Column: Cloth diapering: a win for baby, your pocketbook and the environmentIt’s always an exciting time when a family prepares for a new bundle of joy to arrive! Creating a birth plan, decorating the nursery and purchasing all the essentials for the new baby are a thrill.
By: Cara Lindberg, For the Budgeteer News
It’s always an exciting time when a family prepares for a new bundle of joy to arrive! Creating a birth plan, decorating the nursery and purchasing all the essentials for the new baby are a thrill.
However, ensuring that you are making the right decisions in your purchases can be a challenge, especially when it comes to everyday products.
According to Consumer Reports, a family will go through thousands of diapers before a child is 2- to 3 years old and ready to be potty trained. Making the decision between disposable, one-time-use diapers and reusable, washable diapers is a major decision for a family. Many aspects can be taken into consideration including cost, convenience, health to the baby and the waste generation associated with diaper disposal.
Consumer Reports states that a family will spend an average of $1,500 to $2,000 on disposable diapers during a child’s diapering period. In addition to the cost of disposable diapers, they create a large amount of waste. A typical disposable diaper is made up of synthetic materials that do not break down in the landfill. Since disposable diapers have been around since only the 1970s, we are unsure how long, and if the diapers will ever biodegrade.
Cloth diapering is making a comeback and has come a long way since the days of diaper pins and rubber pants. Today’s cloth diapers are typically made from cotton, microfiber, hemp, bamboo or charcoal and are designed to be washed, dried and reused. There is an initial cost to purchase the cloth diapers and the ongoing expenses of washing and drying them.
Becky Ideker, a registered nurse at Essentia Health, is cloth diapering her 19-month-old and is planning on cloth diapering her new little one, due in August. “We looked at the environmental aspect of cloth
diapering. After researching I learned that one baby in disposables will contribute one ton of waste over the course of diapering. The other huge reason we decided to look into cloth was the cost savings. We’ve spent less than $250 on our entire stash of cloth diapers.”
A box of 222 disposable diapers at a big box store costs $47.19, breaking down to 21 cents per diaper. A newborn will use approximately 18 diapers a day. Ideker has also seen health benefits for her 19-month-old son Jake. “He has never, ever had a rash. Not once.”
Convenience is a main reason that people choose disposables over reusable; however, Ideker has found that cloth diapers can be just as convenient with some planning. “Our daycare is fine with the use of cloth. We bring a wet bag that zips to put the used diapers in, the daycare sends them home and I wash them. When we go on vacation, as long as there is a washer available, cloth is no more difficult than at home.”
Cloth diapers are easy to find. There are many online companies that sell cloth diapers and accessories (cottonbabies.com, for example). Additionally there are two great locally owned stores that carry cloth diapers in Duluth, Sproutlings children’s boutique located in the Stone Ridge Shopping Center on Central Entrance (www.sproutlingsinc.com) and Little Neetchers at 5628 Grand Avenue (www.littleneetchersdiapers.com). Little Neetchers provides a list of cloth-friendly daycares on its website.
Choosing between cloth and disposable diapering is an important and personal decision for each family. With a little planning and organization, cloth diapering is a win-win-win: healthy for baby, healthy for the pocketbook and healthy for the environment.
Now that seems like an all-around great choice.
Cara Lindberg is the board president of Sustainable Twin Ports. She lives with her husband in the Duluth area. Cara can be reached at email@example.com