Between five and seven million children in the U.S. have enuresis (or intermittent urinary incontinence) arising from various causes or conditions — including anxiety, diabetes, an overactive bladder, and/or some types of cerebral palsy. For younger and older children alike, a cloth diaper can help avoid wetting of beds and chairs but it can also help them get through their day at school and other daytime activities. There is a big market for diapers for teens and adults as well as babies and smaller children and if your child needs them, then you may just find that they prefer to use cloth rather than plastic diapers.
Upping the Comfort Factor
Older children who are at school or who attend physical therapy sessions may need to wear a diaper for various hours. This is the case, for instance, for those with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. This condition causes constant ‘tightness’ or ‘stiffness’ in muscles, usually in the lower extremities. It can also make it more difficult to control one’s bladder. As found in a study by M Ozturk et al, enuresis is more frequent in children with cerebral palsy and this is particularly true in those with spastic quadriplegia. Plastic diapers can be uncomfortable and cause chafing, even when diapers are changed frequently. Rashes can be reduced by applying a protective cream, but they can be avoided almost completely through the use of cloth nappies, which are softer and more comfortable to wear.
Keeping Costs Down
Cloth diapers are also useful when it comes to keeping costs down. Since they can be rewashed, they can help families avoid the often exorbitant cost of throwaway versions. The increased cost of electricity imposed by frequent washing is still considerably lower than that of diapers. The National Diaper Bank Network calculates that diapers can cost a family around $80 per month. This is considerably more than what one full load of washing a week will set you back. The key to keeping costs down is to have various cloth diapers so you can wash various in one go.
Cloth diapers can also help families lower their carbon footprint by around 40%. A child can use around 4,000 nappies in their lifetime and if medical needs extend this time beyond the age of around two or three, then you can add thousands more to this total. Around 6,000 tons of disposable diapers are thrown away every day across the world, which does incalculable damage to the environment.
Cloth diapers are a good choice for older children and teens who need extra protection owing to a medical condition. They are softer and therefore less likely to cause chafing and rashes. They are also cheaper in the long run and better for the environment. To keep costs to a minimum, follow a regular washing schedule and hang diapers out to dry instead of using a dryer. This will enable you to make additional energy savings.
Jenn is a long-time cloth diaper educator and a passionate small business advocate. She has worked in the reusable diaper industry for over a decade, helping millions of families via her websites All About Cloth Diapers, Thinking About Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Geek as well as hundreds of small businesses during that time. Her goal always to provide simple, reliable information.