When you think 'cloth diapering' you probably think EWWW!! My GRANDPARENTS did that! Guess what? Its not as gross any more! Sure you still have to deal with that dreaded poop, but you don't have to mess with it (diaper sprayers help)! Cloth diapering has come such a long way in the last few years that there are MANY styles out there to choose from, many that work exactly like disposables except that you can wash them and reuse them! You don't even have to fold any thing!
I want to first say that I support the opinions of others and what they feel is best for their child. With that said, this *may* be written with a bit of a bias since I have switched from disposables to cloth and love every minute of cloth diapering. I do still use disposables from time to time depending on the circumstance.
There are MANY benefits to choosing cloth diapering. The most common answers to the choice is cost, eco-friendliness, and sensitivity.
Sensitivity: Many children are sensitive to the chemicals (and another site for chemicals) in diapers. Think about it. What is actually IN those disposables? Can you even pronounce half of the ingredients? Would you want your children sitting on (or eating, since my son likes to play with everything and put everything in his mouth) this:
Cloth diapers are made from synthetic and/or natural fibers. (usually microfleeces or wools-see Diaper types and Cover types).
Eco-friendliness: those ingredients up there? yeah, they don't degrade very quickly, so we have overfilled landfills of not only our trash, but babies bodily waste as well. Even with disposables we are supposed to dump the poop into the toilet as human waste is bad for the environment and its people and animals. We carry lots of diseases. Its the same principle as cleaning up after your dog or cat. But, like many of you I'm sure, I never saw that on the label of disposables, and I never bothered to do such a thing. Did you know that it takes years for most disposables to degrade, and thats IF the conditions are right for them to degrade!
With cloth, even the disposable liners that are available, the degrade time is at most 365 days. That's right, 1 year for a strip very similar to a maxi-pad to degrade. And the cloth, well, it would be akin to throwing a blanket outside. The ribbons on that blanket may still be there after a year, but the fibers of the blanket will be gone.
Cost efficiency. Here's the kicker: your initial cost is generally very high with cloth diapers, HOWEVER, over time, this cost is decreased significantly since you can reuse the diapers instead of throwing them away. Disposables are like letting your child poop on Mr Benjamin, then tossing him into trash.
With cloth diapers, you can actually get a return on your investment! You buy your "stash" to begin with. Many diapers can come in a one-size style or a sized style. The one-sized styles will generally go from newborn to potty-training with one diaper, so here there is no guessing on what size to buy, then wasting money when you buy too many of a particular size. I have so far spent a total of about $300 for 4 days worth of diapers and I can do laundry every 3-4 days. I can reuse these diapers for all of my future children AND when I am done with the diaper stage, I can resell my diapers to other families.
The argument of true cost efficiency comes with the laundry. You must use water and heat to clean all these diapers, and you will probably wash your diapers separate from your other clothes, which means, more loads. If done properly, you will actually still spend less in total than buying diapers. Plus, the amount of detergent needed for a FULL LARGE load of diapers is still MUCH less than that which you use for your regular clothes!
And here's an added bonus: Children who are cloth diapered are less likely to develop rashes. Also, cloth diapers are less likely to have leaks, AND..here's the best part: poopy, out-of-the-diaper-and-up-the-back-all-over-the-clothes blow-outs? You RARELY if EVER get them with cloth! How could anyone say no to that?
(I want to make a shout out to Happy Baby Company, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. They are an amazing company with GREAT customer service. As you'll notice through out the Cloth Diapering segments of this website, they are linked A LOT. Check them out for sure.)