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Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

Skin Health

Both sides on the debate firmly believe they have the upper hand here, with "fluffy" mamas (those who use cloth) insisting their babies get a horrible rash every time they come in contact with a disposable, and "sposie" mamas (those who use disposables) firmly believing that the extra dryness that disposables provide helps keep skin healthier. 
 
In general, studies suggest that the older disposable diapers, which were made with cellulose inside, are better than cloth diapers for preventing diaper rash and that the modern disposables, with gel-forming absorption material inside, are better than both cloth and the older disposables. However, one review of all the available studies recommended that there is not enough high-quality information to say with certainty that one type was better than the others.
 
Over the years, both cloth and disposable diapers have evolved, with improved absorption, breathability, and fit. In general, you can expect that modern diapers of either type will do better at preventing diaper rash compared with older types of diapers.
 
Remember that no matter which diaper you choose, changing them frequently enough is key to preventing diaper rash. Most babies will do just fine with any diaper as long as they are changed often enough. For babies with ongoing trouble with diaper rash, a little trial and error may be helpful for determining which type is best for each unique baby.
 

Other Factors

Let's face it, cloth diapers are just plain adorable. They come in an astounding array of beautiful colors and patterns, and there is a nostalgic quality about them. They are all the rage with the hip and green parents.
 
However, there's also something absolutely wonderful about being able to seal up a disastrously poopy disposable diaper and simply toss it in the trash. And frankly, many mothers, already stretched thin, would turn pale at the mere mention of adding to their overall work load and their laundry tasks. In addition, to mothers unfamiliar with cloth diapers, the wide variety in types and brands can be quite overwhelming.
 
On both sides of the debate, mothers insist that their type and brand are the best for preventing "blowouts." Just be aware that the size and shape of your baby and the particular fit of the diaper, not how much the diaper can absorb, can drastically affect the diaper's ability to contain blowouts. For both cloth and disposables, some brands work better for skinnier babies, while others work best for chubbier ones.
 
It has been suggested that children potty train earlier with cloth diapers due to the increased awareness and discomfort that come with wearing a wet cloth diaper. However, this benefit may be much smaller for some of the fancier modern cloth diaper systems that can be very absorbent and comfortable.
 
Our suggestion for parents who just can't seem to decide: Most people have some sort of inclination for which type will best fit their lifestyle, budget, and expectations. Go with it, and see how you like it. You can always change your mind later.
 
Unless you're absolutely sure of your choice, it's probably best not to stock up too much with either type until you've given them a try. Also, don't feel pressure to use just one or the other exclusively. Many mothers love cloth diapers at home but won't hesitate to use disposables while traveling.
 
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