Although cloth diapers have a larger initial cost commitment ($300-$500 for basic to high-end sets) they are more cost efficient over time. An average family will use about $2,000-$3,000 on disposable diapers for one child. If you decide to cloth diaper your total costs will be anywhere from $800-$1,000 (this includes the initial $300-$500) if you wash the diapers yourself and buy all the cloth diaper accessories. According to The Natural Baby Company, "Over a lifetime of use, cloth diapers cost roughly a third of what disposable diapers do, even when factoring in the water/energy/detergent used to clean them. Once your baby is potty trained, cloth diapers can even be re-sold or repurposed for continued use." If you have a family with several children the cost of your cloth diaper commitment would be even less considering that cloth diapers can be used simultaneously with other children now with the snap and Velcro "one size fits all" styles.
Time Management and Potty Training:
Does your family have time to spray out cloth diapers before moving on to your next activity? Cloth diapers do need to be rinsed/sprayed out before they are tossed in the "to be washed" pail. If you plan to cloth diaper you will also need to plan on doing more loads of laundry since these cloth diapers should be washed 12-18 at a time every 2 to 3 days (depending on your schedule). Once again, these utility costs are factored into the overall cost of cloth diapering above, but some families simply like the convenience of throwing a disposable diaper away after it has been used instead of carrying it around enclosed in a wet bag stashed deep in the diaper bag. Washing a load of diapers would be like washing another load of towels every 2 to 3 days. On the flip side, with the number of diapers that would be accrued with the initial $300-$500, you would never have to run to the grocery store in the middle of the night for a pack of diapers because you would always have access to them in your home. You can pick your poison.
Also, if potty training is also high on your priority list, that may be a reason to invest early on cloth diapering. Disposable diapers are made to keep the moisture away from the child's body which can be a great solution if you're not usually readily available to change a diaper. Cloth diapers on the other hand are made out of cotton or other absorbent fabrics and when they're wet, your child will know it! From an early age this helps children make the connection between having a full bladder and the wet feeling that comes shortly after. Although this isn't a one solution fits all in the potty training world, it is something to be considered.
Are you looking for ways to help Mother Earth? If you'd prefer to use disposable diapers one thing you could do is flush the waste in the toilet before throwing a the diaper away. The instructions on the back of diaper packaging actually advise we do this, but at the same time, "less than one half of one percent of all waste from single-use diapers goes into the sewage system (realdiapers.org). Additionally, 92% of all disposable diapers finish their life in a landfill where they will take 250-500 years to decompose. To think that my diapers are still somewhere rotting away in a landfill makes me feel quite odd, frankly. And to add just another little fun researched fact: According to average consumer trends, we could circle the globe 90 times with all the used disposable diapers collected in only 1 years' time! With all these diapers it is no surprise that disposable diapers are the third largest source of waste from U.S. households.
When it comes to diaper rash, both diapers are comparable, so much so that there is little difference between the two. Absorbency on the other hand is another question. Regardless of your choice of diapers, your baby should get a clean diaper about every 2 hours during day time hours. Disposable diapers contain SAP (super absorbent polymer) which is a gel that makes them extremely absorbent. "The average disposable diaper can hold 10 pees before being changed" (grovia.com). On the other hand, as we read above, because cloth diapers do not have the absorbent gel, when your child's diaper is wet, they will know it.
With all these factors to take into consideration, the diaper you end up choosing needs to be best for your family and lifestyle. If you'd like to take a deeper look into the world of cloth diapering and/or research more about your disposable diaper options, feel free to take a look at one of the links below!