The diaper market was revolutionized in the latter part of the twentieth century with the introduction of disposable diapers. This new entrant sidelined the cloth diapers, which were in use till that period. However, with the emergence of environmental concerns over the ever-increasing number of used disposable diapers, people started thinking of alternatives. This helped in reviving the use of cloth diapers.
The modern-day cloth diapers have more useful features. They are available in a wide range of designs and styles. Some of them have extra layers, while others have a fiber-filled strip for better absorption. They are also available with Velcro strips, which have replaced the large safety pins previously used for fastening. There are also specialized laundry services for cleaning cloth diapers. On the other hand, disposable diapers are also available in many styles. They range from the simple paper diapers with plastic covering to the more sophisticated ones, which are filled with gel-like material for faster absorption. They have cartoon characters printed on them, and some have elastic linings for a better fitting. So, which one is better? Let us find out.
Undoubtedly, disposable diapers are much more expensive than those made of cloth. But if you are paying a laundry service for cleaning cloth diapers, the cost anyway increases. If you choose to do the laundering yourself, the cost will still include the sanitizing expenses. The expense related to both the types can vary with various factors. While the cost of disposable diapers varies with different brands, the indigenous products of some supermarkets are relatively cheaper, but nowhere near the cloth variety. In short, cloth diapers are cheaper than disposable ones, and you can save more by laundering them yourself.
Disposable diapers have always been considered as the most convenient baby diapers. However, modern cloth diapers are equally convenient with added features. Nowadays, cloth diapers can be used along with liners which can be flushed on getting soiled. However, in some circumstances, disposable diapers are the better option. Disposable ones are preferred while traveling, during hospitalization or camping. It is also seen that some day care centers use only disposable diapers, as they are convenient, and do not cause spillage.
In general, the use of diapers is associated with diaper rash. The condition, which is caused due to friction, abrasion, and action of bacteria, is usually linked to use of disposable diapers. However, the fact is that both types of diapers can cause diaper rash, but comparatively cloth diapers are safer. Disposable diapers do not show the wetness, but the baby has to tolerate the moisture for a longer time. As far as diaper rash and other related infections are concerned, diapering practices are to be blamed rather than the type of diapers. Whatever be the type of diaper used, you have to check it regularly, remove when it is wet, and clean carefully. Such hygienic practices can prevent infections and diaper rash to a large extent.
Last but not the least is the environmental impact of diaper usage. It is believed that disposable diapers contribute to environmental pollution a lot more than the cloth ones. Even though some disposable diapers are claimed to be bio-degradable, they need full sunlight and air for the degradation process, which is not possible in the depths of landfills. Hence, it may take many years for degradation of such diapers. Moreover, the urine and feces can also cause contamination of ground water. According to some studies, 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees are needed to produce disposable diapers for babies in the U.S. only. As far as cloth diapers are concerned, the main concern is the use of water, electricity, and detergents, for the laundering process. Another problem is the pollution caused by the waste water emitted from the laundry service premises.
As far as the debate regarding cloth versus disposable diapers is concerned, it is definitely better to use cloth diapers on a daily basis, provided you follow hygienic practices of diaper changing and cleaning. Disposable diapers can be reserved for outings, travels, etc.