Becoming a parent is one of the greatest blessings in life, but it can also bring upon a lot of stress, especially for first time parents. What is the birthing plan? What will the nursery look like? Should we stick with baby laundry detergent or use an alternative? There are so many components to beginning parenthood that can be extremely overwhelming.
Even something as simple as changing the babies diaper can be unnerving at first (I am guilty of putting the diaper on backwards a few times, I'll just blame the fatigue). But once you leave the hospital, the nurses are no longer there, and it is just parents and baby. This is the time when we as parents really figure things out, since there is no outside help available (if you're lucky and you want the help, a lot of family members who are moms themselves may take on the task of helping you out, which is a great bonus if you need it!).
One aspect that some moms look at is what type of diaper to use. Cloth or disposable. Cloth can be expensive at first, but will generally save money in the long run. Do you have time to do laundry several times a week with cloth diapers? Do you have what it takes to clean them properly in order to reuse them? These can be serious questions for moms who choose to use cloth, unless you are like me and choose disposable diapers. But do we really do our research on what goes into making disposable diapers? What possible chemicals can be used inside of them? These can be easily forgotten by a tired mom, but sometimes using disposable diapers aren't always the safest route.
Aren't the little size 1 diapers with the Sesame Street crew just adorable? Who wouldn't want Elmo or Cookie Monster on our babies behind with the constant reminder of how adorable a baby in a diaper can be? But have the majority of moms really stopped to think how those characters are printed onto the diaper? Any character or logo is a dye used on the diaper, and while this won't have an effect on some babies, it will on others.
Some babies can have an allergic reaction to the dyes that are used in diapers. These dyes usually include Disperse Yellow 3, Disperse Orange 3, Disperse Blue 124, and Disperse Blue 106. These allergic reactions generally lead to rashes, and repeated exposure can lead to long term allergies. In studies that were done, most cases of rashes only appeared on the babies skin where it came in direct contact with the dye. If you notice your little one has developed a rash on their bottom, try switching to cloth diapers or an off brand disposable diaper that doesn't use any dyes in them.
14 Polyacrylic Acid
What makes a diaper so absorbent? Most of us know there is some sort of component in disposable diapers that makes them last up to 12 hours, while still keeping baby dry (Great marketing point! Cause if the baby sleeps through the night without being woken up in need for a diaper change, that's always a huge plus for mom!). However, unless mom has done some serious research on what goes into a diaper, I doubt mom can name the chemical that is used to absorb urine into the diaper.
That chemical is polyacrylic acid. This chemical is added to diapers as a powder, at usually 4 to 5 grams per diaper. Polyacrylic acid can absorb about 30 times it weight in water (usually about 30mL of water per gram of polyacrylic acid), meaning that a diaper can absorb anywhere from 120mL to 150mL of water. This sounds like an amazing use for a diaper, but polyacrylic acid isn't always safe to use on babies. For one, it is not supposed to come in direct contact with skin, according to the toxicity report. This is because it can irritate the skin, causing rashes. Polyacrylic acid has also been known to cause cancer, which makes me wonder why this chemical is deemed safe for use in a diaper?
When I first found out I was pregnant, my mother was so overjoyed that we had to start baby shopping immediately! I remember going to the store with her, and watched her pick up a package of baby diapers and smell the package. I thought she had lost her mind! But as a mother who has changed hundreds of diapers, I know that diapers have a very distinctive scent to them (the ones I used at least).
Between the absorbent core and outer layers, small amounts of perfumes are added to the diaper. Although sensitivities to citral and other perfumes in diapers is generally uncommon among babies, allergic reactions are still possible. Although it may smell good, it might not always be the best thing to put on babies bottom. Don't let this stop you from doing what you think is best for your child, but remember there are unscented diapers available that can be used in place of scented ones.
12 Sodium Polyacrylate
According to the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets), there is a mild amount of sodium polyacrylate located inside of diapers. It's considered non-toxic and not an irritant to the skin when it comes into direct skin contact. However, if you've ever smelled a diaper, then you have inhaled small amounts of this chemical which can irritate airways. People used to once warn parents about polyacrylate irritating the skin and causing rashes due to allergic reactions, but this is actually extremely rare to happen.
Since polymers are long chains when stuck together, it is nearly impossible for sodium polyacrylate to be absorbed into the skin. In any case, it's still a good idea to watch for signs of allergic reactions on baby's skin. And it's probably a good idea to put that package of baby diapers down and stop smelling them (I'm looking at you, mom).
Dioxin is found in almost every brand of disposable diaper on the market today. Dioxin is a chemical by-product of the paper bleaching process used int he production and manufacturing of disposable diapers. According to the EPA, dioxin is the most toxic chemical of all cancer-linked chemicals. This can be extremely scary to think about. We are putting bleached chemicals on our little ones that can cause cancer! How are these companies getting away with this? Dioxin is actually banned in most countries except the United States.
In extremely small quantities, dioxin can cause not only cancer, but also birth defects, liver and skin disease, immune system suppression and genetic damage. Again, these numbers are very small and few in between, but it's still something we need to look at when choosing what kind of diaper we are using on our children.
10 Plastic Softeners
You know that plastic piece that holds the diaper together? Well, you're not going to be very thrilled when you find out what chemical is used in that plastic. Phthalates are synthetic, man-made plastic softeners that are considered even more toxic than dioxins. In fact, phthalates were recently banned in children's teething rings and other toys that contained the chemical because of its level of toxicity. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, so they are capable of mimicking natural human hormones, sending false signals to the body. Since children are constantly touching everything in sight, including their diapers, and then touching their eyes, mouths and other parts of their bodies, phthalates can do serious damage to their developing nervous and reproductive systems.
Not only do babies touch their diapers, but us as mothers touch them as well. If we don't wash our hands after changing a diaper, than we are essentially putting some of these chemicals on our skin as well. Yikes!
9 Environmental Health
One factor that most mom's don't really take into consideration is the hazard that disposable diapers have on our environment. If you're like me, then you already knew that there were chemicals in diapers that are meant to absorb water, but didn't know the extent to how harmful these chemicals really can be. When we dispose of dirty diaper, we are throwing them in the trash for them to sit in a landfill. Of course disposable diapers are convenient in our busy lives, but bodily waste (including bacteria and viruses) along with all these chemicals are able to seep down into the Earth's soil and contaminate groundwater. Since diapers are not biodegradable, they wind up sitting in these landfills for up to 500 years!
This one makes a lot of sense when you break down all the components that can lead up to an infection, and it's something that we overlook everyday due to the convenience of disposable diapers. On average, a baby generally goes through 7-8 diapers per day. That baby is generally in diapers for nearly the full 24 hours in a day. When the baby urinates, the same chemicals that lock water into the absorbing layer of the diaper is also the same layer that prevents the circulation of air inside of it. This now becomes a gold mine for bacteria, since bacteria thrives in warm, moist environments. This can cause your little one to get a skin infection under the diaper.
I know us moms do our best to keep our children clean and change their diapers as often as we can, but these situations can happen and it's kind of scary to think about.
7 Rashes And Allergies
Babies are born with super sensitive skin. We know that we should change the babies diaper at least 7 times per day, but that won't stop a baby from getting rashes. If your little one has more of a sensitive skin than others, then their chance of getting skin rashes increases greatly. There are several factors that can lead to rashes on your baby's bottom. The amount of toxins and chemicals in disposable diapers can cause serious skin irritation, which in turn causes rashes to form. If your baby goes for quite some time without getting a diaper change, bacteria formation has a greater chance of forming due to the conditions inside of the diaper. Also, the chemicals in baby wipes can also leave your child with a rash if he is allergic to them. While baby might not necessarily get a serious infection, he may still form a rash which can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable for him.
If you use disposable diapers like I do, just make sure your baby gets some free time from diapers, which is recommended by pediatricians.
Many of the disposable diapers on the market today come with lotions which are used to coat the lining of the diaper. While we may think that this is a great added bonus, it can be a harmful one at the same time. Most of the lotions in a diaper lining include petrolatum (a similar substance to Vaseline), and can be potentially contaminated with polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to the United States Environmental Working Group, PAHs are cancer-causing chemicals which are found in crude oil. This is a serious health hazard that needs to be addressed, and we need to be more educated on what is in the products we are buying.
While lotion sounds like a great add-on, I think I'll keep that outside of my babies diaper.
5 Male Infertility
A study was done by German researchers and published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, and research founded that male babies that wore plastic diapers instead of cotton diapers had a significant increase in scrotum temperature. This in turn may attribute to fertility problems in males later in life, since a rise in scrotal temperature can and has been proven to harm sperm development in adults. Although the development of sperm in the testes does not begin in males until they are older, this can still attribute to the decline in sperm development over the past few decades. This topic is highly debatable since there is no way to do a sperm count on a baby boy, but the fact remains that sperm can be harmed when they are in higher temperatures, and some of the damage to the testes could have been done while a baby boy was still in diapers.
4 Flush Wastes!
This is one fact that I did not know and I am sure many parents are unaware of this as well. When waste accumulates in baby's diaper, you are actually supposed to dispose of any waste in the toilet and flush it, and then throw the diaper away. But wouldn't it be easier to just throw a dirty diaper in the garbage or diaper pale? Well, of course! But by disposing of any waste in the toilet is actually helping the environment. As we remember from a previous point, it can take almost 500 years for diapers to completely break down since they are not biodegradable.
One interesting fact about this is that only 0.5% of all diaper waste goes into the sewage system when flushed down the toilet, whereas over 92% of diapers end up in landfill. Just sitting there. For up to 500 years. With waste seeping into underground water which contaminates our water supplies. This is food for thought and something to consider when disposing of waste in a better manner.
As adults, we know that chafing is definitely a painful experience that we would like to avoid at all costs. But it is also possible for baby's to get diaper chafing. This happens a lot with toddlers, especially if they tend to run around with nothing but a diaper on. When baby's legs are constantly rubbing together, it can create sores, rough patches of skin and a lot of irritation.
One solution to chafing is to rub baby powder on baby's inner things to keep them dry and helps to keep the skin smooth. With baby powder, it is almost impossible to create any kind of friction when the skin is kept smooth. Another solution is the right kind of clothing. Avoid cotton, as cotton absorbs sweat and irritates the skin. More form fitting, tight clothing can also help against a chafing baby. There is definitely nothing fun about dealing with a fussy baby who is chafing and has irritated inner thighs.
2 Diaper Pales
If you have a big diaper pale, it can take quite some time before it fills up. Aside from the disgusting smell that hits your nostrils when you open it, there can also be little creatures living in there thanks to the wonderful environment you have now provided for them. Gnats have been known to show up in diaper pales among other tiny bugs, including maggots. GROSS!!!
We can fix this problem though! If you decide to continue to use a diaper pale, make sure you change it more frequently so the smell doesn't linger and the environment won't become an attraction to bugs. Another solution would be to dump any waste into the toilet before putting the diaper into the pale. The biggest problem solver? Throw away that smelly diaper pale, flush waste down the toilet and throw the diaper outside in the trash or dumpster. Perfect solution!
1 Change That Diaper Often!
Probably one of the most harmful things we can do to our little one is leave the same diaper on for too long in between changes. On average, diaper changes should happen about 7-8 times per day. If your child is young enough, this can be very neglectful. Blowouts are a definite possibility when you don't change a diaper every 2-3 hours, and I promise, blowouts are no fun at all!
When baby has a blow out, its waste gets all over its clothes and other parts of the body like up the back. If baby has been in a blowout diaper for a little while (until mom or dad comes in and corrects the issue by changing the diaper), then you're almost guaranteed a very upset and cranky baby that you know have to deal with, clean up, bathe, and settle down. Another point is that if a baby is sitting in its own waste for too long, this can cause severe diaper rash from the moisture and bacteria in the diapers soil.
Let's just avoid any type of blowout, rash, and a cranky baby by keeping them on schedule with diaper changing. If you want to try your hand out with cloth diapers, then all the power to you!