It's simple really, cloth diapers are healthier for your baby.
No one really knows what effect the chemicals used in disposable diapers have for the long term health of your baby. Did you know that there are toxic chemicals in disposable diapers? We were surprised and appalled! The chemical Dioxin is present in disposables. Dioxin is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of cancer related chemicals and has been banned in most countries except in the US. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the tissues and cause them to mutate into cancer cells.
Remember Toxic Shock Syndrome? Disposable diapers contain Sodium polycarbonate which is a super absorbent chemical compound that is used for maximum absorption in disposable diapers. (Think of the small gel-like crystals inside the diaper that sometimes end up on baby's skin) SAP as it is called is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylage. This chemical abosrbs fluids while creating surface tension in the lining of the diaper thus binding the fluids and preventing leaking. This chemical was removed from tampons in the 1980's due to toxic shock syndrome and because it is considered a breeding ground for bacteria. Since it has only been used in diapers for the last 20 years, no one knows the long term effects this chemical may have on babies.
Disposables also contain Tributyl-tin (TBT), which is a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. TBT is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in our food chain. TBT is also an ingredient used in biocides to kill infecting organisms.
Temperature: Also, disposable diapers do not "breath" like cloth. This causes a child's scrotum to be up to 2 degrees higher than the rest of his body temperature and many professionals believe this can be linked to infertility problems later in life.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Disposable diapers frequently contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers.
Significant Cost Savings
The average child with go through 7 to 8 thousand diapers from birth to age three. Based on the cost for disposable diapers, that's $2,500 to $3,000 per child! In comparison, you can cloth diaper a child from birth to potty-training anywhere from $400-$800 (depending on the type of diapers you choose). That savings doubles and triples as you have more children because you can use the same cloth diapers on them. Even if you use a cloth diaper cleaning service, your cost savings are still impressive! No more running to the store every week for more diapers! Invest one time and your cloth diapers can carry you from birth to potty training! Even better, cloth diapers and accessories have a resale value even after you're done with them! Also surprising, babies in cloth are changed more regularly than in disposable diapers resulting in very few diaper rashes. (My twins have not had a rash yet!) This saves you from having to purchase expensive rash creams and treatments.
We were absolutely shocked when we learned just how bad disposable diapers are for our planet. Did you know it takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone? The Real Diaper Association estimates that 27.4 Billion disposables are used each year in the US alone. That is millions of tons of human waste sitting in our landfills potentially leeching into our ground water. Disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose, so that diaper you threw away will still be around for generations!
The Real Diaper Association also states "Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR." Another shock, manufacturers of disposable diapers use 2.3 times more water than the manufacture and maintenance of cloth diapers.
Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills and represent 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste!
Do you imagine the clean-up involved with using cloth diapers will be tedious and messy involving dunking and swishing? NOT ANYMORE! Today's cloth diapers are just as easy to use as disposables. Most fasten with snaps or a hook and loop tape similar to Velcro. The inside of the diaper is made with a soft wicking fabric so the moisture goes through to the insert and baby feels dry longer. Clean up is easy depending on the type of diaper you choose. If you want to have the diapers laundered you simply pull the diaper off baby and toss it into the diaper pail. Each week, a service will come by and pick up your soiled diapers and exchange them for a new batch of freshly cleaned soft cotton diapers. Modern hybrids contain an inner liner that can simply be removed and flushed or thrown away, allowing you to re-use the shell! There are also bio-degradable liners that can be used with all cloth diapers and act as a barrier by catching the baby's solids so all you have to do is throw it away prior to washing.
Are you thinking of flat diapers that need to be folded and fastened with diaper pins, and then covered with plastic pull on covers? Not so! Cloth diapers today come in tons of different colors, styles, and patterns. They are so cute, you won't want to cover them up!
Other Advantages of Cloth
Think you have to wait to age 3 to potty-train? Not with cloth! Babies in cloth diapers potty train sooner than babies in disposables! Many believe this is because babies can feel the wetness much easier in cloth than in modern pull-ups and training pants. This is a clear advantage in potty training.