Here’s a guide to diapering your baby, non-toxic style!
Since most babies wear diapers 24/7, it’s worth investing in ones that won’t have your child making contact around the clock with toxic substances such as chlorine, dyes and phthalates that are found in most mainstream disposable brands.
The good news is that today there are plenty of options for non-toxic, reusable cloth diapers.
Reasons to switch to Cloth Diapers
• Cloth diapers are eco-friendly and free of questionable chemicals that can lead to skin irritations, rashes and allergic reactions in babies.
• While the upfront cost of cloth diapering might be more (you'll need around 24 diapers to avoid daily laundry, and some all-in-one options can cost INR 1,500 each), but you will save a lot of money in the long run.
• They are better for the environment. The average baby goes through 5,000 disposable diapers in their lifetime! Disposable diapers are one of the biggest contributors to landfills, taking around 500 years to decompose. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, can be re-used indefinitely. So cloth diapers are a great way to reduce your baby’s carbon footprint – from birth!
• Cloth diapers are more comfortable for your baby as they are more absorbent and made from softer materials than disposables – most babies prefer the softer touch of real fabric.
• Potty training gets a little easier! As opposed to the stay-dry comfort of disposable diapers, babies will feel more wetness with cloth diapers and be able to tell when it needs to be changed.
Cloth Diaper Options
Flat or Prefolds: Traditional and by far the most economical, these diapers are 100% cotton or muslin squares (newer options are available in both hemp and bamboo) that you can fold in any way you like and fasten with a diaper pin. They are not waterproof, so you would need a diaper cover. This is a good option for newborns as they take time to grow into the smallest one-size diapers available, and flats or prefolds are adjustable to fit any sized baby.
Single Layer: These diapers are typically one layer of cotton muslin that's already cut into the right shape, so all you need to do is tie the strings or fasten the Velcro. While they are very comfortable and breathable, you would need to add a liner inside for better absorbency and put on a diaper cover for making it leak proof.
Fitted: Made with 100% cotton, these diapers resemble disposables with Velcro or snaps to stay snug at the waist. They are not waterproof though, so would require a diaper cover to prevent leaks, and are easy to use for babies who have begun crawling and need something that won’t slip easily.
Pocket: These diapers come with a pocket for placing absorbent inserts, which are replaced (disposed of or washed) after your baby is wet. The stay-dry lining means you don't need an additional waterproof cover.
All-in-Ones: With no liners or covers to remove, these one-piece diapers are the most popular option today. The inserts are either stitched inside or fastened with snaps, and the whole thing goes into the wash at once. (But because they're bulky, these diapers do take longer to dry.)
Hybrid: These are all-in-one diapers that include a pocket so you can add additional inserts if you need to.
What is a Diaper Cover? Diaper covers are similar to modern cloth diapers, except they do not come with any inserts etc. and can be paired with any style of diaper or insert underneath to make it waterproof.
Most diaper covers are made with PUL or Nylon. Some babies, however, are sensitive to components used in the manufacturing process and can react to these fabrics as they are less breathable than other natural options. So in natural fibres, wool is a favourite for eco-minded parents. However, wool is not completely waterproof – it absorbs wetness, keeping it away from clothing and skin, but it can leak if saturated.
Food for thought
If you're interested in cloth diapering but aren't ready to fully commit, you can always try a few cloth diapers when you're at home during the day, and save the disposables for when you're stepping out or travelling.
We’d love to hear more about your diapering choices and experiences with brands that worked well for you (or ones that didn’t!). You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org