Should I use cloth or disposable diapers?

Q: Should I use cloth or disposable diapers?

A: It's really a matter of what you're more comfortable with, since both types of diapers have their pros and cons. Most moms consider disposables much more convenient than using cloth diapers. And while cloth is softer, it can also lead to more frequent diaper rash. Disposables have better absorbency, which keeps your baby's skin drier and less prone to irritation.But cloth diapers win on the money- and environment-saving side of the fence. According to Diaper Changes: The Complete Diapering Book and Resource Guide, it costs from $3.50 to $9.60 a week to launder cloth diapers yourself or $12 to $15 to use a diaper service, compared with $17 for a week's worth of disposables. Over the course of three years, this can add up to a difference of more than a thousand dollars. There's also a strong argument that diapering with cloth is gentler on the environment. In fact, one of the only studies on the topic found that more than 18 billion disposables are tossed into the trash each year. --Sally Farhat

Originally published in Parents magazine, May 2004. Updated 2009.

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