We all want to do what’s best for our children. As mothers, its the job we acquired as soon as we found out that our sweet littles had nested themselves in our wombs. We take our prenatal vitamins. We eat properly while pregnant. We study labor and create birth plans to ensure their safe birth. We make sure that our children stay warm when the air chills. We make sure they eat their fruits and vegetables as they grow. We make sure they get plenty of rest. We make sure their surroundings are safe. We keep them away from any sort of harm.
Except one major staple of baby-hood. Disposable diapers.
I’m sure that you’re probably scoffing at that statement. “All of my children have been wearing disposable diapers and they’re fine!” You’re probably thinking. I completely understand, too!
From the outside, disposable diapers are very normal and unexciting. They are advertised and sold in nearly every store everywhere. They don’t come with a surgeon general’s warning on the package, and they’ve even been used since the 1940’s! What could possible be dangerous about something that’s used on almost every baby?
The dangers come from the ingredients used to make the diapers. Here’s just a few of the more harmful chemicals used in modern disposable diapers.
- Dioxin- A chemical by-product. When processing the diapers, it is used to bleach the paper that comes into contact with your baby’s skin. It is carcinogenic, and is actually listed as one of the most toxic of cancer-linked chemicals by the EPA.
- Sodium Polyacrylate- This is a chemical that was actually banned from tampons and other feminine hygiene products in 1985 because it was known to cause TSS. (Toxic Shock Syndrome) Yet it is still used in today’s disposable diapers. Even “organic” diapers as it is what makes them absorb. Its known to cause staph infections in babies, chemical burns, and has been known to kill children who have ingested small amounts (~5 grams) of it. If you’re wondering if you’ve even seen this chemical before, you probably have. Its those small little gel bits that end up on your child’s skin if their diaper gets too wet.
- Tributyl-tin (TBT)- “According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms.” Also, the American Institute of Biological Sciences has published research that this chemical can trigger the growth of fat cells in humans, attributing to obesity.
Here are just a few more (but not all!):
Interested in making the switch?
I was too! With my first child (and the early days of my second) I was blissfully unaware of the hidden (but very real!) dangers that lurked within my babies diapers. Cloth seemed incredibly difficult and time consuming, and I didn’t feel like it was necessary. I mean, we aren’t exactly living the same lives that our grandparents did, right? But when I witnessed a friend trying out cloth on her baby, I was immediately interested.
The diapers that she used on her baby weren’t at all like what I had pictured previously. They weren’t the fluffy white fabric held together with sharp diaper pins. They were modern, chic, and forget the pins! They had adjustable snaps both across the waistband and down the front to ensure that one diaper would fit the child from the time they were born, until they potty trained. I soon did my research on these modern cloth mysteries, and fell head over heels in love. No toxic chemicals to be found, environmentally friendly (a HUGE plus for us!), and cost efficient.
A little on the cost of disposable diapers
On average, a child could go through anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 disposable diapers from the time they are born, until they are fully potty trained. That’s a lot. (If the cost of those diapers doesn’t crush your soul a little bit, think about those diapers that are being put into our landfills!)
Cloth diapering lowers the cost significantly. When you use disposable diapers, you are spending approximately $72 a month. A month. That’s approximately $874 a year. Let’s say your child is potty trained fully by their third birthday. That’s around $2,592 you’ve spent just on diapers alone.
Cloth diapering starts with an initial cost, and that’s it. There are brands with varying prices when it comes to cloth diapers, and most (even the cheap brands) work very well. Let’s say you wanted to start out cloth diapering a baby who had been using disposables. Cotton Babies (my favorite site to order cloth diapers from!) offers a “get started” package that includes 10 reusable diapers (plus a few free goodies!) for $179.50. That may seem like quite a lot of money for only 10 diapers. But think of it this way. You can use those diapers until your child is fully potty trained, and either save them for your next child, or resell them! You can make a decent portion of that initial cost back when selling them to another mama who is interested in cloth diapers via cloth diaper trade groups on Facebook, Ebay, or even Craigslist. Diapers sell rather quickly if they are taken care of! Yet another plus of those fluff butts! A complete “stash” (around 24 diapers) costs about $500. If you continued to use those diapers throughout your child’s diapering days, you’d be saving over $2,000!
Cloth is adorable
Okay, so this doesn’t really matter in the grande scheme of things, but cloth diapers are precious. They come in thousands of patterns and colors, and you can quite literally match cloth diapers to any outfit your baby may have. You can buy themed diapers, neon diapers, band diapers, custom diapers- anything your heart desires. I mean, come on. That’s a huge plus!
Cloth diapers aren’t as difficult as they seem
The number one thing I hear from other moms is “I don’t want to deal with that laundry! Its too much work!” While that is a reasonable excuse, I want to try to put it into perspective for you.
I currently have two children in cloth diapers. Initially after I gave birth to my youngest, it was very stressful to keep up with the laundry. It felt out of control and I seriously considered switching back to disposables despite my views on them. But I took a day with both children in a disposable diaper, got my diapers all cleaned and organized, and set up a mental schedule for my kids. I calculated how many diapers they go through a day, and to make my life a little easier, decided to wash one smaller load of diapers every other day. (Mind you, that was before I had a larger “stash”) After that, it was smooth sailing. The key is routine.
We had no issues, and diaper laundry just became a part of my evenings just like doing all of our other laundry. If I can cloth diaper two of my children while my husband is deployed, you can too! Don’t be discouraged!
In conclusion, I’d like to share some great visuals regarding cloth vs disposables