The Great Debate: Disposable Vs Cloth Nappies

July 8, 2014
disposable nappies, cloth nappies, disposables, organic nappies

I’m sure every expectant mother has had to answer this question – are you going to use disposable or cloth nappies?  I’m not sure why but this topic seems to be a highly debated one and can leave some mums feeling confused or guilty.  Just as every other decision is, it should be entirely up to the mother to decide what type of nappies she will use without feeling pressured by others.

I suppose the debate has arisen from our ancestors who of course didn’t have the luxury of using disposable nappies, instead left with no other option but to use cloth nappies and safety pins, or if you date back far enough, leaves, animal skins and moss. 

Disposable nappies were first invented in the 1940s and became readily available in the 1960s but it was a luxury that most could not afford back then.  Since then though both the disposable and cloth nappies have evolved a lot meaning that parents now have a choice of what they will use.

So here are some points (good and bad) to consider when you’re debating the idea of cloth or disposable nappies:

Cloth nappies

  • While the initial set up cost may seem expensive, in the long term they are actually more cost effective than disposables
  • It has been reported that cloth nappies have less impact on the environment than disposables – you use them time and time again.  However, you do use more electricity and water washing them, so the jury is still out on which is better on the environment
  • When you’re out and about you can’t just throw it in the bin – you have to take it home with you
  • Some mums said their children toilet trained earlier because they could feel the moisture
  • Cloth nappies come in various colours and designs, so in the summertime you don’t even have to worry about pants
  • Most cloth nappies are free from harsh chemicals which means they are gentler on the skin

Disposable nappies

  • They’re convenient, especially when travelling as you can throw them in the rubbish and forget about them
  • Some have a higher absorption capacity than cloth nappies which means less nappy changes in a day
  • Some disposable nappies contain chemicals that can irritate baby’s skin
  • It is estimated that disposable nappies can take hundreds of years to break down
  • If you run out they are readily available in the shops

Despite good intentions of using cloth nappies I must admit I used disposables.  For me, it was all about convenience.  Having a new baby was hard enough to cope with, let alone giving myself more work than necessary.  But, I know many mums who used cloths nappies and would argue that they are also convenient.  Your decision should be whatever works best for you.

Image via healthyalternatives.co.nz

By Karyn Miller

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