Cloth diapers reduce your family's impact on the environemt, period. Yes, cloth diapers require washing, but once a cloth diaper is made, it can potentially last several children. More water is required in the manufacturing process of a disposable than in a cloth diaper, and much more than a simple wash of a cloth diaper.
If your child is completely potty trained by 24 months, she will require on average 6,000 diaper changes. That is approximately one ton of garbage! Disposable diapers take approximately 500 years to decompose, and we don't even know if they ever fully decompose since there are so many plastics and plastic byproducts in them.
No mater your diapers system, parents are supposed to remove solids prior to disposal, but parents using disposables rarely remove solid waste. All this solid waste, full of bacteria, viruses and vaccines, also ends up in the landfill. Now your baby's poop becomes a threat to wildlife as well as out entire ecosystem.
Thi is just the diapers, not to mention all the plastic packaging, the disposable wipes, the disposable pail liners, the diaper genie "diaper sausages," the extra fuel for trucks to ship diapers to the stores, etc. I think you get the picture.
There is a large community of cloth diapering mamas and they love to get together and talk diapers and babies. I have never heard of such a thing for parents who enjoy using disposable diapers. Community is a wonderful thing for parents to find when raising children and especially wonderful when you find a community of like minded parents.
Disposable diapers contain tons of chemicals and dioxins that are toxic. Most disposables (even those "green" brands) contain chlorine. Urine is basicly ammonia and when chlorine and ammonia mix, they form a toxic gas - not enough to kill anyone, but enough to make most babies breakout is rashes.
Disposable diapers do not allow baby's skin to breathe. Cloth diapers are more comfortable, breathable and have super soft interiors.
Cloth diapers are a bigger financial investment up front than disposables, but over the course of while your baby is in diapers, cloth is a huge savings.
The average baby will go through 8 - 12 diapers per day, and toddlers go throug 6 - 8 diapers per day. On average, disposable diapers cost $0.29 each. If your baby is completely potty trained by 3.5 (the average age for potty learning), that is almost $3,000 to diaper your baby in disposables. Some cloth diaper systems cost as little as $150 and will last multiple babies.
How many times have you realized you are out of disposable diapers at a really inconvenient time, like when you need one for the next change? Granted, most of us live close enough to a store that we can run up the street and go grab a package of diapers, but using cloth diapers (and having 24 - 36 on hand) means that our rotation of diapers leaves some always clean and ready to use. Even if for some odd reason, all the cloth diapers were used, a load of diaper laundry takes no more than 2 hours which will typically be enough time to get you through that last diaper.
Cloth diapers have a bad reputation for being time consuming and taking too long to wash and launder. Cloth diapers mean 2 to 4 extra loads of laundry per week (depending on how many diapers you have in your stash, and how old your baby is).
Washing diapers is no more time consuming than any other additional work for baby. It is nice to have diapers on hand anytime rather than having to run up the street to the store when you realize you used the last disposable diaper and forgot to buy them.
There are so many brands and products of cloth diapers today that everyone can find something to meet their family's needs and budget. There are 4 major types of cloth diapers: prefolds, All-In-Ones (AIO), Pockets, and Fitteds. For those who may not want to make a commitment to cloth yet, there are even hybrid options available.
Studies have shown that babies in cloth diapers on average poty learn ealrier than babies in disposable diapers. Many contibute this to the fact that babies can feel the wetness in a cloth diaper that they cannot detect as easily in a disposable. Being uncomfortable in a wet diaper may be just the motivation a baby needs to learn to use the potty earlier.