Mother changing diaper of adorable baby with a hygiene set for babies on the background

Bringing Up Baby:
The Diaper Question.. Cloth or Disposable?

The adventure of parenthood will present you with a multitude of choices and questions when it comes to your baby’s care, and diapering is not exempt from a little bit of complication. With both cloth and disposable options out there, it may seem difficult to choose between the two. Your baby is going to spend quite a lot of time in diapers, amounting to about seven to ten diapers every day, according to Therefore, it’s important to make a decision that will provide the most benefit and comfort to your baby and your lifestyle. With a little bit of research, you’ll be able to determine which type of diaper will be right for your baby.

Here’s some information to get you started on learning about the differences between cloth and disposable diapers.

Several Styles of Cloth

While disposable diapers are largely built the same way, there are several different types of cloth diapers, making them a bit more versatile if you find a certain style to be move convenient. Keep in mind, however, that they all work in basically the same way, but with some features that are unique to different styles. Here’s a basic rundown of the options:

  • Just like the name suggests, contour cloth diapers are pre-shaped with a curve cut into the cloth that will hold a closer fit to your baby.
  • The most similar in appearance to disposable diapers, these have elastic around the legs and waist and often have built-in fasteners.
  • Flat cloth. This is the “classic” type of cloth diaper, and the one you’re most likely to recognize. They require a waterproof cloth diaper covering (sold separately and easy to find), and diaper fasteners to hold them together.
  • Pocket or sleeve. These diapers also have elastic built in around the leg and waist and are made with a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer, which rests against baby’s skin. An absorbent insert is placed in the “pocket” between the two layers, which serves to soak up moisture and keep it away from the dry inner layer.
  • All in ones. Similar to a pocket or sleeve diaper, but with the insert either already built in or easily attachable.
  • These are sold in different material options, like wool, cotton, and hemp. Prefolds also require a waterproof covering and diaper fasteners. They are also one of the cheapest when it comes to different types of cloth diapers, which makes them the most economical choice.

Other Benefits to Cloth Diapers

Since cloth diapers are reusable, you might wind up saving money in the long run, as you won’t need to keep purchasing new ones. However, you’ll also need to wash them every time they get soiled, which will amount to more loads of laundry and more money spent on water bills and detergents.

According to What To Expect, cloth diapers might contribute to less a frequent occurrence of diaper rash, as they are less absorbent and thus lead to more frequent changing, keeping your baby drier. Additionally, cloth diapers can be gentler on baby’s skin, as they don’t contain the same amount of dyes and synthetic materials that some disposables contain. However, Honest cloth diapers are eco-friendly and yet disposable as they are free of latex, made with lead-free ink, and safe for sensitive skin. When comparing, it often all comes down to the quality of the materials the diaper is made of, disposable or not.

The Convenience of Disposables

Disposable diapers are, in a word, convenient. Especially when it comes to parents who are on the go, and who might not be able to commit to the frequency with which cloth diapers will need to be changed. With cloth diapers, you’re also going to wind up carrying those dirty diapers home with you—which isn’t exactly fun or pleasant. It’s also worth noting that cloth diapers might not be allowed if you are leaving your baby in day care or preschool.

There’s been some concern over whether or not disposable diapers are bad for the environment. Nowadays, though, disposable diapers are more eco-friendly than ever. WebMD notes that it’s still possible to stay green by using disposable diapers with flushable, biodegradable liners. You can also purchase diapers made with organic cotton, and diapers that don’t contain chlorine, which cuts down on toxicity. Once again, it’s worth it to note that disposable diapers like those made by The Honest Company are responsibly manufactured in such a way to calm your environmental concerns. These diapers are proof that disposables can indeed be made with sustainable, natural materials, and without common allergens or chlorine processing.

Overall, diapers are going to be a pretty big part of your and your baby’s lives. With a bit of investigation into the options that are out there, and perhaps some trial and error as you test out what works best, eventually you’ll decide on whether cloth or disposable diapers are the right choice for you.