My 5-day-old baby in a fitted cloth diaper.
Eco-novice urges you to consider cloth.
Even if you use disposables for the remainder of your child's diapering months, I would encourage anyone who is even remotely interested in cloth diapering to consider using cloth for the first six months of your baby's life.
1. If you are a bit concerned about all the toxic chemicals in your child's world, then both the known ingredients and the undisclosed ingredients (such as the components of the fragrance) of disposable diapers will give you pause. If you are going to pay attention to the ingredients in any product, it might as well be the product that comes in contact with your baby's private parts all day long. During this newborn period, your baby is extremely vulnerable to endocrine disruptors and other harmful chemicals. In addition to being more sensitive, newborn skin is also more permeable than the skin of older children and adults. Chemicals in diaper wipes, disposable diapers, and personal products can easily pass through your infant's skin into her body, so this is the time to be super-conscientious about ingredients.
2. Cloth wipes are better at getting off that yellow runny poop than disposable wipes. Also, the ingredients in disposable wipes are weird.
3. Cloth diapers prevent pooplosions! And, as many parents know, newborns are prone to poopy explosions because of their runny poops. I am now cloth diapering my third child and I have never had cloth diaper leak poop.
4. You don't have to do a darn thing about the poop. Dealing with poop is one of the big reasons that folks steer clear of cloth diapers. But if you breastfeed, newborn poop is completely water soluble and washes right out in the wash. You toss the poopy diaper in the wash and you're done. The diapers will stain, but personally I don't care about that (line drying helps with that, if you do care).
5. Young babies stay put. There is a small learning curve to using cloth diapers, especially if you are accustomed to using disposables, and it's easier to become a whiz at using cloth diapers with a newborn than with a squirmy 9-month old or toddler.
6. Newborn babies go through a lot of diapers. I change my 2-month-old baby about 8 times during the day, I'd say. If you change your baby's disposable diaper in the middle of the night, you may go through even more diapers. Let's assume 6 diapers per day for the first six months (I'm trying to estimate conservatively here -- feel free to argue with my calculations in the comments). That's almost 200 diapers per month! Let's estimate that you spend $40 a month on diapers, night time diapers, and wipes. (If you choose to buy "greener" brands of disposables, you will spend significantly more.) As long as you spend less than $240 on cloth diapers for the 0-to-6-months period (and you can spend far less than that if you choose a less expensive system, buy used, or make your own) you will come out ahead financially. Plus you've kept hundreds of diapers out of the landfill.
I'm not going to argue about the environmental impact of cloth versus disposable diapers here, but there is no doubt that cloth diapering exposes your child to fewer potentially toxic chemicals during a very susceptible period. Add to that the fact that the first six months are in many ways the easiest and most economical time to cloth diaper, and I think we have a pretty good argument for cloth diapering your newborn.
How much do you spend on diapering supplies each month?
Have you considered using cloth diapers?
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