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Cloth VS Disposable Diapers – Compare for Yourself

In this issue we look closely into the cost of single use diapers vs cloth diapers as well as comfort, safety, environment and ease of use issues.

The True Costs of Diapers

Just as you gathered information on pregnancy, birth and infant care – so will you want your diapering choice to be an informed one. Today, parents must consider which diapering system is best for their baby, convenient to their lifestyle, financially feasible and environmentally responsible.



Babies are comfortable if they are changed when they need to be. Good hygiene can go a very long way to preventing diaper rash. A newborn if awake should be checked for wetness every 60-90 minutes. Cloth diapers are made of 100% natural soft absorbent cotton and are gentle on baby’s skin. Cotton is a breathable material allowing fresh air to freely circulate, cooling and preventing diaper rash.

Cotton is kinder and more comfortable to baby’s skin than paper or stiff plastic and contains no irritating perfumes or chemicals. The interior of single use disposable diapers do not breathe well and therefore can be at a much higher temperature. Parents tend to change single use disposable diapers less often than cloth diapers increasing the risk of diaper rash as heat and moisture provide an excellent medium for bacterial growth.

Innovative cloth diaper designs provide a slim, tailored fit. Washable Stay Dry Liners keep moisture away from a child’s skin. The fit, natural softness and dryness are all there for baby’s cotton comfort.



The costs calculated below for disposable, single use diapers are based on two of the most popular brands, using a store known for its value pricing.

The newborn pkg. (up to 10 lb.) contains 48 diapers @ $16.23 = $0.34 each. The average number of changes for a newborn is 12-16 times per day for the first 2 weeks. 14x7x2=196 diapers @ $0.34 =$66.64

The Infant # 1 pkg. up to 14 lb. contains 104 diapers @ 0.22 ea. An average baby requires 10-12 changes per day for the first 3 months 11x30x2.5 =825 diapers @ $.22 each = $181.50

The Infant # 2 pkg. 12-18 lb. contains 88 diapers @ $0.26 each. An average baby 3-6 months old requires 10-12 changes a day 11x30x3 =990 diapers @ $0.26= $257.40 Mega pack pricing was used for the balance of the packages as it is the least expensive. Each Mega Pack was $28.92+$2.02 GST For a total of $30.94 / pkg.

The Infant # 3 pkg. 16-18 lb. contains 96 diapers @ $0.32 ea. A 6-9 month old baby requires 8-10 changes per day 9x30x3= 810 diapers @ $0.32 ea. = $259.20

The Infant # 4 pkg. 22-27 lb. contains 64 diapers @ $0.37 ea. A 9-12 month old child requires 8 changes per day 8x30x3 = 720 diapers @ $0.37 = $266.40

The toddler pkg. # 5 over 27 lb. contains 58 diapers @ $0.41 each. An average 12-18 month old child requires 6-8 changes a day. 7x30x6=1260 diapers @ $0.41 ea. = $516.60

The child #6 pkg. over 35 lb. contains 48 training diapers @ $23.00 =$0.45 each. An average 18-30 month old child requires 6-8 changes per day. 7x 364 = 2548 diapers @ $0.45= $1146.60

Total estimated average cost $2694.54 for 7,349 disposable, single use diapers. Keep in mind that these figures are a conservative estimate. It is not uncommon for a child of 3 years to require a diaper at night and children in single use diapers tend not to feel wetness requiring a longer duration of time for toilet training success. Your child’s individual sleep pattern, body functions and their time frame for toilet training success will determine the number of actual diaper changes required.

Cloth diapering is relatively simple and financially rewarding for families who can save from a minimum of $2300.00 to upwards of $5000.00. Single use diapers range in price from $0.22 to $0.45 each. Cloth diapers pay for themselves within a six month period. After six months you diaper for almost free. A quick estimation of cost; Consumer Report estimates that the most inefficient washer and dryer system costs approximately $0.78 per load to launder whereas more efficient models will cost approximately $0.44 per load to launder. So wash your own, twice a week for between 44-78 cents including water, hydro and detergent or spend $16.94 to $22.05 for single use disposable diapers. Please keep in mind your child is in the large size single use disposable diaper for the longest stage of diapering and yes, they are the most expensive @ approximately $0.45 each.



A simple indicator allowing a new mother to determine if her newborn is being breast fed successfully is the number of wet diapers her baby produces. Due to the super-absorbent padding found in today’s single use disposable diapers, it can be very difficult to know if your baby has a wet diaper. It can be a true confidence builder to readily detect that your child is producing 8-12 wet diapers a day. A new mother may decide incorrectly that her child is not feeding well and switch to a bottle because she is unaware of the wetness her child is producing in disposable single use diapers. Adversely, if a child produces no wet diapers within an eight hour time period, professional help should be sought immediately. Cloth diapers assist in detecting signs of illness and attaining prompt medical intervention.



Cloth diapers are healthy for our environment. Consider the numbers: 36 cloth diapers, that are used over and over; most likely for more than one child, or on average 7,349 single use diapers per child. One time use throw away diapers are the single largest non recyclable component of household garbage, creating 1 ton of garbage per year per child. Diapers are garments not garbage and should be considered part of babies layette. Throw away isn’t go away, and what appears to immediately advantageous also has long term consequences. It is agreed by many objective reports that so called single use disposable diapers are the WORST environmental choice including; Environment Canada, The Recycling Councils of Ontario and BC, The BC Medical Association, The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), The Worldwide Home Environmentalists Network (WHEN), and The David Suzuki Foundation.

Over 4 million disposable diapers are discarded in Canada per day( 1.6 billion per year) Disposable diapers are not biodegradable and make up a significant amount of municipal waste. A landfill site does not provide the conditions necessary for the single use diaper to biodegrade. The Diaper Genie now mummifies single use disposable diapers into our landfill sites for eternity. Consider the cost to operate additional landfill sites and the depletion of our natural forests. Is this the legacy you want for future generations? What message are we teaching our children?



Cloth diapers are less likely to leak because of a two stage containment system. Not only does a leak have to get past the elasticized leg of the diaper it has to escape out of the leg gusset of the cover as well. The diaper and cover work in tandem to prevent leaks. Velcro or snap closings have done away with pins, making modern cloth diapers as easy to change as single use diapers. Today’s cloth diapers require no folding Stay Dry Liners catch a child’s bowel movements so you don’t have to rinse the entire diaper. Home laundry may take less than 10 minutes every load while using disposables entails continuous trips to the store.

When running low on diapers and the weather was foul outside, I was so thankful that I just had to dump the diapers into the washer (less than $0.78) and turn it on and within 2 hours, while I did something else, clean fresh soft cloth diapers were available. I would not have relished bundling up baby, warming up the car and trekking to the store to spend $30.94 and carry the bulky disposables home. Tip: If you get Vaseline on the sticky tabs of single use disposable diapers they will not fasten. You have to then search out a heavy duty tape to close them. How convenient is that?

Washing Cloth diapers; isn’t it hard work? Thankfully, we no longer hand wash diapers! Machines do the work for us. Consider this routine: Flush poopy liner down the toilet, and soak diaper in a pail with a solution of water and ½ cup vinegar(keeps odors at bay). When you are ready to wash, simply dump the whole pail full of diapers and solution into the washing machine, spin out excess liquid run through a cold rinse, a hot wash cycle, and dry normally. Later place into a laundry basket and pull out diapers as required.



Some disposable, single use diapers have been linked to suffocation. The plastic exterior of the diaper is removable to aid in disposal. However, it can also be removed by your baby and can be as dangerous as letting them play with a plastic bag. The super absorbent padding presents a similar hazard. It can be pulled apart by your baby and stuffed into their mouth and nose. The sticky tabs are not always strongly attached and, if removed may be ingested. Never put your baby to bed clothed only in disposable diapers. Always cover the diapers with clothing.

Babies diapered in disposable diapers are exposed to far too many questionable chemicals contained in the disposable diapers. Newborn skin has an underdeveloped outer layer, chemicals more readily absorb through the skin and into the fat cells posing a health risk when compared to adult skin. The BC Medical Association warns of the danger of dioxins and encourages the use of cloth diapers. The next serious risk is the absorbency chemicals, sodium polyacrylate gel, which absorbs 100 times it’s weight in liquid, is in the disposable diapers. Studies have shown that when these chemicals become wet they become even more absorbent and they pull the moisture from the baby’s body, thereby diminishing the normal defenses of the skin. You can see when this is happening as your baby’s bottom will look a bit shriveled. NEVER LEAVE A BABY ON A RAISED SURFACE ALONE – always have one hand on them.

Cloth diapering is not a complicated endeavor. Once you start it becomes a part of your daily routine. Approach your diapering with a mind set of acceptance and awareness. Whichever option you choose, ensure human waste is flushed down the toilet. It’s the law. Good hygiene can go a very long way to preventing diaper rash. Babies are comfortable if they are changed when they need to be.


Diapering Decisions offers a free consultation!

For clients in our area (London, ON, Canada) allowing you to evaluate over 25 of the highest quality diapers, covers and swim diapers available. Call (519) 641-3405 or toll free 1 888 806-9999.