Day #4 - Real Diaper Week - Health Benefits of Cloth Diapers

Real Simple Real Diapers for Babies – Health benefits, cloth diapers in hospitals, or cloth diapers in day cares


I wish I had the confidence in cloth diapering when I was in the birthing tub that I have now. I would have definitely used cloth from birth. I was afraid of the meconium. I was afraid I wouldn't have time for laundry. I was afraid of rashes. I used pretty much every excuse in the book for the first few weeks. After I finally started at about 3 weeks old, I never looked back. I didn't ask about cloth in my hospital, but from the array of supplies paraded in and out of my birthing suite and from my scavenging for the giant 3 foot long pads at 2 am, I know that my hospital does not boast a cloth option.

I plan on looking into it now that I am confident for baby #2. I will definitely bring a good supply of newborn dipes or at the very least prefolds with me in my hospital bag.

Moving on...

I am a stay-at-home-mom, so I don't know the ropes of day care, but I do know, based on the population surrounding me that is baffled by my cloth diapers, there is not likely very many that are ambitious about cloth diapers. One place that IS super cloth-friendly is the local YMCA wee care! They were very open about the fact that they are totally on board with cloth. So, when I drop off my boy, I know his bum is going to stay fluffy. The only thing I am ever scared about is the care of my cloth when not in my hands and the potential for tragedy...losing a diaper!! I would cry if I lost some of my diapers! Most of them have a story, a Twitter party, a review or a specific memory of the Bug in the diaper, so if I were to lose it I would be very sad. That makes me giggle a bit, having emotional attachment to a diaper! But, at my YMCA I'm pretty sure I am good friends with the only other mama that uses cloth--so we'd get it sorted out! I would never write Bug's name on his cloth, so other than bringing his diaper bag and keeping all belongings together, I'm not sure how to avoid the potential hazard of losing a diaper. Maybe an inventory of what you bring to a care center? I always ask if they changed his diaper and drop him off with a fresh one, so that helps to keep track. I do also mention that we don't use Desitin and I will probably get my butt kicked karma-wise for this, but I say it's due to allergies. :) Then there is no confusion.

That's all I have to say about that...

As for health benefits, there are many.

What I really wanted to bring to the table for the health portion was an MSDS sheet for a disposable diaper. Apparently, I would have been chasing my tail for a long time, according to this entertaining article. Coming from the government and being part of the district safety committee once upon a time, I read a lot of MSDS sheets. For everything. Spray paint to dry erase markers. You name it in a workplace setting, it has an MSDS sheet. So, I assumed I could easily find on on disposable diapers. Even in searching the OSHA database, I didn't find what I was looking for. Sorry all...epic fail.

I think firstly I would like to say, the smell of a Pampers or similar disposable diaper just about gives me a headache it is so strongly scented. Everyone is so worried about using Dreft and gentle detergents on babies, yet they put those perfumed, chemical-ridden disposables on baby bums indiscriminately without blinking an eye. Where is the chapter in "What to Expect" that addresses cloth vs. disposable?

Do disposable users realize that technically they are supposed to clean out the poo before throwing them in the trash, so really they should be doing what cloth users are doing when cleaning out diapers, but then THROW them away?! They can also contain carcinogens and chemicals for absorbency enhancement that can be linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome. We moved away from disposables just as I am discontinuing use of tampons and moving to mama cloth. There are just too many unknowns with disposables for me to be comfortable. At least with cloth, I can determine 99% of what's going on in that diaper and on the bum. I'm okay with that. Diapers could be part of my sons' life for years (I hope not, but potentially...) and knowing that icky chemicals would be next to his skin for 2 years is enough for me to fork over the money, the time, the commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Not to mention, I want grandchildren! With the potential for disposable diapers to prohibit heat regulation in males, causing problems with fertility--I'm not taking that risk!

I don't mean to go on a rant, but people go to such lengths to keep their kids safe and buy them the best in so many other areas of life, it astounds me when they 'go cheap' in this arena. I want more awareness. Did you know that health benefits of cloth are even showcased at Livestrong? They mention a new potential health problem link that I hadn't hear about--disposables and asthma.

Lastly, and there is no scientific data to back this up that I am aware of, though if someone were to test it, I'm sure my theory would hold up... I think it's healthy that cloth makes me and my husband smile. Smiling lightens your mood. Seeing cute fluff makes me happy. Everyone knows a happy mama = a happy home! So there must be some mood-enhancing endorphins or something that are released when you get fluff mail, right?!


  1. Wow, I didn't realize the health benefits of cloth were listed on Livestrong, awesome!

  2. I thank cloth diapering for being able to go 8 months without any diaper rash on my baby's bum.

  3. We used cloth in the hospital where my baby was born as it was part of the care there, but as soon as we got home and started using disposables my baby boy developed a rash. I thought it was thrush it was awful and looked like a burn, zinc cream was not doing anything. I brought him into see the Doctor and he was diagnosed with eczema . I started right then and there looking into cloth diapering, I did a diaper trial and within 2 days of cloth the angry burn like rash was gone. When we were done with the trial and I was trying to decide and went back to disposables the rash came back in full force. I got the cloth diapers and the rash went away and has not returned since!