Non-Toxic Product Guides:
How To Choose Non-Toxic Diapers (& 3 Of Our Faves!)
Ah, disposable diapers. They’re one of the first things people mention when they talk about their forays into the adventures of parenting. And, yet, how much do we really know about them? We know they’re expensive, not great for the environment (as in, they take 500 years to decompose!) and made of some kind of mysterious mix of materials that are probably not that great for our precious ones, who wear them all day (and night) long. Never fear, we’re here with a couple of brands of non-toxic diapers we think are worth checking out, as well as your top 3 ingredients to avoid.[/caption]
How to Choose Non-Toxic Diapers: Top 3 Things To Avoid
Okay, so now you’re in the totally overwhelming (and greenwashed) baby aisle. Where do you start? While there are a lot of conflicting opinions out there on what to avoid in your search for non-toxic diapers, these are the ingredients we feel are crucial to avoid.
1. Always and forever, NO FRAGRANCES! We have tons more information on fragrance here, but know this: fragrace is an umbrella term that allows a manufacturer to hide a cocktail of more than 100 chemicals without disclosing them. The fragrance industry regulates itself and manufacturers are not required to list their fragrance ingredients on product labels, because fragrances are considered to be “trade secrets.” Fragrances are linked to a staggering number of health risks. Across multiple research studies, chemicals used to make fragrances are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers, neurotoxins and carcinogens. What’s worse, fragranced products also often contain phthalates, which help fragrances last and aren’t listed on ingredient labels. Phthalates have been banned for use in products in the European Union, but the United States still permits their use despite the fact that research has shown that these chemicals cause hormonal disruption as well as developmental and reproductive toxicity. They’re dangerous and carcinogenic.
Bleach is a respiratory and skin irritant that has been linked to asthma, allergies, environmental toxicity and cancer. It’s used in manufacturing diapers, leaving behind dangerous byproducts called dioxins, which, according to the EPA are among the most toxic chemicals known to science and highly carcinogenic. Exposure to dioxins can cause skin reactions, altered liver function and impairment to the immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems. This is not something you want your baby’s sensitive skin exposed to 24 hours a day for their first few years of life. To be extra safe, search for non-toxic, eco-friendly brands whose diapers are made with totally-chlorine free pulp (TCF) to ensure the diapers have no bleach treatment byproducts like dioxins.
3. Tributyl-tin (TBT)
TBT is an antifouling agent and biocide that prevents the growth of microorganisms and is used in the marine industry to prevent algae and barnacles from growing on the underside of boats. While that may sound great, it comes with a significant downside, in that it is highly toxic to aquatic life and has been linked to endocrine disruption. This is definitely one to avoid in your quest for non-toxic diapers.
One more thing to consider: Sodium Polyacrylate (SAP)
Ever wonder how a disposable diaper can hold so much liquid? For the last two decades, that feature has been the result of SAP, a super absorbent chemical compound that absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of a diaper to prevent leakage. If you’ve ever changed your baby’s diaper and seen gel-like beads stuck to their skin, that’s SAP, and it’s linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems, and was removed from tampons due to concern that it contributed to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Due to the fact that it hasn’t been used in diapers for that long, the long term effects of SAP are unknown and, even among natural and non-toxic diaper brands, it is difficult to find products that don’t contain some form of SAP.
Three Non-Toxic Diaper Brands We Are Loving Right Now
Our Top Pick: Bambo Nature diapers are made with our babies and the environment in mind, produced with eco-friendly paper material from controlled forestry, no chlorine bleach or optical brighteners. The brand even identified nontoxic inks and are 75% biodegradable.
Nobody’s Perfect: This product still contains SAP, but uses less than the conventional brands due to the use of wheat starch for absorbency.
- Mama Bear by Amazon Diapers are free of fragrance, elemental chlorine and latex.
Nobody’s Perfect: the product does contain SAP, but it is difficult to find a disposable diaper that doesn’t. We also like that these come from Amazon, making them more affordable than many conventional brands, even more so if you are an Amazon Prime member and utilize the brand’s Subscribe And Save service.
- Honest Company Diapers, utilize fluff pulp from sustainably managed forests for absorption and are made without bleach processing. They boast an ultra-soft, plant-based (PLA) inner and outer layer.
Nobody’s Perfect: Honest Company has reformulated (and pulled) products when they’ve learned of issues. They also disclose the exact ingredients used in their diapers and where they are sourced, a transparency we appreciate.
Diaper brands are constantly revising their formulas and releasing new products, so doing a quick search for recent blog posts and information on the non-toxic diaper brand you’re considering is helpful. But, when it comes to eco-friendly diapers or anything else, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As we’ve done above with our recommendations, it is far safer to focus on eliminating the truly scary toxins than to give up and reach for the first perfume-y, cartoon-y package you see! For more information on safer products to use in your home, check out our product guides here, as well as our post on 5 Easy Swaps For A Non-Toxic Nursery. And, don’t forget that our gentle and effective cleaning system, Force of Nature, is here for any of the messes that life throws your way on this parenthood journey.