The Diaper Dilemma: Cloth vs. Disposable

There are few conversations that ignite debate in the parenting community like the diaper discussion. Passionate parents mixed with noble intentions, concern for the planet and health, mixed with the speed of our lives makes for a hotbed discussion.

One one end of the spectrum are cloth mamas who understand the chemicals and waste involved with disposable diapers. On the other end are moms who feel anxiety, confusion or guilt over the cloth conversation so they stick with disposables. And in between is a middle ground that hopefully can help all of us make the right decision for our families.

On the eve of motherhood I thought I would be a cloth mama. I had researched the industry, selected the perfectly soft organic cotton diapers and set up my nursery for award winning eco-mom status. Then my son was born. I’ll spare you the details, but to say I struggled would be an understatement.

If you are trying to determine which is best, consider these ideas:

  1. Lose the guilt and do what works for the rhythm of your family. The most life giving green adjustments are those we can actually manage to stick with, those that work for our families. Do what works for you so that you have time to give to other eco-arenas.
  2. If you use disposable, consider diapers with organic fibers and diapers made without bleach and a variety of other chemicals.
  3. Cheer on the cloth mamas. Their decisions are wise and informed, rather than balk at “how hard it all seems,” cheer them on and help others see the value of their decisions (even if it was not ultimately your decision).
  4. Choose your cloth wisely. In an attempt to be cutesy and appealing, not all cloth diapers are made with organic fibers, soy-based inks or other safe chemicals. Be sure your cloth company is really safe rather than just looking that way.
  5. Remember that both choices have an impact on the environment. It takes energy and water to wash the cloth, landfill space and energy for the disposable. So talk up the potty early and often to trigger your chid’s interest and ability to go diaper free.

By Tracey Bianchi.