Myth: I read that babies experience fewer diaper rashes in disposable diapers.
Fact: Typical diaper rash occurs when excess bacteria collects against baby's delicate skin. This happens when a diaper is not changed often enough. Perfumes and chemicals in disposable diapers make it more difficult to tell when a baby potties, leading to insufficient diaper changes. In addition a baby is less likely to be aware of his or her own wetness. This allows extra urine and bacteria to accumulate in the diaper, leaving a baby more prone to diaper rash.
In addition to typical diaper rash, many babies have an allergic reaction to the chemicals used to create cloth diapers. This sort of diaper rash is more severe and harder to alleviate. This is the sort of diaper rash seen in current complaints against the new Pampers diapers.
In my personal experience, my daughter used disposables exclusively until she was 10 months old. We have seen far less diaper rash in the past 7 months, since switching to cloth diapers. For us this has meant less money spent on rash creams and more importantly a happier baby.
Myth: I read that cloth diapers and disposable diapers negatively impact the environment equally.
Fact: Supporters of disposable diapers like to claim that cloth diapers are harmful to the environment because of the amount of water required to wash cloth every 2 to 3 days. What they fail to point out is the amount of water used in the creation of disposable diapers. When taking into account the amount of water required to turn trees into pulp, the water used in the process of creating chemicals that go into disposable diapers, and the amount of water needed to run diaper manufacturing plants. It is clear that this argument fails to hold water. If you are concerned about water waste when using cloth diapers, using a front-load washing machine will make washing your diapers more environmentally friendly.
Aside from the water waste, one must take into account the number of diapers deposited in landfills:
According to the EPA’s most recent municipal waste report (2008), 2.3% by weight of products discarded in the municipal waste stream are disposable diapers. That means that out of 166,740,000 tons or 333,480,000,000 pounds of trash, disposable diapers accounted for 3,790,000 tons or 7,580,000,000 pounds of non-recovered, toss-it-in-the-landfill trash in 2008.(What a Waste, 19, March 2010)
Over this same 3 year period, a cloth-diapered baby will use about 30 to 50 diapers (depending on the type of of diapering system). These same diapers can later be used for a second child, given to an expectant friend, or sold to another mother looking to cloth diaper her child. When these diapers wear out, there will be 50 diapers in a landfill, used on 2 to 3 children. Compare that to the 8760 disposable diapers used on one child. This doesn't even take into account the amount of waste that go into disposable wipes when compared with cloth wipes.
Myth: I read that disposable diapers help improve the lives of people in developing nations.
Fact: Disposable diapers are polluting developing nations. Maarten Troost has spent years studying the lives of people living on a remote island in the Republic of Kiribati. Since the 1970s he has seen the decline of the surrounding area as a result of pollution, and he notes specifically the accumulation of disposable diaper waste around the beaches (cited in: Margulis, J., "The Diapering Dilemma," Mothering Magazine, (May-June 2010, p. 62). In countries with pick-up and landfill disposal systems for solid waste (such as the U.S.), disposable diapers end up in landfills where chemicals in the diapers as well as human waste can leach into groundwater. But in countries without such systems of waste "removal," disposable diapers end up in trash piles on the outskirts of cities or littering streets and common areas. In short, disposable diapers do not benefit developing nations.
Myth: Cloth diapers are gross because you have to wash out the poop in the toilet.
Fact: Regardless of the type of diaper you use, you should be dumping the solid waste part into the toilet. Even Pampers recommends this (though they hide the information on their website.) To find it, look up a diaper. Then click the "Helpful Hints" tab in the box at the bottom. The website states:
As the Pampers bag recommends, you'll want to dump bowel movements in the toilet. Then just roll the diaper into its backsheet, using the tape or fasteners to keep it closed, and dispose of it in the trash.
This recommendation is made because babies are prone to illnesses. Disposing of solid waste in the toilet prevents any sort of bacteria or virus in the waste from getting into ground water. When done correctly disposable diapers require the same amount of effort with poop as cloth diapers (dumping solid matter in the toilet).
Personally, I find cloth diapers less gross than disposables. With disposables, dirty and smelly diapers sit in a diaper pail (and then the main trashcan) for a long time. During this time they get more smelly. I have even felt heat emanating from a diaper pail of disposables, meaning that microbial activity was taking place, carbon was being released, and bacteria were likely forming. Very gross! With cloth diapers, I simply was diapers every other day, preventing them from festering and getting smelly.
Top--Felicity (12 m/o) in a prefold and a pair of knitted wool longies . Wool is a great all natural fiber for diaper covers.
Middle--Felicity (13 m/o) in a prefold and another knitted wool diaper cover.
Bottom-- Felicity (17 m/o) in a GroVia diaper (color Manderin).
For More information on cloth diapering check out:
The Real Diaper Association
What a Waste
Diaperpin dot com
or leave a comment, and I can point you to more specific information.
More information on Sustainable Diapers by cloth diapering moms (likely with more pictures of cute babies in cloth):
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