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Are cloth or disposable diapers better for diaper rash?

cloth vs disposable diapers

Since the introduction of disposable diapers, the battle has remained between cloth diapers and disposable diapers. Different proponents of each type have argued for their preferred diaper type, citing facts that support their argument. Both state that their proposed type of diaper is better for managing diaper rash.


What makes the diapers different?

  • Components. They are made from different materials. However, the components of each type of diaper allow it to be absorbent while preventing leaks.
  • Cloth diapers are reusable, washable diapers often made from bleached industrial cotton. Other fiber materials used to make cloth diapers include wool, bamboo, and unbleached hemp. The inner part of cloth diapers (inserts) is often suede cloth or polyester fabrics which help to keep the baby dry because of their non-absorbent components. Furthermore, the covers are usually made by combining a fabric layer and waterproof layer to form a waterproof fabric that provides protection from leaks and gives fitting to the diaper.
  • Disposable diapers have two major parts: the diaper core where urine and liquid feces are absorbed and stored, and the diaper shell or chassis which preserves the core, thereby preventing leakage, and provides fitting for the diaper on the baby. The core of disposable diapers is made of synthetic polymers that absorb and retain water more than 10 times its weight while the shell is made from plastic resins which are put together by interlocking the plastic fibers.

The dilemma of choosing a suitable diaper.

Often proponents of a diaper type claim that the components of their preferred diaper make it healthier for baby's bum, and prevent baby rash. 

So let's look at the pros and cons of both diapers.

Cloth diaper

  • Yes, cloth diapers are made from natural fibers which imply that they do not contain any chemicals that your little one can react to. But there are other benefits too.
  • They are washable and reusable. You don't have to buy a fresh diaper every other time because you can reuse your baby's cloth diaper. This saves you lots of headaches, like trying to figure out what size or brand of diaper to use for your baby (at least not as much as you would with disposable diapers).
  • And they save you some bucks. Cloth diapers may be expensive to acquire at first, but in the long run, they are more cost-effective. You basically don't have to keep buying them over time, expect they get really bad or worn out, you just reuse the ones you already have. 
  • On the other hand, cloth diapers accrue the cost of washing. However, these costs are still easier than the cumulative cost of disposable diapers.
  • Also, the detergents and bleach used in washing your baby's diapers may not be friendly with their skin and can cause rashes when they come in contact with the baby's skin, in which case you have to switch for a milder detergent or bleach.

Disposable diapers

  • Disposable diapers have high absorbency qualities. They lock away pee and liquid poo from the skin, thus keeping the baby's skin dry for long hours.
  • They are also convenient. Whether you're going to the mall or visiting extended family members, it's easy to take disposable diapers along. Since you only have to dispose of once you remove it, you won't be inconveniencing anyone else. And you won't have to upset your diaper bag with the smell of pee or poo.
  • Disposable diapers save you from having to change the baby too often, more so at night time when you can even use the overnight diapers. The shell prevents the trapped liquid from leaking and causing discomfort to the child or staining the sheets.
  • But. They are expensive in the long run. The cost of purchasing disposable diapers, in the long run, is almost three times the cost of purchasing cloth diapers and washing them.
  • And they contain chemicals that may be toxic on the skin of some babies. These may include preservatives, dyes, fragrances, and additives used in the manufacture of these products.
  • They may also cause a delay in potty training since the toddlers are less likely to feel discomfort from their own waste.

So what?

In essence, there is really no one way to deal with diaper rashes. The choice of the diaper will depend on what works for you, and your baby, in the long run. There is no compelling evidence to show that either type of diaper trumps the other.


The basic caution to employ in the diapering process applies to both types of diapers, and they can be summed as follows:

  • Don't keep your baby too long in wet or soiled diapers. Change them promptly
  • Figure out which diaper works better on your baby's skin and stick to it
  •  Change the detergent or bleach you use in laundering your cloth diapers if they irritate your baby's skin
  • Avoid diapers that contain fragrance or any harmful preservative
  • Air dry your baby's bum between diaper changes. 
  • Always clean baby's diapers with wipes or freshwater between diaper changes and ensure there are no trapped pee or poo between.

It doesn't matter how often a baby gets diaper rashes, their parents will panic each time. Maybe it's the knowledge that diaper rashes could mean a plethora of things or it's just parental protection. Whichever the case, the right amount of panic will help push their parents to the right action.


Diaper rash is a common occurrence among babies and toddlers, and it relates to their use of diapers. It usually causes the babies to become cranky and irritable contributing to the parents' worry. While a diaper rash may not be anything overly serious, it's not something to ever ignore. 


As new parents starting out on the journey of parenting, making the early diaper decision can be a dilemma. You want to know the kind of diaper that will be more suitable for your baby. Top on your list of concerns is the management of baby rash which you have heard is almost inevitable but manageable.


Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Author
Sky Hoon
Family Man. He is a family man and married with 1 child. Spent countless nights changing diaper and surprised how outdated diapers are. Nevertheless, there is no solution yet as a parent, just want to research more about diapers.
Read His Personal Blog


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