Monday, March 29, 2010

Reasons to Cloth Diaper (Part 3 of 4) - Health and Comfort

Every new parent wants what’s best for their baby including wanting them to feel comfortable. Most babies will have a diaper on almost constantly for about the first two years of their life. A comfy baby is a more content baby for sure. But which diapers are the most comfortable? Which diapers are best for babies?

What about feeling dry?
Disposable diaper manufacturers have capitalized on the idea that babies are more comfortable when they’re dry, and that their diapers keep babies feeling dry. Most people seem to assume that babies in cloth diapers are sitting in soggy wet cotton a lot of the time. This actually depends on how often they’re changed and is not a fault of the diapers themselves. Personally, I don’t want my baby sitting in poop OR pee, even if the liquid has been soaked into the diaper. I check regularly to see if my baby is wet, and if she is wet, I change her immediately. Therefore, my baby feels dry most of the time. There are also many diapers available today that use synthetic “wicking” fabrics against the baby’s skin, which allow them to feel more dry even if they’ve peed.

What would you rather have on?
What if every parent thinking about using disposables bought an adult disposable diaper at the store and wore it around for a day and then tried “wearing” a cloth diaper around the house (perhaps tucked into their underwear) Which one do you think feels better? The wood pulp and super absorbent polymer wrapped in plastic, or some soft and cushy breathable fabrics? Moms who have switched to cloth pads from disposable ones often have this same epiphany – cloth feels so much better!

Other health issues
Traces of Dioxin, a carcinogenic chemical, have been found in disposable diapers. There are also fragrances and now lotions and moisturizers used in disposables, though no “ingredients” have to be disclosed on their labels. As a person who reads labels very carefully and will only use natural products on my babies’ skin, I am very leery of disposable diapers for this reason. One other problem is that disposables don’t adequately breathe, and they raise the skin temperature underneath the diaper. Researchers in Germany have actually found that scrotal temperature is increased in boys who wear disposable diapers, and they theorize that this could lead to problems with male fertility later in life. They admit that it is only a theory and that more study is needed, but if I had a boy, I’m sure I would have more piece of mind knowing he was wearing breathable fabrics!

On Diaper Rash
Many parents report that their babies have less diaper rash after switching to cloth diapers. Occasionally, a baby will exhibit a strong allergic type of reaction to disposable diapers. On the flip side there will occasionally be a baby who does better in disposable diapers, who is perhaps sensitive to detergent residue, certain fabrics, or the least bit of moisture. There is always a reason for diaper rash, and although sometimes tricky to pinpoint, a reason and remedy can usually be found. For the most part my babies have remained rash-free in their cloth diapers. In times of sore bottoms, the culprit has always been related to introducing new foods in their diet, teething, illness, or missing a bowel movement that stayed on the skin for too long. In the breathable diapers (cotton with wool covers) that I use, rash heals quickly and has never been an ongoing issue.

Sources: C-J Partsch, M Aukamp, W G Sippell Scrotal temperature is increased in disposable plastic lined nappies. Division of Paediatric Endocrinology, Department of Paediatrics, Christian-Albrechts- University of Kiel, Schwanenweg 20, D-24105 Kiel, Germany. Arch Dis Child 2000;83:364-368.Click here or go to and search by the title of the study.


  1. another great addition to this series! I agree that cloth is so much more comfortable. My 3 year old calls disposables "paper diapers" and that they are "crinkly" when we wear them for vacation, etc. And I've personally switched to cloth pads, no more sticky adhesive among other things! Yay for cloth!!!

  2. We thought for almost a year that our toddler would have to switch to sposies because he had these persistent rashes that would only go away when he wore a disposable diaper. It turned out (as we learned after a year of trial and error with different diapers, covers, detergents, and creams) that he is both very sensitive to moisture AND to rash creams. So he would get a regular diaper rash from wetness, then we'd use rash cream and it would get better but then he'd have a big dry-skin type rash which further compromised his skin's integrity making him more susceptible to another regular rash from wetness. We'd put him in a sposie without rash cream because we thought the sposie would take care of the moisture and the rash would heal. So we thought the sposies were healing his rashes. But then I bought a bunch of pocket diapers and we accidentally put one on him when he had a rash and that healed his rash too! So finally we realized that he does need a stay-dry inner but the rash cream was more the culprit for prolonging his rashes than cloth diapers were. We're glad we didn't give up on cloth!

  3. Glad you figured it out jessnye! Some kids do seem sensitive to the least bit of wetness for whatever reason.

  4. My youngest had a big problem with moisture rashes too! We wound up putting a barrier cream (CD safe ones) on all the time, along with stay dry fabrics and got it under control. cornstarch baby powder worked too!


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