Why Choose Cloth Diapers: Health Reasons

March 28, 2009

Why Choose Cloth Diapers

When I tell people we use cloth diapers they are almost always shocked. After they make comments like “you’re so brave” or “I could never cloth diaper”, they ask me why.

For my family our baby’s health was the reason we chose cloth diapering. My husband is a chiropractor and that opened the door to a way of thinking that revolved around health. We were introduced to natural ways of birthing, organic eating, and the multiple chemicals that we live with daily. Some we can alter or lessen, others we have little control over.

When we looked at the chemicals we could eliminate, disposable diapers were a big one. I did quite a bit of research into the chemicals contained in the diapers I was putting on my child. Having this info and choosing to ignore it became very difficult.

I cringe when I think of what sits next to our babies most private parts, just soaking up the toxins.  A disposable diaper contains many harmful chemicals that come into direct contact with your baby’s sensitive parts. Some of these chemicals are known potential carcinogens.

The two big toxins in disposable diapers are Dioxin and Sodium Polyacrylate.

Dioxin is an extremely nasty chemical. A 1994, EPA report revealed that there is no safe exposure level for dioxin. That means that any exposure to this dangerous chemical is harmful to your child.

Dioxin is a by-product of the bleaching process that occurs in paper mills. This method is banned in most countries and is known by the EPA as one of the highest cancer causing agents known.

Dioxin is also known to cause:

  • liver disease,
  • immune system suppression and
  • genetic damage in lab animals.

Have you ever looked at those small absorbent crystals in a disposable diaper? Many times they are found on the skin of your precious baby after he or she has fully saturated it.  Those crystals are known by the chemical name Sodium Polyacrylate.

It causes many symptoms like:

  • coughing and shortness of breath if inhaled;
  • nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested;
  • redness and pain in the eyes and
  • redness, itching and pain on the skin.

Sodium Polyacrylate: (click the link to see a great experiment performed with a menstrual pad!)
· can absorb up to 100X its weight in water.  Other resources state 200-300x.
· can stick to baby’s genitals, causing allergic reactions.
· has been reported to cause severe skin irritations, oozing blood from perineum and scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting and staph infections in babies.
· When injected into rats it has caused hemorrhage, cardiovascular failure and death.
· was banned from tampons in 1985 because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
· has killed children after ingesting as little as 5 grams of it.
· causes female organ problems, slows healing wounds, fatigue and weight loss to the employees in factories that manufacture it.

Many things in this world I cannot protect my children from but this is one that I can. That is truly empowering.

When your life demands that you use disposable diapers for a short time, choosing a natural disposable is both vital and feasible.  Health food stores and many chain grocers carry disposable diapers free of dioxin and sodium polyacrylate.  Our local HEB carries Natracare.  Tushies is also a popular natural disposable diapers.


About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at https://www.facebook.com/beautifullyblessedlashes.

View all posts by Autumn Beck

21 Responses to “Why Choose Cloth Diapers: Health Reasons”

  1. Renata Paoletti Says:

    We too use just a cloth diapers already 1 year! its totally ecologically and healthy.


  2. Feruza Says:

    Autumn, thank you very much for research you have done and for sharing it with us. What you have given here is very important to know. I have 5 months old baby and for the last month I was using disposable diapers all day long, knowing and suspecting there’s some harm for baby. But I was using them for convenience. However my fear about diapers was if they don’t cause any bad for the development and grow of baby’s legs as their bones are really elastic. Just now I decided to use cloth diapers, and avoid one-time use diapers or when I need them. My baby’s health is important for me, besides I want to be environmentally friend. My sister and friends are to be moms. I am going to tell and explain about your research and findings on disposable diapers. Thank you very much for detailed explanations. :)


  3. Kimberly Says:

    I’ve been using disposable diapers for 11 months now. Is it too late to switch? I feel a little intimidated because I don’t know the first thing about cloth diapers. :-/


    • Lori Says:

      Never too late to switch :) I used disposables for my first 3 children, now having a fourth, 12 years later, I have switched to cloth. Love it, I only wish I would have known then what I know now….. Good luck!


  4. Lauren Says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for this website and esp this article. Never even thought about cloth diapers (I don’t honestly know why) until a read a review on a cloth diaper product on another parent forum and it peaked my interest at how easy it sounded. I found your website and am now def going to use them on my 2nd child who will be here any day now! Esp after reading this article, I don’t see another option! :) I’m really wanting to convert my older son who is on the verge of potty training, its just such a high upfront cost. Anyways Thanks again for all the info!! Still feeling a little lost but your site has helped so much


  5. Jen Says:

    Wow. I love this website and this post freaks me out. I don’t have any children (yet), but I know I will cloth diaper when the time comes. I’m trying to learn as much as I can before we have a baby.

    Do you happen to know if the Dioxin is in disposable menstrual pads, as well? The Sodium Polyacrylate is enough to make me want to stop using them, but I’m just curious.

    Thanks so much for all of the fantastic info on here! Keep it up!


  6. Mackenzie Says:

    I think I’m sick now. I am depressed that I didn’t have this information (or your website) with my first baby. Thank you for putting all this out there!


  7. Mama Ash Says:

    So glad to have found you!
    I used your link to this on my blog and wrote about you, I hope it’s okay!
    I also grabbed your button so I’m in the loop:)


  8. Michelle Says:

    Hi Autumn,
    We are in the process of adopting and are getting as prepared as possible. We are ready to docloth diapers, but the ones we have start out at 8 lbs…are there any disposables that are safe until they are to that 8 lb. mark? I bought some Huggies Pure & Natural diapers today then came home to do research and will be taking them back tomorrow. :) Any ther options for a newborn though? Please help! :)


  9. Kristy Says:

    I agree with Autumn 100% on the wool soakers. We started out using fleece pockets at night and after a few months we had leaking, so against our better judgment we switched to disposables at night…smelly and leaky now. So after tons of research I decided I couldn’t be afraid of wool any longer and started doing that. The wool is great with our bamboo fitteds and no more leaks.


  10. Janet Says:

    Thank you so much for this information Autumn. I knew too, that disposables were not the best thing for my children. I use cloth during the day and disposables at night because of leaking.
    I have some disposables sitting on my changing table… I’m going to throw them out.
    Now I need to find something for leaking during the night. Any ideas that I can do that are really cheap? (tight month $ for us)

    Thanks so much again.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Janet, making wool soakers out of sweaters would be the best and least expensive solution for nighttime cloth diaper leaks. I also recommend the sbish snapless fitteds. They are one size and very absorbent. I use the sbish bamboo fitted and although pricier you only need 1 or 2.


  11. Theresa A. Says:


    Thanks so much for sharing this info! We used disposables for the first month of our son’s life, then started CDing with prefolds but still were using disposables on the road. Now we’ve switched to pockets, and I am determined to not use disposables any more! I purchased a small wet bag to go in his diaper bag, and this system works wonderfully.


  12. Kim Says:

    Seventh Generation diapers don’t use dioxin but they do have a gel in them.

    From their website “Seventh Generation uses SAP, sodium acrylate polymer, as the absorbent polymer (gel). This material provides the best method for keeping a baby dry, comfortable and helps reduce diaper rash. Research has demonstrated this gel is safe and non-toxic to baby’s skin.” They also state that they use less than the other brands of diapers.

    I have just switched to cloth for my 2nd child and used Seventh Generation on my 1st. Wish I had used cloth on my first- but headed the right way now.


  13. Acai berry blog Says:

    I also used cotton cloth diaper to my son and there were seldom occasions that I use disposable diapers to him. And I am proud to say that didn’t have any rashes and I save a lot of money because diaper is way expensive here in our area.


  14. Tanya Melby Says:

    Hi Autumn, thx 4 the info! I was wondering r those crystals in the g-diaper inserts???


  15. Wendy Says:

    This is also the main reason I cloth diaper, not to mention the numerous other benefits :) Thanks for all the helpful tips and info, including this post.


  16. Candace Robinson Says:

    Wow! I knew disposables were bad and I know I’ve read stuff about whats in them, but I either forgot or it wasn’t so plainly said that I truly understood. Thanks for making me feel even better about cloth diapering!


  17. Stacey Says:

    Autumn, this is some awesome research. Would you mind if I printed it off to share with women who are interested in cloth diapering?


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