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The Age Old Argument Cloth vs Disposables

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

bABy Bunnykins

Copyright © Baby Bunnykins,

All rights reserved.

Now to start this off I'm going to declare I am an avid supporter of cloth for 2 reasons and the first one is because of my age.

Terry Nappy my favorite fold Chinese fold

I love cloth because as a baby that was what I was put into and that is what I was attracted to when I became an AB around the age of 11.

How did that happen? Well, I remember as if it was yesterday. One day I had 1/2 a day off from school to go to the dentist. In the UK when I was a kid you would get free checkups via the school. Anyway, on the way home, I was walking along Park street in Kingston upon Thames when I passed a house with a baby's pram parked outside. I stopped to look at it, I don't know why, but then I spied a terry nappy sitting in a tray under the pram.

Now don't ask me what had me run in and take it but that is what I did. I ran in and grabbed the nappy, stuck it inside my school blazer and ran.

I ran down an ally and went into a vacant piece of land we called the jungle and tried putting on the nappy. Now imagine, I had no idea to put on a nappy as there were no babies in my immediate family, so after trying I gave up stuck it back in my jacket and went home.

When I got home I hid the nappy in a box of other blankets, thinking no one would find it and went about my business of homework etc. Later that evening when my father came home, he went straight to the box I had hidden the nappy in and pulled it out. I guess my mother had found it and told him. He lectured me and then tanned my backside with a belt and told me to return it. I didn't I just walked down the street and hid it in my secret place and returned home.

Pros and cons of Disposables

Cons of disposables.

One of the many problems of using disposable nappies is the chemical mix. They contain many types of chemicals that will present health risks to the baby. Very scary, right?

When you look at each layer of a disposable diaper you see they each layer serves a different purpose, with the inner layer whisking the wetness away and keeping your baby's bottom dry, the middle layer absorbs the urine while the outer layer contains as it is waterproof. So each layer of the disposable contains its own group of chemicals to complete its job.

For example, the absorbency layer in disposables is made from sodium polyacrylate, a super-absorbent polymer which was removed from tampons because it caused toxic shock syndrome. Furthermore, disposable nappies can release volatile organic compounds into the air as they are worn. This has been shown to cause asthmatic conditions. Bleached nappies contain trace amounts of dioxins which are highly damaging to the immune system and reproductive system. Dioxins can also interfere with hormones and cause cancer.

Many other chemicals are found in nappies. Perfumes and dyes, for example, have been shown to cause allergic reactions in babies.

The impact of disposables on the environment

A frightening statistic. In Australia, parents use 5.6 million every day. This works out at 3 billion nappies a year going into landfills. Who is to blame for this? The companies that make them. Many parents choose cloth over disposables just for this reason alone. It takes at least 500 years for a disposable to dissolve back into the environment but is leaching chemicals into the soil making it unusable.

There is another problem from using disposables as most are just thrown away soiled and not flushed down the toilet to be treated correctly. That means billions of dirty nappies in landfills that could potentially cause disease.

Then we have to take into account the manufacture of the disposable nappy. Manufacturing disposable nappies require a huge volume of pulp, paper, plastic, water and energy, which waste natural resources. In fact, manufacturing disposable nappies uses twice as much water, three times more energy, and 20 times more raw materials than reusable nappies.

They cost far much more in the long term

We all know the initial cost of cloth nappies are expensive and one disposable cost a fraction of the price, but over 2.5 years that you have your baby in nappies, the disposables turn out much, much more expensive and that is even when you add detergent, water and electricity to the cost of cleaning cloth nappies.

We can see when we add up the cost the difference between disposable and cloth. Disposables cost anywhere between $2500 and $3500 over the lifetime of a baby approx. 2.5 years while in comparison using cloth can cost between $500 and $1100 over the same time period. You can verify for yourself online. Pros of disposables.

The upside to disposables is that they are convenient, they are practical and easy to use and nappy change is much quicker, this makes it easy for anyone to change the nappy. Because of this, it makes them the nappy of choice for many such as daycare centres, daddies and sitters. They are easy to dispose of once finished although they are difficult to really dispose of.

They are compact that they are easy to carry and it is possible to fit more than one in a nappy bag and once used can be put into a waste bin.

Disposable nappies tend to hold more liquid than cloth nappies. This is because of the superabsorbent polymer in the absorbent layer, a chemical that binds with water molecules. If you’ve used disposable nappies, you may have noticed the squishy feeling of a wet nappy. When the super-absorbent polymer binds with liquid it creates a jelly-like substance. This keeps liquid from squishing out of the nappy which may help prevent leaks. Also, since this layer is extremely absorbent, disposable nappies are good for keeping your baby dry.

Disposable nappies are readily available everywhere, the corner store to the supermarket, you can't miss them. Whereas cloth nappies tend to be available more in department stores although when I was a young lad, they were available everywhere including Woolwoths where you could buy just 1 for very little money.

The pros of cloth nappies

They Have to Be Washed

Washing is the tidiest aspect of cloth nappies. A baby needs many changes in a day making loads of washing to be done weekly or another way is to have a nappy laundry service pick up dirty nappies and drop off clean ones. Babies by nature of being babies create a large amount of laundry without the nappies as their clothes have to be changed due to many reasons, so washing clothes and nappies often is a chore to be done.

Laundry. One of the most feared aspects of cloth nappies. Cloth nappies may create 2-3 extra loads of laundry per week. Most cloth nappies will last much longer if they are hung to dry instead of thrown in the dryer which creates some extra work as well.

Changing Nappies Takes a Bit Longer

It takes a bit more effort to change a cloth nappy compared to a disposable, but with modern nappy covers and pocket nappies, it really doesn’t take too long. If you are using flat nappies, then you need to fold them and there are a lot of different folds to choose from. Then you have pre-folds that are easy to put on but as with flats need pins to be fastened.

Cleaning Poop from the nappies is a must before putting in the washing machine which adds another layer to the work a mother/father has to do when using cloth nappies. To make this easier a liner can be used inside the nappy and thus easy to remove the poop.

They Require an Initial Investment

Earlier we mentioned the cost-saving when using cloth as they will last the lifetime of your baby but the downside to that is you have to buy them all in one go so unlike disposable where you buy them as needed, cloth has to be purchased before the baby arrives. Traditional terry squares will set you back about £50 for 24 which is enough for 1 baby.

The Impact of Cloth Nappies on the Environment.

Of course, even cloth nappies have an impact on the environment. Even though they don’t pollute landfills and use a lot fewer resources during production, yet over 2.5 years there will be a lot of water and energy used. Then there is the impact of the chemicals from the detergent on the environment.

The next point is washing and drying, washing nappies in fuller loads and line-drying them reduce their global warming impact considerably.

They Are Difficult While Traveling

Cloth nappies are a challenge when travelling especially overseas as I have done with a baby, but it was worth it. They are bulkier than disposable so that makes it harder to carry so many with you and you will need a wet bag to carry the dirty ones till you can wash them.

Pros of Cloth Nappies

They Are Quick and Easy

Despite what you might think, cloth nappies actually are quick and easy to use. Modern cloth nappies are shaped like disposables and don’t require folding or pinning. They are just as easy to put on and take off as disposables but use snaps or Velcro instead of adhesives. Cloth nappies don’t even have to be stuffed if you opt for all-in-ones instead of pocket nappies.

Very thick nappies under my pj;s

Reusable is More Economical

As we mentioned earlier, cloth nappies will save you money in the long run. You can save up to $2000 over 2.5 years by using cloth nappies instead of disposables. The savings stack up even more if you use your cloth nappies on future children. Then, once you no longer need them, used cloth nappies can be sold to new parents.

You Will Have Chemical Free Cloth Nappies

Nappies made from cloth tend to be 100% natural and chemical free, they also made with synthetic fabrics but I don’t use them. It is the detergent that is most likely to cause nappy rash, so if you use a chemical-free detergent your babies skin should be safe.

Waste is Treated Properly

As when you remove a cloth nappy with poop in it you flush it down the toilet, which enables the poop to be treated properly at the treatment plant instead of going to a landfill.

Cloth Nappies are so cute

Cloth Nappies Are Super Cute

Cloth nappies come in a variety of types and fabrics, some of which are luxuriously soft. Outer wraps, all-in-ones, and all-in-twos, and pocket nappies can be found in adorable prints and colours. Disposable nappies printed with chemical dyes will never stack up to beautiful cloth nappy prints. Plus, cloth nappies look so stylish they can be worn alone in the summer when it’s warm enough for your baby to go without pants.

Baby Bunnykins

Copyright © Baby Bunnykins,

All rights reserved.

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