Parent Time

Baby Diapers: How to Use Cloth or Disposable for Affordable and Eco-Friendly Baby Care

The most important consideration in diaper choice is your baby’s health. Many babies cannot wear disposable diapers: the plastic causes rashes; perfumes or chemicals purporting to contribute to “skin care” and the general airless quality of disposable diapers increases diaper rash and allergies. One industry study found that rashes increased from 7% to over 60% when disposable diapers were used!

Disposable diapers can cause sores, staph infections and fungal infections in babies: disposables trap heat, increasing bacterial growth. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that more than 50% of babies wearing disposable diapers had rashes, 16% of them severe. Some disposables contain a super-absorbent gel called sodium polyacrylate, which is deadly to pets and causes allergic reactions in people; dioxin has found its way into diapers, as it’s used to bleach the paper components. Parents who want healthier babies have preferred to ditch plastic “high-tech” disposables in favor of safer products.

Organic and Biodegradable Disposable Diapers

You can find organic disposable diapers and covers made with unbleached wood pulp from sustainable forests. Biodegradable disposables can be composted, saving millions of tons of waste currently going into landfills. The average disposable diaper takes about 500 years to break down in a landfill. With diapers the third largest type of landfill waste, an intelligent government would require all diapers to be made of biodegradable materials.

Affordable Cloth Diapers are Eco-Friendly and Chemical Free

The cost difference between “traditional” disposable diapers (which came along in the early ‘60’s, and outgrowth of the Baby Boom) and organic, chemical free diapers is about 20-25%. Using cloth cotton or fleece diapers (which have seen improvements in recent years) puts the solid waste into the municipal sewage disposal systems, where human waste belongs. With 5,000 diapers per child used before potty training, the human waste entering landfills is counted in millions of tons. While sewage systems may not be the ideal, at least there is some waste treatment; that’s not happening in landfills.

Better Absorbency in Today’s Cloth Diapers

Modern cloth diapers have increased in absorbency, and manufacturers have done away with the need for pins: diapers are fitted with Velcro, elastic or straps. Diapers are made of absorbent fabrics, so diaper covers are often a must-have. They can’t be called inexpensive, but when you compare the cost to the number of disposable diapers needed every day, they seem more affordable. Cloth diapers are more work: they must be emptied, placed in hampers or diaper pails and laundered. Washing cloth diapers takes time, and some daycares refuse to use them. You may start to feel like your whole life consists of changing dirty diapers and cleaning baby’s bottom! But, if you’re a new parent and still have some energy left for environmental conservation, the single most important thing you can do is switch to cloth diapers or biodegradable disposables.

Consider signing up with an environmentally aware, eco-friendly diaper service and allow your friends and family to spend their money on something that will make your life much easier. Many diaper services charge around $25 a week (price depends on where you live). They pick up and launder the cloth diapers, dropping off clean, fresh ones every week. What a wonderful gift for new parents!

How to Protect Your Baby, Save Money, and Help the Environment
  1. If you must use disposables for day care or travel, use biodegradable ones.
  2. Choose natural cloth diapers for home use and launder them yourself.
  3. Ignore laundry products with heavy fragrances, or supposedly “herbal” additions: they waste your money, add chemicals to your household and may cause allergic reactions.

Continue reading more baby information about Baby Bottles

Click to Add this Article on Your Favorite Social Media

Did you find the information you were looking for?
After reading the above article, what is still your biggest question?

Get Free Parenting Tips and Advice
Sign up for free helpful parenting tips with contributions from parents, teachers, and day care professionals.
  I want ask a question and receive the parenting tips.
  I only want to ask a question don't want helpful advice.
E-Mail Address:  
Your Name:  

Get Weekly Baby Care
& Pregnancy Advice
Baby and Pregnancy Tips Newsletter

Receive free practical baby and/or pregnancy tips delivered weekly to your email box with contributions from other parents, developmental experts, and midwife professionals. Subscription can be easily stopped at anytime.
E-mail Instructions:
Your privacy always comes first and your email address is never shared with anyone ever.