Diaper dilemma endures: Disposable or cloth?


Return To Article
  • Deborah
    Sept. 30, 2009 6:10 p.m.

    I was a single mom with three kids and used old-fashioned cloth diapers, safety pins, and rubber pants.

    I kept a diaper pail in the nursery room and one in the bathroom, I home-laundered, and line dried the diapers and rubber pants outside on the clothesline.

    When daytime training came and my kids learned to stay dry and clean during the day, I continued with diapers at night. Double diapers and rubber pants.

    I still remember the sound those rubber pants made when I pulled them off and on at change time, and the bulkiness of those old-fashioned diaper squares when I doubled them up for the night! My kids would waddle!!!

  • Joe Moe
    Aug. 26, 2009 9:05 p.m.

    @Rose 7:09

    No, I can't track changes for specific uses. Because different months I use more or less light, more or less AC, more or less drying (we often hang dry outside when weather permits), more or less watering, etc., etc., depending on the season, weather, trips away from home, etc., etc. So I can't get a bead on which specific costs might go up or down in a given month based on some small variation in my routine. I really don't believe anyone can.

    In the end, do I believe cloth diapers are more eco-friendly and cheaper? Yes. But I dispute the claim that the difference has bee nailed down to that degree.

  • Rose
    Aug. 26, 2009 7:09 p.m.

    Julie and Not the Diapers Your Mama Used - Amen!

    I don't see how something that has to be created anew each time it's used could possibly be better for the environment than something that is re-used many many times. Washing diapers doesn't take anything special - I laughed at that line in the article about "harsh chemicals" used to clean diapers! You actually should use less soap, and the mildest possible, to wash cloth diapers.. I have used cloth since the birth of my 6-month-old and LOVE them. My wash routine for dipes is only different from regular clothes in that I do one extra rinse cycle. It's really not much extra work. And if you have a good set of dipes they won't leak and will last for years. I have some used ones that are doing just great.

    Joe Moe - on MY utility bill, I can see exactly what I'm using each month, in precise numbers, and can easily track changes from month to month and year to year. You can't?

  • Julie
    Aug. 26, 2009 1:23 p.m.

    What cracks me up about some of these comments is that people act like washing a load of diapers is a hardship. Come on, we are not dragging them down to the river to beat on rocks. They go in a washing machine. The machine washes the diapers FOR me. It is awesome. Rather than spending $2,000 or more on disposables, I save money every single week. Modern cloth diapers contain leaks better than disposables. Yes, you do need to change them. Letting your kid run around in a disposable that is hanging to their knees is unhealthy - ask your pediatrician. My daughter has fewer rashes than her cousins in disposables. And yes, I do think about my impact on the planet when I make decisions on many topics. I feel it is the responsible thing to do. The millions of people who don't think about the planet are hurting everyone else. Yes, we do have a shortage of water here. But how many of you are using that water for growing grass? Washing cars? Those things do not have any benefit to the planet. Comfortable adult diapers are available as well. Most diapers don't need pins.

  • Funny
    Aug. 26, 2009 8:06 a.m.

    This story's funny. Have you ever dealt with cloth diapers?? Come on. What's the next headline? "St. George: Air conditioning or no air conditioning?""New York City: By airplane or horse?"

  • Dirty shame
    Aug. 26, 2009 7:46 a.m.

    What bugs me is when people toss diapers out their car windows.

  • Karl
    Aug. 26, 2009 7:02 a.m.

    @Anonymous 12:53 (and anyone with advice)

    Here's a question: our three boys have potty trained at about 30 months. The first has still had problems at night, for years now. The second never had a night problem from the day he quit using diapers. The third is following the path of the first so far.

    Two pediatricians now have kind of blown of the problem as not uncommon, give it some time, some kids take until they're eight or so. In the meantime, nighttime pull-ups are expensive, plastic underpants leak, professional intervention is expensive, and we're scratching our heads.

    Any tips out there?

  • Anonymous
    Aug. 26, 2009 12:53 a.m.

    If people would toilet train most of the kids at two instead of three or four, they could save a lot of money...what has happened? All my kids trained at two. I guess it is because most mothers work now eh?

  • Joe Moe
    Aug. 25, 2009 11:07 p.m.

    @7:35 p.m.

    Your utility bill rose $4 per month?

    I know that it is impossible for you to know this. There are simply too many variables in a month-to-month utility bill.

    I enjoyed your rationalization and commentary, but you lost some credibility on that detail. That and the factory comment: how do you know a factory making millions of disposables creates more waste and environmental damage than tens of thousands of families washing cloths?

  • observing
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one thinking about this issue. Every time I see a commercial slamming plastic single serving water bottles, I think of all the disposable diapers that go into landfills around the world every singe day. And then there are those who are in too much of a hurry to actually use a trash can and they throw them out along the highways or leave them in parking lots. I used cloth diapers and rubber pants for my child many, many years ago, but she never had diaper rash.

  • K
    Aug. 25, 2009 9:43 p.m.

    Resell diapers? Yuck.

  • Not the diapers your mama used
    Aug. 25, 2009 7:35 p.m.

    I am on baby number 3. This is my first cloth diapering. It is WONDERFUL. I still use disposies for outings as it is more convenient away from home. But the CD they have today are NOT the same cloth squaeres, pins, plastic pants of yester-year. I use BumGenius 3.0. I have 18 diapers. I spent $287.00. My UTILITY BILL rose $4 a month. Big deal. "carbon footprint" are you kidding? It's my washing machine. Factories that make millions of disposables have a much greater negative impact on the environment. In addition, when I re-sell my diapers (because these same diapers will fit birth to potty trained age) I will re-coup $216. This means that to diaper my child for 3 years, I will have spent about $215.00 total. Compare that to disposables which are about $19.95 for a jumbo box that lasts about 2 weeks...that cost over 3 years would be $1,440. So, there is the savings. Helps the environment, helps my wallet, and they are not a hassle to use at all. Totally worth it in my opinion.

  • Bombs away!
    Aug. 25, 2009 7:09 p.m.

    If I were the mom in the DN photograph I'd be watching what I hold high above my head. Some diapers are known for leakage.

  • K
    Aug. 25, 2009 6:54 p.m.

    In China kids go diaperless. You hold them over a toilet and make a noise and they go. They make the pants with an slit so you don't have to undress them.

    There is also a diaperless movement going on in several places in the world.

    I'm glad for huggies myself.

  • Funny To Remember This
    Aug. 25, 2009 6:35 p.m.

    My mom raised 7 kids using cloth diapers.

    One day she left to run errands and I was in charge of watching my youngest sibling (she's 12 years younger than I am).

    Anyway, while Mom was gone my little sis "did her thing" and I needed to change her diaper, and it wasn't the "pleasant" option you can get, if you understand....

    I left that next to the toilet for Mom to do (hey, I was 13, OK?) and then tried to apply the cloth diaper to my sis.

    I rubbed the pin on my hair and scalp to get some oil on it so it would go through all the layers easily (didn't seem to help much) and tried to get the diaper tight (was worried about sticking my kid sis and me too!) and when I finished she got up and the thing fell off her butt.


    I let her run around naked outside until Mom came home.

    Yep! Definitley disposable is the way to go....

  • Re: disposable?
    Aug. 25, 2009 6:07 p.m.

    When out and about with cloth diapers you do not leave them or put them just anywhere. When I go out I always take a small "wet bag" with me. It is very convenient. It has 2 layers - the inner is waterproof, and it has a zipper. I fold up my son's diaper like I would a disposable and then place it in the wet bag and then place that back in my diaper bag. No mess, no stink, no hassle!

  • Anonymous
    Aug. 25, 2009 4:57 p.m.

    I'm always amused at the argument that cloth diapers benefit the environment. Utah is a desert state, and our most precious resource is WATER. Using copious amounts of water to wash cloth diapers has significantly more environmental impact than simply dumping diapers in a landfill. Think about it. We have lots of desert space in this state but very little water.

  • Michael
    Aug. 25, 2009 4:56 p.m.

    As most anything it is a personal choice, but it's something to think about for all involved, but I noticed that no one mentioned others who may have to care for the child. What about babysitters, grandparents & other relatives and/or day care? Do they get any say in it?

    I remember one family a babysat for that had cloth diapers for their son and I hated changing his diaper because I then I had to do teh rinse in the toilet etc. I stuck him with the diapers pins and felt so guilty for it (I know they have other fastening methods now.) All the other families had disposable and it was much, much easier.

  • Interesting debate
    Aug. 25, 2009 4:30 p.m.

    When my older kids were babies, there were no disposables. Then along came a paper diaper that you still pinned with diaper pins and used rubber pants. (anyone remember those? Kimbies made them, I think.) Those were terrible, as they seemed to fall apart when wet, and were quite stiff. My middle kids got cloth at home and disposables at church, etc. My youngest got just disposables. I really didn't mind the cloth diapers. Used the big squares of either gauze type material, or flannel, and just folded them to fit the size of the child. Didn't enjoy the messy ones, of course, but just rinsed and washed them. I had 9 children, so I did laundry every day anyway. In the summer I hung out all my laundry, so I think we probably saved some money at that time. I sure would like to find some diaper pins, if anyone knows where they are sold! I use them for many things, and have been unable to find them in recent years. Cloth or disposable? It's really up to the parents, financially, or preference. I don't think the kids really care.

  • Naruto
    Aug. 25, 2009 4:11 p.m.

    My kids use the litter box, they learned it from the cats!

  • Disposable?
    Aug. 25, 2009 4:11 p.m.

    I am not am mom but i disagree with cloth diapers, Why? because when you go to a store or mall they do not like it when yo use cloth diapers, because their are or where to put them people do not want to clean up after someone else "Can I Blame Them?" I really like disposable my self and washing them is a pain no one wants to look at them, Can i Blame Them?

  • Re; Don't mothers debate enough
    Aug. 25, 2009 3:21 p.m.

    Yes, but it's not going to change anytime soon.

    For a certain class of feminist, allowing women to choose their own path in life -- whether it be staying at home with their kids, or using disposable diapers -- is intolerable.

    Sisterhood uber Alles!

  • Lindsay
    Aug. 25, 2009 3:03 p.m.

    I can barely keep up on regular laundry let alone having to wash cloth diapers on top of it. Knowing me, my child would regularly have a 'blowout' in the last clean diaper and I would end up having to buy disposables anyway to last until I had time to wash the cloth ones. I'll stick to the throw-away kind, thanks!

  • Diaper Pails& the Good Ole Days
    Aug. 25, 2009 2:06 p.m.

    Yeah - diaper pails are coming back. I used both cloth and disposable diapers for my five kids and I reflect upon that every time I do my laundry. After 36 years, my 3 plastic diaper pails are still working hard for me as laundry baskets. They never die!

    As for me and my house in the next life, we are using disposables!

  • Caydyn Easton
    Aug. 25, 2009 2:03 p.m.

    Remember when kids had normal names?

  • PU
    Aug. 25, 2009 2:00 p.m.

    Whatever stinks less is ok with me.

  • a mommy
    Aug. 25, 2009 1:59 p.m.

    I switched to cloth diapers only for economical reasons. (I don't really care about so-called carbon footprints) Yes I know I pay for it with utility bills, however I pay much less to wash and dry my diapers than I do on buying disposables. My cloth diapers don't leak, and they contain all the messes - something that my disposables failed to do.

  • Oh please.
    Aug. 25, 2009 1:32 p.m.

    Oh my.. do all of you really make all of your decisions based on the environment? How about making a decision based on what YOU want. Crazy, I know. Forget about your stupid carbon footprint - I hope mine is huge!

  • Ana
    Aug. 25, 2009 12:25 p.m.

    I've used both. Cloth are less expensive, but less convenient--although they really aren't THAT much more work, but it was enough that I was relieved to switch back (except for the cost.) My last child to use cloth diapers kept getting such horrible diaper rashes that I finally switched back to disposable. Her rash cleared up almost immediately. As for potty training, I actually found that my kids in disposables potty trained easier and quicker. The cloth kids were used to sitting in wetness and didn't seem to notice the difference as much when I put them in cloth training pants. The kids who'd been in disposables felt the difference from the get go and potty trained faster.

  • To sonnelamatine 11:03 am
    Aug. 25, 2009 11:39 a.m.

    Some adults also run around in their birthday suits in Europe. Been there. Seen it. It isn't pretty.

    Look, I've never been a fan of kids (or dogs, for that matter) doing their business out in the open. You really need to support your claim with some facts to prove that running around in the buff actually helps potty train a child. Sounds like rubbish to me.

  • Henry
    Aug. 25, 2009 11:33 a.m.

    I've been wearing the adult disposables for several years. It's unfortunate, but better than going without. Can you imagine having seniors wear cloth diapers? Hopefully, this isn't a push to make things a little more tough for us. You never know with reporters nowadays what's driving their agenda.

  • sonnelamatine
    Aug. 25, 2009 11:03 a.m.

    I just wonder how people survived 50 years ago and how they dealt with their diaper rashes, which by the way can come from disposable diapers, too.

    AND...ever since they invented disposible diapers, it seems that children in the US wear diapers until they start elementary school.

    Maybe we should learn something from our European (no pun intended!) neighbors and let our kids run around in their birthday suits...because it seems kids over there do not wear diapers after the age of 3.

  • Re: Eliza
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:59 a.m.

    You sold your cloth stash?

  • PapaCorn
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:55 a.m.

    I think adults that wear diapers for incontinence purposes should be part of this argument.

    Personally, I wear disposables.

  • And really.....
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:49 a.m.

    Do I want to have the stinky diaper sitting around for a day or two until I do wash? But if I wash them in the toilet as soon as I take it off so it doesn't stink, am I not washing it twice now? Can I really hang them out to dry when it's raining?

    I'll stay disposable. I've heard they disinegrate faster if you don't wrap them up when you throw them away. Anyone know if that's true?

  • Lee
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:32 a.m.

    We did disposable until it was time to potty train, then we switched to cloth. Cloth diapers really help in the potty training! Kids hate to be wet.

  • Anonymous
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:20 a.m.

    I have used both.......disposable wins hands down!

  • Eliza
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    I've done both. The cost of the water in my area far outweighed the cost benefits.
    My oldest was very sensitive at first to disposables. He got no rashes in cloth, but rashed up all the time in disposies. My second was just the opposite, and rashed up horribly in cloth. So I sold my cloth stash. As I see it, you do what's best for you and your kids.

  • Don't mothers debate enough?
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    Use whatever makes you happy.

  • Anonymous
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:16 a.m.

    I remember coming home from Earth Day at school and telling my mom the teacher said parents should switch to cloth diapers--much more enviromentally friendly. My mom said, "All right. SHE can come and change the leaky cloth diapers, dip & clean them in the toilet, wash them, pin them, and put up with wet, crying kids w/diaper rash."

    I don't think my mom was a fan of the cloth.

    Anyway, a while back NPR reported a study that after the washing and drying, everything considered, disposable diapers are actually better for the enviroment.

  • Anonymous
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:04 a.m.

    Did both cloth and disposable. Disposable wins hands down!!!!

  • Not greener
    Aug. 25, 2009 9:59 a.m.

    Cloth diapers are no better for the environment than disposables. That has been shown over and over again. You swap biodegradeability for electric usage fueled by coal. Carbon footprints all around.

    The decision is based on when you want to spend your money, mostly upfront or as you go along. A mix seems reasonable if you're inclined to go cloth then you can get rid of a soiled diaper away from home rather than keeping it in the car with your family until you return home.

    One thing I've observed about the difference: seems kids learn to get out of diapers sooner in cloth as the moisture stays next to their skin and is uncomfortable rather than getting wicked away as it is in disposables. Once a kid can associate sitting in their own stuff with how it gets there, they seem to pretty much train themselves away from diapers. Disposables seem to encourage a longer process for this skill.

  • ogdenmom
    Aug. 25, 2009 9:52 a.m.

    I love cloth diapers. I know they aren't for everyone; but there are so many different options and styles that most people can find one that works for them, if they are willing. They can be purchased used, and the diapers you buy can later be sold, recouping some of your cost. I used very cheap disposable diapers, and cloth is still a little bit cheaper; plus I don't make as many runs to the big box mart where I am tempted to buy more things I don't need.

  • Kimmie
    Aug. 25, 2009 9:29 a.m.

    You can by toilet paper for really cheep. and if you have children how are in school they need to us TP, you need it. As a mother of 2 and an Anut of 10, Kids really don't wash there hands very well.

    I tried to use cloth diapers and they really leaked all the time. So I when back to disposable diapers. I'm much happer now.

  • Cosmo
    Aug. 25, 2009 9:17 a.m.

    I see this stupid debate has come around again. The Eco Nuts and their wild eye nutcakes were smacking their gums about this same so called issue 30 years ago. The failing news media must have pulled this one off the shelf, hoping it might fill the pages for a little while. Don't tell them, that if real investigative reporting was done, their papers might not be failing.

  • Bah
    Aug. 25, 2009 8:44 a.m.

    I'm sick of throwing away my money too. That's why, from now on, I refuse to use toilet paper. I'll just wash my hands really well when I'm done.

  • Debbie
    Aug. 25, 2009 6:52 a.m.

    My daughter has started using "G" diapers. anyone interested should look them up on the internet. Cute, affordable and they don't take "forever" to decompose!

  • Harsh chemicals?
    Aug. 25, 2009 5:25 a.m.

    Using harsh chemicals to clean cloth diapers is a really bad idea. Or do these plastic diaper manufactures consider laundry soap a harsh chemical? There are more harsh chemicals in disposable diapers.

    Disposable diapers are only a convience for parents and cloth are much safer and better to use, even if they leak more. At least it allows some of the body waste from being trapped next to the body of a baby to fester and burn. And the cloth diapers get changed more often too as they should. Seeing parents with children in used diapers wandering the stores is not good for the babies and are left unchanged for longer periods of time.

    Raising my children was on the cusp of disposable and cloth diapers change over and only used them on out of home excursions. Cleaning cloth diapers was not pleasant but they were much cheaper to use when you live on a family budget.

  • Done with that
    Aug. 25, 2009 4:15 a.m.

    We did five kids in cloth. I think most of the arguments on the disposable side are there for convience. The one changing and washing the diapers needs to make the call as to how they want to deal with it. We saved thousands using mainly cloth. Like the women from cedar city we did a mix. The intial costs can be off set by shopping around and building up slowly.

  • littlefornow
    Aug. 25, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    I have sold cloth diapers for almost 4 years - parents consistently tell me the same thing. They find that cloth diapers are no where near as difficult as they are made out to be. My 11 month old daughter has been in cloth diapers since she was one day old and we have never had a poop explosion. I cleaned up MANY of those while taking care of kids in disposable diapers. Many moms who switched to cloth have told me they get fewer leaks.

    Washing cloth diapers takes me about 6 minutes per load, and I wash three times per week. So, in less than 2 hours per month we save over $40 plus extra trips to the store.

    A simple sprayer attached to the toilet or flushable liners prevents any need for dunking. There was no real change to our utility bills when we started using cloth - certainly no more than you would expect when adding a new person to the household. We are saving a ton of money and I feel great about our choice from an environmental standpoint.

    Cloth diapers really are cute too! Try cloth diapers, my thousands of happy customers can't be wrong!

  • Anonymous
    Aug. 25, 2009 12:40 a.m.

    Somehow, we survived six babies on cloth diapers and used disposables for church and outings. That was thirty years ago. I like the rice paper idea...that would have been helpful. I also like how small and absorbent that disposables are now. Too bad that they are so expensive.