The REAL Waste in Disposable Diapers

written by Amanda Hammond, Blog Contributer and BP in training

Part One-   What makes them so absorbent? 

Soft new skin, squinty eyes, little scrunchy faces- and lots of diaper changes.  Lots. 

We all want to protect our newborns, our infants, our toddlers… you know, those of the “not potty trained yet” persuasion.   We buy all the products we perceive to be the best based on what our friends used or, let’s be honest, that adorable marketing campaign.  Come on, you know that Pampers “Silent Night” commercial just tugs at your heart strings.  Who wouldn’t want their little one wearing Pampers after seeing all those snuggly happy babies sleeping soundly….. what a laugh by the way! 

What advertisers leave off of their very well marketed packages is their complete list of ingredients.  They aren’t required to do this because of trademark issues.  Same goes for cleaning supplies by the way.  If you want to know what is in commercial diapers, you just have to Google “diaper chemicals.”   You will be dizzied by the amount previously unknown info at your fingertips!

Among the long list of reasons to go cloth, I find the “contain toxic chemicals” one to be enough all on its own.  According to the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN), our own skin is five times thicker than our baby’s.  Infant skin is still quite immature making it far more absorbent.  Whatever is in their lotion, diaper cream or diapers will end up in their system in some way, shape or form.  This is especially concerning because of how vulnerable their bodies are to toxins.  “Until they are six months old, infants lack a blood-brain barrier to prevent blood-borne toxins entering the brain: low-level exposures that would have little or no effect on an adult brain can sabotage a fetal one. (WEN in reference to infant toiletries)”

“So, get to the point Amanda.  What is so bad about disposables?”  For starters- the superabsorbent gel. 

Known most for its incredible absorbent qualities, Sodium Polyacrylate was discontinued in feminine hygiene products in the 80s.  Why?  Because a link to toxic shock was found.  You would think the link to TSS alone would blacklist a chemical like this.  To my surprise, I still encountered several credible sources regarding it as a nontoxic chemical with minimal concerns.  Even the Material Safety and Data Sheet for Sodium Polyacrylate states it as being nonhazardous.

Interestingly enough, that same sheet recommends using personal protective equipment when handling this “nonhazardous” chemical (MSDS- Sodium Polyacrylate).  A few of the minimal concerns listed were skin, lung and eye irritation.  Ever found little gel-like pieces on your little one’s bum?  I’m thinkin’ that’s skin, in its most delicate form in fact.   Because it has only been used in diapers for a couple decades there have been no long-term studies of the effects of this chemical on babies.  I think a good rule of thumb is– If protective gloves and respirators are required to handle a material, please don’t put it in our babies’ diapers. 

I think it is safe to assume that the vast majority of us don’t want to harm our babies and will make changes if we are given proper information. So…..

Stay tuned for Part Two of The Real Waste in Disposable Diapers.  Yes.  There is more. 




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