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Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers – What’s Best?

by Guest Writer

in Babies, Baby Gear and Products, Guest Posts, Life with Baby, Parenting

By Guest Blogger, April from Mama on a Green Mission

What’s Better – Cloth Diapers or Disposable Ones?

One of the most exciting times in one’s life is finding out you’re expecting a baby. My husband and I found out in November of 2009 that we were pregnant, and I spent a lot of time researching everything under the sun about pregnancy, baby, baby products, etc. I kept very busy during those nine months and at times it was overwhelming because there was so much information. There were lots of things to read about, to learn and to decide on.

The thing I did the most research and reading about was using cloth diapers versus disposable diapers.

Disposable Diapers Take Between 250 to 500 Years to Decompose

At first, I was disgusted about the thought of using cloth diapers. But the more I read about it, the more these thoughts changed. I think the one thing that made me seriously consider using cloth diapers was the one fact that a disposable diaper can take up to 250 to 500 years to decompose in the landfill.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how many diapers are still sitting in the landfills; every disposable diaper since the day they were created is still sitting somewhere taking up space in a landfill. The Real Diaper Association estimates that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used every year in the United States, and over 92 percent of these diapers end up in the landfill.

That was too much for me and I knew I had to do something different because I didn’t want to contribute to that. I continued reading about the environmental impact of disposable diapers, and I was more disgusted by disposables than my original thoughts of using cloth!

The Impact of Disposable Diapers on the Environment

Toddler Boys' Swimwear by Kushies at ShopStyle

Did you know that disposable diaper packages actually advise all fecal matter be disposed of in the toilet before discarding? As you know, very few people actually do this.

Disposable diapers are on the list of top three single consumer items in the landfills. They represent 4 percent of solid waste in landfills today. And disposable diapers generate 60 times more solid waste, and they use 20 times more raw materials – such as crude oil and wood pulp.

To produce one year’s supply of disposable diapers for one baby, more than 300 pounds of wood, 20 pounds of chlorine, and 50 pounds of petroleum woodstocks are used.

The facts are numerous and shocking when it comes to disposable diapers and the waste they create.  As I kept researching cloth diapers, I found so many more reasons that reassured me that cloth diapers are the better choice for our family.

Disposable Diapers Contain Carcinogens and Harmful Chemicals

Did you know that disposable diapers contain chemicals? Yes, the very thing that is closest to your baby’s sensitive skin contains chemicals!

Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, which is a toxic by-product from the paper-bleaching process. Dioxin is considered a carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical), and the EPA considers it one of the most toxic of all carcinogens. It has been banned for use in most countries, except for the USA.

Disposables also contain sodium polyacrylate, which is a super absorbent polymer that turns into a gel-like substance when wet. This is very similar to the substance that was used in tampons until it was discovered that it increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome in the early 80’s.

Another harmful chemical contained in disposable diapers is Tributyl-tin, which is a toxic pollutant that has been linked to causing hormonal problems in humans and animals.

After reading about all these harmful chemicals in disposable diapers, I was even more convinced that I wanted to use cloth diapers for my baby. Not only are cloth diapers chemical free, they are much more economical in the long run!

Cloth Diapers are Chemical-Free and Save You Money in Long Run

Toddler Girls' Swimwear by Kushies at ShopStyle

Disposable diapers can be a huge cost burden on new parents. Some of the biggest costs for baby are daycare, formula (if you do not breastfeed) and diapers. The average price I’ve found for a disposable diaper is approximately 0.25 centers per diaper.

At 8 months old, my son is changed approximately 7 times per day. Newborns are, of course, changed more frequently. At my son’s age now, using disposable diapers would cost about $50 per month or $1200 for two years of diapering a child.

Most families have at least two children so this brings your disposable total to a minimum of $2400. This is not taking into account the more frequent newborn diaper changes, and it is calculated based on your children being potty trained by two years of age. (As many parents know, not all children are potty trained by age two.)

Cloth diapers vary in price depending on the type of diaper you chose and how often you want to do laundry.

In our house, we chose to do diaper laundry every 2 to 3 days. The diapers we use range in price between $15 and $20 each, so for the figuring, I will use the average of $17.50. If we do laundry every two days, we would need 14 diapers, costing us $245. If we do laundry every three days, we would spend $367.50.

You can already see the huge cost savings between disposables costing $1200 for two years compared to $367!

When we have another baby, we will be using the same cloth diapers that we have now, so our savings at that time will be the full $1200! This frugal mama loves the idea of saving this much money!

Cloth Diapering is Addictive

Finally, I must warn you that cloth diapering can become addictive! You may laugh now, but I am serious!

I absolutely love cloth diapers and how cute they are. They come in so many different colors and prints and are so adorable! It’s fun to match baby’s diaper to his clothes for the day, and it’s fun trying new brands and seeing all of the new diapers being introduced in the cloth diapering world.

The support that can be found online from other cloth diapering mamas is out of this world. These are some of the sweetest mamas I have found online! Won’t you consider cloth? Stand up with us cloth diapering mamas and make a statement that you do not want to contribute to the landfills anymore and that you want a chemical free, affordable and even fun solution to diapering!


Special Thanks to my Guest Blogger!


April is the wife to an amazing teacher and mom to two boys, 14 years old and 8 months old. When she was pregnant with her youngest son, she realized she needed to make lots of green changes in her house and she recently started blogging about making those changes. You can follow her on her mission on her blog, Mama on a Green Mission.


Thank you for this informative and wonderful post. Be sure to check out April’s blog. She writes a lot about cloth diapers, and her experiences with them.


Because cloth diapers are such an interesting topic, I will be sure to discuss the “How to Use Cloth Diapers” in future posts.

You May Also Enjoy Reading…

Baby Poop Decoder: Guide to Baby Stools
How to Get Started with Cloth Diapers
Diaper Baby Essentials: What Do You Really Need?
Ear Piercing in Babies: Should You Pierce Her Ears?


This blog post was written by a guest contributor. If you’d like to guest post for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, please read my Guest Writing Policy for a guideline of what I am looking for. All guest posts need to be at least 500 words and be original to this site only.

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