Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers : Best Diapers to Use on Your Newborn

A baby lying down in a crib wearing nothing but a diaper.

Disposable diapers or cloth diapers? The “diaper dilemma” is often one that hits expecting parents long before the baby even arrives. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when preparing for a new baby, especially deciding which diapers are best for your baby, lifestyle, and budget.

During the first year, your baby can go through up to 3,000 diapers. A newborn typically needs a diaper change 10 times every day, while babies 17 weeks and older often need fewer changes—about five to seven daily. Because every baby is unique, it’s important to remember that your baby may need fewer or more diaper changes than average. Their weight, size, skin sensitivity, and other factors all play a role in how often they’ll need to be changed.

To help you decide whether you should use disposable or cloth diapers, let’s take a look at what each has to offer.

Disposable Diapers: The Basics

The first mass-market, disposable diapers came out in 1948, but it wasn’t until 1961 that Pampers hit the grocery store shelves. Today, parents and caregivers can find a huge selection of disposable diapers for all ages and sizes. The contemporary disposable diaper has evolved and can be both eco-friendly and gentle for sensitive skin. Different types of disposable diapers are convenient for parents on-the-go, as they don’t require any washing. On average, parents may find they are more absorbent than a cloth diaper, and there are more sizing options available.

Here are a few of the best options:

Pampers Swaddlers Disposable Diapers Enormous Pack

The Pampers Swaddlers Enormous Pack has 120 disposable diapers designed for 12-hours of protection. These diapers have quilting for comfort, air channels to help baby’s skin breathe, and a wetness indicator to take the guesswork out of changing diapers.

ECO by Naty Premium Disposable Baby Diapers for Sensitive Skin

Another option is a jumbo pack of ECO by Naty diapers from Amazon that are eco-friendly with absorbent layers and easy-open sides. They’re the first diaper brand to be independently certified as Vincotte Approved for ecological excellence. They’re constructed from bio- and plant-based materials to help keep harmful chemicals and potential allergens away from baby’s delicate skin.

Honest 80-ct. Size 1 Diapers

These disposable diapers are eco-friendly and feature hypoallergenic materials free of additives and chlorine processing.

Other must-know features of Honest Diapers:

  • Stretch side panels and refastenable tabs for easier movement
  • Plant-based inner and outer layers
  • A wheat/corn blend combines to form the ultra-absorbent core
  • Free of heavy metals, latex, lotions, fragrance, and common allergens

Why Use Cloth Diapers?

Cloth diapers today are not the same as the ones used by your parents or grandparents. Today’s cloth diapers can come with variable sizing, pre-folded, and with bands around the legs and waist to help reduce leaks. You can also pair the cloth diaper with a removable lining to increase absorbency. Many parents choose cloth diapers because they’re considered good for the environment, because reusable diapers mean less waste in landfills. However, it also means parents and caregivers have a bit more work to do.

You may opt for a diaper delivery service that picks up the soiled cloth diapers weekly and drops off a supply of clean ones. These services vary by location and may be the ideal option for busy families. Cleaning cloth diapers is more work than tossing a disposable in the trash, but many parents prefer this method because it can be more eco-friendly. If you decide disposable is not for your family, it’s important to consider the different types of cloth diapers:

  • Pocket diapers
  • All-in-One diapers
  • All-in-Two diapers (also known as hybrids)
  • Fitted diapers

The Green Nursery has a handy cloth diaper dictionary and is a fantastic reference when learning the ins and outs of cloth diapers.

Removing Stains from Cloth Diapers:

When laundering cloth diapers, it's likely you’ll be faced with stains. Before washing the diaper, any solid material or semi-solid material needs to be removed. Staining is normal, and should be expected with cloth diapers. Bleach and other chemical brighteners are not recommended for removing stains.

A diaper sprayer is a handy tool for removing solids and semi-solids. Rinse the matter into the toilet and then saturate the diaper before placing into a pail with a cover. Wash the cloth diapers daily or every other day but don’t overload the washer. If needed, run your machine’s pre-rinse to help with stubborn stains. Sun-dry outside or on a low temp in the dryer.

Atalawa Handheld Cloth Diaper Sprayer

Two Must-Have Diaper Accessories

Help reduce the risk of diaper rash with Earth Mama’s Organic Diaper Balm. No one wants their baby to suffer with a red, irritated bum. This diaper cream is super gentle, but effective when applied after bathing and diaper changes. It’s 100-percent organic, dermatologist tested, and doesn’t contain any parabens, petroleum, or artificial fragrances.

Organic Diaper Balm 

You can’t go wrong with the Planet Wise Sport Bag for disposable or cloth diapers. This lightweight drawstring backpack combines durability with style. It has a great look plus offers several features you want in a sporty diaper bag:

  • Waterproof inside and out
  • Two sections: one for dry diapers or clothes and one for wet/soiled
  • Sewn and sealed seams to limit leaks
  • Zippered front pocket for small, personal items like a phone and keys
  • Nylon drawstring cords
  • Machine washable plus tumble dry
  • Made in the U.S.

Planet Wise Sports Bag

If you want to find more diaper bags, check out this guide on the best diaper bags of 2019.

Choosing between disposable diapers and cloth diapers can feel overwhelming. But once you have an idea about the basics of each, it’s easier to make the decision. What it really comes down to is your personal preferences and lifestyle. There are options for every family, and no rules that say if you choose one, you can’t switch to the other.

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