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Cloth vs disposable diapers - Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 2-Dec-2010 The Star

Cloth diapers are reusable, cheaper in the long run and have less impact on the environment. But, disposables are more convenient.
All parents go through this debate - should you use cloth or disposable?
Let's hear from two mothers who grappled with this question.

Stacy Dong

Stay-at-home mum Stacy Dong:
We use disposable diapers because they are just so much easier. Plus, the baby goes through diapers like there's no tomorrow for the first few months of his life, so it's definitely much easier with disposables.
Most importantly, I do not want to overburden myself especially when I am a first time mum and a SAHM (stay-at-home mum) without any help.
Was cost a factor when we made this decision?
Yes and no. Yes, as the cloth diapers startup cost is not exactly cheap, and no, because the convenience of disposables trumps any cost issues.
I feel bad about the impact to the environment from using disposables, but I know that every little help and convenience that I get would help me be a calmer and better mum to my son and that is more important to me.
I try to compensate by living a greener lifestyle - more recycling, using green and biodegradable products, etc.
It would definitely be great if we do go natural and opt for cloth, but I don't think that's always practical, especially when you are a first-time and often overwhelmed parent and when you travel. I think a combination of both types of diapers would be most practical and I would definitely explore that option for my next child.

Hanani Izzati Mohamad Zubir

Hanani Izzati Mohamad Zubir, mother of 2-year-old triplets:
We actually considered using cloth diapers but decided that it was not very practical in terms of cost and convenience.
We calculated the cost because when we were considering it, we really wanted to compare costs and benefits of cloth diapers versus disposables.
In our case, the initial investment would have been quite high as cloth diapers are not cheap either; it would have cost about RM50 each for a good quality one and we would also have had to buy the inserts and liners, too.
Normally, one baby would use at least five diapers a day, which means we would have needed 15 pieces a day (we'd need more if the boys were having diarrhoea).
Since we live in an apartment, the drying area is limited and this was also an issue as the cloth diapers might not dry properly for next day's use.
So ideally, we would have needed at least 45 pieces of cloth diapers to ensure that we'd have enough to spare if we didn't have time to wash them every night or if they didn't dry properly the day before.
We spent about RM250 a month on disposable diapers.
Let's say one cloth diaper, insert and liner costs about RM60, so 45 pieces would cost RM2,700 for a year, which is equivalent to RM225 per month. Thus, the cost savings would not have been very high for us. Though it is reusable, I'm sure after a year of being frequently used, there would be wear and tear and they would need to be replaced, too.
It was also not very convenient for us because cloth diapers need a bit more care to wash and dry, which we didn't really have time for. As I am working, I already have very limited time after work to spend with the kids so I'd rather spend every minute enjoying my kids rather than having extra housework to do.
  • I am a working mother of 2 and I try to use cloth diaper whenever I am at home. I think it gives the baby better air circulation and of course it is better for the environment. I use both types, so to speak.
  • I use cloth diapers almost everyday. The disposable are only for emergency use for example when the diapers are not dried or going on holidays (balik kampung). I will try my best to use the disposable as sparingly as I can.

    I am a greeny at heart and try and adopt the green lifestyle where I possibly can. Yes, its true that the initial cost 18 sets (you only need a minimum of 18, 6 a day) of CDs is on the hi-side (I spent RM1200) and that is equivalent to 8 months of disposables. My son is still on CDs and he is now 15 months. I am already in the saving mode. Plus babies look so cute in the colourful diapers.

    Babies on CD are much easier to potty train as well. I have started to potty train him and hoping that he will be able to go off the diapers by 2 years old.

    The benefits outway the convenience of the disposables in the long run.

  • Cloth diaper may cost a bit initially (I spent about RM500 then) but in the long run, I've saved a lot. I have 10 sets, which is more than sufficient to move about but I still keep disposables for emergencies. My boy's now 23 months, I started when he was 6 months, so I've used it about 17 months now, with the savings of RM690 (RM70 x 17mths = RM1190 - RM500 = RM690) and the diapers are still in usable condition, of course the inserts not as soft and thick like new but the diaper material and colours are still very good. Its good for the environment and cost savings.
  • Well, disposable are WAY convenient but when you think of all the trash you throw in a bb's lifetime, it fills up alot. I use both - the disposables in the first 2 or 3 mths bcos they poop so often & so difficult to wash (imagine nO MAID lar) but after bb establish a routine for toilet time, I use Cloth diapers during day & also sometimes night. ITs really savings in a long run (can get good ones for RM40 or so).
    My bb also less rash when on cloth diapers, its not hot like some ppl may think. When we go out, we bring along disposable just in case need to can use both dispo & cloth.
  • I am a working mum with 3 boys. My youngest son in now 5 months old. I use both the types of diapers. Morning till his evening bath, he is on cloth but in the evenings and when we are out of the house, he will be on disposables. Though disposable ones are very convenient for mums but it more beneficial if the child uses the cloth.. He hardly gets rashes and is most of the time dry coz he cant stand being wet... It is a phase that we all go through and I can patiently wait for him to outgrow his diapers years.. A good quality cloth diapers can last years..I am still using my 9 years old's cloth diapers for my 5 months old now.. A mix of both will be the ideal scenario for most mums..

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