Disposable or Cloth Diapers?

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"I'm a baby. I poop. That's my job."
THE IMPACT
A very in depth study done by a group in the UK in 2003 looked at how disposable diapers, washed at home cloth diapers, or professional laundered cloth diapers impacted the environment.

The results:
All three impacted the environment equally in different ways. For one child, wearing diapers until 2.5 is the same as driving one car 1300 - 2200 miles - no matter which diapers you chose.


American's are still throwing 49MM disposable diapers a day and no one is quite sure how long it takes to decompose. Most websites say 500 years.

Cloth diapers are primary cotton and while the cotton industry is trying to get their act together, there is still a lot of water and resources that go into making, packaging, and cleaning the diapers.

There is no right environmental choice here.

The right choice is what works best for you and your family.
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DISPOSABLE DIAPERS PROS AND CONS
Pros:
Easy, especially with Amazon Prime and their new subscription model.


Convenient, just throw away when done. Can even get doggie bags if you don't have a proper disposable bin near by. Useful for when you're out an about at other people's houses and you don't want to stink up their bathrooms or if there isn't a bin near by and you have to take it with you until you find one.

No major up front cost. More of a pay as you go or need them.

If you have a green thumb and a compost pile, you can compost the inner parts of wet diapers. Here's how.

Cons
  • More prone to cause skin irritation.
  • Potentially 57% more expensive in the long run
  • Most diapers contain trace amount of dioxins due to the bleached wool pulp. I haven't found any recent and credible sources to say it's dangerous and disposable diapers should be avoided. Maybe it should be? Maybe it shouldn't? If you're concerned and you need to go disposable diaper road, find diapers that are not bleached. 
If you go the disposable diaper route, try a whole bunch before you use Amazon Prime to subscribe. Every baby is different so don't just take my or your friend's words for it.

Fun Fact - Pampers JUST came out with an all natural brand. They are not bleached so there shouldn't be any dioxins. I'm all done with diapers, so would love to know if you've tried it and liked it. Also looks like it's still 67% less expensive than The Honest Company.
 
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CLOTH DIAPERS PROS & CONS

Pros:
  • So cute!
  • Chemical free so tend to cause less rashes and skin irritation
  • Potentially 57% less expensive in the long run
  • Has been known to help potty train because kids can make the full bladder to wet diaper connection faster
Cons
  • Pay majority of costs up front
  • More work to wash and dry
  • Will affect water and electric bills
  • More prone to diaper rash because doesn't pull wet away from babies skin
  • More hands on poop action required to dump before cleaning the diaper
  • You have to take the dirty diapers back home with you
  • If your baby needs to daycare, you may run into less options as not all daycares will accept cloth diaper
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THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Do both!

I did what me and the nanny could. I had 6 cloth diapers - grew to 8 - and I used them during the day until they were gone then switched to disposable until those 8 diapers were clean again. Used all 8, washed all 8, reused. It was just enough work to keep me doing it and it made me feel like every little helped. In hindsight I think I could have clothed by day and disposed of at night. You use way more diapers during the day and would have interrupted baby in the middle of the night less. I also wished Pampers had the Pure brand when my babies were in diapers. I really think the combo of those at night with cloth during the day would have really been the best of all worlds.

I also just learned about the Hybrid Cloth Diaper - reusable outer-layer with disposable inner. The inner layers are also compostable. This still creates a fairamount of laundry, not as much, but more than disposables obviously. Not sure I would have dove 100% in this direction either.
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PRODUCTS OF THE TRADE

Disposable Diaper Options on Amazon for Newborns. All sizes are available. Used newborns as a point of comparison to even the playing field.
  • Pampers: $0.22/diaper - 4.5 stars (3,000 reviews)
  • Huggies: $0.23/diaper - 4 stars (45 reviews)
  • Honest Company: $0.32/diaper, - 4 stars (350 reviews)
  • Seventh Generation: $0.37/diaper - 3.5 stars (1600 reviews)
  • Baby B: $0.73  - 4.5 stars (81 Reviews) When you look for environmentally friendly diapers on Amazon these are at the top of the list.
Cloth Diaper Options
This is more complicated. You'll first need to pick your system - pocket, flat, all in one, and the list goes on.

I recommend starting here. Based on this article, pocket, all-in-one, or hybrid diapers (though most expensive options) seem to be the way to go in terms of ease of use. Most are one size. While a little bulky on a newborn, it gets the job done.

These had the best reviews on Amazon - 4 stars (1,000 reviews) and it is both the covers and inserts to get you started.

Useful for Both
Wet bag - Though mainly for cloth diapers, if baby has a blow out and you can't wash their clothes right away these things come in super hand. I still use it for potty training accidents.
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GROW AND LEARN TOGETHER

As millennial mommas we don't all have the "village" our parents had of living near their parents and grandparents. Learning and getting help from previous generations. What we have are our online community of mommas and their written/video/podcasting experience. However, sometimes there's too much information and it's all just so overwhelming and contradictory. This newsletter is here to aggregate your options, present the facts, and let you chose what's right for your baby AND you. There's no all or nothing, no right or wrong.

There is however, a happy medium.


Let's discover yours together with your momma friends.
 
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