The Diaper Dilemma: Cloth Diapers 101

Your baby will spend more that 20,000 hours, on average, wearing diapers. The diaper choice you make as a parent can have a large impact on both the health of your baby as well as the health of the planet. In evaluating these impacts, choose organic cotton diapers as a natural baby alternative over disposable diapers whenever possible.

Disposable diapers contain many chemicals that can prove to be harmful to your baby’s health. The chlorine bleaching process used to manufacture most disposable diapers leaves trace levels of the phthalate dioxin, which according to the EPA is a cancer-causing chemical. Disposable diapers also contain fragrances, dyes, and glues. These chemicals have been shown to cause allergic reactions in some babies and more serious health impacts on others.

The other chemical to be aware of in disposable diapers is Sodium Polyacrylate, a very absorbent gel. This chemical has shown to cause an allergic to many babies in addition to fatal to many pets.

Outside of the materials used, disposable diapers trap in heat and tend to be kept on longer in general than cloth diapers. The temperature of a baby’s body was measured close to 2 degrees warmer when wearing disposable plastic diapers instead of cloth. This change in temperature has been tied to the possibility of male infertility later in life.

Although not many know how to use cloth diapers, some other benefits to cloth diapers include:

  • Organically grown cotton diapers do not contain unregulated amounts of pesticides and herbicides that come in contact with babies’ skin.
  • Cloth diapers allow parents to see when a child has had an accident earlier keeping the exposure time to wet fabric to a minimum.
  • Babies that wear cloth diapers have significantly less diaper rash than those wearing disposables.
  • Environmentally speaking, disposable diapers are the third most common item in landfills in the United States.If you choose cloth diapers, it’s important to follow the same guidelines as clothing and sheets for material choices, as diapers will be in constant contact with your baby.

    Avoid Synthetic Materials
    Avoid synthetic materials for clothing such as polyester or poly/cotton blends. Synthetic fibers are made of petro-chemicals that contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Additionally, all poly/cotton blends as well as many non-organic 100% cotton clothes contain a formaldehyde finish to make them permanently pressed.

    VOC and formaldehyde exposure can lead to many symptoms including headaches, coughing, watery eyes, respiratory problems including asthma, and more serious conditions such as cancer. The risk is greater for infants and young children because children’s skin is more permeable and their lungs are still developing.

    Choose 100% Certified Organic Cotton, Chemical Free Diapers
    Non-organic cotton, in all likelihood, is exposed to pesticides which can lead to negative health effects such as birth defects and other long-term health problems. Because cotton used in diapers is not grown for food, the pesticides used in cotton are not regulated like they are for food.

    100% Certified Organic Cotton is much more durable than chemically treated cotton because of all the processing the treated cotton has gone through. Because of this, organic cotton textiles tend to last 5 times longer than similar non-organic products.

    Heavy metals and contaminants including nickel and lead are also absent from fully organic diapers. Eliminating the exposure to nickel and lead can prevent possible risks to the immune system, respiratory tract, and endocrine regulation. These heavy metals have also been known to cause development and behavioral problems.

    Choose Organic Wool
    Another excellent option to replace plastics and vinyl is wool. Rest assured you will not find the scratchy feeling of non organic wool if the wool you choose is organic.