First up are the modern, plastic, throw out diapers. These are the diapers you see in television commercials (i.e. Huggies, Pampers). There are a couple unique pros:
- Easy and Convenient. Fans of reusable and hybrid diapers will argue that they're just as easy. As an outsider to reusable diaper changing (and diaper changing in general), I'm gonna disagree. To me, a disposable diaper is easier because when it's dirty you chuck it in the diaper pail and don't look back.
- Bells and whistles. Some disposable diapers have "wetness indicators" and sweet fragrances to mask the not so sweet fragrances.
|Huggies disposable diapers|
Next are the old-school and coming back in a big way reusable diapers. They are what they sound like - diapers that are reused after each use. There are couple unique pros:
- Cost. In a diaper to diaper comparison, disposables are much cheaper than reusable/hybrids. But, in the long term a baby will need more and more and MORE disposables where as reusable diapers can be reused, thus they're a one-time expense. And reusable diapers can be passed along to additional siblings.
- Natural material. Reusable diapers are made of natural materials, cotton or wool, which is a huge bonus for babies with especially sensitive skin.
|Charlie Banana reusable diapers|
Before I discuss the 3rd type of diapers, it's important to address the environmental impact disposable and reusable diapers because it's a bit of a quagmire (side note: quagmire is one of my favorite words and it's the name of a character in Family Guy). I'm guessing you're confused. You thought that the key difference between reusable and disposable diapers are that the former is less harsh on the environment and the latter is more harsh on the environment. Well, it turns out that it's not quite that cut and dry.
The major issue with disposable diapers is that they don't decompose. They sit in landfills far beyond the lifetime of the baby and when a single baby is using a couple thousand disposable diapers from birth to potty training...that's a lot of diapers. Supposedly there are some new disposable diapers that decompose in 10-15 years, which is an interesting solution. But I feel compelled to use the word "supposedly" because there haven't been 10-15 year long studies to prove this claim. Meanwhile, reusable diapers don't hang out in landfills because they're busy being reused. And when a reusable diaper finally meets its maker, it will eventually decompose because it's made of natural fibers. That's the good news. But, reusable diapers do impact the environment with the water and energy consumption that it takes to clean them. For those using a laundry service there is the additional impact of the vehicle (gas, emissions, etc.) that picks up and drops off the diapers.
Finally, the third option. Hybrid diapers are part reusable and part disposable. The diaper itself can be washed and reused, but there is a disposable insert. With some brands the disposable inserts are thrown away and with some brands the disposable inserts can be flushed down the toilet. Could these be the answer to the disposable/reusable quagmire? I'm not sure. These are a relatively new option, so I couldn't find comparison studies regarding the environmental impact.
Diaper buyers and changers - what option did you choose and why? Would you make the same choice all over again after your experience? Any other pros that I missed?