I remember going through this debate and ended up going disposable -- moreso b/c I didn't know anyone who used cloth diapers (despite the fact that I work with a bunch of liberal hippy environmentalists who were or had just had babies).
At that time, Grist did a review and the environmental tradeoffs were equal: trash versus energy use. I think the trash problem will be easier to solve/adapt to than climate change from GHG emissions.
I did a quick google and there was apparently a new assessment done earlier this year. This is one story about the new report: How Green Are Disposable Diapers? - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News - FOXNews.com
Bottom line: there are many considerations and there is no right or wrong answer. Like almost everything that has to do with being a parent!
We use cloth diapers for our 4 month old (and have since he was about 2 weeks old). I am always surprised when people get so nasty/ defensive about it - I am not actually that interested in what you choose to do, this is my choice for my baby.
Anyway, we use all BumGenius organic all-in-one diapers at this point. We have something like 27ish at this point and we wash every other day, although we could go to every third day. We don't have much of a smell from the diaper pail the way we do it currently (he is breast fed - don't know what that would be like with formula). We also use fleece liners (thin during the daytime and thick at night) to keep him feeling dry, since he howls his head off when he feels wet.
When he was still too small for these diapers, we used organic cotton prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers, and Thirsties covers. We also used Kissaluv fitted diapers. Both types worked well for us but we like the ease of the all-in-ones although they DO take awhile to dry.
As far as water usage, our water bill has gone up about $5/ month. Not sure what that equals in volume, but it isn't major for us. We anticipate saving the diapers for the next baby, which makes them more cost effective (they were pretty pricy to start, but in my opinion are totally worth it).
My husband and I both love this system and are totally happy with our choice. I do use disposables every so often when I have to travel with baby for work to hotels without laundry facilities - I can tell you that I personally hate them due to smell (they smell way worse to me than our cloth), leakage/ blowouts (never have them in cloth), and just the way they feel and the idea of the chemicals in there.
Has anyone else noticed increases in their water bill since starting with cloth diapers? Since my daughter was born, 5mos ago, our water bills have gone up $10-15/mo. My washing machine is 30yrs old and clearly needs to be replaced but I can't decide whether or not the energy star washer (3X the price) is worth the expense.
A Dark Side of Reusable Cotton DiapersWe love cotton so much we conveniently forget it has an evil dark side. Few crops wreak as much environmental havoc as cotton. Our beloved cotton, still the fabric-of-choice in more than 90% of reusable diapers, uses more water than any other cash crop. It requires more chemical fertilizer and pesticide than any other major crop. And cotton more completely depletes soil's nutrients and minerals than almost any other plant on the planet. Cotton farmers no longer rotate their crops to replenish the soil, because they cannot afford to leave fields fallow for years at a time. Instead, they plow in chemical additives-especially heavy concentrations of nitrogen-to replace what cotton sucked-out. Just one little fun fact about cotton will make you think twice about reusable diapers: Cotton alone accounts for fully 25% of the world's pesticide use. Well, okay, a second fun fact to reinforce the first. No other crop has caused as many large-scale ecological disasters as cotton.
Our water bill stayed the same when we first switched to cloth. Then it went up once we had two in cloth and I was washing every other day. Now that we're back down to one in cloth diapers the water bill is lower than it was, though slightly higher than it was pre-cloth diapers. But we're also a family of four which means we have twice as much laundry. It's strange how laundry seems to triple with the addition of a baby.
I'd think with a more efficient washer, even if it's not a super fancy energy star front loader, you'd still cut your water bill down a few dollars.
My water bill has gone up that much in the last several months as well and I'm 12 years past washing diapers. The Water Bureau had a big rate increase about then; that may account for the larger bills.
Just as an aside- we noticed a creep up in our bill last year that was related to to the tiolet cistern running. If you see this increase check all the stuff in your house for leaks etc.
With three children I find we do laundry about 5 times/week (at least- and that does not include the special whites wash)). I have been trying to minimise for all sorts of reasons- environmentals and financial with little success.
this is an old thread that i stumbled on accidentally, but i'll comment anyway.
we use cloth diapers and we (mainly *I* because I change most of the diapers around here) love it. our reasons for doing cloth are not environmental. they are #1) because my kids have sensitive skin and i don't like the chemicals that are used in disposables and #2) financial reasons.
we used 7th generation disposables with our first kid. but i was always interested in doing cloth, so for our second kid i decided to give it a go. in the beginning it can be kind of overwhelming because there is sooooo much to learn and soooo many diapers to choose from. we tried a bunch before deciding that regular old prefolds and thirsties covers were the best choice for us. however i did have most of my prefolds converted to "prefitteds" (prefold diapers that are made into fitted diapers). and right now i am in the process of converting the rest myself.
i didn't get a chance to read over all of the comments but did notice a few very negative comments about the "dark side" of using cloth or whatever. what about the "dark side" of how disposable diapers are made? yeah washing cloth diapers does use more water and more energy, but what about the water and energy (not to mention chemicals) used to make sposies?? there is a lot more to the negative side of sposies than just the fact that they sit in a landfill for 500 years. again, like i said, it was not an environmental decision for us, and certainly not a political one. it was about our kids' health more than anything. but if you want to talk about the "evil" side of cloth diapering, you need to really look at how disposables are made first....
nobody i know that uses cloth really folds them. they toss them in a basket.
also, are you aware that you are NOT supposed to throw the poop in the trash? you are supposed to dump it in the toilet and flush.
that said, my sister used mostly disposable but she always used a flushable liner for discarding solid waste.
Cloth diapers worked fine for us when the tyke was very young. We used a service so it was a weekly exchange of soiled diapers for clean ones. Super easy and in terms of water and energy I assume the service benefits from economies of scale. Would make an effort to dispose of accumulations of solid matter on soiled diapers into the toilet but otherwise it was quite simple to have a dedicated hamper with a plastic liner next to the changing table.
As the kid grew up towards toddler size, the cloth diapers just did not fit well so we switched to the most ecological disposables we could find affordably online. Mostly 7th generaton.
Baby clothing is most important issue for all parent. You have to take care of baby clothing,diapering etc. There are variety of diapers are available in market so you can choose as per baby's size. Diapers are necessary for all new born babies.