What I don’t know about disposable diapers

If there is one thing that starting this blog has shown me it is that I know nothing.  And since that is the second time I’ve written such a sentiment (and I’m only on my 4th blog entry) I am starting to feel a bit like Jon Snow.

So, I know nothing.  I’m fine with that because I enjoy doing research.

This week I want to talk about my number one reason for cloth diapering: to avoid the toxic chemicals that are in most disposables.  I went back and forth, started (and deleted) this entry about 5 times.  The thing is, I know this is a hot topic; the whole cloth vs. disposable debate.  But does it really need to be a debate?  I know, I know, what parenting topic isn’t a debate?

But I just want to be able to present the facts.

The problem is that there is so little information about it.  I can certainly tell you what is in most disposable diapers (Dioxins, Sodium Polyacrylate, and VOCs to name a few) and I can tell you what those chemicals are known to do (but I won’t because it’s disturbing, that’s why there are links!)  What I can’t tell you is that I’ve found scientific proof that diapering your child in a disposable diaper will cause your child to get cancer, asthma,  reproductive problems, or even severe diaper rash, because there isn’t any “proof.”  Is that because they don’t?  I DON’T KNOW!  But I should!  And so should you! 

As consumers we should have a right to know what is in the products that we are purchasing that will touch our baby’s delicate skin.  Why should a diaper be any different than shampoo?  Shampoo has to list the ingredients so that you are aware that you are dousing your head (or not) in petrochemicals known to cause cancer.

In my home if a chemical is shown to cause cancer (or any of the other major health risks), then I don’t want that chemical in my home, let alone touching my baby’s bum.  That’s it.  No, I don’t know for sure that putting my child in roughly 6,000 disposable diapers during their first 2-3 years of life will have a long term effect on their health.  But I am also unwilling to take that chance.  I’d like to think that there are regulations in place to keep us safe.  But time and again I think we’ve found that this isn’t the case (lead, BPA, Fire Retardant chemicals, and Parabens to name a few).   

So yes, I take care to avoid as many toxic chemicals as I can for the health of my children.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  I can’t afford to be buying $800 nontoxic cribs made with untreated wood and built by the Amish.  I can’t even afford to buy the $400 organic nontoxic mattress to go in a crib (although I will buy the non-organic, but at least non-toxic, version at a whopping $150 and feel that I did what I could to keep him from breathing in chemicals while he sleeps).   

But there is something that I can do that is easy.  I can use cloth diapers instead of disposables, because I can’t find anything that says “Yes, these toxins cause these health problems, and they are in almost all disposable diapers, but your baby is 100% guaranteed to be fine as a result of using disposables.”  And the fact that cloth diapers cost so much less than using disposables just makes for an added bonus!      


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