Cloth versus Disposable: The Diaper Debate

Trish Knudsen diaperdebate

The average baby will go through 5,000 to 7,000 diaper changes in the first two years of his or her life, according to Environment Canada. How will all those diapers affect the environment? What else should you consider when choosing a diaper?

Cloth Diapers


  • Made of breathable, natural material
  • Because cloth diapers are changed more often, diaper rash is less frequent
  • Babies who wear cloth diapers tend to potty train at a younger age
  • Reusable


  • Varies depending on the type of cloth diapers you purchase, and whether or not you use a service.
  • Prices range from about $3 each (when buying in bulk), to $25 per diaper for a higher-end, organic cloth diaper
  • Washing diapers will increase water and electricity bills, and can be quite costly if you don’t own a washing machine and dryer.

Environmental Impact

  • Seemingly low because diapers are reusable and recyclable
  • Washing diapers does have an impact with energy and water used for necessary hot water washes
  • If non-biodegradable detergents are used, this will also impact the environment

Disposable Diapers


  • Convenient
  • Can be less messy
  • High absorption keeps wet away from baby’s skin
  • No extra laundry costs


  • Average cost of disposables is $18 for a package of 72 diapers, or $0.25 per diaper

Environmental Impact

  • Some municipalities with green bin programs allow disposable diapers in the bins. Check with your local waste department to find out if this option is available.
  • Parts of disposable diapers are plastic and do not decompose


  • The gDiaper may be the greenest diaper choice. A hybrid of cloth and disposable, the gDiaper has a flushable insert and washable cover.
  • Elimination Communication eliminates the need for diapers. Parents use cues from the baby, timing and intuition to figure out when baby needs to use the potty. For more information visit

The Bottom Line

You should choose a diaper depending on your lifestyle, preferences, finances and environmental concern. Make sure your choice is best for you & your baby!





Become an
Baby Care Tips Member

for exclusive contests, articles and promotions!

Sandy's Blog

Baby Care & Parents Information - Oh Baby! Magazine Canada