Being a dietitian and mom means I'm pretty passionate about poop. It's a daily conversation starter at home and work. Ryan was even inspired by a friend to build Fredrik's changing table. Starting out my intention was to use cloth diapers, but once again.... Since Fredrik's arrival we have tried several different types of diapers; here's our experiences and some info to go with it.
Disposable: You live, you learn, and then you dispose of more than 2700 diapers in the first year of a child's life. Whoa! that's a lot of diapers, and FYI, they don't decompose. But for many people Huggies, Pampers, luvs, and Costco are their go-to for diapers. We are currently using the Honest overnights because Fredrik kept leaking through his other diapers by early morning and waking himself (and us) up. So far we have been pretty happy with the results with only a couple leaks.
Benefits: Least expensive option. Available in every grocery store and drug store and even some gas stations. Only need to change about every 2-4 hours during the day.
Drawbacks: They don't decompose. There are many new natural/organic brands on the market and some boast that they use renewable resources. That's great, but if they are going in a plastic bag and heading to the dump, they will still take an extremely long time to break down. The chemicals and plastics used in typical disposable diapers may cause skin irritation for some babies.
Compostable: We currently use the Naty Compostable diapers through a local diaper service called Do Good Diapers. Once a week they drop off 2 packages of diapers and a compostable garbage bag. At the sametime they pickup the used diapers and compost them at a local facility. So far we have really liked the Naty brand. No poop blow outs! Unlike a few of the other "natural brands" we tried, these seem to be very absorbent. If you don't have a diaper service in your town, you can do a diaper subscription through Naty, but realize they do not pick up the used ones, so they are still going to your local dump.
Benefits: They decompose! Need to change about every 2-4 hours during the day.
Drawbacks: More expensive than disposable and they still use more resources than choosing cloth. Some brands are not as absorbent or do not fit as well as typical disposable diapers.
Cloth: We tried pre-folds when Fredrik was about 4-6wk old through Do Good. Unfortunately they were not absorbent enough for him, and he would fuss the minute they got wet. I literally changed a diaper every 20 minutes for 2 hours one day. Needless to say, after those 2hr were up, we went back to disposable. Thankfully, Do Good also offers Gro Via diapers which are a hybrid cloth diaper with shells and snap in soaker pads that do not require any folding. It took a little trial & error to get the perfect fit to prevent leaks, but once we did they were a great option.
Unfortunately, our day care provider requires us to send a clean insert and shell for every diaper change, which they then send home individually wrapped in a plastic bag. This was just going to be a hassle bringing bottles and 5+ diapers to and from daycare each day; which then have to be unwrapped each night. (Some people would be happy to do this, I'm just not one of them.) This is why we started with the Naty's. If I was willing to wash the cloth diapers I think we would have invested in our own Gro Via or other cloth diapers, but I really don't want to do a load of laundry every day. Since they are an investment, I would recommend buying second hand or finding a friend who has cloth diapered and try them out first. You may find you like one style (pre-fold vs. hybrid vs. all-in-one) and not another. There are many facebook groups where you can buy used shells and inserts and ask lots of questions.
Benefits: Most Eco friendly. After the initial investment, much MUCH less expensive in the long run. Especially if you have multiple children. Hard to smell poop through all that fluff.
Drawbacks: If you don't use a diaper service you will end up washing diapers daily or every other day. They are bulkier than disposable/compostable so your baby will be wearing pants and sometimes onesies that are months ahead of their actual age. Although there are people on Etsy who make pants to fit over their giant bums. They take a bit of trial and error to find the right fit, and you may have to get creative with layering soaker pads at night to prevent multiple diaper changes. Need to change more often, every 1-4 hours during the day depending on naps.
I'm a dietitian with a passion for good nutrition, bold flavors, playing in the dirt, and being with my family.