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  • Writer's pictureSarah

How Disposable Nappies Harm Your Baby

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

I know what you are thinking, “disposables are so convenient. Why would I ever want to make the switch to reusable?” You are probably thinking "I don't want to deal with nappy mess, rather just wrap it up and toss it in the bin. Not to mention all that extra washing!"

But, have you taken the time to look into the chemicals that are contained in disposables? We spent a long time using disposables with our boys until we found out about the reality of what was in them. You might be shocked to know a long list of chemicals can be found in disposables including known carcinogens and toxic chemicals including Phthalates, Sodium polyacrylate, Dioxin, Tributyl Tin (TBT), Toluene, Ethylbenzene, just to name a few.

So why should you be concerned?

I use to think that people just ingested what they put in their mouths and only recently found out about how much is actually absorbed through our skin. Given that babies' skin is thinner than an adults and also has a greater surface area to mass ratio they readily absorb a huge amount of what they're exposed to.

Some of the health effects of the toxins found in disposables include:

  • Increased risk of cancer.

  • Decreased fertility in males.

  • Impaired immune, hormone and reproductive function.

  • Negative effects on growth and neurodevelopment.

  • Skin irritation and rashes.

  • Obesity.

  • Inflammation of the lungs.

  • Depression of the central nervous system.

Shockingly, the chemical, Sodium polyacrylate killed a child after ingesting as little as 5 grams of it. It has even been banned from use in Tampons due to its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome. Yet it is still used in some nappies...

Cost benefits of reusable vs disposable

The average baby will go through approximately 5300 nappies and more if they take longer to potty train. With some basic maths the cost of the use of disposables for one baby works out to be around $4,550. That is a lot of money given the outlay of most reusables is around $500 - $1000 and will last for multiple children. That is not to mention the environmental impact of 5300 nappies ending up in a landfill for each child.

So now what?

You have to agree none of the chemicals mentioned should belong anywhere near a babies skin! Once we learnt all of this we could not say no to switching to reusables despite the extra work load and inconvenience.

When switching it is also good to go for more natural materials. Although the outers will often be synthetic it is important to make sure that the liners aren't, so avoid getting the microfibre polyester ones. I recommend using organic materials as the safest material to be close to your baby's skin! There are a few providers out there - we have used the ones at Nappyneedz which are still going strong after 2 kids in them full time. Kelly at Nappyneedz has kindly given me a 20% discount code to share to make the switch to cloth nappies easier for anyone that wants to use it. Just pop in TD3H4WB2 at the check out.

For periods where reusables are going to be particularly inconvenient (such as when travelling) you can also opt for low tox disposable brands such as Noopii. We use them while away on holiday as let’s face it it's pretty gross lugging used nappies around for days on end.

Given the health risks that come with many of the mainstream brands of disposable nappies and the vulnerability of babies’ skins I highly recommend making the switch to cloth nappies. The environment and your babies long term health will thank you for it x


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