Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why I Chose to Cloth Diaper

Before your baby is eve born you are faced with tons of choices: what will his room look like, will we circumcise,what will we name him? But one choice that many parents don’t realize they have is what kind of diapers they are going to use.  Now I’m not talking about Huggies or Pampers, cars designs or Winnie the Pooh.  I’m talking about weather to use disposables or cloth diapers. There are so many misconceptions about cloth diapers (which I will go over in another post), but as a converted disposable user, I can tell you using cloth is AMAZING. I love the fact that I have options, and I know what’s going into the diapers (because I put it there). I feel like I have more control over the situation and can make an informed decision.

MY Diaper Story

So with my daughter, I had played with the idea of using a cloth diapering service (I thought that was the only way to do cloth). But when I looked at the monthly cost and my husbands general discomfort/disgust at the thought of using cloth diapers I quickly tossed that idea to the side, hey I was a young mom, I just did what everyone else was doing (all those people can’t be wrong!). So we used disposable diapers and wipes, and burned through the money. I remember ordering in big bulk packages to save money, only to be left with half the box because my daughter grew out of that size before she finished them…another waste of money.  But I figured that’s how things were done, and that’s just part of the parenting territory…I mean, everyone knows kids are incredibly wasteful right?

Around 18 months old I decided to potty train my daughter…I was SO over the cost of diapers.  And while she was successful in her daytime potty training, she of course needed diapers at night.  We then moved to pull ups, which were slightly less expensive than diapers but still an unwanted expense.  At the time I didn’t realize that most children aren’t night time potty trained (i.e., staying dry from going to bed to waking up) until they are around 4 years old! When my daughter was about two and half I came to this realization that this money pit most likely wasn’t going to stop any time soon, so I started researching some alternatives.  While doing my research I found some friends and clients (I worked with little kids at the time) who used cloth diapers.  I began asking questions about upkeep, pricing, rashes, all of that sort of stuff, and I came to the understanding that I didn’t need a diaper service and that after the initial cost I could save A LOT of money! 

So I quickly went to my local baby supply store and purchased three cloth diapers with extra inserts.  I was so excited to find out that THEY HAD ONE SIZE DIAPERS THAT FIT KIDS BIRTH TO 35 POUNDS!  They also have large and extra large sizes for bigger kids!  My initial cost was about $45, so basically two boxes of disposables.  I have since purchased a few more from buy,sell, trade sites (more on that in a different post) so she  now has a total of six diapers.  Since she only uses them at night that’s enough for me to only do laundry once a week and I still end up with two left over diapers for emergencies. We have been cloth diapering now for about a year and I love it. There are no more rashes, no more wasted money, no more toxins, and no more enormous environmental waste! On top of that my daughter LOVES her cloth diapers. She tells me all the time that she likes not “hurting the earth” and the cute patterns are a plus.  Now with my second on the way, I have decided that we are going to cloth diaper him FROM THE HOSPITAL. I have begun accumulating his cloth diaper stash and getting everything ready for him.  It’s such a relief knowing that I have OPTIONS, not just disposables or cloth, but what KIND of cloth to use! If you are on the fence about switching over from disposables or using cloth from the beginning with your little one, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.  BUT, if my personal transition story isn’t enough, I have found some not so wonderful facts about disposables for you, so at the very least you can be informed about what is going on in those diapers!

Why are cloth diapers better?

There are three reasons why cloth diapers are better than disposables: money, the environment, and toxins.  We will go over each of these so you can have all the information necessary when choosing what to cover your babies bum with.

  • Babies go through about 10,000 diapers from birth to 30 months (average age of potty training)
  • But that number isn’t counting the amount of pull-ups they go through after potty training for night time use.
  • The cost of disposable diapers and wipes is about $100 per month, which equals roughly $3,000 diapers PER CHILD. Again this does not include the price of pull-ups for night time accidents after potty training.
  • And remember there is a lot of money wasted with disposables with all the boxes you don’t finish because your little one grew out of that size before you finished them.

  • Disposables are a HUGE burden on our ecosystem.
  • They are the 3rd largest consumer item in landfills and account for about 30% of non-biodegradable waste!
  • Disposable diapers and wipes create about 7.6 billion pounds of garbage each year.
    • This is enough garbage to go to the moon and back NINE TIMES each year!!!
    • ONE baby will create about A TON of toxic waste with disposables every 2 years!
      • if you potty train your child at three years that ONE AND A HALF TONS of waste!
        • That’s not even counting the waste created from pull ups!
  • On average, it takes up to two hundred years for a disposable diaper to decompose WITH sun and air.
    • BUT all of the waste in landfills often COVERS the disposable diapers and wipes, which means they are not exposed to adequate sun and air which delays their decomposition time.
        • It could take hundreds if not thousands of years for this waste to go away!!!
  • Even the biodegradable “eco-friendly” diapers don’t decompose in adequate time without sun and air, so they have just as much impact as the non Eco-friendly diapers. So that’s even more money you are spending and not getting the desired effect!
  • Because it takes so long for diapers to decompose there ends up being a tremendous amount of human waste in the landfill.
    • There is about 5 million TONS of untreated human waste, and 84 MILLION POUNDS of raw fecal matter in our landfills!!!
      • This creates a breeding ground for disease and ground water contamination
        • And in case you didn’t know, ground water is where WE get our DRINKING WATER from!
          • OH, and by the way. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO RINSE OUT AND FLUSH THE FECAL MATTER FROM DISPOSABLES BEFORE YOU THROW THEM AWAY! So if your reason for using disposables is so you don’t have to touch poop, that’s actually not the case. Legally you should be rinsing those suckers out just like us cloth mommies.
  • Finally, disposables are devastating to our natural resources.
    • about 200,000 trees are destroyed and 3.4 billion gallons of oil are used every year in the production and transportation of disposable diapers!
      • Yup, disposable diapers are even more of a drain on oil than cars…which by the way also contributes the the amount you have to pay to fill up your car at the pump!
      • Overall, disposables us 20 times more raw materials than cloth!
      • The use 2 times more water than cloth (even after you factor in washings)!
      • They use 3 times more energy to make than cloth!

  • Babies have very thin skin. Because of this the average baby absorbs about 50 different chemicals when using disposable diapers and wipes!

  • There is a chemical in every diaper (yes, even “eco-friendly” ones) called Sodium Plyacrylate-SPA
    • They make diapers super absorbent, so absorbent disposables can absorb 100 times their weight in water.
      • Wile this may SEEM like a good thing, in reality it’s not.
      • SPA can cause allergic reactions
      • Can cause skin irritation, (explains the large number of diaper rashes with disposables and the almost non-existent number in cloth) oozing of blood from the perineum, fever, vomiting, etc.
      • In fact, it was BANNED from being used in tampons because of it’s link to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
      • It has been linked to a number of staph infections
      • Not only that, but kids have died after ingesting as little as 5 grams of it!
        • This may not worry you because it’s inside the diaper, but diapers have been known to break open and the SPA flakes come out! If you’ve ever found little gel like flakes/balls in your kids diaper that’s SPA!

  • There are also  chemicals called Dioxins in disposable diapers
    • It is a byproduct of the Chlorine bleaching that is done to disposables.
      • According to the EPA it is the most toxic of the cancer linked chemicals!
  • One of the most famous dioxins is TCDD which, while not in disposables, was the deadly agent in Agent Orange that killed so many people-do you really want it’s cousins that are in disposables next to your baby’s skin?
    • Dioxin exposure will impede the immune system of person exposed for the rest of his/her life.
    • Which means that your child’s immune system will never be as strong as is should have been.
    • Dioxins may be responsible for several reproductive and developmental problems, damaging the immune system, causing major hormonal balances, and cancer.
      • Since infants who are put in disposables are in contact with dioxin 24/7 is it any wonder that girls are beginning puberty younger and younger with each generation, and that hormonal disorders are becoming increasingly common in children?!
      • I know correlation doesn’t mean causation, but it’s still enough to make you think.

  • There are also chemicals called Phthalates in disposables
    • They are plastic softeners banned from tethers and toys because of their high levels of toxicity.
    • They are endocrine disruptors which means they mimic human hormones which disrupts your baby’s developing endocrine system and growing body.
      • I mean do you really want fake hormones being absorbed into your three hour old baby’s body through his skin!?

  • There are several common dyes in diapers that are linked to sensitization and can cause an allergic reaction.
    • Disperse Yellow 3
    • Disperse Orange 3
    • Disperse Blue 124
    • Disperse Blue 106

Heavy Metals
  • While there are many heavy metals in diapers, one of the worst is Tributyl Tin (TBT)
    • It is able to spread through the skin and mimics natural hormones in the tiniest amounts.
    • It can harm the immune system and impair the hormonal system of your baby as well!
    • It is also theorized that heavy metals, including TBT, can cause sterility in boys!!!

Respiratory Effects
  • The authors of the study concluded that “disposable diapers should be considered as one of the factors that might cause or exacerbate asthmatic conditions.”


So, when you take all of these factors into account (and there is a lot more information in the links provided, it’s really hard to argue NOT using cloth diapers. Remember, I previously stated that if touching poop is your main fear with cloth diapers, it is required by LAW that you hose/scrape the poop off of disposables into the toilet before you throw them away. If you don’t believe me read the side of a box of diapers next time you’re running errands, it says it right there. And to be honest, being a parent and never touching poop is a pipe dream to say the least.  Remember, I used disposable diapers for my daughter’s first 20 months of life, and I can PROMISE you I had touched many a poop in that time…probably more so than with cloth, because quite frankly disposables don’t hold explosions in as well as cloth.  My theory behind that is that they are so full with urine because they can hold so much, that when an explosion happens there is not more absorbency.  I hope I was able to explain things and lay them out in a coherent manner, it gets a little difficult with so much information. Remember you can use a cloth diapering service if washing them creeps you out. And at the very least, if after reading all this you still decide to use disposables, I suggest printing out all of this information and READING ingredients lists on diaper boxes and reading reviews to find the ones that have as few of these toxins as possible.
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