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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

The Benefits of Cloth Diapers

Aug 08, 2012 05:26PM ● By Laura Putt

All parents want the best for their baby. While we agonize over the best of everything, few parents are aware that cloth diapers are re-entering the marketplace in a big way for their myriad benefits for the entire family.

The benefits for baby are numerous. For starters, cloth diapers allow for some airflow, which disposables do not. According to a study published the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the hot conditions resulting from disposables may blunt the testicular cooling mechanism, lowering sperm count. It has also been found that babies wearing cloth diapers generally potty train a year earlier than those using disposables.

The instance of diaper rash when wearing disposables has increased over the years, as well. In 1955, 100 percent of American babies wore cloth diapers, and 7 percent experienced diaper rash. In 1991, 10 percent of American babies wore cloth diapers, 90 percent wore disposables and 78 percent experienced diaper rash.

Though disposables are commonly used, synthetic, single-use diapers often contain chemicals linked to long-term health conditions. For example, most disposable diapers are bleached with chlorine, resulting in a byproduct called dioxins that leach into the diapers. Dioxin, a carcinogen, is listed as the most dangerous and toxic of all the cancer-linked chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is linked to birth defects, genetic and metabolic damage.

Another chemical found in disposables is sodium polyacrylate, a super absorbent polymer that becomes a gel when wet. It may cause skin irritations and allergic reactions, and has been linked to toxic shock syndrome in tampons.

Cloth diapers are not only beneficial to baby, but also to the environment. A baby in disposables for 2.5 years will generate at least two tons of waste. The diapers go straight into the landfill, where they take 500 years to decompose. Alarmingly, disposable diapers make up the third largest consumer item in our landfills. Cloth diapers, though, can be reused for each child and then donated. And, while disposables are made of wood pulp—using one billion trees annually at current rates—cloth diapers are made from a variety of natural and sustainable materials. In addition, disposable diapers consume 70 percent more energy than the average reusable diaper per diaper change.

The benefits don’t stop there. One of the most exciting reasons to use cloth diapers is the benefit to our wallet. The estimated cost of disposable diapers for 2.5 years is between $1,820 and $2,730. The total cost of cloth diapering in top-notch diapers for 2.5 years (including laundering) is estimated at $700. This is a savings of $1,100 to $2,115, which can vary a great deal depending on choices.

It is plain to see the numerous benefits of cloth diapering; cloth diapers are modern, easy to use, and trendy.

Laura Putt is the owner of Cotton Bottom Babies, in the Lehigh Valley. Learn about cloth diapering and meet other Cloth Diapering Mamas at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 21 at Milk and Honey Kids Store, 3900 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown. RSVP to [email protected]. For more information, visit

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