Cloth Diapers vs Disposable

by Michelle on June 19, 2012

So I’m finally getting around to posting about my thoughts on disposable diapers. I started out using them full-time on my baby girl because I just didn’t think there was any way I could start out on a first time baby (literally knowing NOTHING about babies- including how to swaddle!), living with no sleep, and simply trying to eat and drink enough to nurse while also learning to do cloth diapers. I had to choose one thing at a time and I decided that getting a good start to nursing was more important.

But outside of the obvious environmental impact, there are a few things I REALLY dislike about disposables. Don’t get me wrong, I still use them now and again because the convenience simply can’t be beat and there are situations where sometimes I run out of cloth before I can wash them, or I know that I’m going to need that stay-dry feel for quite a while.

But, back to what I specifically don’t like…

1. The overpowering scents used to make them smell fresh or not dirty? To me, they just smell gross and “chemical-ly” These can contain phthalates, by the way. Not good…

2. The general smell of plastic- I have noticed that some brands are WAY worse than others, but still.

3. The idea that I’m pretty much throwing away money, literally. Yeah, water and energy go into cloth diapers, but I SURE don’t get that same feeling.

The strong plastic smell and scents, along with the general chemicals that go into the diaper making process scare me a bit as they are supposed to cover my baby’s oh-so-cute bum and girl “business” all the time. Not only does the area hardly get any air, but to constantly have chemicals up against them? Not my cup of tea. Especially since I’ve read about serious potential issues such as chemical burns, asthma, diaper rashes, and even infertility in men (due to elevated temperature) from them.

It would figure that the diaper industry is “self-regulated” when obviously someone genuinely interested in the health of our babies and not profits should be doing this. So don’t be surprised that ingredients do not even have to be fully disclosed. In fact, one study showed that “xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins; along with styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin.” Yikes.

Truthfully, there are more chemicals than I can list going into disposable diapers, some being extremely toxic. Dioxin, a by-product of the chlorine bleach process has been found in trace amounts and is highly carcinogenic. Also, sodium polyacrylate crystals, which are used for absorbency in the diaper, are also thought to possibly be related to TSS in tampons.

So while I could research this topic to death and ramble on and on, the potential issues above were enough to make me switch to cloth, at least for most of the time. Doing cloth diapers is way easier than I thought it would be and whenever I need to use a disposable I’ve been using Huggies Pure & Naturals. Do I think they are perfect? No. A disposable probably can’t be, but it would be great to see one! :) I’d like to look into other options soon, but for now at least they don’t have the fragrances added. Plus, they are the only “natural” option available at my local grocery store.

So next time I post it will be to describe what I’m using to cloth diaper baby girl to date, my issues (no, they haven’t been perfect so far!), and what I like most about them. Stay tuned!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

emili June 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

Yay for cloth! And yay for YOU – you’re such an outstanding mama!

What brand are you guys using? I am glad that it’s beginning to work nicely for your family!

Sarah July 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

really smart article Michelle, you are definitely doing the right thing, not only for baby but for our planet as well. keep setting an awesome example for all the mothers!

Michelle at Openeyehealth August 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Thanks, Emili & Sarah- you both are too sweet. And both of you are wonderful women I have learned much from over the years!

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