by Tabitha Tucker
Diapering, as with any other parenting dilemma, does not have to be an all or nothing decision. Some choose to use cloth all the time, others use cloth as the rule, with exceptions made for traveling, outings or nighttime, while others will use disposables all the time. There are important reasons why we chose to use cloth and with the fabulous products that are currently available, it is easy to do so with very little fuss and a much lighter footprint left upon the environmental future of our children.
We used cloth 99.9% of the time. For the first month, as we adjusted to life with Terran, we used a diaper service. While they were fabulous and I would probably go that route again if we were to have a second child (though maybe just 2 weeks next time around), it is far more economical to own and wash one’s own set. We also used one pack of Tushies brand disposables on a two-week trip we took, but we also took our cloths with us, and alternated between the two as convenience and washing opportunities presented themselves.
One point to mention here is that if it is economically viable, you will probably find that the investment in a really good set of diapers is well worth it (and they can always be found at consignment shops for a fraction of the new price). We found some with built-in liners, velcro fastenings, and snaps that allowed the diaper size to grow with our babe. There are many different types on the market and whether you’re investing in or inheriting a set, it may be a good idea to stop by a good diaper store and discuss which type of wraps go with which type of diapers and the liner options available (generally bio-degradable disposable or reusable).
Number one factor in our decision to use cloth was quite simply health. There are no chemicals in cloth diapers therefore there aren’t chemicals in constant contact with baby’s bottom. As we hear more and more about the detrimental effects of various chemicals and toxins in our world, I feel strongly about eliminating those we can for our son.
There are a number of chemicals, perfumes, and dyes in disposable diapers that can irritate babies’ bottoms. One chemical in particular, dioxin, though found only in trace amounts in most brands, has been classified by the World Health Organization as a Class 1 Carcinogen (which means it is a known human carcinogen). Dioxin is a by-product of the paper bleaching process and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that skin rashes, liver damage, weight loss, and a reduction in the effectiveness of the immune system have all been attributed to human exposure of dioxins. I just could not bear the thought of exposing our baby to even trace amounts of such a chemical almost constantly for the first 2-3 years of his life (the time in which his immune system is developing rapidly).
Another of the chemicals found in most disposables is called sodium polyacrylate, which is the chemical that was removed from tampons because of its link to TSS (toxic shock syndrome) in 1985. It is used to make diapers more absorbent (it can hold 100 times it’s weight in liquid), but some sources say it can cause bleeding in the perineal and scrotal tissues of some babies and has even been found in the urinary tracts of some infants.