Cloth Diapers and Mama Cloth: The Healthy Choice
The choice to use cloth diapers may seem daunting, creating excess work for mom (and dad, too), but it is an essential choice for protecting baby's health. Disposable diapers contain chemicals that can not only irritate baby's skin, but also be absorbed through the skin into the blood stream. Toxins present in disposable diapers include dioxin, chlorine, sodium polyacrylate (the absorbent gel), dyes, ethylbenzene, toluene, and more. These toxins can harm baby's respiratory system, reproductive system, and immune system, not to mention epidermal irritation. Be wary of conventional disposable diaper companies offering you chlorine-free diapers...these diapers are not toxin-free; research all the ingredients before choosing.
Dioxin is a ubiquitous environmental toxin, a by-product of industrial processes involving chlorine, such as paper manufacturing and waste incineration. Dioxin contaminates air, water and soil, and travels up the food chain, bioaccumulating in fats. Dioxin exposure creates deleterious health effects, including hormonal disruption, immune suppression, respiratory distress, and cancer. Even the EPA admits to the dangers of dioxin. We must work diligently to avoid our exposure to this toxin through food and product choices.
Because our consumer choices can impact the health of others, we need to understand the damaging effects of disposable diapers on the environment, and hence, human health. The manufacturing of disposable diapers releases dioxin into the environment (to accumulate in our food chain), and the disposal of these diapers dumps feces and dioxin into landfills, which can contribute to groundwater contamination.
Disposable diapers are not only dangerous, but are also the wasteful choice...literally creating massive waste, and also contributing to excessive financial expenditure. Disposable diapers cost more than their reusable cloth counterparts. While disposable diapers can cost upwards to $2,500 per child, cloth diapers (depending on style chosen) can cost as low as $400...and cloth diapers can be used for more than one child, so the savings multiply! Additionally, cloth diapers hold their value if in good condition...a vibrant used market for buying and selling exists online, allowing parents to save even more money by purchasing gently used diapers. And by using cloth wipes, you save even more money and spare baby's bottom from further chemical exposure.
Cloth diapering styles and options vary widely, with choices enough to make one's head spin. It may take some experimenting to determine the style and system that works best for you, but the world of cloth diapers has developed wonderfully in the last decade...there truly is something for everyone. Washing diapers is not terribly troublesome; instructions abound online.
No discussion about the dangers of disposable paper products for "bum covering" would be complete without addressing the ladies. Sanitary pads and tampons are also highly toxic, and should be avoided by menstruating women. Cloth pad options are now widely available, as well as the menstrual cup option (such as the Diva Cup, which comes in two sizes...pre- and post-childbirth). Cloth pads can be purchased from cloth diaper companies and independent work at home moms (check out etsy, hyena cart and diaperswappers). Cloth pads and menstrual cups will protect women from the health maladies caused by using commercial paper pads.
The main culprit in commercial paper pads and tampons is dioxin, with all its risks as discussed above. Of particular danger to women is the hormone disruption. Toxic commercial pads can contribute to worsening menstrual symptoms, such as increased pain and bleeding, as well as infertility. Dioxin can cause endometriosis, and abnormal cell growth leading to cancer. Commercial pads also pose a risk due to their use of pesticide-laden cotton, even GMO cotton...both disruptive to the endocrine system. Many women (including myself) testify to improvements in menstrual cycles (particularly pain and bleeding) when switching to cloth pads. A menstrual cup is oft preferred by women desirous of avoiding pads altogether, but does include a bit of a learning curve. If it fits well, though, a cup is not noticeable and is a mess-free, bulk-free alternative to pad wearing.
Sure, cloth pads need to be washed, but it isn't much trouble. I soak mine in some hot water in the sink, rinse them out and spray them with a natural enzyme treatment like Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out, and toss them in the laundry with my whites. When I have a baby in cloth diapers, I just wash my pads with the diapers. A little extra laundry is certainly worth avoiding hormonal disruption, infertility and the potential of cancer! Oh, and you'll save lots of money, too!
To learn more, please read:
- Toxins in Disposable Diapers
- The Truth About Disposable Diapers
- Disposable Diapers in the Toxipedia Database
- Why Choose Cloth Diapers?
- The Dangers of Dioxin
- Diaper Cost Comparisons
- Diaper Cost Calculator
- Chart of Diaper Costs
- Diaper Swappers Forum (for buying/selling/trading/learning)
- What's Really in Your Feminine Hygiene Products?
- Dangers of Sanitary Pads and Alternatives
- How Sanitary Pads and Tampons Damage Fertility
- Mama Cloth Online
- Menstrual Care Products (Kelly's Closet)
- A Mom's Review of Mama Cloth