Cloth Diapers: Small Change, Big Benefits
Picture 3000 diapers. But not the 3000 clean, neatly-stacked diapers that you’d get if you bought 15 giant boxes at Costco. Picture 3000 dirty diapers. Soiled, rolled up, and re-secured with their tabs.
More than a few probably even have the contents spilling out of them.
Those 3000 diapers are what disposable-diapering mamas add to the landfills in their baby’s first year alone. And with nine out of ten babies diapered with disposables, it’s easy to see why disposable diapers are becoming an ecological crisis.
Thankfully, cloth diapers offer moms the opportunity to reduce their family’s environmental impact while also improving their baby’s health and their family’s quality of life.
Here are just a few of the most compelling reasons to use cloth diapers.
Improved Public Health
Sending diapers to landfills is one thing - but what happens once they get there is another. It takes about 500 years for a disposable diaper to break down in a landfill, and as they do they can release toxins and other contaminants into the water table.
Not only that, but every year 200,000 trees - which are natural air and water filters - are cut down just to produce disposable diapers worn by babies in the U.S. Imagine how much healthier our planet could be if we just reduced that by half.
Improved Individual Health
Disposable diapers are packed with synthetic materials and potentially harmful chemicals. And if you think about it, these are in constant contact with your baby’s skin. Components such as sodium polyacrylate, phthalates, tributyl-tin, and dioxin - not to mention petroleum - are commonly found in diapers and have been linked to long-term health issues such as cancer, obesity, and endocrine disruption.
Choosing cloth diapers made from natural materials reduces your child’s exposure to these potentially harmful materials. It also reduces their risk of painful diaper rash as many of the synthetic components in disposable diapers are skin irritants.
Improved Financial Health
There are few times when making the healthy choice means also making the cheap choice. Think about it - junk food is available for pennies, synthetic body-care products and toiletries are almost universally less expensive than natural brands, and let’s not even get started on the price of organic produce. But in the case of cloth diapering, choosing the healthy route means you’ll also save a ton of money. Even though initial costs may seem high, you’ll still save roughly $150 in your baby’s first year, around $660 during the course of cloth diapering your first child for the whole of their diaper-wearing career, and $1300 for each child after that.
Cloth diapering is practically a no-brainer when you consider the cost savings, health benefits, and overall ecological impact. And while it may seem overwhelming with all the choices available to you, my advice is to simply pick a brand and jump right in. As a mom who personally contemplated cloth diapers for way too long, I can tell you from experience that the decision to switch is the hardest part of the process.
But the actual cloth diapering? That’s easy.
So just jump in. You won’t regret it. The benefits are totally worth it.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a crunchy mom and the blogger behind Mom Loves Best. She enjoys writing about natural and eco-friendly parenting advice on her blog such as cloth diapering, babywearing, and breastfeeding.