From the start of my daughter’s life, I knew that I wanted to use natural products with and for her. During my pregnancy, I continued to swap out toxic bath/body and cleaning products from our home; an adventure that had been ongoing for two years prior. I did all I could think of to help create a safe and healthy environment for her.
We all want to create and birth healthy babies. Once they’re earthside, we want to surround them with a healthy environment in order for them to thrive. For us, this healthy environment included what we would use on our girl’s little bottom. The most eco friendly and non toxic option would have been cloth diapers. If you don't know much about cloth diapering or maybe are a bit intimidated about the idea, check out this FAQ page over at Cotton Babies! We traveled quite a bit throughout our daughter’s babyhood though, so for us, disposables were our best option. I’ll be focusing specifically on disposable diapers in this post.
Why does the type of diaper we use matter?
I went to a baby shower several years ago where the momma requested natural diaper brands. You know, “eco friendly”, “green”, “non toxic”. I overheard lots of snarky comments from the guests, one being, “I would never spend so much money on something that will just get pooped in”. Despite common views, diapers matter a whole lot more than we may be aware of.
While pregnant, I thought about the connection of chemicals in disposable diapers and genital health, but I didn't follow the research through. I asked myself, “if our skin is our largest organ and what we put on it is partly absorbed and then filtered through our bodies, why would I use standard diapers which include ingredients like chlorine?” Chlorine is a known human carcinogen. If my girl would be wearing diapers 24/7 for several years, then she would be absorbing quite a bit of carcinogenic material into her little body, right? And, this chemical plus some other yucky ones would be sitting up against her exposed sexual organs for a long time. Hmm. I chose those “eco friendly”, “green”, “non toxic” ones.
So, I've done the research now. And its a bit disturbing.
There are "health and other related problems in using (standard) disposable baby diapers like liver damage, skin diseases, and environmental pollution." (1)
“Disposable diapers have been implicated by diapering proponents like leak proof polymers, super absorbent polymers and some scented chemicals which are the key factors for everything from chronic diaper rash, respiratory problems like asthma, male infertility even to testicular cancer.” (1)
Here is some more research on the matter:
A study done in 1999 by Anderson Laboratories, Inc. found that lab mice that were exposed to various brands of standard disposable diapers experienced asthma-like symptoms, as well as eye, nose and throat irritation. The results demonstrated that some types of disposable diapers emit chemicals that are toxic to the respiratory tract and that disposable diapers should be considered as one of the factors that might cause or exacerbate asthmatic conditions. (3)
Another study done that same year notes, "conventional diapers release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and dipentene. These toxic chemicals are known to have long term health effects. (4)
FYI, another yucky chemical that most standard diapers contain is dioxin. Dioxin is an extremely toxic, cancer-causing chemical that is found as a result (byproduct) of the chlorine bleaching process. According to the World Health Organization, "Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer"
There is a ton of more research, but it all pretty much says the above. Standard disposable diapers are toxic and can create problems ranging from diaper rash to fertility issues, and even cancer.
Now that we know that diapers do a whole lot more than catch our babies output, its nice to also know that there are so many great non toxic options when it comes to disposables. Now that we know better, let’s do better. Yes, I know that cost is a factor. Cheap diapers are, well, cheap. They're affordable, but if you consider the medical cost of dealing with the health problems they may lead to, it makes sense to spend a tad bit more up front in order to safeguard our children’s health.
Some of my favorite non toxic disposable diaper options that we have personally used are:
Some other non toxic options:
As a small side note, keep in mind when choosing a diaper for your fresh new baby that both Huggies Pure and Natural and Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive still contain the carcinogen chlorine. Don't be fooled by sneaky marketing claims! Read the ingredient lists to be sure before purchasing something “pure”or “natural” for your baby.
Make sure to watch Mama Natural's 'Green Diaper Showdown' below!
Warm wishes for a happy day!
3. National Center for Biotechnology Information – US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health – a PubMed.gov Publication
4. Archives of Environmental Health: Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions
For further research on the matter of the toxicity of standard disposable diapers: http://awesomebeginnings4children.com/the-harmful-chemicals-in-disposable-diapers/