned out perfect!

  20. WOW lots of people with lots to say on this topic Paige.. I guess you opened up a can of worms I didn't know existed! lol :) So, for the sake of not being left out, here's my two sense:

    We use disposable diapers on all 4 of our kids (Bailey still wears them at night since she takes water to bed with her). The only "con" I see is the expense.. YIKES!!! However, one booty instead of four does make a big difference in the pocket book! :)

    Cloth diapers do make you look a bit "hefty" in the rump, but you're so tiny I'm sure he'll have room to grow and no one would even notice.

    I could never get myself to do that much laundry.. especially with the poopy ones! And my word, these little suckers POOP - A LOT!!! :P

    As for forgetting when to change your little bundle of joy when he's wet or stinky.. trust me, you won't forget! He'll either leak out onto you or the whole neighborhood will tell you he smells if you didn't realize it first. ;) My little ones always cried when they were poopy even though we've never used cloth.

    Either way would work, I guess I just figured I could use the extra convenience.. and where do you put the dirty ones when you're out and about when they're cloth? In your purse?? hmmm.. ;)

  21. I discovered the fantastic blog of 'younghouselove' from your links here. They just had a baby recently and have opted for the cloth diapers. They have a great blog about should really check it out. =)

  22. if i had known how EASY cloth is now, i would have done cloth.. no questions... good for your baby's behind, good for the earth. unfortunately, i didn't discover that until our littlest was 6 or so months old. we DID use g diapers & loved them. they were a great compromise between the two! environmentally friendly, yet not much washing involved. (esp of the poopy ones...)

  23. I did SO MUCH RESEARCH on this topic. Seriously hours upon hours, website after website, forums, reviews, etc.

    We'll be using Kissaluvs fitted with Thirsties covers for the newborn, and then BumGenius All-In-Ones after 2-3 months or so.

    I'm not getting a diaper service because that just costs more, and a HUGE reason we're doing this is cost (<$500 vs. >$1500... no contest). If you don't have your own washer/dryer though, that may be the better route.

    Newborn poop is water-soluble, so you don't need to rinse. Just toss in washer. You can get a sprayer for your toilet (see Amazon) for when they get older. Seriously takes a few seconds, then drop it in a pail or bag. Poop doesn't have to touch your hands. LOL.

    And I heard that cloths leak LESS than disposables... IF you have the right fit for your baby. Apparently, the rule is: if they're leaking, they're not on properly, or they're the wrong size. :-p Although, every baby (no matter the diaper material) has a blowout SOMEtime. ;-)

    Please ask me if you need any info on this! Seriously, I'm a wealth of info now! LOL.

    Good luck! :-)

    p.s. Cloth diapers are SO MUCH CUTER! With all those bright colors? Pffft... Fox was made to wear those. ;-)

  24. I guess if you use the cloth diapers with disposable pads..its still piling up they are a lot more exensive. I used to let my daughter play naked on a towel during the day so she could air out and she never got a diaper rash from plastic diapers. She got only one in 2 years! I just used the cheapest diapers from Walmart...I mean...they get pooped in! I used vaseline instead of diaper rash cream and it worked wonders and lasted much longer than the medicated creams. My dr told me that baby products are the worst things to use on babies cause of all the fragrances.

    Also, I know there are special circumstances, but kids can't hold their urine or be potty trained until about 18 months of age at the least. It has to do with their maturity, personality, and your patience! Ha!

    I think the best thing I have learned with my first child is...dont worry so much! Your kid will not remember whether they were nursed or wore cloth diapers or had their room perfectly decorated. Do what is best for you and baby. If you are will feel it too. Good luck!

  25. I used disposable diapers for both of my children and never had any of the issues listed. Trust me, when they are teeny tiny, there is a very short list of why they might be crying - eating and dirty diaper are at the top of the list. (Also, a wet diaper gets big when it's wet.)
    It seems to me like cloth has come a long way in the convenience dept. Regarding the environmental impact, cloth users should also consider the fossil fuels & other resources used to transport all the clean/dirty diapers, the chemicals and energy used to wash them. Just because they are not plastic, doesn't mean they are causing less of a negative impact.

    On a side note, since we're talking wipes are loaded with chemicals - our doc called the "chemwipes" he always recommended wet washcloths. The ick factor was too much for me sometimes. Also, even if they say the are, wipes are NEVER flushable. We found that out the hard (& expensive) way.
    Ok, that's my 2 cents. Either way, that little Fox is going to be just fine :)

  26. i don't have kids yet either, but i'm planning on going the cloth route when i do. i think the biggest reason is how fast potty training is - my mom raised all of us kids in cloth ones and we were all trained before we turned 2!
    (i remember thinking it seemed pathetic that some kids weren't trained before starting school)
    anyway, that's my 2 cents - good luck with it all!

  27. I used disposable diapers for the first couple of weeks (because newborn poop is yucky!) and then switched to cloth diapers. I used them all the time at home and used disposable or cloth diapers when I left the house. It really saves money!

  28. omg theres someone who comes to pick up your dirty cloth diapers every week?? that is amazing!! I so would have done the greener thing and went with cloth diapers when my son had been a baby if i didnt need to clean them myself! lol. i probably would have barfed every time trying to rinse out all of those poopy diapers. lol. cloth definitely sounds like the way to go!

  29. WOWZA! Lots of opinions on the diapers! Crazy! Well, I don't have kids yet, but I can't imagine dealing with cloth diapers and learning how to deal with your first baby at the same time. I'd probably have a break down everytime I had to change it. And then feel guilty everytime I used a disposable one knowing the small fortune I spent on the cloth ones. These cloth ones sound like trouble if you ask me.

  30. We had the disposable diapers. Fast and easy and no mess. I just couldn't see myself constantly washing those cloth diapers (like my grandma did when I was a baby). If there is a service that picks up and cleans I would worry about getting my own diapers back and how are they cleaning them. Alex never had a diaper rash, but I did change his diapers often. You will too, don't worry, you will be checking constantly.
    I did laugh when someone mentioned washing poop from underwear while potty training. It happened here twice and both times I just tossed the undies in the trash!
    6 weeks will go by really fast. Enjoy!


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