Mommyish Debate: Cloth Diapers Vs. Disposible

Here at Mommyish, we’re interested in the realities of child rearing, not the theories we’re asked to trust. So once a week, we’re going to poll moms on what they’re actually doing. This week we’re curious about diapers.

Since using cloth is a very personal choice, we asked mothers for their thoughts on deciding between diaper types. Cloth diapers can range from the ones you wash yourself to those you use from a pickup and delivery service. So how did these mothers decide?

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  • Lindsay Cross

    I thought long and hard about cloth diapers. I know that they are normally cheaper and better for the environment. But for working moms, daycare providers can’t use them. It’s difficult to get in the habit when your children already wear disposable all day long. At least this is what I tell myself to assuage the guilt I feel everytime I want a Discovery channel program about landfills and trash.

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  • Jennifer Miller

    We use cloth on our 11-month-old son, but keep a supply of disposables on hand for overnight, traveling and outings. My husband and I made the decision to use cloth several months before our son was born, for three reasons. First, we live in an apartment complex with no recycling service. Everything goes into a trash compactor, and I already have a great deal of guilt over this. We could drive our recycling to a drop off center, but as it is I do not even have room in our kitchen to separate our trash. Second, it’s more economical in the long run. Third, based on anecdotal evidence alone, many people agree that cloth-diapered babies potty train faster and have less diaper rash. The specifics: We don’t use a service. We have a stock of heavy duty flat fold diapers and really good diaper covers. To clean the soiled diapers, I found an extra long shower hose for washing dogs; the sprayer does double duty as it reaches all the way into the toilet. The rinsed and/or wet diapers are stored with baking soda in upcycled plastic cat litter buckets until wash day. As a side note: those plastic buckets do a much better job than Diaper Genies at containing the smell, both for soiled cloth and disposable diapers. My mother, who is not afraid of hurting my feelings, said as much.

  • melanie

    I really wanted to do cloth diapers. I applaud any mom who does. My mother did with me. However, first, I couldn’t afford the initial investment, though clearly over time, I can estimate it would be cheaper. Second, my washing machine is in the basement and isn’t reliable. Finally, my infant was a cluster feeder and I had all I could handle with the nonstop breastfeeding, so I used pampers and I’m happy with them.

  • Stephanie

    I use both cloth and disposable. Cloth when we’re at home, disposable for over night and when we are out/travelling. I decided to use cloth for my first because it’s cheaper and diapers sitting in a landfill for (potentially) hundreds of years kills me. Yes, cloth uses a lot of hot water, but I feel it isn’t a significant as the landfill issue.
    I put all the waste down the toilet, whether it is in a cloth or disposable, and that is the yukiest part, so throwing them in the laundry isn’t a big deal. The cloth ones I use are the flat ones with liners and covers and I’ve been very happy with them for both my little ones.
    When I go back to work we will undoubtedly use disposable most of the time, but at least I know I did a little something to help.

  • Jennifer

    I use cloth at home and disposable when we go out. This is my 2nd baby on cloth so I’m so used to it I don’t find it any more work. Sometimes I get behind on washing them so use disposables in a pinch. Cloth is cheapest if you skip the fancy ones and just good old Chinese pre-folds and wraps with bio flushable liners. I’m glad we’ve done it this way. Saved some money and didn’t fill the landfills quite so much.

  • Molly

    I have just been introduced to this recent cloth diaper fad…I have two young children 13 months apart, both still in diapers (although my daughter is moving onto pull-ups now that she’s 2!) and could not imagine adding diapers to the mountain of laundry that seems to never be complete!! I applaud the moms that can make it happen, but this full time working momma is thankful Huggies makes a great diaper!

  • Meg

    I was concerned about the environment so tried to use cloth at the beginning, but I found the endless laundry to be difficult to keep up with. I was uncomfortable with all the water and energy usage for cleaning and drying them, too. We switched to disposable and pay $10 per month for Huggies to come and pick up the dirty diapers. They take them to their facility (in New Zealand) to be composted. I think that is the best compromise for our family and my conscience. I wonder if there are composting facilities elsewhere?

  • Laura

    I am due in three weeks and am committed to using cloth diapers. So many chemicals are used to make them and then there is the landfill issue, and I just don’t see how anyone can think they are more enviromentally friendly than cloth. I found a great system with the Grovia diapers. You can either use a washable cloth insert or a biodegradble disposable insert for traveling. They have supercute covers that the inserts fit into. I am sure it is more work for me, but my baby’s health and future is worth it!

  • Christy, Home-Mom

    Disposables work for some families, it worked for us for many years. Now we use flats.
    Cheaper: Less than $1 a diaper
    Smarter: No extra washing/rinsing, drying, special detergents. Nada
    Simple: 1 flat, 1 cover

    Around the hose we don’t even use covers. I’d love to only have wool covers as they are simply magical. A material that is both absorbent and repels moisture is brilliant.

    I totally agree that the new modern diapers are super cute but can be a bit confusing and confusion comes in on the learning curve.