Friday, July 1, 2011

Aren't they gross?!

This is what many people ask when they find out we cloth diaper. Well, to be honest, the idea seemed gross to me at first, too. Now I can just reply, aren’t disposables gross?

Seriously, though- do you know how many chemicals are in that disposable diaper that is on your baby’s bum for 24-30 months of his/her life? People choose to cloth diaper (CD) for a variety of reasons. Some choose to CD to save money, and boy will it save you money! Some choose to CD because it is better for the environment, and some (like me) choose to CD to keep so many toxins away from baby’s new skin.

We have officially been cloth diapering since day one, and haven’t had to use a disposable once. I feel like after almost 12 weeks of changing and buying (and selling) cloth diapers, I can finally write a post about it!

I had already decided that we would be using all second-hand or organic clothes, and when I went to look for organic disposable diapers, I realized they didn’t exist, and so the decision to do cloth was easy!

So let’s talk about the chemicals for a minute.


This organic compound is created when paper products are bleached, so there are small amounts present in almost all disposable diapers. It is thought that the amounts present won’t affect the baby, but they bioaccumulate in the body, they are a known human carcinogen, and can increase one’s risk of cancer, so why take the risk? You will likely accumulate more dioxin exposure by eating animal products, but that is completely off-topic.

Sodium Polyacrlate

This is the gel that absorbs 200-300 times its weight found in disposable diapers. It was also removed from tampons because of a possible link with toxic shock syndrome. True story.

Tributyl-tin (TBT)

TBT is a highly toxic chemical for marine animals, causing endocrine disruptions. The chemical does not break down, and is correlated with increased fat cell growth for fetuses in the womb, and also in frogs and mice.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) we talk about these all the time, but again, according to EPA, the following are health effects: “eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.”

There are also fragrances and dyes used in disposable diapers that have the ability to cause skin irritations.

So there you have the health reasons why I chose to cloth diaper – we can talk about the environmental effect of disposable and cloth diapers in another post!