Diapers

Benefits of Chlorine Free Diapers

Bleach-Free Baby

Keep your baby and your environment toxin-free by using disposable chlorine-free diapers.
Keep your baby and your environment toxin-free by using disposable chlorine-free diapers.

Regular disposable diapers are made with absorbent wood pulp that is bleached with chlorine, and cloth diapers must be bleached before reuse. Not only is bleaching harmful to the environment, some of the toxic dioxins released in the bleaching process may remain behind and irritate your baby's skin. Even worse, trace amounts of these chemicals could end up leaching into his pores and bloodstream, so stick to chlorine-free disposables to help keep your baby, and the environment, toxin-free.

Cleaner Planet

Landfills are clogged with non-biodegradable pollutants, including plastic bottles and disposable diapers.
Landfills are clogged with non-biodegradable pollutants, including plastic bottles and disposable diapers.

Traditional-style disposable diapers are made with non-biodegradable plastic, and they may continue polluting our landfills for up to 550 years after you dispose of them. Most chlorine-free disposables are made of natural ingredients that are at least partially biodegradable, so you can throw them away with a clean conscience.

Less Health Risks

Many disposable diapers contain chemical fragrances, phthalates (plastic softeners), petroleum-based dyes, and lotions. These are added to improve the diaper's smell, look and feel, but not only are they unnecessary to your baby -- they could be harmful. A baby's sensitive skin may develop an allergic rash or dermatitis from chemical contact, and some dyes have been linked to ADHD, nerve impairment, asthma or even cancer. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, phthalates may potentially disrupt the endocrine or reproductive system of a developing baby. Chlorine-free disposable diapers are available without potentially harmful dyes, lotions or chemical fragrances.

Breathe Deep

A 1999 study at Vermont's Anderson Laboratories concluded that two of three brands of disposable diapers tested emitted harmful chemicals capable of causing respiratory distress and pulmonary irritation in mice. The respiratory problems increased after repeated exposure to the diaper chemical off-gassing. Chlorine-free diapers are made of naturally absorbent materials, like corn or wheat, and have fewer potentially harmful chemicals and vapors.

What Types of Materials Go Into Making Disposable Diapers?

Exterior Covering

Disposable diapers have an exterior that incorporates a plastic-covered fabric called PUL to keep moisture from seeping out of the knitted interior lining of cotton, bamboo or synthetics. Polyurethane-laminated fabric has a thin coat of plastic attached to a fiber-and-paper mix to make the exterior waterproof. Manufacturers attach small Velcro straps, self-attaching synthetic fabric, or plastic adhesive to secure the back of the diaper to the front. Many diapers add thin elastic strings or woven plastic fibers around each diaper leg to tighten the opening to reduce the chance for leaks.

Absorbency Levels

The interior cotton and paper fabric used in disposable diapers embeds sodium polyacrylate crystals, a type of super-absorbent polymer that holds up to 300 times the material weight in liquid, between layers. The fabric partially absorbs the moisture and uses SAP to store the rest of the liquid as a gel in the bottom of the diaper.

Chemical Additives

Disposables have chemical traces from the manufacturing process and chemical additives to create a pleasant fragrance. Early studies of disposables done by the Anderson Laboratories in 1999 link processing to asthma-like respiratory symptoms in babies, including runny noses, sore throats and eye irritation. Diaper companies use bleach on recycled paper and fibers, and also add deodorant to scent the diapers. Studies found trace amounts of dioxin, a byproduct of the bleaching process, in the disposables, according to GreenAmerica.org. The Environmental Protection Agency links dioxin with cancer in laboratory tests. Other chemicals found in disposables include xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene and ispropylene, all chemicals related to petrochemicals. The high-tech chemical compounds create diapers with increased durability compared with other paper and fabric materials.

Biodegradable Materials

Biodegradable diapers use some of the same fabric components as disposable diapers, but also use patented biodegradable and compostable biopolymers made with renewal materials. Patented non-woven fabrics feature polylactic acid, a product made from plants. Diapers use the materials to make the diaper leg cuffs and the top and back sheet of the main body of the disposables.

The Pros & Cons of Cloth Diapers

Convenience

Although the process of diapering a baby with cloth or disposable diapers is largely the same, the difference between the two methods occurs at the washing stage. With a disposable diaper, you simply remove it from your baby, wrap it up and throw it away. With a cloth diaper, you must first shake off any excess waste into the toilet and then place the diaper into a diaper pail to await laundering. Washing cloth diapers involves a prewash cycle, a hot-wash cycle and often an additional rinse cycle to ensure that you remove all bacteria and detergent residue from the diapers. This process can be time-consuming, which may be a negative factor for some families.

Environment

The environmental benefits of cloth diapers vary, depending on your perspective. Using cloth diapers ensures that your family does not contribute disposable diapers to landfills; more than 92 percent of disposable diapers accumulate in landfills, says the Real Diaper Association. Using cloth diapers does have an environmental impact, however, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Washing cloth diapers requires water and energy, which can contribute to both air and water pollution.

Cost

Overall, cloth diapers cost less than disposal diapers because you reuse the diapers instead of throwing them away after one use. Some cloth diapers are more expensive than others, depending on whether you purchase standard white prefolds or cute all-in-one styles in charming prints and designs. Using cloth diapers enables you to reuse each diaper about 75 times before a diaper wears out and loses its absorbency, states KidsHealth.org. The average cost to diaper a child from birth to potty training in disposables ranges from $1,500 to $2,000, according to ConsumerReports.org. Cloth diapering costs range significantly, depending on the diapers and covers you use. The cost to set up basic cloth diapering with all the supplies and equipment can be as low as $300, according to the Real Diaper Association.

Child Health

A child’s skin often reacts more positively to the natural fibers of cloth diapers in contrast to disposable diapers. Cloth diapers allow air circulation, which can reduce diaper rash and help it to heal faster if it does occur, advises the University of Rochester Medical Center. Some babies have sensitivities to the chemicals in disposable diapers. It is possible that a cloth-diapered baby could have a sensitivity to chemicals present in laundry detergents as well. If this occurs, you may need to experiment with different laundry detergents to find one that your baby tolerates.

How to Use Gerber Cloth Diapers

Put a Gerber cloth diaper on your baby as you would other diapers. With the baby on his back, slip half the diaper under his bottom, and fold the other half up between the legs. Fold the cloth over from back to front to fit it snugly around the legs, and carefully pin them together at the hips with diaper pins. Cover the entire diaper with plastic diaper pants to keep waste from leaking out.

Change the diaper when dirty. Remove it carefully. Once your baby is changed and off the changing table, drop any waste into a plastic bag or dip it in the toilet to rinse it. Drop the soiled cloth diaper into the plastic diaper container, which will hold in scent. The plastic diaper pants can be easily rinsed.

Wash all the dirty diapers once a week or so in the washing machine. Wear plastic gloves if you prefer when moving the diapers to the washing machine. Let them soak in detergent and hot water for half an hour before washing to get them as clean as possible.

Buy another pack of cloth diapers if you find yourself running out before you have time to do laundry.

Things You Will Need

  • Gerber cloth diapers
  • Diaper pins
  • Plastic diaper pants
  • Cloth diaper closed container
  • Plastic bags
  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent

Tip

If traveling with cloth diapers, bring plenty of extras and sealable plastic bags.

How to Strip Detergent From Cloth Diapers

Put up to 12 diapers in a top-loading washing machine. Fill the machine for a large load with the hottest water available -- if possible, turn your water heater up first so the temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water isn't hot enough, boil water to fill the machine. The diapers should have room to move around freely.

Run the machine with no detergent. Lift the lid occasionally to check for soap bubbles, which is a sign the water is removing excess soap.

Fill the machine with hot water again. Add gentle, low-sudsing laundry soap free of dye, detergent and fabric softener to the water. Add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda to the water.

Allow the washer to agitate, but open the lid before it begins to drain. Leave the lid up and allow the diapers to soak overnight.

Close the lid and allow the wash to finish the next morning. Rinse with plain water -- do not add fabric softener.

Hang the diapers to dry in the sunlight if possible. If you put them in the dryer, do not add softener sheets.

Things You Will Need

  • Low-sudsing, dye-free, scent-free laundry soap
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda

Tip

To keep diapers soft in the dryer, use the low heat setting.

Warning

Do not use chlorine bleach on cloth diapers, as this can break the fibers down. Front-loading washing machines are not as effective as top-loaders, since they use less water. If you only have a front-loader, decrease the number of diapers you put in each load by half or run more cycles without detergent. When you no longer see bubbles in the rinse water, you have run enough cycles.

How to Make Plastic Lined Diaper Covers

Purchase a pattern for the diaper cover. If you have an old diaper cover, you can cut it open and use it for a pattern. Since a diaper cover is shaped like a pair of underwear, you can also use a pair of underwear that are a couple of sizes too big for the pattern. The size has to accommodate fitting over a diaper.

Cut the two pieces for the pattern from your fabric. You will cut a front and back. Use any kind of fabric that you like for the diaper cover.

Cut the same two pieces from your clear plastic. A piece of vinyl or a clear tablecloth or shower curtain can be used. The plastic should be relatively thin and flexible.

Pin the plastic to the wrong side of the fabric.

Sew the sides and crotch of the pattern pieces together, sewing through the fabric and the plastic. Use a serger to finish the edges, if you have one. If you don't, use a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying.

Sew a 1/2-inch casing around the legs and the waist. Simply fold over the hem by 3/4 inches, leaving 1/4 inch for the seam allowance and a space of 1/2 inch to insert the elastic. Leave a 1-inch opening in the casing.

Cut the elastic for the waist and legs to the length indicated by your pattern. If you didn't use a pattern, measure your baby's waist and legs and make the elastic an inch shorter.

Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and close it. Push the closed end of the safety pin through the casing on one of the legs, pulling the elastic all the way through the hole.

Sew the ends of the elastic together using a zig-zag stitch.

Sew the casing closed with a straight stitch.

Insert the elastic in the other leg hole and waist band using the same steps.

Things You Will Need

  • Pattern
  • 1/4 yard fabric
  • 1/4 yard of clear plastic
  • Pins
  • 1/2 yard of 1/4-inch-wide elastic
  • Measuring tape
  • Safety pin
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine

Tip

Though you can use any kind of fabric you like for the diaper cover, think about maintenance and daily wear. Silk may look pretty, but is hard to clean. Fleece will keep your little one warm in the winter. Good choices are knits and cotton, since they are lightweight and easy to clean.

You can add decorative elements such as ruffles, applique or trim to the bottom for a more creative look.

Warning

Do not wash or dry your diaper liners in high heats as this could melt the plastic.

The Way to Properly Change an Infant's Diaper

Preparing The Area

Changing diapers can be messy work, so preparing the changing area can reduce accidents. If you use a changing table, cover the surface. Never leave a baby unattended for a moment while changing a diaper, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. When it comes to selecting a diaper, know your baby's weight and the size for which your diapers are designed. Diapers that are too tight might leave marks on your baby's skin, while diapers that are too loose can result in leaks. Baby wipes or soft cloths, along with a diaper pail or another disposal container for dirty diapers, will be needed. Gather all of your supplies before you change your baby.

Diapering Your Baby

Open a new diaper and gently lift your baby by the ankles, sliding the new diaper under her bottom, advises Boston Children's Hospital. Ease your baby into a flat position again and release her ankles. Open her soiled diaper and lift her by the ankles again, using the clean side of the diaper to wipe away any feces. Fold the dirty diaper flat, leaving a clean outer side of the diaper beneath your daughter. Use a baby wipe or a cloth to gently clean your baby. Remove the dirty diaper. The clean diaper should remain under your daughter. Fasten the new diaper onto your baby, ensuring that two fingers can fit between her diaper and her stomach.

Considerations For Boys And Girls

The technique of changing diapers can vary depending on whether you are diapering a boy or a girl, according to KidsHealth, a child development site. Parents should push a boy's genitals downward before fastening a new diaper to avoid leaks along the waistline. Boys are also more likely to urinate when their diapers are removed, so placing a clean diaper over the baby's penis may prevent that from happening. Girls are more susceptible to infections, so parents should always wipe babies from front to back.

Additional Help

Changing your baby frequently reduces the risk of diaper rash and other infections, according to Boston Children's Hospital. The first several attempts at changing a diaper will be awkward, but a pediatrician can give you advice on how to make diaper changes more effective. You can also ask your gynecologist, midwife, doula or other medical worker about any classes you can take that will prepare you for raising your baby, including changing his diapers.

How to Change a Sleeping Baby's Diaper?

Gather supplies needed to change the baby’s diaper. Instead of searching for a specific item during the actual changing, prepare ahead of time. Place diapers, ointment and wipes next to the changing area for a fast and easy grab. Be sure to rinse a few wipes ahead of time under warm water to prevent startling the baby with a sudden cold wipe.

Gently turn the sleeping baby onto her back. This may make it easier to change the diaper while the baby is sleeping. If the baby is sleeping on her stomach, consider rolling her on to the side first and letting the baby adjust to the new position. Once she is on her side and still sleeping soundly, tenderly position the baby on to her back.

Quickly lift the sleeping baby’s legs and place a clean diaper underneath the soiled diaper. Place a dry cloth over the lower half of a boy’s body as a sudden need to urinate may occur. Remove the soiled diaper, roll it up and place it nearby. Use warm cloths and gently clean the baby. Apply ointment if needed.

Bring the front part of the diaper between the baby’s legs and use the adhesive strips to fasten the diaper. Be careful: Do not stick the adhesive tape to the baby’s skin. This may cause the baby to wake. Removing the adhesive tape can be painful and it may be difficult to get the baby back to sleep if he wakes.

Fold down the waistline of the diaper if the newborn baby’s umbilical cord has not yet fallen off. Although it is important to finish the diaper-changing task, it is equally important that the diaper does not snag a loose cord. Situate the clothing back to its normal state without causing too much of a fuss.

Cover the baby with a light blanket if need be. It may be a good idea to play soft music or gently pat the baby to sooth back into a deep sleep. Lift and secure any crib railings. Be sure to pick up the soiled diaper and dispose of it properly.

Things You Will Need

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Ointment

Tip

Wash and dry your hands before changing a baby's diaper. Use a night light instead of turning on a lamp while changing a sleeping baby's diaper.

Warning

A baby may easily roll off of a changing table or bed. Be sure to keep a gentle hand on the baby at all times.

How to Know If a Baby Has a Yeast Rash

Treat diaper rash as if it was the type commonly associated with trapped moisture, sensitive skin, diarrhea or food allergy. Wash the area with water and pat dry. Apply generous amounts of one of these creams: zinc oxide, Acid Mantle (brand name), Hydrocortizone 1% cream, or Soothe and Heal (brand name, by Lansinoh). Watch for significant healing within 24 hours.

If your baby's rash does not improve with the use of the above products, examine it closely for visible symptoms associated with a yeast infection: red, raised, splotchy rash with defined and slightly raised borders, beefy color, and satellite dots all around the area of the main rash. Your baby's skin may also be scaly.

Treat the rash with clotrimazole anti-fungal cream. If that doesn't work, contact your pediatrician for an appointment and a prescription for Nystatin. Some parents prefer acidophilus powder, a natural bacterial powder that fights off yeast.

Keep your baby's hands clean. Bleach cloth diapers, towels or any other materials that come into contact with his diaper area.

Avoid future flare-ups by keeping your baby's bottom clean and dry, giving him time to go without a diaper or other covering and feeding him yogurt with live acidophilus cultures while he is on an antibiotic (and for a few weeks thereafter).

Things You Will Need

  • Diaper rash cream
  • Yeast infection checklist or description
  • Nystatin or acidophilus powder
  • Yogurt
  • Bleach

How to Use Cloth Diaper Pins & Plastic Pants

Secure your baby to your changing table or place the baby on a changing pad on the floor.

Remove the soiled diaper and clean the baby's skin using a baby wipe.

Place the fresh diaper underneath the baby's bottom. Double check that there are wings on both sides of the diaper. This side of the diaper should be underneath the baby's bottom.

Bring the diaper up in front of the baby. It should rest around the stomach line.

Hold the front of the diaper and bring the first wing across. Using the hand holding the front of the diaper, grab ahold of the wing and hold it snuggly. Slide two of your fingers between the diaper and the baby. Slide the diaper pin through the layers of the diaper but not all the way through. Bring the tip of the pin back up and secure it through the locking head. Repeat this process on the other side.

Put on regular underpants on your child.

Pull the plastic pants over the underpants. The leg openings should be snug around the upper thigh to reduce any leakage.

When it is time for your child to use the toilet, pull down the plastic underpants, pull down the regular underpants and have your child use the toilet.

Tip

Use diaper pins that are intended for cloth diapers. Stick unused diaper pins in a bar of soap. It will create a film that will make it easier to slide the pin through the diaper. Rubbing the pin on your hair will create the same effect. One pair of plastic pants should be enough for one day, unless they are soiled. To wash the plastic pants, place them in a pot of hot water with a mild detergent.

Warning

Always air-dry plastic pants. Do not put plastic pants in the dryer; it will melt the plastic.

How to Make a Daddy Diaper Toolbelt

Purchase a tool belt with an apron that has pockets or pouches. Or sew a short apron with pockets and pouches. Be sure to choose a manly fabric and color scheme so he will want to wear and use it. Four to five pouches or pockets is ideal.

Use puffy paint or other fabric paint to write the words "Daddy's Diaper Tool Belt" onto the front of the apron. If you know weather dad is having a girl or a boy, this can be a good opportunity to use pink or blue paint. Otherwise, a neutral color is best.

Gather all your supplies. You will need a couple of diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, tongs, gloves, a face mask, hand sanitizer, pacifier and lotion.

Place the tongs, gloves, goggles and face mask in one section of the tool belt. These are the items that will not actually be used but are included as a joke on how changing diapers can be a dirty, smelly task. You can also add hang tags to each of these items with a short explanation of how to use them.

Place the rest of the items in the remaining pockets.

Open a word processing program and type up a set of instructions on how to change a diaper with all the items you have included. This can be written either in a very instructional or a humorous manner. Print, fold and place the instructions in one of the pockets.

Things You Will Need

  • Tool belt with apron
  • Puffy paint
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Tongs
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Face mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pacifier
  • Lotion
  • Hang tags (optional)
  • Word processing program
  • Printer
  • Paper

Tip

Make sure the tool belt is adjustable so the dad-to-be can fit it to his liking.

How to Change a 4-Year-Old Girl's Diaper

Gather all of the diapering supplies, including diapers, wipes and diaper cream, in a central location, such as the bathroom. Use diapers large enough for your 4-year-old -- often a pull-on style or overnight diaper.

Position your preschooler over a hard floor surface, such as tile or hardwood, that is easy to clean up if the diaper spills. Changing diapers in the bathroom may encourage your preschooler to try the toilet if you're working on potty training. This also gives you easy access to a sink for cleanup.

Ask your preschooler to pull off her pants if she is physically able to do so. This encourages her to become self-sufficient. Help her pull off her diaper, being careful not to spill the contents if she had a bowel movement. You can have her lie down on the floor like you would with a younger child. If you use this method, have her lift her bottom off of the floor so you can remove the diaper easier.

Dump any stool in the toilet. This shows your preschooler where her stool should go.

Wipe your daughter from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria. If she shows interest, let her wipe herself. Teach her the front-to-back method so she gets in the habit of wiping in that way.

Apply diaper cream if necessary to prevent a diaper rash.

Hold out the fresh pull-on style diaper so your 4-year-old can step into it, or hand the diaper to her if she is able to pull it on herself. Support her so she doesn't fall over while putting on the diaper. If you change her diaper while she lies down, have her lift her bottom off the floor so you can slide the diaper in position.

Wash your 4-year-old's hands, especially if she helped with the diapering process, as well as your own. This teaches proper hygiene and protects against the spread of bacteria.

Things You Will Need

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper cream

Tip

Consult your pediatrician to identify factors that may be making an older child resistant to potty training.

Warning

Never express anger or irritation about changing your child's diapers. Follow your pediatrician's guidance for handling a diaper-dependent older child.

Bowel Movements in Infants After First Eating Solid Foods

Taking Care of Business

You may be used to changing just one or several dirty diapers per day. But when baby is first introduced to solid foods, according to HealthyChildren.org, the frequency of your hungry honey's bowel movements may change. Don't worry if you end up in front of the changing table more often or even less often. The reputable parenting site notes that this is normal for a tot who is starting to enjoy solids as a part of his diet.

Consistency Is Key

When baby switches from a liquid diet to one that includes baby cereal, fruits, veggies and even yogurt, his stool will become thicker in consistency as a result, as HealthyChildren.org notes. You may also notice that his dirty diapers reflect what he ate earlier. Oh, and those dirty diapers might get a bit more pungent, too.

Constipation Concerns

As baby's system adjusts to digesting solid foods, he may suffer from constipation as a side effect. AskDrSears.com notes that typical signs of this uncomfortable digestive dilemma are difficulty going -- baby may even draw his legs up, strain, or cry as he tries to go -- and infrequent bowel movements. If you suspect your cutie is constipated, contact your pediatrician to find out how to ease his discomfort. The doctor may recommend upping his fluid intake or adding more pureed fruits to his diet.

Rash Reaction

As the consistency of baby's stool is likely to change when he starts eating solid foods, his little bum may become irritated in his diaper. Indeed, as KidsHealth.org notes, the introduction of new foods is often the culprit of diaper rash. Ouch. If your baby's behind is sore and red, be sure to change his diaper frequently, dry his tush completely before re-diapering him, and use a diaper rash ointment to treat the area. Contact your pediatrician if the irritation continues.

How to Get Preschoolers to Lie Still for Diaper Changes

Explain the need for diaper changes to your preschooler if he objects and is being uncooperative. At the preschool stage, your child is old enough to begin to understand that a mess in his diaper necessitates lying still for a diaper change.

Gather everything you’ll need for the diaper change so you are completely prepared for the process. By eliminating the need to hunt for needed items, you streamline the process, ensuring that it takes as little time as possible.

Provide your child with a special toy or book to keep him occupied during diaper changes, suggests Robin Goldstein, author of “The Parenting Bible.” For optimal success, save a couple of favorite toys or books just for diaper changes -- and make sure your preschooler only sees or plays with these items during diaper changes.

Sing happy songs to your child to distract him from squirming during diaper changes. Recite rhymes or funny riddles to entertain your child. You might even try out your best animal impressions or other goofy noises to make diaper changes more pleasant.

Perform uncomplicated and mess-free diaper changes while your child stands to make life easier, advise authors Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske in “Raising a Sensory Smart Child.”

Try diaper changes in various alternative spots if your child objects to a diaper changes on a changing table. Your preschooler might be more cooperative if you change her on the floor or on the couch instead. Try involving other adults or caregivers in diaper changes to get your preschooler to cooperate.

Tip

Consider encouraging your preschooler to potty train if she continues to feel uncooperative about diaper changes. Your child might be developmentally ready to use the toilet if she objects strenuously to diaper changes.