How to Choose Diapers
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It is estimated that new dads and moms will change between 5,000 - 6,000 baby diapers during the first few years of their infant's life. Cloth diapers or disposable diapers - which will you choose for your baby? In this episode of The Lab, Daddy Clay and Daddy Brad break down this parenting dilemma. They take a look at both diaper options to help parents determine which is best. What effect will each diaper have on your finances? Is one better for the environment over the other?


How to Choose Diapers Daddy Brad: Welcome back to a very special edition of The Lab. We are down here at beautiful Barton Springs and I'm a disposable diaper. Daddy Clay: And I'm a cloth diaper. Come right back and we'll explain which one of us is much better than the other. Daddy Brad: You stink. Daddy Brad: This edition of The Lab is brought to us by BabyBjorn. Now it doesn't matter whether you're a disposable diaper or a cloth diaper. Your BabyBjorn Original Spirit Baby Carrier will not judge you. Daddy Clay: But I might. Did you realize you're going to change between 5 and 6 thousand diapers before your baby's potty trained? Daddy Brad: Holy crap! Daddy Clay: Yeah. Exactly, so you better choose wisely. Daddy Brad: Daddy Clay, the economics of disposable diapers, pretty straight forward. Any mid-range diaper at a big box retail store is going to run you between 25 cents and 35 cents. Multiply that by 5,400 which is the number of times you'll change that diaper and you're gonna come up with around $1,300.00 to $1,900.00 total cost for your diaper. Daddy Clay: Calculating the cost of cloth diapers is a little bit trickier. You've got a start-up cost of between $300.00 and $500.00 for your initial 12 to 24 cloth diapers coming from a brand like FuzziBunz, or Rumparooz, or bumGenius, depending on the brand. Then you've got laundry. Let's presume about $1.50 per load and that includes depreciation of the machine, a little bit less if you're using a high efficiency machine. Now some parents will wash diapers every single day, some less often, as few as two times a week. Let's for sake of argument presume 10 diaper washes per month for 3 years until the baby is potty trained. You're looking at a total diapering cost of around $1,000.00. Now if you use those same diapers for multiple children, obviously your costs go down. Or, if you're interested in a diapering service, that's gonna cost you about $75 a month and put you in pretty much the same neighborhood as using disposable diapers. Daddy Brad: A lot of parents make the decision between cloth and disposable based on the impact to the environment. It's a hotly debated topic and there are lots of variables. But the thing you've got to keep in mind with disposables, you need to think about the energy and raw materials it takes to make them, but you also must know that these are gonna end up in here, and that goes straight to the landfill. Over 2% of American landfills are given to disposable diapers. That's 27.4 billion nasty nappies or 3.4 million tons of poppy pants. Given the mix of fecal matter and inorganic compounds, there is some concern about what these will break down into. There are eco-friendly disposables on the market, from Whole Foods and Earth's Best, but those are at a premium price. Daddy Clay: When we're talking the environmental impact of cloth reusable diapers, we're primarily talking about water and energy. Obviously, manufacture of cloth diapers requires much less energy and raw materials than disposable diapers. It's really all about laundry and mom and dad have a big impact here. Studies have shown that parents that use very few loads of laundry and line dry their diapers have a much smaller footprint than parents that are using disposables. If however, you're doing many loads of laundry and tumble drying your cloth diapers, you may actually have a worse environmental impact than parents using disposables. Cloth diaper advocates would also be quick to point out, they believe cloth diapers cause diaper rash less often because people tend to change them more often. Daddy Brad: I think it's all about convenience. I mean, who's gonna do the laundry? Who's gonna wash that dirty diaper? That's 360 extra loads of laundry, two-parent working family, that's tough, is that worth $700.00, $800.00 bucks? Daddy Clay: True, but you can't discount the green angle. A lot of families are gonna want natural products against the baby's skin. They want to have a small footprint in terms of energy consumption. Cloth diapers allow that. I think it just boils down to there's no right and wrong answer here. Depends on you, your values, and your family, everybody has to make their own choice. Daddy Brad: If you have thoughts about cloth or disposable diapers, leave us a comment at and tell us what you think about Daddy Clay's calculations, English major. Daddy Clay: I know. I'm gonna catch it on the math on that one. We want to thank out sponsors BabyBjorn. You know, this great Baby Carrier Original Spirit, doesn't matter, cloth or disposable, it's diaper agnostic. BabyBjorn.