Proctor and Gamble introduced the first affordable successful disposable diaper in 1961, according to the company website. A fierce battle has raged between advocates of cloth diapers and proponents of disposables, each aggressively asserting they have the right answer when it comes to diapering your child. Today’s parents have a difficult choice when it comes to diapering their little one’s bottoms.
Most parenting resources agree that washing re-usable cloth diapers at home saves more money that using disposable diapers. Estimates show that disposable diapers will cost up to $80 per month, compared with laundering diapers at home for an average monthly cost of $25 to $50. Using a diaper service takes much of the cost-savings out of re-usable diapers, costing as much as disposable diapers over the course of a month.
The Mayo Clinic website page on diaper rash prevention says there is no compelling evidence that one type of diaper is better than the other for your baby but that disposable diapers may keep your baby’s bottom slightly drier than cloth diapers. Damp, dirty diapers do increase the risk for diaper rash, so it is important to change a soiled re-usable or disposable diaper as soon as possible. Always gently rinse and pat a baby’s skin dry. Allow the baby to go without a diaper for a short time to expose the skin to air before applying a new diaper of any kind to further reduce the risk for diaper rash.
There are health risks associated with both re-usable cloth and disposable diapers. Cloth diapers that have been poorly or improperly cleaned may expose the child to bacteria or harmful cleaning chemicals. Rinse cloth diapers in hot water, launder with mild detergent and skip fabric softeners and dryer sheets, as these may contain fragrances and other chemicals that can irritate a baby’s skin.
Disposable diapers also pose their share of health risks to a child. The Illinois Department of Public Health acknowledges that disposable diapers contained small amounts of the dangerous chemical, dioxin. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies dioxin as a probable human carcinogen but goes on to say that there is not sufficient evidence that exposure to low levels of dioxin causes cancer. In 2010, some parents raised concerns that one major brand name disposable diapers caused rashes, burns, boils and other skin problems for babies.
The environmental impact of diapers is a controversial subject. Proponents of disposable diapers argue that the environmental impact associated with the water in one load of laundry, the energy expended to heat that water and run the washing machine and dryer, plus the chemicals in the detergent make disposable diapers the greener environmental choice. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, notes it takes 450 years for a disposable diaper to biodegrade, compared to just one year for a biodegradable diaper.
Washing cloth diapers is an unpleasant, time-consuming chore. Dirty diapers stink in a hamper, waiting to be washed. A parent needs to keep up on laundry to keep diaper stock up and household odor down. A baby’s tender skin may require diapers washed in extra-gentle, pricey detergents.
On the surface, it may seem disposable diapers are easier to use than are cloth ones but re-usable diapers do provide some practical benefits. Re-usable diapers never run out, saving tired parents a midnight drip to the store to buy disposables. Cloth diapers take up no room in household garbage cans or community landfills, and these soft pieces of material can even double as a cushion on hard surfaces, as a washcloth or to shade a baby from the sun.
Despite all these benefits of re-usable cloth diapers, disposable products are the more practical choice for some parents. Families who do not own a washer and dryer may have to let dirty diapers build up in the hamper until one parent can make a trip to the local Laundromat; this takes time and money. It may be much easier for these parents to simply throw away dirty diapers.
Disposable diapers are easier and safer to apply than are old-fashioned cloth diapers, which may require the use of dangerous pins and a bit of skill to use. Today’s cloth diapers do feature Velcro tabs and are form-fitted for easier use. Older siblings can easily share in diaper changes using a pre-shaped disposable diaper with easy-to-operate adhesive tabs. Plastic packaging makes storing fresh disposable diapers easier than folding cloth diapers for storage in a dresser or changing table.
Modern moms and dads have so many more choices to make than even their parents or grandparents; deciding on diapers makes a complex job even more difficult. The decision between re-usable and disposable diapers is a matter of personal preference and individual circumstance. Some parents combine the two, while others steadfastly defend one choice over the other. Keeping your baby’s bottom health and happy is completely up to you.
This article was written by Samantha Harvey who writes on behalf DirectBabyChangers.com
Photo: flickr.com/photos/finnern/167984520/Filed under Parenting Advice, Parenting Babies | Comment (0)