Your baby will spend about 25,000 hours in diapers and need about 6,000 diaper changes during the first years of life. Your decision to use disposable or cloth diapers, will have a great impact on your baby’s comfort and health, and on your peace of mind and finances.
Chemicals in Disposables
Since your baby will spend so much time in diapers, let’s take a closer look at disposable diapers. On the market since the early 60’s, the disposable diaper changed from a plastic diaper with a lot of paper fluff to a diaper constructed of a waterproof plastic outer layer, an absorbent pad with super absorbent chemicals, and an inner liner. The super absorbent chemical, sodium polyacrylate, absorbs and holds fluids in the diaper. This chemical has been linked to toxic shock syndrome, can cause allergic reactions, and is lethal to cats if inhaled. Death has occurred from ingestion of just 5 grams of this chemical. Pediatric journals contain reports of this chemical sticking to babies’ genitals. When the baby’s skin gets wet, this super absorber can pull fluids from baby’s skin. Dioxin, the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a byproduct of bleaching paper. Even in the smallest detectable quantities, dioxin has been known to cause liver disease, immune system suppression, and genetic damage in lab animals. Dyes found in some disposables are known to damage the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) received reports that fragrances caused headaches, dizziness, and rashes. Problems reported to the Consumer Protection Agency include chemical burns, noxious chemical and insecticide odors, reports of babies pulling disposables apart and putting pieces of plastic into their noses and mouth, choking on tab papers and linings, plastic melting onto the skin, and ink staining the skin. Plastic tabs can also tear skin, and disposables may contain wood splinters.
According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers had rashes, 16% had severe rashes. A survey from a leading disposable diaper manufacturer shows that the incidence of diaper rash increases from 7.1 percent to 61 percent with the increased use of throwaway diapers. Widespread diaper rash is a fairly new phenomenon that surfaced along with disposable diapers. Reasons for more rashes include allergies to chemicals, lack of air, higher temperatures because plastic retains body heat, and babies are probably changed less often because they feel dry when wet.
On the other hand, cloth diapering is natural. No chemicals. Today’s cloth diapers are absorbent, stylish and “snappy”. Washing your own is still the most economical. Using a diaper service is virtually the same cost as buying disposables.