(Health Secrets) Cloth diapers may seem archaic, but here’s something to think about: everything you put on your children is as important to their health as what you put in them. By understanding this, you can reduce the toxic load to your baby through diapers, clothing, and skin and bath products. Each of these items is capable of delivering a complete chemical cocktail to your child.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and it absorbs almost anything placed on it. When you add moisture to chemicals from petroleum and other reactive compounds, the absorption is greatly increased and the damage multiplies. Infants and children are at much greater risk from exposure to these toxins because their brain and organs are still developing.
How to reduce the toxic load from diapers
Diaper rash has multiple causes such as prolonged wetness, lack of air circulation, reaction to soap, chemical dye allergies, ammonia formed by bacteria breaking down urine, and growth of microbes (bacterial or yeast) in the diaper area. It can even result from a reaction to something the baby ate.
According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers have diaper rash, with 16% of those rashes classified as severe. One major manufacturer did its own study and found that as the use of disposable diapers has increased, the incidence of diaper rash has gone up nearly ten times, from 7.1% to 61% of babies. This study only included babies whose rashes were severe enough to require a visit to a doctor.
Why are disposable diapers such a problem? Disposable diapers are created to have marketing appeal to you, not to protect your baby. Here is a list of the most frequently used chemicals in disposable diapers:
- Sodium polyacrylate: The super absorbent gel in the center of the diapers has been linked to toxic shock syndrome, allergic reactions and is lethal to pets.
- Dioxins: Are known to cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. Yes, disposable diapers contain the same dioxin as the insecticide that has been banned.
- Dyes: These are known to cause allergic reactions and some are systemically toxic.
- Fragrances: The FDA has received reports that fragrances in disposables cause headaches, dizziness and rashes to caregivers. It only makes sense it does this to the baby too. The Environmental Working Group classifies the more than 3,000 chemicals that fall into the category of fragrance, as highly toxic.
- Other reported problems: Babies have choked on pieces of the plastic outer covering of the diaper they have torn off, had their skin torn by the pull tabs, inhaled noxious chemical odors, and received chemical burns.
- Not Biodegradable: 15 years ago, disposable diapers were found to make up over 2% of landfill waste. The newer “green diapers” are a great improvement and some even have flushable liners. They tend to be bleach and fragrance free. Most new parents find the cost of these disposable diapers prohibitive.
- Expense: Although the initial cost of cloth diapers may seem high, it is miniscule compared to the cost of disposables even when you factor in utilities and laundry products.
Today’s cloth diapers bear little resemblance to what your mother or grandmother used. They now have double or triple layers and a fiber-filled strip in the center, making them much more absorbent than older styles. Most are pre-folded and many come with Velcro strips that negate the need for diaper pins. Laundering them at home is the most cost-effective but there are diaper services available, which depending on the number of diapers used, can still be cheaper than buying disposables.
Cotton is one of the most insecticide sprayed crops, so if possible, making organic cotton diapers the better choice. If you are unable to get organic cotton, wash the diapers multiple times in hot water before use to remove most of the pesticides and bleaches.
More benefits of cotton diapers
- The benefits of cotton diapers are many, with comfort ranking at the top of the list:
- Softer and more comfortable than plastic diapers.
- Fewer rashes when the baby is changed as needed.
- Earlier potty training because the child can sense when he or she is wet.
- Environmentally friendly even when water, power and products are factored in.
- Cost effective since laundry service can be cheaper than buying disposables.
- More convenient, believe is or not.
How many times have you had to stop what you are doing to run to the store for a box of disposables?
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