Amazingly I find myself sitting here, very pregnant and contemplating cloth diapers for my soon-to-be newborn. This is something I have given only the briefest consideration in the past. Sure I was aware of some pros to going cloth. But there was one factor I just could not get over: dealing with the poop. So here is my story of how I came to consider this seriously.
First of all I should let you know that my dad worked in environmental safety as his professional career. Why is this important? Let’s just say I was raised with a heavy awareness on how we as people affect the environment and the importance to taking care of the planet (to put it mildly). My father is very passionate about this, and I was fortunate enough to have this passed on to me. Obviously, using disposable diapers and wipes takes a nasty toll on the ecosystem. It is estimated that a child will contribute 8,000-10,000 disposable diapers into the landfill before becoming potty trained. This does not include the use of swim diapers or disposable potty training pants (which, let’s face it, are basically just diapers that go on like underwear). And then it takes hundreds and hundreds of years for these diapers to decompose. But this is something I have known for years, and while it gave me an occasional twinge of guilt, did not sway me to use cloth diapers. Next is the issue of cost.
It costs roughly $2000 to diaper one child for 2 years with disposable diapers. This is not including disposable wipes. It costs approximately $300-400 to diaper a child for 2 years with cloth diapers (of course this number can be much higher or lower depending on the type and material of cloth diapers you wish to use). Again, this is something I was aware of, no surprise there. This still wasn’t enough to sway me. But here are some things I did not know previously.
Have you ever read the directions on a package of disposable diapers? If you are shaking your head thinking that is the dumbest question you have ever been asked, I understand completely. I never had either until recently. But if you check it out, the disposable diapers give the direction to dump fecal matter into the toilet before disposing of the diaper. What?! I thought I was using these to avoid dealing with the poop as much as possible? It turns out I was supposed to be dealing with it all along. There goes my main reason for avoiding cloth diapering. But that is not the factor that tilted the scale for me.
Now maybe you are much smarter and up on things than I am and this will be no surprise to you. I was completely shocked to learn what chemicals are in disposable diapers. Some such chemicals are dioxin, sodium polyacrylate, Tributyl-tin or TBT, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and fragrance which contain phthalates. While the threat of each chemical differs, some are carcinogenic known cancer causers, known to disturb hormones, known to disrupt the endocrine system, known respiratory irritants, and known for potentially causing skin irritation. These are products that are sitting on our children’s most private body parts for hours at a time. Once I learned this, it was a done deal. My aversion to inconvenience could in no way trump the health of my child. Then I began the long process of researching different kinds of cloth diapers and alternatives to disposable wipes.
While I was tempted to beat myself up for not going cloth sooner, at least I am doing it now. And I am not alone. More people seem to be considering cloth than have in decades. I must admit, when the initial box of cloth diapers came and I actually took them out and looked them over, the reality of choosing cloth sank in deeper. This is no longer a great idea on principle. I am actually going to have to deal with the poop and the washing of the diapers. But when it comes to my child’s best interest, it’s a no brainer.
Are you a terrible parent if you choose to use disposable diapers? Of course not; it takes much more time and up-front cost to use cloth. I hope you will at least consider it. Do some research, using the references listed below and others (there are many) before you come to a conclusion. Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on this topic.
Lehrburger, C. (1988). Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The disposable diaper myth. In Library of Awareness. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://libaware.economads.com/ddiapermyth.php
Sharratt, A. (2010). Disposable Diapers: Are they dangerous?. In CBC News. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2010/05/28/f-disposable-diapers.html
Why Choose Cloth Diapers?. (2012). In Real Diaper Association. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php