7 Reasons to Switch to Cloth Diapers

Family Matters on 10.18.11
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If you're anything like me, you probably thought that cloth diapers became a relic of the past long ago. Apparently, I've been living in a cave far away from civilization, because plenty of forward-thinking moms and dads are choosing cloth diapers over the disposable variety...and for good reason! If you're thinking of making the switch -- or just wondering why anyone would -- study up on these seven key points.

1. They're less toxic.

chemical mask

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Chemicals are rampant in today's society -- aalk the wrong way and you're likely to traipse through recently sprayed grass at the playground. And diapers are no exception: One of the key components of disposable diapers is their superabsorbent abilities. Unfortunately, this quality comes hand-in-hand with synthetics like polypropylene and trace amounts of dioxin, certain types of which have been linked to cancer, liver defects and other problems. That's a potential time bomb in your baby's bum.

2. They're comfy -- and stylish.

safety pin

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None of my mom's kids could tolerate disposable diapers thanks to our oh-so-sensitive skin, so she was left with the 1960's and 70's cloth versions -- complete with safety pins (sorry 'bout that, Mom). Nowadays, cloth diapers feature handy snaps, hooks or Velcro to keep them closed. Many models also have removable inserts that can be flushed safely once soiled. Then, all you have to wash is the outer cover before slapping it back on your baby's bottom with a new insert. Particularly stylish babies will appreciate the many adorable designs and patterns available to today's cloth-diapering elite. This might seem silly, but once you've disposable-diapered two boys you get really sick of seeing Lightning McQueen or Elmo staring back at you.

3. They're better for the environment.

landfill

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More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious by recycling, carpooling, and eating organic. Parents shudder at the thought of their little tyke contributing an estimated one ton of waste to the local landfill -- couple that with the fact that each diaper takes about 500 years to decompose -- and washable cloth diapers start looking a lot less stressful.

4. They help with potty-training.

potty

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Make no mistake about it, cloth diapers are very comfortable. However, many kids, mine included, are so comfy in their disposables that they're actually potty-training later, much to the chagrin of their wipe-weary parents. Although there's no hard and fast research on the topic, many seasoned parents and experts insist that children can feel the pee and poop more in cloth diapers because they're not as absorbent as disposables. This unavoidable sensation might encourage them to embrace potty-training earlier than they would have otherwise.

5. They reduce the "ick" factor.

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I've also heard tales that many cloth diapers are designed to reduce disgusting, outfit-ruining poop blowouts. If you don't know about blowouts firsthand, count yourself among the lucky few. Having diapered two blowout-prone children already, I'll do anything to keep things under control the next time around! It's too graphic a concept to go into great detail about, but trust me you'll know one when you see it.

6. They're easy to wash.

line dry diapers

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Cloth diapers are very resilient, but it pays to follow manufacturer guidelines to maximize the lifespan of the product. Some manufacturers recommend one cold-water rinse in the washing machine, followed by a warm-water rinse (both with detergent). Be sure to wash them with like colors and materials, as you would with any other load of laundry. They can generally go in the dryer on medium heat, although certain items, like diaper covers, will last longer if air-dried.

7. They're easier on your wallet!

money roll

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The cost of regular diapers will make any parent's hair go prematurely gray, of which I'm living proof. Unless you have some sort of genius baby who potty trains himself (in which case, you need to write a book), you're going to drop thousands of dollars on diapers before your kid makes the grudging switch to underwear. Of course, you will have to come up with some extra cash up front to cover your cloth diaper supply. One friend spent $450 on diapers before her first child was born, which she claims was a bit over the top at the time. Now that she's seen two children through diapering on that initial investment, however, she gets to have the last laugh. She's probably even saved enough moolah for a tropical timeshare. At the very least, I hope she bought herself a pair of expensive boots or something.

I'm strongly leaning toward giving cloth-diapering a shot with my soon-to-be-born third boy, a fact that terrifies my husband. However, I'm betting he'll get over it once he sees firsthand how much money we'll save over time, since nothing speaks to him quite like increases in the old savings account.

So what do you think about this trend? Does it scare the training pants off of you? Or is cloth diapering something you'd actually consider?

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