Why use cloth diapers?
1. Less rash
Many parents get into cloth diapering because their babies were constantly battling nappy rash while in disposables. Disposable diapers typically contain chlorine, perfumes, or polyacrylate (a chemical used for absorbency). These chemicals can strip away good protective bacteria and change the pH balance of the skin, which can cause dryness and skin irritations. Cloth diapers don't contain any of these chemicals, so they're great for babies' sensitive skin.
Cloth diapers are also more breathable than disposable diapers. Mums who have used disposable pads and disposable breast pads will be familiar with the plasticky, sticky feeling that comes from using disposables compared to cloth undergarments. Similarly, although they are thicker than disposable diapers, cloth diapers are more breathable due to the materials from which they are manufactured.
2. Less cash
When I first looked into cloth diapering while pregnant, I was quite intimidated by how expensive it seemed. But once my baby came out, I realised I was spending about $60-100 on disposable diapers every month anyway. Visiting aunties helpfully reminded me that older kids don't need to change diapers as often as newborns. That is somewhat true, but it's not actually cheaper because the bigger size diapers are more expensive than newborn diapers. So I did the math:
Babies go through an average of 3000 disposable diapers in their first year. Disposable diapers cost an average of $0.30 per piece -- less when your baby is a newborn and wearing a smaller size, but more as they grow older and you have to buy bigger sizes. That’s about $900 in the first year alone. The average age of toilet training in Singapore is between 2-3 years old. That works out to be about $2,250 on diapers for one child. (I realised that for me it would be even more than that because the cheaper brands kept leaking and gave my baby diaper rash, so I had to buy the more expensive brands.
In contrast, 30 cloth diapers will cost you on average $1,050 (~$30-40/diaper). The additional cost of water used for cloth diapering is typically less than $20/month. So the total for the first year of cloth diapering would be $1,290. This means that even if you only use cloth on one child, you will save money! And if you have multiple children in cloth, you will save even more money because you can reuse the same cloth diapers.
(3) LESS TRASH
This is the primary reason a lot of people even consider using cloth diapers. When I used disposable diapers (I started on cloth when my kid was 2 months old), I was throwing out a whole plastic bag of dirty diapers every single day. That's a lot of trash, since before baby came along, normally my husband and I would throw out a plastic bag that size every week.
(4) More convenient
This is very counterintuitive to most people, but I found it to be true. When my daughter was in disposables, I had to spend a lot of time hunting down bundle deals on Lazada/Redmart -- better to buy in a bundle because it's cheaper, but if I buy it and it doesn't work for my baby (happened for 3 out of the 5 brands I tried!) then it's wasted. And if I buy too many and my baby grows out of the diaper before I can use them up, then it's also wasted (happened TWICE in those two months! I had to use 3 different sizes in those 2 months alone -- babies not only grow quickly, but also unpredictably). And also if I buy a big bundle, where am I going to put all these extra diapers? Plus the deals weren't constantly available, so I had to keep checking the apps, and it was pretty hard to arrange delivery -- yes, I was at home all day because I was on maternity leave, but often the delivery timeslots were filled up until a week later, and I would run out of diapers within that week. It was surprisingly stressful.
Since switching to cloth, I've been secure in the knowledge that I have all the diapers I need at home, and I can just readjust the snaps on the diaper if my baby grows instead of needing to buy a new size of diaper. For me, cloth diapers give additional peace of mind and eliminate additional shopping stress.
Using cloth diapers helps to significantly reduce waste. Every single time you use a cloth diaper, you're preventing one more disposable diaper from going into the trash.