This is the second post on my cloth diaper experience thus far. Part 1 talks about the beginning of my journey.
With the invention of disposable diapers, why would anyone voluntarily choose to use cloth diapers? They need to be washed, stored, folded, stuffed, sprayed, etc etc etc...
There are several different reasons why some might choose to use cloth diapers, including the fact that cloth diapers are: economical, environmentally-friendly, chemical free, and just simply cute. Let's explore some of these reasons:
Buying disposable diapers- even cheap ones, even cheap ones with coupons, is still just throwing your money in the trash. Disposable diapers follow this trajectory- put diaper on baby, baby pees/poops, take diaper off and toss it. At no point was there any gain to your life, other than I guess you hopefully did not also need to change baby's clothes. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are reusable. Therefore, you only need so many and then you can be done buying diapers! The cost of running you washer and maybe dryer are significantly outweighed by the cost of buying endless cases of diapers that just get thrown out.
Now, depending on what disposable diapers you would buy and what cloth diaper system you choose, you may spend close to what you would have on disposable diapers or you could come out thousands of dollars in the black by choosing cloth diapers. Cloth diapers come in a range of price points, so actual savings vary but I think you would find it difficult to actually spend more by cloth diapering unless you use a cloth diaper service to launder the diapers.
I have heard of people cloth diapering their child on $200, from start to finish. Others may spend upwards $1000 when it's all said and done. The common estimate for disposable diapers, though, from birth to potty training, averages around $2500. And that's just one child, your cloth diapers may last for a second a child as well!
It's no secret that disposable diapers are filling up our landfills. They take a long time to decompose, use up a lot of resources to produce and ship to their final destination. Cloth diapers, as stated above, are by nature reusable. They can also be made of entirely natural fibers if you choose (you can use covers made of wool instead of synthetic fibers/coatings), making them even more environmentally friendly. Some may argue that the increased washing offsets that environmental toll of disposable diapers, but that doesn't make sense. While there is increased laundering when using cloth diapers, that water can be treated and recycled, diapers sitting in a landfill cannot.
Whether from personal choice and a baby's sensitive skin, some parents avoid chemicals as much as possible. Disposable diapers contain many chemicals, both from the processing of the diaper as well as the absorbent nature of the diapers. Disposable diapers contain a powder that forms a gel when it comes into contact with a liquid. This is what gives them their highly absorbent nature. Some babies are sensitive to one or many of the chemicals in these diapers. Other parents may worry about possible carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) or endocrine disrupters in the diapers. Cloth diapers are the answers to these worries! It's just cloth! They may not be as absorbent as disposable diapers but at least your baby's skin is safe! Some diapers are made of synthetic fibers, some of which can be nice because it may allow for a "stay dry" feel against babies skin, but it is not at all hard to find and use only natural fibers if that is what you choose. In fact, one of the cheapest ways to cloth diaper is to use covers with cotton prefolds!
Lastly, while I originally wanted to cloth diaper in order to save money and avoid possible toxins, cuteness has won out for my top reason. My modest, non-budget busting diaper stash has grown as I find new diapers to try and prints or colors that I must have! I think this reason will grow even more in my favor once we hit some warmer months and I can show off her diapers more since we won't need to be bundled up against the cold! While dressing up my daughter in cute diapers won't win me any humanitarian rewards or save the world, it is a nice perk in my day to day life. And that's a enough for me.