Go ahead, I dare you. Try to come up with a valid reason to choose disposable diapers over cloth diapers (aside from sheer laziness -- there, I said it!). It was about a year ago that we received our Sunday edition of the Ottawa Citizen, and right there on the front page, no less, a title about cloth diapers caught my eye. My heart skipped a beat (no, seriously, it did!), I sat down and began to read what I was sure was going to be a great article praising the benefits of cloth diapers. I started to read, and after the first couple of sentences it became quite clear that the author was going to lampoon cloth diapers (and how!).
A 1/4 of the front page and almost a full page inside the newspaper was devoted to the author's attempts to justify her choice to use disposable diapers. After reading this article, I was livid. This article featured very little in the way of truth, the author relied on a British study that suggested there were no environmental benefits to choosing to use cloth diapers over disposable diapers. To put it lightly, this study has been a matter of debate, however, it was a great way for the author to prop up her argument: disposable diapers are bad, and cloth diapers are just as bad: why bother?
The author of the aforementioned article used the same arguments I've heard time and time again.
Cloth diapers cost too much.
Say what? I know we've been over this before, but seriously. I get it, spending $20.00 every week seems a lot cheaper than investing in cloth diapers, but if you do the math, no matter what type of cloth diaper you use, you will always save money. Always.
Cloth diapers leak.
Sometimes, maybe, but not nearly as often as disposable diapers, which I liken to a launching pad for poop. If your baby is wearing a decent cloth diaper that fits well, you likely won't experience poop-between-the-shoulder-blades blowouts like a baby who wears disposable diapers. The texture and the bulk of a cloth diaper keeps poop where it belongs, in the diaper.
Cloth diapers are inconvenient.
If you're seriously going to use this as an argument, then I would strongly advise you to re-think the whole 'having kids' thing. Seriously. Nothing about being a parent is convenient. Pregnancy? Definitely inconvenient. Sleepless nights with a newborn? Tiring & inconvenient. Toddler tantrums? Soooooo inconvenient! Fortunately, we love our children, and we put up with it all to have them in our lives.
Cloth diapers are too much work.
Washing cloth diapers is a simple load of laundry (unless you have a frontloader, which requires a little tweaking). If you're going to use the 'too much work' argument, I fully expect you to wear paper clothes. Do you? I didn't think so. When you have kids, you do more laundry, if you know a way around it, please let me know.
Cloth diapers are messy.
Again, reconsider the whole 'having kids' thing if you're worried about mess. Aside from the fact that children in general are messy, changing poopy diapers is messy business, regardless of whether you use cloth or disposable diapers. Yes, you have to take the poop off a cloth diaper if your baby is drinking formula or eating solids, however, there are ways to make it a little less gross than it sounds. You're actually supposed to remove the poop from a disposable diaper, however, most people don't. Our landfills aren't meant to handle raw human sewage, so you should be dumping the contents of soiled disposable diapers into the toilet before you toss them. Poop removal aside, you have to wipe poop off your baby's bits and bum while she's trying to stick her hands and feet in it -- that's probably the hardest part of changing poopy diapers! No parent will ever be immune from poop.
Cloth diapers are bad for my baby's skin.
Highly unlikely. Have you ever looked at the long list of chemicals present in disposable diapers? You really think cotton is worse than that? How does male infertility sound? Asthma? There is a lot of conjecture about whether or not the chemicals in disposable diapers are safe, and there's an assumption that because a product is on store shelves, it must be safe. A quick perusal of the Cosmetic Safety Database dispells that myth. Why not err on the side of caution and put something against your baby's skin that has been used for hundreds of years with no adverse effects?
Cloth diapers are hard to find.
Well, slap me with a moldy turnip and color me flabbergasted! As if anyone could use this argument! True, when I started The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe eight years ago, there was a dearth of businesses that sold cloth diapers, the vast majority of which were strictly online. Since 2002, as the green movement has steadily picked up steam, cloth diapers have become readily available at most baby boutiques, and specialty cloth diaper boutiques are popping up everywhere. If you can't find a local source for cloth diapers, there are a plethora of online businesses catering to the cloth diapering parent, and there are lots of great educational websites with articles and forums that can help you figure it all out.
Washing cloth diapers wastes electricity and water, they're just as bad for the environment.
I'm wondering, once your baby is out of diapers, where will she be peeing and pooping? That's right, in a toilet! And what's in that toilet? That's right, water! Did you know the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers from birth to potty training in a high efficiency machine is the same amount of water used to flush a toilet five times a day during the same period? If you're going to use this argument, I assume you never flush the toilet. Between your toilet habits and your paper clothing, it must be hard to make friends!
If you are concerned about the electricity used to wash and dry cloth diapers, you can opt to wash your diapers in cold water, and line-dry them (inside or outside). Not so bad after all, eh?
So that's all I've got. You still want to argue that disposable diapers are a better choice than cloth diapers? Try me! But be warned, I like to argue (ask my husband!), and I'm pretty darn good at it.