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Helping new and expecting moms through the messiness of pregnancy, babies, and toddlerhood.

The Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers

Wondering if the benefits of cloth diapers are really worth all the extra laundry? Want to weigh the pros and cons and figure out if they’re the right fit for your family?

Cloth diapers have made quite the transformation in recent years. They’re not just rags and safety pins anymore. They’ve got a new design that has proven to be quite beneficial for mom and baby.

But, are all these great things about cloth diapers truly worthwhile? Can you even make them work with your crazy lifestyle? Your baby is going to spend an entire 1-3 years in diapers, so you want to make sure that you’re making the absolute best choice.

In this post, we will cover several pros and cons to using cloth diapers, so you can make the right choice for your family.

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Pros of Cloth Diapers

With the new design of cloth diapers, they’ve become more beneficial than ever before. Many new moms are choosing cloth because of all the perks that come with.

1.  Healthier for Baby

Many moms choose cloth because they don’t want their baby wearing harmful chemicals that come with disposable diapers. Many disposables have been found to contain harmful toxins, called dioxins, which can cause skin lesions, reproductive and developmental problems, altered liver function, and even cancer (source).

Disposable diapers also contain several other chemicals, including SPA (linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome), phthalates (known endocrine disrupters), Ethylbenzene (known carcinogen), and heavy metals (harms the immune and hormonal systems). Even the most eco-friendly diapers still have questionable ingredients. If you want to avoid toxic chemicals, then cloth is just the only way to go.

2. Better for the Environment

You can help save our planet by making the switch to cloth. By using cloth diapers, you are reducing your carbon foot print and reducing major waste in our landfills.

The amount of resources used to make disposable diapers is just insanity compared to cloth. Sposies use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp, use 3.5 times more energy, and 2.3 times more water than cloth. That’s even factoring in all the laundry that comes with cloth (source).

It also takes over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine to produce disposable diapers for ONE baby EACH YEAR. That’s just crazy,

And, then there’s the waste. Each year 27.4 BILLION disposable diapers end up in our U.S. landfills, where they will stay for about 500 years before they decompose. Which also adds loads of fecal contamination into our environment and potentially our sources for drinking water (source).

3. Promotes Early Potty Training

Cloth diapers are thought to promote early potty training because your baby can actually feel the wetness against their skin. There’s really no incentive to potty in the toilet with disposables, as they contain toxic polymers, which absorb all the urine and wick any moisture away from your baby’s skin.

Potty training can be a sad time for cloth lovin’ moms though. Luckily, many brands have cloth trainers with the same cute prints!

4. Saves You $$$

Many young moms, like me, are turning to reusable diapers because they can save a boat load of money. Of course, how much you save will depend on how many cloth diapers you buy, what kind you buy, and how many kids you use them on.

Using the average cost per disposable and cloth diapers and all the other hidden costs that come with cloth (laundry detergent, diaper sprayer, etc.), it’s calculated that cloth can save you around $660 on your first child alone. Use your stash again on your second child and you’ll be saving around $1300 (source).

Then after that, you could use them on even more of your children, resell them, or repurpose them around the house. Save even more money by buying pre-loved (used) or sticking with prefolds or flats.

5. They’re Super Adorable

From animals to holidays and trains to stars, you’re baby is sure to look good for any occasion! Cloth diapers come in so many fun patterns and perfect solid prints, making diaper changes quite enjoyable.

You’ll have a blast matching your baby’s diapers to their outfits, leg warmers, and swaddle blankets. You’re phone will quickly become filled with perfect bum shots, and you’ll want to show off those cute diapers in all your family photos. Just be sure not to get addicted to all the cute prints if you’re using cloth to help save money. 😉

6. NO BLOWOUTS!!

This is probably my favorite advantage to using cloth diapers. I haven’t had a single blow out yet with my second baby, and I can only recall having one or two with my first baby (and we didn’t have the diaper on right).

The contour shape and elastic around the waist and legs helps keep everything contained. Even those crazy breastmilk poo explosions. It’s seriously so nice to not have to deal with poop up your baby’s back and neck.

7.  More Comfortable for Baby

Cloth diapers are made with natural, breathable fibers, making them more cozy for your baby. Even babies with the most sensitive of skin can feel comfortable. Especially, in diapers made with 100% organic cotton.

There’s just nothing comparable to real fabric against your skin. I mean, I know I wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in underwear made of plastic and paper all day long. Not to mention, your baby will have a little extra cushion to fall on when they’re learning to walk.

8.  Fun, Welcoming Community

You might not have very many family and friends that are into cloth, but the online cloth diaper world is such a fun, welcoming community. From my experience, cloth diaper mamas love to help one another. They’re great at sharing their best tips and tricks, providing encouragement, and of course, sharing epic bum shots. Here are just a few of my favorite cloth diaper groups:

Official Nicki’s Diapers Cloth Diaper Chatter

Official Best Bottom Diapers Fan Chat Page

The Crunchy Bean Chatter

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Cons of Cloth Diapers 

Modern cloth diapers have so much to offer for new moms and babies, but can you make them work for you?

1. Costs More Money Upfront

Even though cloth diapers can save you tons of money in the long term, they do cost you more upfront unfortunately. If money is tight, I suggest slowly building your stash during your pregnancy and after baby is here. You’ll want to try out a few different styles and brands to see what you like best before you dive all-in anyways.

2. Not as Likely to Receive them at Your Baby Shower

Not only do cloth diapers cost more upfront, you’re also less likely to receive them at your baby shower. That means even more money coming out of your pocket.

In fact, a lot of people will probably just look at you like you’re crazy when you mention using cloth. And, many will probably have doubts about you following through and won’t be afraid to express them either.

3. Extra Laundry

Having a baby already means more laundry, but if you choose to cloth diaper, you’ll have even more on top of that. You’ll also need to account for more money being spent on laundry detergent and the water and electric bill.

If you want to cloth diaper, but minimize your laundry, then you’ll need to invest in more diapers. We have somewhere around 30-35 diapers and are washing every 4 days. I really haven’t noticed an increase in our electric bill and our water bill has only been about $3-5 higher each month since we started with cloth.

4. More Prone to Leaks 

Since cloth diapers aren’t filled with a bunch of chemicals, they aren’t as absorbent as their disposable counterparts, making them more prone to urine leaks. You’ll have to make sure you have the right kind and number of insert(s) to accommodate your wetter. You’ll also need to make sure you have a proper fit, with no gaps around your baby’s legs.

Cloth diapers are also more prone to compression leaks from tight clothes and   car seat straps. You’ll probably have some trial and error before you figure out what diapers work best for your baby to avoid leakage.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to change your baby every two hours or less during the day in order to avoid leaks and diaper rash. After your baby gets out of the newborn stage, you can start trying different nighttime solutions, so you won’t have to change your baby in the middle of the night anymore.

5. May Reduce Your Daycare Options

Even though cloth diapers are legal to use in almost every state, some daycares are hesitant or even just completely dismissive about using them. If your daycare is not sure about using them, take one in and show them just how easy they can be.

Make it as simple as possible for them, and provide them with pre-stuffed pockets or AIOs (all-in-ones) with a labeled wet bag for clean diapers and a labeled wet bag for dirties. And, don’t forget your wipes and cloth-safe diaper cream.

6. Have to Size Up in Clothes 

You can always spot a baby wearing a cloth diaper, as it looks like they’ve got quite a bit of “junk in their trunk.” All that fluff takes up quite a bit of space, so you’re going to have to size up in onesies and pants. This can make clothes shopping tricky and may sometimes limit your options.

You won’t be as likely to buy combined outfits, because your baby might be in a smaller shirt size than her pants. I know some moms do just buy two different sized sets, but I’ve learned to just stroll the store a bit more and make up my own matching outfits. I’ve also found that Target’s Cat & Jack pants are the best at fitting over that fluff butt.

7. Take Up More Space

Cloth diapers aren’t just bulky for your baby’s clothes. They also take up more space in your diaper bag and nursery. You’ll have to do some digging to find spacious bags and diaper caddies to accommodate all that fluff. You’ll also need to come up with some crafty storage solutions in the nursery for your diapers, wipes, and other cloth diaper accessories.

8. Not as Easy to Travel With

With disposables you can easily just toss them in the trash and be done with it when traveling. But with cloth, you have to store them in your wet bag and spray them when you get home.  

The amount of space they take up also makes it quite challenging when traveling by plane. You might not want to take an entire suitcase of just diapers. You also have to make sure the place you’re going to has a working washer and dryer, and you’ll have to buy laundry detergent when you get there.

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It Doesn’t Have to Be All or Nothing

The good news is, is that you don’t have to do cloth 100 percent of the time. There are many moms that choose to use cloth at home and sposies when they’re out and about. Some moms also prefer to just use disposables at night and stick with cloth during the day.

Even if you don’t use cloth all the time, you are still saving money, reducing your impact on the environment, and minimizing the amount of chemicals against your baby’s skin.

Where Can I Buy Cloth Diapers? 

Thinking you might want to give cloth a go? Learn everything you need to know to get started and ask around to find local cloth diaper stores or co-ops in your area. If there’s nothing local, there are many, many places to buy online. Some sites even have trial periods, where you can use them for a certain amount of days and then return them if they’re not for you.

Nicki’s Diapers and Diaper Junction are two of my top favorite sites to shop. They each have customer rewards, giveaways, and a variety of cloth diaper brands and other natural parenting products. Nicki’s Diapers has a 15-day try, wash, love or return period, and Diaper Junction offers a 30-day trial period. Plus, they’re also both mom-owned business and do an outstanding job at giving back to the community.

Cloth or Disposable? 

So, what will it be? Cloth, disposable, or a combination of both?

With the new design of cloth diapers, they offer so many benefits than ever before. It’s no wonder they’re making a comeback. Not only are they healthier for your baby and better for the environment, but they can also save you loads of money, prevent nasty blowouts, and have your baby’s bottom looking stylish for any occasion.

But, certain challenges of cloth can make them quite difficult to use for some families. Daycare options may be limited, you might not have the upfront cash to purchase them before baby is here, or you just simply don’t have the time for all the extra laundry.

Take the time to sit down and weigh all your options. Which factors are most important to your family? No matter if you choose cloth, disposables, or a combo, I hope you find  the diaper that works best for your baby.

Did You Find this Post Helpful? 

Did this post help you decide if cloth is worth it or not for you? Did you end up choosing cloth, disposables, or a combo? Share your reasons for using (or not) cloth in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with other moms-to-be.

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2 Comments

  1. Shannon on May 29, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    We decided to use cloth for our second son and I absolutely love the Best Bottoms that you recommended! It is super easy and when I calculated it out, I will save over $200 just by cloth diapering during my maternity leave! Thank you for the awesome tip, it has definitely made me more confident to cloth diaper.

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on May 30, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      Yay! That’s awesome Shannon! I’m so glad to hear that you’re loving your fluff!

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