Purely regarding health, well-maintained cloth diapers are better for babies. Disposable diapers have been shown to increase the chance of diaper rash, and chemicals used in disposable diapers for fragrance or in manufacturing can create health concerns. Cloth diapers that are NOT cleaned properly and kept up with are just as harmful, but if you can commit to proper maintenance with cloth diapers, they are the healthier choice for your baby.
Honestly, as a new parent it is all about upkeep. Cloth diapers do need to be changed more regularly when wet while disposable diapers have wicking that will allow them not to be changed as often (if it is number 2, then all bets are off). It is all about proper hygiene no matter which diaper you use.
You can also buy biodegradeable disposable diapers. gDiapers, which offer both cloth and biodegradeable inserts for their diapers, make biodegradeable diapers that are supposed to break down in 50-150 days, instead of the estimated 500 years it takes regular disposable diapers.
Cloth wins. The liquid-locking chemicals inside paper diapers are often toxic and if a baby has continued diaper rash, it’s possible the baby’s skin is having a reaction to those toxins.
Interestingly, those same chemicals used to be in Rely tampons and started the whole toxic shock syndrome fiasco. The material was banned from tampons, but not banned from disposable diapers. Scary.
If you’re interested in cloth diapers but concerned with upkeep, there are a number of delivery services that drop off and pick up your cloth diapers, and clean them for you. Cloth diapers are better for your baby and the environment, and even the delivery service has a smaller carbon footprint than the amount of disposable diapers it supplants. Check out the Cloth Diaper Industry site here: http://www.realdiaperindustry.org/
Or, google “Cloth Diaper Delivery Service” near your hometown. Good luck!
Ultimately, that is up to you. It depends what type of cloth you get, organic cotton would probably be best as well how well you clean those cloth diapers. Disposable diapers, in terms of hygiene, would probably be cleaner but then you need to think of the materials it was made of. Seventh Generation, gDiapers and the upcoming The Honest Company are probably the best things places to buy eco friendly disposable diapers.
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