Two and a half years of non stop cloth diapering and we moved across country. Disposables were really the only option with public laundry and the stress of moving. In efforts to be a little more eco-friendly and reduce exposure to chemicals, I tried to find disposable diapers that rated better than the mainstream diaper options. In reality I know that in the battle of disposable diapers vs cloth diapers, there is not comparison on eco-friendly, but here are my thoughts on disposable diapering when I didn’t have a choice.
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Disposable Diapers vs Cloth Diapers: Comparison of Experiences
- In nearly three years of diapering and now with two kids I have never, I repeat, never been truly disgusted by a diaper… until this past month when we started using disposables. There is something inside of them that makes a house reek, a wet diaper have a disgusting sweet smell, and they are so messy.
- It takes one, maybe two cloth wipes and water to clean a bottom… it takes like 7 disposable wipes to get a dirty butt wiped off. And 1 in 3 times, I have gotten poop on my hands. So back to my absolute statements… before last month I literally had never gotten poop on my hand from changing a diaper before when I was using cloth.
- With cloth, all I had to do was throw it in the wet bag and wash. Poop on clothes? No problem. Throw it in together. Not so much with disposable. I have to do more handling of the diaper, which leads to more of the gross factor. I need to wrap and fold it up. Throw it away and hope it doesn’t smell wherever we are. And I have no wet bag for diapers that doubles dirty clothes with me which is so not convenient.
- My toddler poked a hole in one of her disposables. And we accidentally ripped them all the time. This was such a disappointment because cleaning up those crystals is not only gross, but not easy.
- We almost ran out of disposables the other day and we were down to like four diapers. And if I didn’t know how to use a receiving blanket as a diaper, I would have panicked. So the fact that I actually have to monitor and go out and buy more when low is not exciting.
What I like about Cloth Diapers that Disposable Diapers don’t Have
- Snaps – My toddler can’t as easily or quickly ditch her diapers and they also re-fasten. I was sad when my 4 month old would have her disposable diaper come undone so easily and I couldn’t refasten it.
- Adjustability – I like having lots of ways to adjust my cloth diapers. Because sometimes it’s not just the waist, but the legs or the rise of the diaper that needs to be adjusted for comfort and to get the right size.
- Elastic – Around the legs, along the back, across the front, and in the gussets. It holds that poo in where it should be. It felt like opening up a slip ‘n’ slide every time I changed a poo disposable diaper. And then those tilting labyrinth games to make sure I didn’t get it on the floor, bed, or whatever.Plus, that droopy, dangly, diaper butt is just not appealing. The elastic holds everything together so kids don’t have to walk around with a 2 pound dangly “diaper scrotum” between their legs. I mean let’s be honest, it’s kind of weird, awkward, and gross. Kind of like the way you felt when you read that term.
- Accompanying Wet-Bags – I already mentioned this, but getting used to carrying a wet bag with me is something I took for granted. Not having it now when baby spits up or toddler hold pee like the Hoover Dam and then unleashes… it’s hard. But to still carrying one with disposables is actually not convenient either because it doesn’t serve a purpose.
- Can’t Really “double up” – With cloth, I could add some absorbency to make a diaper last a little longer if I needed it to… like at night or on a long ride. But disposables really have one max absorbency and once you hit that threshold, it starts to fall apart.
Things I like About Disposable Diapers
- Meeting new people in a new church, and I didn’t have to explain to terrified nursery workers how they worked. (I still don’t understand that though. They go on the exact same.)
- I didn’t have to wash them. I have ever minded washing diapers. because it’s like 2 loads a week. But with moving and not wanting to add ANYTHING to my schedule, it helped. BUT this is not to say less laundry, because the leaks and blowouts still created a lot of unnecessary laundry in actual clothes.
- They are compact for carrying. No big bags were required to get my two girls’ diapers from OKC to Boston. And with 17 items on the plane already, a bulky diaper bag would have been the straw that broke this momma camel’s back. Literally.
In the end though, I did not find disposable diapers to be any more convenient than cloth diapers. So for me, even putting aside health and eco-friendly concerns, I would still choose to cloth diaper.
Looking for a review on some Healthier Disposable Diapers?
Watch the video below to see my thought on these three diapers and three wipes I used, trying to both not spend a lot of money and find a healthy option while not cloth diapering.
I will note that in Baby Gear Lab’s studies, the Up & Up and the Honest Company rated the same in terms of health. So while Up & Up is a mainstream diaper, I found it to be a better option than many of the traditional diapers out there. Some of their best diapers are pretty expensive, and it’s not something we could do on top of an expensive move.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!