Cloth nappies or disposable. What you need to know

Cloth diapers or disposable baby diapers

Cloth diapers or disposable baby diapers: What you need to know

Cloth or disposable diapers? That is a BIG decision that all parents-to-be grapple with. And like most parenting choices, there is not one right or wrong answer. Different things work for different people and the right decision is the one that works best for you and your child. Or you could alternate between the two based on your requirement at that point in time.

Cloth Diapers : What are they?

Cloth diapers are reusable diapers which are made from natural fibers, man-made materials, or they could be a combination of both.They can be washed and reused unlike the disposable variety, which have to be thrown away after use. Cloth diapers have come a long way and come in various shapes, materials and thickness. They even come with waterproof exteriors, which now makes them accident proof too!

Pros for Cloth Diapers:

There are many advantages to using cloth diapers and that’s the reason that they’ve been able to survive the onslaught of the disposable kind. Some of them are:

  • Cloth diapers are reusable, which means that they are not being added to the growing landfills. This is a very important factor to go for cloth especially for folks who are concerned about the environment. Even once they are not being used as diapers, they could be used as rags. So, the fewer you have to buy, the fewer that have to be manufactured.
  • Economically speaking, cloth diapers are way cheaper as they can be used over and over. With a cloth diaper, you can get your money's worth.
  • You’ll never run out of diapers, especially if you're washing them yourself. You just have grab a clean one out of the hamper.
  • Mothers of babies with sensitive skin swear by cloth diapers and report that the only thing their kids feel comfortable in and don’t break out in a rash in, are cottony cloth diapers.
  • When it comes to toilet training too, some moms claim that their babies trained earlier because children using cloth diapers could feel the wetness.

Cons of Cloth diapers:

  • Cloth diapers actually require a lot of electricity (if you use a washing machine to wash then) and water to keep them clean. There have been studies to compare disposable and cloth diapers as far as eco-friendliness is concerned, but none has been completely clear on which is better for the environment.
  • When you're out and about with your baby who is in a cloth diaper, you cannot just throw out the dirty diaper. You have to bring that dirty diaper home with you. And as you can imagine that could be really messy (and smelly!)
  • Some mothers actually reported more rashes when their babies were in cloth diapers. This is contrary to what people believe but some moms say that these rashes show up because cloth diapers are less absorbent and don’t have a barrier to keep moisture from the skin.

Disposable baby diapers : What are they?

Disposable Diapers are made of cloth or synthetic disposable materials. Disposable diapers have great absorbent capabilities because they contain absorbent chemicals. These are thrown away after use and are not reusable.

The Pros of Disposable diapers:

  • Convenience and the ease of use; disposable diapers are the easy choice. They are non fussy and an all-in-one product.
  • Disposal : Disposable diapers, as the name suggests can be thrown away once used, unlike the cloth diapers, which need to be washed and then reused.
  • Portability : It is just so easy to get around with your baby when he/she is in a disposable diaper. Whenever it gets dirty, just chuck it into a dustbin.
  • Absorbency: Disposable diapers tend to be very absorbent and leak less than cloth. They usually have a tight, snug fit and are very absorbent.

The Cons of Disposable diapers

  • Cost : Disposable diapers cannot be reused and hence tend to be more expensive than their cloth counterparts.
  • Bad for the environment :Disposable diapers are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to the filling up the world’s landfills. It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste in the form of disposable diapers is deposited into landfills each year.
  • Potty training challenges : Disposable diapers keep the child feeling quite dry. While this is great for the child, it’s that much harder to potty train them too.
  • Diaper rash and skin allergies - Disposable diapers do not suit a lot of kids. According to a study, 78% of babies who were using disposable diapers developed diaper-rash. In comparison, only 7% of the cloth diapered kids developed this.
  • Health concerns : The chemicals which is responsible for the the super-absorbency in disposable diapers is Sodium polyacrylate. This chemical has been linked to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) in children and could also cause allergic reactions.

Cloth Diapers VS Disposable Diapers

Cloth diapers


Made of soft cloth, usually old cotton sarees or dupattas

Made of plastic material



Should be changed immediately because it becomes very uncomfortable

Can be kept on for up to 6 hours and still keep the baby comfortable.

Very inconvenient for travelling. Needs a whole lot of ensemble along with it.

Easy to pack when travelling and available everywhere.

Doesn’t cause any rashes when worn.

Differs for each company but can cause rashes on the baby’s skin.

Much cheaper and can be made at home

Good brands can be very costly. Always better to look for some offers and discounts when it comes to getting the best brands.


Another never ending debate, there are equal advocates of people who have always used either. But there is a class of parents who have used both with a balance. It is important to know the pros and cons of both before making a decision.