There’s a cloth diaper on my baby. Not only is it cute, but it will be used close to 400 times before he potty trains. That’s 400 disposable diapers that I’m keeping out of the landfills with that one little cloth diaper. The really amazing thing is that each baby born will have his diaper changed an average of 6,500 times before he is potty trained. This is either 6,500 single-use diapers being thrown away or 24-36 cloth diapers that can be reused not only for that child but for multiple children. In the US alone, there are more than 20 billion disposable diapers dumped in landfills each year.
I love knowing I’m helping reduce waste by using cloth diapers, but the primary reason I first started using cloth was for the health of my children. I have a confession. I used disposable diapers on my first child. In my defense, it was seven years ago, and there really wasn’t as much information available about cloth diapering as there is today. She was plagued by persistent diaper rash for the entire first two and a half years of her life. She was sensitive to the chemicals in disposables and nothing helped. I was determined to make changes when my second child was born. Baby #2 started in cloth from the very beginning. Now her baby brother is wearing her old diapers. And the best part is that neither baby #2 nor baby #3 has had diaper rash the way their sister did. Like me, many parents are becoming increasingly aware of what comes into contact with their children’s skin.
Cloth diapers are often made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Disposable diapers are made from paper and plastic and contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) which is toxic and can cause hormonal problems. Disposable diapers also contain sodium polyacrylate, a super absorbent polymer (SAP). A similar substance was banned from use in feminine hygiene products because it increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome. Sadly this and many other chemicals have not been banned from use in disposable diapers.
So I’m feeling pretty good about myself now. I’m helping reduce my family’s waste, and I’m keeping harmful chemicals off my children at the same time. If that doesn’t impress you, maybe this will. Cloth diapering two children, I have saved over $4,000 using cloth instead of disposables. That’s $4,000 going into their college funds to give them a brighter future. Using cloth makes an incredible difference on your budget, but you need diapers that will work for your child, and every child is different.
I could go on and on about the benefits of cloth diapers. For more information, I encourage you to contact a local cloth diaper store. It’s just another way to decrease your carbon footprint and support your local community. Also, consider where your diapers come from and how they are made. There are many great diaper companies who create their diapers in the US or have fair labor practices, great customer service, and great warranties.
Do you use cloth diapers? If not, would you try them? Share your thoughts in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.
Elizabeth Pilgrim is a local cloth diaper advocate, the mother of three, co-owner ofThe Changing Table, founder of Cloth Diaper Oklahoma, and Board Member of the Real Diaper Association. Elizabeth’s store, The Changing Table, offers cloth diaper trials and rental programs and offers free classes which help you choose the best cloth diapers for your little one.
Photo Credits: Elizabeth Pilgrim