Diapers and Their Alternatives: Finding the Best Choice for You


Statistics claim that you will change about 7,000 diapers during the first three years of your child’s life. Disposable diapers were invented in the 1970s in order to make parents’ lives easier. The problem is that the plastic diapers are not biodegradable. That means all 7,000 of those dirty diapers wind up in a landfill just sitting there forever. Parents are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives to diapers, and now there are other options.


Cloth Diapers

There has been a resurgence in cloth diapering in the last decade. The mechanics of cloth diapers include the diaper itself, the liners, and then washing the diaper. You also need soakers, which are absorbent pants or shorts that the child wears to slow down the waste, reducing the chances that the his or her sheets, bed, or floor end up soiled. There are both folded and pre-folded diapers. The new popularity of cloth diapering has led to a predictable increase in diaper services to make cloth more convenient. The problem is that these services wind up having about the same level of environmental impact as conventional diapers. Diaper services include washing and folding, so they pick up the diapers from your house, launder them and return everything clean and nice. When you figure in the gas burned by driving back and forth, with the water and energy used for the washing, it seems like you are not saving much in dollars or consciousness if you choose cloth diapering plus a service.

Hybrid Diapers

If you can’t imagine giving up your plastic diapers but still like the convenience, you could look into hybrid diapers made by gDiaper. gDiapers have disposable inserts which can be flushed down the toilet or taken safely to a landfill. They sell cute, hip little gPants that do not need to be washed every time. This is probably your best choice if you and your partner work and have other children. There are also other companies providing new twists on disposable diapers. Seventh Generation, which you may know from their environmentally safe cleaning products, now sells Free & Clear Unbleached Diapers. They are made of plant products with no chemicals, processing, inks or chlorine. (Chlorine processing releases harmful chlorine hydrocarbons). The material is made from wood pulp, which is both comfortable and very absorbent. The packaging for the diapers is also 100% recyclable, so the well-being of the next seven generations is also considered.

Elimination Communication – No Diapers

Elimination communication, also known as EC or Baby Potty Training, involves no diapers. Although this may sound crazy, remember that there are many societies around the world which do not have access to bundles of Huggies. And before the advent of diapers and washing machines, people had to make do somehow. Some people believe the traditional way of handling elimination is by keeping your eyes and ears open for when your baby has to go to the bathroom. When the moment arises, the baby is held over a chamber pot. When babies turn to mobile toddlers, ECers dress them in clothing that is open or easily reachable to the back and front.

This seems like a stretch to us, but some people abhor the idea of their children sitting for any length of time in their own waste. To them, EC is a much better process for parents, children and the environment. However, it is also a very labor-intense and time consuming process that may not work for every busy family.

Whether to cloth diaper, or diaper at all, is a personal choice for each family to make. No one should judge you for the choice you decide is best for your family. Thankfully we live in a time where we have more than one option. Let us know what works for you!


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