The diaper debate - disposable vs cloth. Which is better?
In this modern day and age, few parents feel the need to mull over diapering decisions, as disposables are convenient and make laundry time virtually 'trouble-free.'
However, some parents are still keen on the idea of wrapping their precious babies’ bottoms in gentle fabric rather than scratchy paper diapers. So what can we expect from disposable vs cloth diapers, and which should we use?
Let me share with you what I've learned from using both types of diapers, and how I've been handling the 'diaper debate.'
Down with disposable diapers?
However, no matter how convenient disposables are, it is undeniable that problems like nappy rash are much more common due to the nature of the materials used.Gone are the days when mothers have to spend hours breaking their backs to scrub the waste and stains out from soiled cloth diapers. If you use disposable diapers, it is simply a matter of removing the soiled diaper and throwing it away.
The convenience of disposables also comes at a cost. It's actually estimated that using disposable diapers for 2 years will cost you anywhere from P44,000 to P72,000, compared to using cloth diapers for 2 years, the cost of which starts at less than P8,000.
Also, with the problems brought about by climate change and the ever pressing need to help conserve Mother Nature, need I also remind you of the mountains of trash these disposables will form? Sure, there might be biodegradable disposables available, but they are much more expensive and not as easily found as the more 'common' ones.
The case for cloth diapers
Because of such regular diaper-changing habits, there was a lesser chance of babies' bottoms soaking in the acidity from their own waste, thus making them less prone to diaper rash.Previous generations of babies hardly suffered from diaper rash because of the breathable comfort that cloth diapers provide. Once the cloth diapers get wet, parents would have to change them immediately or risk dirtying the rest of the house.
Another plus point for cloth diapers — they are least affected by the constantly rising prices of living, as they can be used countless times and even handed down to younger children once an older one has been potty-trained. When you are done with having babies, they can still be passed on to other mothers to be used for years to come.
Environment-wise, you hardly generate any garbage when using cloth diapers, because there is nothing to be thrown away (except for the poop that has collected in the diaper). Torn diapers, especially if you're using the traditional lampin, can even be converted into rags for everyday household cleaning!
Despite the obvious extra laundering work that cloth diapering brings, some modern parents still swear by the benefits of this traditional yet now 'modernized' method. I was actually one of these 'converted' parents when my boy ran into problems while in disposables.
How our diapering journey began
When my boy Joshua was born, we started with expensive newborn diapers that barely gave him any skin problems, but were very costly.
Being totally breastfed, Joshua passed out waste often so his diapers had to be changed after each bowel movement, to make sure his bottom would not be irritated by his own poop. This easily meant 10 diapers a day, and each pack of newborn diapers only came in small packs before, which meant no bulk savings.
We tried out cloth diapering, but being a stay-at-home mom recovering from a C-section with no helper, the task of scrubbing and washing soiled diapers proved too much for me.
The cloth diapers we used also failed to hold in the runny poop, leading to even MORE washing — this time of stained crib sheets and baby clothes. Thus we started the search for wallet-friendly yet gentle-on-the-skin disposable diapers.
Some of the brands we tried irritated Joshua’s bottom tremendously. An hour into wearing them, his bottom would turn red and he would start to scratch himself constantly.
We put it down to the thick material and the fact his skin could not 'breathe' through it. After weeks of trial and error, we finally chanced on a wonderful brand that was not only comfortable for him, but also friendly on our wallets. We were overjoyed!
Venturing into modern cloth diapers
Months down the road, Joshua started teething. This led to another round of loose stools similar to diarrhea. One time, he pooped at night while everyone was sleeping, so we failed to change his diaper.
Needless to say, his red 'angry' bottom greeted us in the morning when we woke up to give him the first feed of the day. That diaper rash proved to be a very stubborn one.
Despite the steroid creams prescribed by the doctor, the rash refused to go away for days. We tried to use cloth diapers on him, but being the fidgety 10-month-old that he was then, he REFUSED to stay still long enough for us to put on his diaper.
Even when we managed to put it on him, the diaper (we were using the lampin at first) just didn’t stay put as he crawled and explored the house.
I was so distraught with the situation that I dug up any related information on the Internet, and this was when I found the solution: micro-fleece pre-folded diapers with removable and washable inserts.
We immediately ran out to the department store to get our hands on a piece, just to try it out. It didn’t come cheap, but my boy really seemed to like the soft comfort it provided. He was happy all day and didn’t scratch his bottom at all!
Putting on the diaper was a breeze with snap closures, and washing up was fairly easy as well. All we had to do was direct our shower head towards the poop and spray it off — everything was washed out almost immediately!
As for the pee-soaked inserts, we just rinsed them a few times and then popped everything into the washing machine for pain-free washing! Joshua’s diaper rash cleared up 3 days after using the pre-folds, and we were greatly relieved. You can say the product was a God-send.
Today, Joshua is 17-months-old, and we interchange between using disposable and pre-fold cloth diapers. This at least halves the amount of garbage we create, yet does not burden us too much when it comes to doing the laundry.
We use disposables when we go out and at night, and Joshua toddles around happily in cloth diapers in the daytime at home. This combination makes his bottom and our wallets happy, so we're happier parents too!
Now I know many parents may not have the same 'solution' to the diaper debate as we do, so I'd like to know: What's your take on using disposable vs cloth diapers? Do you use ONLY disposables, or are you a pure cloth diapering parent? Or do you, like us, use both? Share your experiences with us by leaving a comment!
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