Time to Switch to Cloth Diapering?
Your baby will spend about 25,000 hours in diapers. Your decision to use disposable or cloth diapers will have a great impact on your baby's comfort and health, and on your peace of mind and finances. Since your baby will spend so much time in diapers, let's take a closer look.
There are many health concerns associated with disposable diaper use, as these products are filled with chemicals and gels to absorb odor and moisture. Some chemically sensitive children have allergic reactions and diaper rashes from these substances. In fact, disposable diapers have been linked the development of asthma. The Archives of Environmental Health tested six leading cotton and disposable diaper brands for asthma effects. The emissions from one disposable diaper were high enough to produce asthma-like symptoms in mice. Tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene, and isopropylbenzene are all chemicals that outgas from disposable diapers. Not surprisingly, the study found that cloth diapers do not cause respiratory problems among the lab mice. Disposable diapers have also been linked to male infertility. Diapers that are lined with plastic do not allow air to circulate around the child's bottom, which contributes to diaper rash and keeps the baby boy's testicles too warm, thus impeding the normal development of the testicles. According to the Archives of Disease in Childhood, disposable diapers lead to a total breakdown of normal cooling mechanisms and raise the temperature of the scrotum far above normal body temperature. (Source: Nicki's Diapers). Cloth diapers prevent this problem, as the natural fibers allow air to circulate around the child's bottom, as long as the covers used are not made of latex or plastic.
Cloth diapers are better for the environment, as they are reusable and can be saved for the next child. Quality cloth diapers will hold up for 75 - 100 washings (at minimum), and although energy is required for washing the diapers, it is a fraction of the energy used for the manufacture and transport of disposables. Today's cloth diapers are fitted, snug, absorbent, waterproof and secured with hook and loop closures, making them just as easy to use as those throw away diapers. Baby will experience soft cloth against his skin, instead of the paper and plastic of "disposables". Quite simply, cloth diapers are convenient, cost effective, healthier for our children and better for our planet.
Throw-away isn't "go away", and what appears to be immediately advantageous also has long-term consequences. It is agreed by many objective reports that so-called "disposable" diapers are the worst environmental choice. Disposable diapers are not biodegradable and make up a significant amount of municipal waste. An estimated 27 billion disposable diapers are used once and thrown away every year in the US alone! A landfill site does not provide the conditions necessary for the single-use diaper to biodegrade. The "Diaper Genie" now mummifies single-use disposable diapers into our landfill sites for eternity. The manufacture of disposables uses over 1 million metric tons of wood pulp and 75,000 metric tons of plastic each year. Disposables are the diaper of choice for over 80% of North American parents. There's a reason the green community calls disposable diapers landfill diapers!
The average parent spends $2,694.54 for 7,349 disposable, single-use diapers (source: Natural Family Online). In contrast, cloth diapering parents spend approximately $200.00-$500.00 (depending on the type of cloth diapers used) during two children's diapering years. The second (and third!) child can use the same diapers that their sibling used as a babe. You can read about the Joy of Cloth Diapers in Mothering magazine. When making the choice to use cloth diapers not only are you making the most comfortable, healthy choice for your baby, you are also taking an important step towards giving future generations a cleaner, greener planet.