Cloth Diapers vs Disposable : Your Baby's Health

In the battle of cloth diapers vs disposable, which are better for your baby's health?

Popular brands of disposable diapers today contain a wide variety of toxic chemicals. Cloth can have an impact on health, too, though. Which should you choose?

cloth diapers vs disposable, switching to cloth diapers, seventh generation diapers Boys wearing disposable diapers had scrotal temperatures almost 20 F degrees higher than boys wearing cloth. This could lead to fertility issues later in life. Mice experienced asthma like symptoms when exposed to disposable diapers.

They experienced no symptoms when exposed to cloth. Many children experienced horrible burn-like rashes likely caused by the chemicals in disposables, though the manufacturers won't admit to this.

Disposable diaper companies will not tell anyone what is in their diapers and due to some quirks in the current law avoid reporting their ingredients even though they share many of the same ingredients as other personal care products.

Cloth Diapers vs Disposable: Diaper Rash

A major diaper manufacturer did their own study to determine the incidence of diaper rash and found that diaper rash increased from 7.1% to 61% with the increased use of disposable diapers over cloth diapers. Since disposable diapers cause more diaper rash, resulting in you having to take more time to try to help heal the rash and buy more products to fix it. Diaper rash can, of course, still occur with cloth diapers, but you can choose to use only natural materials that breathe to reduce the chance of this happening, and if your cloth diapers start causing redness, you may find that stripping them or changing how you clean your cloth diapers can solve the issue.

Cloth Diapers vs Disposable: Toxic Chemicals: Cancer, Infertility, Endocrine Issues

Disposable diapers are host to myriad toxic chemicals. These are released from disposable diapers during normal every day use. When you see that something causes eye, skin, and lung irritation please remember that if the body is acting inflamed it is trying to fight off something that is causing harm to it. Therefore, obvious symptoms like eye and skin irritation can be a sign that there is more going on inside the body. If your child's immune system has to spend a lot of time fighting foreign chemicals, it has less resources available when your child is exposed to bacteria and viruses. We may vaccinate our children and worry about their health, but then assault their developing immune systems with toxic chemicals, leaving them vulnerable.

cloth diapers vs disposable diapers, switching to cloth diapers, seventh generation diapers

Since most diaper manufacturers refuse to share their diaper's ingredients, we only know what chemicals they may be using by what is emitted by the diapers. Here is a list of some of the chemicals that were emitted from disposable diapers:

  • Xylene: neurotoxin, toxic to endocrine and respiratory systems.
  • Ethyl Benzene: neurotoxin, toxic to endocrine and respiratory systems.
  • Styerene: carcinogenic (cancer-causing.)
  • Isopropylene: neurotoxin
  • Dioxin: Released during bleaching process. Toxic to endocrine system,
  • liver, skin, and the most toxic of all cancer causing chemicals. In very small quantities, it can cause birth defects and genetic damage. It is banned in most countries but of course not in the US.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT) - Endocrine disruptor
  • Sodium Polyacrylate (see picture above)- The gel like beads you find stuck to your baby's bum. They can absorb 1,000 times their weight in water, which is why they are used. Creates dust that can cause lung and eye irritation. These were removed from tampons because they were leading to toxic shock syndrome. It has caused health problems in women who work in the factories where they manufacture it, and it has killed children who have ingested 5 grams or less of the stuff. It can cause severe skin reactions and has been associated with staph infections in babies.
  • Fragrance - fragrances often contain phthalates and other unidentified substances because companies do not have to disclose the ingredients used in “fragrance” because they'd protected their product, calling the ingredients a “trade secret.”
  • Other plastics, polyurethane, adhesives, glues, inks elastics, lubricants: can cause skin irritation and also often contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde which are toxic to the respiratory system.


  • No long term studies have ever been done to discover if these chemicals might be having any long-term effects on babies who are in contact with them for 2 to 3 years straight. Their reproductive effects are especially of concern since these chemicals are up against baby's reproductive organs during this time. (We do know that cancer rates are rising and that men's sperm counts are lower than they have ever been, however.)

    Cloth Diapers vs Disposable : Chemicals in Cloth Diapers

    Cloth diapers can certainly contain chemicals. Vinyl diaper covers should be avoided as they contain phthalates. PUL (polyurethane laminate) lined diapers are supposedly inert, but they still contain a synthetic lining in them. Wool and Cotton can contain pesticides, and if you choose bleached fabrics, they could also have dioxins.

    You can, however, choose unbleached and organic fabrics, and you need not use plastics or synthetic fabrics at all. Unbleached organic cotton, hemp or bamboo fabrics work great in fitteds and prefolds and can be made water resistant with the use of an organic wool or natural fleece diaper cover.

    Cloth diapers vs Disposable: Still want to choose disposables?

    If switching to cloth diapers isn't possible, you can choose healthier green brands of disposable diapers. You can also choose hybrid options, like gDiapers. If you must use disposables, it is crucial that you use diapers like these for your baby's health.

    The cloth diapers vs disposable bottom line: The stuff you can find in all the mainstream diapers belongs absolutely nowhere near the most vulnerable members of our species - our newborn babies.