There is a lot of discussion revolving around diapers. Cloth, disposable, hybrid or diaper free? What is the best choice?
For the Earth, a diaper free baby (Elimination Communication or EC) is the absolute best choice. This method requires complete dedication for the parents (as the parents must watch for cues and put baby on the elimination pot when needed). It works wonderfully for many families and there is no “potty learning”, the children make a natural transition to being able to recognize cues and go to the potty.
If going diaper free isn’t for you, then cloth diapers are the way to go. In order to keep this as environmentally sound as possible, some precautions need to be taken.
- First- only buy ORGANIC, unbleached cotton diapers. This eliminates the concern over pesticides during cotton growth. Organic cotton usually is more off white/tan in color so staining isn’t as obvious.
- Second- use a dry pail to store diapers. This removes the drowning and spill risk and uses less water. Nappies should be rinsed prior to placing in the pail (the toilet with or without a sprayer attachment works wonderfully). A few drops of essential oil (tea tree or eucalyptus) and baking soda will keep odors at bay.
- Third- Wash your diapers once a week (you should have a full load). Use 2 oz of natural laundry detergent (we like Ecos), 1/4 cup baking soda and add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the final rinse (or use a Downy ball to toss it in at the beginning of the wash. Never, ever use Chlorine Bleach… it is bad for the environment and breaks down the cloth, reducing life and absorbency of the nappies.
- Fourth- Hang dry. Use an accordion style drying rack in the bathtub when you can’t place them outside. Tumble in the dry on no heat/fluff for 5-10 minutes to keep them soft.
- Fifth- Opt for wool covers. They are free of plastics, breathable and naturally water repellent.
If you aren’t a cloth diaper person, or you need something for extended trips go with a hybrid diaper. gDiapers are an Australian born diaper wonder. The outer is similar to cloth diaper covers (and I know people who use them as such) while the inner is disposable (flusable, compostable). Yes, these diapers are more labor intensive than traditional disposables but they require less work than cloth nappies. The inner liner can be opened (using side tear tabs) and flushed (swish stick is included with the starter pack). Septic or sewer systems are the correct place for human feces, so this is a great option. If the diaper is only wet, you can just toss it in the compost pile. gDiapers are the most expensive diapering option, so they may not be realistic for full time use.
In the world of disposables, some options are better than others. If you must use a disposable, opt for chlorine free diapers made with as much recycled fiber as you can find. Seventh Generation scores high marks in this realm. Now that we are potty trained and only have to worry about night time soaking, we’ve found Seventh Generation pull ons and 365 Brand pull ons to work well and provide dry mornings. Hopefully this stage will be short lived and we can go back to undies.
If you want a gel-free disposable option, Tushies brand diapers are the only choice avaliable. This is the same gel that has been removed from Tampons due to the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). However, it has been found to be safe when used externally (nappies are also changed more frequently than Tampons therefore reducing extended contact with the gel). Tushies are more bulky (so if that’s why your not using cloth, this won’t solve the issue) and do not have very good elastic around the waist and legs (so leaks happen). Tushies will need to be changed more frequently than ordinary disposables so you will go through more diapers (similar to cloth).
Whatever option you choose, remember that super absorbent disposables are not a good option. A baby’s bum should stay dry to reduce rash and chafing and putting a chemical laden product against their skin is not a healthy option. We have grown lazy and the disposable diaper industry is proof of that! Alternative options (and why are they considered alternative when 50 years ago the only option was cloth?) take more work and require that baby is changed frequently. Frequent diaper changes are better for baby. My 3 year old doesn’t get rashes from sleeping in urine soaked cotton but she does break out from extended time in disposable pull-ons (even chlorine free brands). Natural cotton for natural babies. It’s the best choice for diapering.
Photo used with permission from Green Mountain Diapers.
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