Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cloth or Disposable? (Adopted from Creative Parenting)


When deciding between cloth and disposable diapers consider this: For every year that she uses diapers, your baby will spend over 8,000 hours in a diaper and you will need to use at least 2,500 diapers to accomplish that. (Based on 7 changes a day) The environment, your budget and possibly even your baby's health are significantly impacted by your diapering choice.

Your Baby's Health
If the difference between cotton and disposable diapers doesn't seem like it would make much impact on your baby's health, consider this information:

-The chemical used to make disposable diapers super absorbent, sodium polyacrylate, was removed from tampons in 1995 due to its link to toxic shock syndrome. and can cause allergic reactions.

-Dioxin which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is the most toxic of all chemicals linked to cancer, is a by-product of bleaching paper. Dioxin is so toxic that even the smallest detectable quantities have been known to cause immune system suppression, liver disease, and genetic problems in lab animals.

-There are also potentially irritating, or even health damaging, dyes and fragrances used in the production of disposable diapers.

-The long term effect of any of these chemical being in close contact with a baby's skin and genitals for as long as 18 months to 3 years has not been studied.

Diaper Rash
Many people have bought into the myth that diposable diapers cause less diaper rash than cloth. Not so. Diaper rash is usually caused by several things: food allergies, soap or chemical allergies or lack of air circulation to the tender skin of the bottom. Ammonia formed by bacteria that interacts with urine left sitting against the skin can also be very irritating and cause rashes.

-The best way to prevent rash is to change diapers, cloth or disposable, frequently. Despite the highly absorbant quality of disposable diapers, urine and bacteria are still present in the diaper and hence laying against your baby's bottom. Even though a disposable diaper can hold a days worth of urine and probably more, disposables should also be changed frequently. There goes the concept that you don't have to change them as frequently.

-According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers had rashes and 16% had severe rashes.

-Diaper moguls Procter & Gamble's own studies have show that the occurence of diaper rash increases from 7.1 percent to 61 percent with the increased use of disposable diapers.

The Health of the Environment
I have encountered much debate about the environmental impact of cloth and disposable diapers. The proponents of disposable diapers say that the extra water used to wash cloth, is just as much of an abuse to the environment as the production and disposal of cloth. Hogwash.

-It is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste, is deposited into landfills via disposables every year. The potential of ground water contamination is strong.

-Add all of those diapers up, and the numbers are staggering. In 1990 alone, 18 billion disposable diapers were thrown into landfills making diapers the third largest souce of United States landfill. Only food containers and newspaper are larger contributers of solid waste.

-It takes 82,000 pounds of plastic and over 250,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone.

-In order for these diapers to decompose, they must be exposed to air and sun. How likely is this? In addition, it is estimated that it will take at least 500 years for this decomposition to take place. The plastic components of disposables may never decompose. use up to five times more energy than reusable cloth diapers.

-The amount of water used per week to wash disposable diapers at home is about the same amount consumed by an adult flushing the toilet five or six times daily for a week.

-Even though a diaper service washes diapers multiple times and uses a a great quantity of water, the per diaper impact on energy and water supplies is actually less than home washing.

It's Cheaper
Using disposables will cost at least $1200 per child. (Based on a price of 25 cents per diaper, for the cheaper brands, 7 diapers a day, for 2 years) The cost of cloth, will range between $250 and $700 (for fancier all-in-one systems) and this should even include the water and electricity to wash and dry at home. You can then use all of your purchased diapers and supplies for other children that may follow. Can't do that with disposables! Even a diaper sevice will save some money over disposables, but the cost benefits do lessen.

It's NOT that time-consuming!
Diapers do not need to be presoaked, or even rinsed out. Banish the vision of bending over the toilet bowl swishing around a poopy diaper from your head! I use flushable diaper liners, lift them off and flush the liner and the poop down the toilet. Even if you don't have liners, you can just dump older baby's solids into the toilet. (You are supposed to dump the poop out of disposables too). If it won't dump out don't sweat it, just put the diaper poop and all into the diaper pail. Cloth diapers add about 2 loads of laundry a week on average. With the advent of diaper wraps, you don't even need to use pins. Cloth diapers are as easy as disposables to put on and remove. Besides, a little bit more effort is worth it when you consider all of the negative ramifications of disposable diapers.

Out and About
It's easy enough to tuck plastic bags into your diaper bag to store dirty diapers in until you get home. Often, cloth diapering families (including us) will use disposable diapers for trips and vacations. We have done both. When we are visiting family it's easy enough to store and wash cloth, but we have used disposable diapers on other trips.

EPA documents: "Positive Steps Towards Waste Reduction", and "Integrated Risk Assessment for Dioxins and Furans from Chlorine Bleaching in Pulp and Paper Mills"

"The Joy of Cloth Diapers"
by Jane McConnell
Mothering Magazine, May/June 1998

"Diaper Rash: Managing and Controlling a Common Problem in Infants and Toddlers"
Gaunder and Plummerm , Journal of Pediatric Health Care 1987: pages 26-34.

"A Review of Procter & Gamble's Environmental Balances for Disposable and Re-usable Nappies"
The Landbank Consultancy Limited, 1991.

Creative Parenting
William Sears M.D.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ten Steps for Diaper Rash Prevention


To avoid diaper rash or at least minimize it, make it a point to follow these ten steps:

  1. Change your baby's diapers as soon as they become wet or soiled.

  2. Wash your hands thoroughly after changing diapers to avoid spreading germs to other babies who may need a diaper change.

  3. Wipe your baby's bottom gently when using diaper wipes to avoid injuring his skin.

  4. Use cloth diaper and cloth diaper wipes on your baby. They are a natural gentler choice and will allow your baby's bottom to 'breathe' better. Disposable diapers and disposable wipes contain irritating chemicals, plastics, papers, dyes, perfumes, and soaps that are not healthy for your baby's skin.

  5. Allow your baby to go without a diaper for at least a few minutes each day or longer, if you can. Fresh air can do wonders on a sore and rashy bum and it can keep a healthy bum rash free!

  6. Avoid using standard lotions, powders, soaps, and diaper rash creams on your baby's skin. Even salves that claim to be non-irritating, like Eucerin, contain some very irritating ingredients like petroleum and alcohol. Purchase natural skin care baby products instead. Many cloth diaper business owners sell a variety of natural skin care baby products and diaper rash salves that are much healthier than ones sold elsewhere.

  7. If your baby has very sensitive skin consider diapering with organic cloth diapers which are the most pure, natural diapers available. These diapers are free of pesticides, dyes, perfumes, and chemicals.

  8. Eat healthy foods, especially if you're breastfeeding, because whatever you eat may affect your baby's system and may cause your baby to get a diaper rash.

  9. Nurse your baby. "Breastfeeding has been shown to lower fecal pH, which may help to protect the natural barrier function of the skin, making infections and, consequently, severe diaper rash less likely."6

  10. Antibiotics may lead to yeast infections because they reduce "the amount of the skin's 'good' bacteria that fight infection."7 Therefore, if your baby is given a course of antibiotics he may be more susceptible to diaper rash. If you are breastfeeding and you are given a course of antibiotics, your baby may still get a diaper rash, so be on the look out. In the meantime, eat natural yogurt which will increase the 'good' bacteria in your stomach and fight the yeast. If your baby is eating solids and your pediatrician approves, give your baby natural yogurt as well.
Remember, prevention is the best treatment for diaper rash. You won't have to treat a rash it if it doesn't exist, so be sure to follow the steps above to keep your baby's bum as healthy as possible!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Time for a change! Read about Cloth Diapering

Diapers may not be an important part of most peoples' lives, and even parents with young children deal with diapers for only a few years. The environmental impact of the vastly popular disposable diaper, however, affects us all and is a problem which won't go away.

It 's estimated that 10,000 tons of disposable diapers are tossed into landfills each day. They can take up to 500 years to decompose! The manufacture of disposables uses over 1 million metric tons of wood pulp and 75,000 metric tons of plastic each year. Disposables are the diaper of choice for over 90% of Malaysian parents.

Benefits of Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have changed considerably over the years, and offer many benefits to parents of newborns:

Healthier. .Disposables are laden with chemicals which have been associated with many physical problems. Diaper rash also increases with disposable diaper use due to allergies to chemicals, poor air flow and longer time spent in wet diapers which feel dry when wet.

Benefits the environment. Cloth diapers are reusable. Quality cotton diapers will hold up for 75 - 100 washings (at minimum), and can be saved for the next child. Although energy is required for washing the diapers, it is a fraction of the energy used for disposables. Cloth diapers are also recyclable, making excellent cotton rags in their 'afterlife'.

Less expensive. Many studies have compared the costs of disposables diapers versus cloth washed at home, and cloth diapers provided by commercial diaper services. Results vary, but most agree that the cost of cloth diapers, home laundered, is considerably lower than buying disposables. Estimates range from RM3000 - RM6000 in savings over the 2 1/2 years, and 6000 diaper changes, of diaper use. Using a commercial diaper service, depending on which study you consult, is either comparable to, or a little less expensive, than using disposables.

Washing Instructions

Before You Wash

Remove your child's diaper and shake off the solids into the toilet or flush the disposable liner down the toilet or spray the solids off with the mini spray (works incredibly well).
The fleece is great for releasing anything fairly solid. Remove the soaker/insert, and then rinse any solids still on the soaker/insert; you may want to add a squirt of hand soap while you are rinsing the diaper and soaker/insert. Spray gently to dislodge the poo, then rinse off and off to the diaper pail or washing machine

Re-fasten the hook and loop strap and place the dirty/wet diaper into a DRY diaper pail. If the diaper also got dirty you can add it to the pail or rinse of the "poop" and throw the diaper in with your regular laundry.

Washing Is Easy!
For Top & Front-Loaders

    Empty Diaper Pail Liner into the washer and use pre-wash cycle(or a rinse cycle) to rinse out urine and fecal matter. I recommend 2 cold pre-washes, especially if you try to rinse out the NB "poop"! If you find that your diapers are very smelly, you can add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the pre-wash - please note that the baking soda will shorten the life of your cover, all-in-ones and pocket diapers - use rarely!
    Add detergent (a little less than directed if you use regular detergent.) You can add a small amount of Vinegar to the rinse cycle, however it can make your covers smell with hard water. So if you find that your covers are getting a strange smell, stop using Vinegar! Once your diapers are washed you can test if they are clean by holding them at your nose and take a deep breath - they should smell very fresh! If they do not, run one more hot wash cycle without any detergent. If you feel that you're diapers aren't getting as clean as you'd like, add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to the detergent - this works wonders and leaves your diapers smelling fresh!!! Do not use the Tea Tree Oil or any other oils on the any of the cloth
    diapers, as the oil will adhere to the fleece. When washing diapers it is really important to have an idea about the quality of your water - if you have hard water, use less detergent and you might even have to run your diapers through a hot wash without detergent after a regular wash cycle every month or so. In hard water the detergent does not rinse well and your diapers can start smelling, if you use too much detergent or do not rinse well enough. I generally recommend to do 2 cold rinses at the end!
    Keep the Dryer on a low heat setting. Leave the covers out to air dry (without sun, the diapers may show stains from poop - however, they are clean!) Please also remember that the dryer is hard on any waterproof fabric, so if you want to extend the life of your pocket diapers, all-in-ones and covers keep them out of the dryer as often as possible.
  • DONE …your diapers are clean and ready to use!!!

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