First of all, I would like to say the purpose of this post is not to offend anyone who does not use cloth diapers, but rather educate people about the benefits of cloth. I know cloth diapers may not be for everyone and we all must make decisions that are best for our families. I just hope to share some information about how beneficial cloth diapers can be. Many people today do not even realize that they are an option.
When I talk about using cloth diapers most people look at me like I’ve lost my mind. However, the world of cloth diapering is very different from what it used to be. Here are 5 reasons why every parent should at least consider using cloth diapers.
Today we are exposed to so many chemicals in our daily lives. Some of them we have little control over, but diapers are a place where our babies are being exposed to chemicals and we can take control over it.
- Chemical Exposure
Many people use disposable diapers without giving any thought as to what is actually in the diapers. Unfortunately, most disposable diapers contain harmful chemicals. The first chemical that is present in disposable diapers is Dioxin.Dioxin is found in diapers due to the bleaching process that the paper in disposable diapers goes through. Dioxin is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S. Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT), this pollutant has been known to cause hormonal problems in humans. The last chemical that is present in disposable diapers is sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP). This is the chemical that turns liquid into a gel inside the diaper. This substance improves the environment for toxin-producing bacteria. Unfortunately chemical exposure has become part of our daily lives, but perhaps we should consider limiting our children’s’ chemical exposure as much as we can control.
2. Environmental Impact
We are always hearing about how to “go green” and make changes to help our environment. However, many people don’t even think about the impact that disposable diapers have on our environment. According to the Real Diaper Association (RDA), “It is estimated that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are consumed every year in the U.S. The instructions on a disposable diaper package advice that all fecal matter should be deposited in the toilet before discarding, yet less than one half of one percent of all waste from single-use diapers goes into the sewage system. Over 92% of all single-use diapers end up in a landfill. In 1988, nearly $300 million dollars were spent annually just to discard disposable diapers, whereas cotton diapers are reused 50 to 200 times before being turned into rags. No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone. Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste. Disposable diapers generate sixty times more solid waste and use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp. The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth. Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.”
3. Financial Savings
Cloth diapers are not only better for your baby’s health, better for the environment, but can also save you money. The RDA said it best,“We estimate that each baby will need about 6,000 diapers during the first two years of life. The following estimates are based on prices in San Francisco, California
Disposables . For these calculations, let's assume that a family needs about 60 diapers a week. In the San Francisco Bay area, disposable diapers cost roughly 23¢ per store-brand diaper and 28¢ for name-brand. This averages to 25.5¢ per diaper. Thus the average child will cost about $1,600 to diaper for two years in disposable diapers, or about $66 a month.
Diaper Services . Subscribing to a diaper services costs between $13 and $17 each week depending on how many diapers a family decides to order. Let's assume the family spends roughly $15 a week for 60 diapers a week. This equals $780 annually and averages to $65 a month. Over the course of two years, the family will spend about $1500 per baby, roughly the same cost as disposables, depending on what type of covers are purchased and what type of wipes are used. If one adds in the cost of disposable wipes for either diapering system, the costs increase.
Cloth Diapers. For cloth diapering, each family will probably need about 6 dozen diapers. The cost of cloth diapering can vary considerably, from as low as $300 for a basic set-up of prefolds and covers, to $1000 or more for organic cotton fitted diapers and wool covers. Despite this large price range, it should be possible to buy a generous mix of prefolds and diaper covers for about $300, most of which will probably last for two children. This means the cost of cloth diapering is about one tenth the cost of disposables, and you can spend even less by using found objects (old towels & T-shirts).
National Costs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were about 19 million children under four in 2000. We could probably assume that there are about 9.5 million children under two and therefore in diapers at any one time. Based on previous studies, we estimate that 5-10% of babies wear cloth diapers at least part time. We will average these figures to 7.5% of babies in cloth diapers and 92.5% in disposables. This means that about 8.8 million babies in the U.S. are using 27.4 billion disposable diapers every year. Based on these calculations, if we multiply the 8.8 million babies in disposable diapers by an average cost of $800 a year, we find that Americans spend about 7 billion dollars on disposable diapers every year. If every one of those families switched to home-laundered cloth prefold diapers, they would save more than $6 billion14, enough to feed about 2.5 million American children for an entire year. Coincidentally, the 2002 U.S. Census reveals that 2.3 million children under 6 live in poverty.
Tax Savings. In some specific circumstances, when cloth diapers have been prescribed for the treatment of a disease, tax savings may be available through the use of flexible spending accounts and medical expense deductions. This could represent a 10% - 35% savings on the cost of diapers depending on the family's tax rate. “
The bottom line, cloth diapers can save you money!!
4. Baby’s Comfort
Disposable diapers are made of paper and plastic. However, you can find cloth diapers in a variety of fabrics such as: organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, microfleece, and suedecloth. Some prefer natural fibers versus synthetic, but all of these fabrics are soft against babies skin. There also seems to be a lower incidence of rash in cloth-diapered babies. Without the chemicals of disposables present, and a good wash routine, most cloth diapering families do not have issues with diaper rash. As parents, we all want our children to be comfortable, cloth diapers can provide soft fabric against what is most precious to you-your baby!
5. Adorable!Now, this reason may not be as important as the others, but you just can’t help but find the fluffy butt of cloth-diapered babies absolutely adorable. No longer are cloth diapers white squares with plastic pants. You can find cloth diapers in many different fabrics, as well many different printsand colors. Just be careful, once you get started it can be very addicting.
I hope this blog post has challenged you to consider cloth diapers as an option. Every cloth-diapering parent has a story and a reason why they chose to put aside the convenience of disposable diapers and use modern cloth diapers. Hopefully some of these reasons listed above have made you think about cloth diapers as an option. Now, I challenge you to think about reasons why you shouldn’t use them? What is more important to you? Is there a good reason not to use them? Those are just a few questions to consider. I will also be blogging about myths and misconceptions of cloth diapers in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions about cloth diapers please feel free to contact us using our website (www.halfpintsbaby.com). I am always more than happy to answer questions, or direct to where you can find the information you may be looking for. Until then, be blessed!