Consideration #6: Containment ability
With elastic leg bands, waterproof coverings and super-absorbent gels to absorb wetness, today’s disposables are better than ever at containing messes. Because they’re so reliable, even many parents ardent about using cloth often reach for the disposables when they head out of the house. That said, cloth diapers also have improved dramatically, with new designs, materials and features that boost absorbency and decrease the likelihood of leaks. Some styles, such as All-in-Ones and Pockets, have eliminated the need for waterproof covers, while others (pre-folds, contours and fitteds) still require them. Using absorbent inserts and liners is another way to prevent your baby from soaking through.
Also, how you wash the cloth diapers can greatly affect their absorbency, notes Hillary Mizia, co-owner of Monkey Hugz, a natural parenting and baby store in Golden, Colo. She recommends using no more than a tablespoon of bleach-free detergent and 1/2 cup of vinegar to prevent detergent buildup (which can lead to leaky diapers), and avoiding super-hot water temps (which break down the diapers faster). “Containment is all about the way you put [the diaper] on,” adds Alexander, mom of 1-year-old Brody. “You have to make sure it’s snug around the legs and that the inserts aren’t sticking out of the diaper.”
The bottom line: While cloth diapers have come a long way in the containment department, disposables still rule.
Ultimately, the best diaper is the one that works best for you and your family. So before making a decision, you may want to test different options to see how well they fit your lifestyle and how they affect your baby. Like many parents, you may even find you like using both types-cloth for certain situations and disposables for others. Whatever their impact on Mother Nature, diapers are a necessity of modern life. And before you know it, your baby will be out of them and heading off to school, using a computer, learning to drive, friending you on Facebook and getting his first job. So enjoy the diaper days while they last.