There are many reasons why families choose to use cloth diapers today.  The top three reasons are: health of baby, potential for cost savings, and environmental impact.

The Real Diaper Association (RDA) has spent considerable time and resources conducting their research into this very topic.  Below are just highlights.  To get more of the real diaper facts, visit the RDA website.

The Benefits

Health

  • The chemicals used in disposable diapers, even many of the “green” varieties, may have severe and long-lasting ill-health effects.
  • Dioxins, a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process, are known carcinogen.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate, the super moisture absorber gel, was once present in tampons, but was removed for causing Toxic Shock Syndrome. This chemical remains in disposable diapers today.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT), a toxic pollutant, is known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
  • The plastics used in disposable diapers prevent air circulation. The heat that is retained increases the scrotal temperature of baby boys which has been linked to diminished fertility.
  • Cloth diapers allow your baby’s sensitive parts to breathe.  This can help prevent diaper rash and help the skin to heal more quickly.

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Cost Savings

  • One child,  on average, will use 6,000 diapers from birth until about 2 years of age.
  • If you factor in that newborns can go through 10 to 12 diapers a day and disposable diapered children tend to learn the potty later, that number can go as high as 10,000 diapers from birth until age 3 1/2.
  • Doing the math:
    • The average cost of  Kirkland brand disposable diapers from Costco (the most consistently economical that I found in the DC Metro area, from size 1 through 6) is $0.27 per diaper.
    • Name brand disposables (Huggies, Pamper, Luvs, Nature Babycare, Seventh Generation, Tushies) can be between $0.05 and $0.15 more per diaper.
    • On average, a family mixing brands of diapers may spend $0.30 per diaper.
    • Throughout one child’s diapering experience, families can spend upwards of $3,000 on diapers alone.
    • Don’t forget the cost of wipes.  Wipes average about $ 0.03 to $0.05 each.  Since disposable wipes don’t “grab” as well as cloth wipes, families may go through 400 to 500 wipes per month. This conservative estimate (based on the price for the Kirkland box of bulk wipes) adds an additional $756 to amount spent throughout one child’s diaper experience.
    • This total, $3,756, is multiplied by each child. Having multiple children is where you see the biggest savings of using cloth diapers.
    • Don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas and time to go out and purchase these throw away items.
  • Cloth diapering, using cloth wipes, and laundering at home is clearly the most economical way to diaper.
  • Although diaper service prices can sometimes be comparable to disposable diapers. We think using a diaper service beats throwing away your money any day.  You can clearly see the savings of using a diaper service: savings to your baby’s health, savings to the environment, savings to your electricity and water bill, and savings to your sanity (no rushing around to buy diapers and wipes, no extra laundry to do.)

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Environment

  • 80% of the families in the U.S. use disposable diapers. That translates to 6,000-10,000 more diapers added to the landfill per child in the U.S.
  • 27.5 billion diapers are consumed in the U.S. alone, each year.
  • 250 to 500 years is the estimated time that it takes for EACH DIAPER to biodegrade. We are entombing waste.
  • We continue to pile up the waste. The very first disposable diapers every made and used along with the ones that are used today will be on our earth long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.
  • Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills.
  • The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.
  • Sixty times more solid waste is generated in the production of disposable diapers.
  • Twenty times more raw materials (crude oil and wood pulp) is used in the production of disposable diapers.

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