When we have a baby we know we have to buy nappies. Most of the time this isn't a major decision for parents, we go with a brand name that we have heard of and that we trust will keep our baby dry. When Lennon, my eldest son was born, I did exactly that. I didn't think too much about it and he was in Pampers from he was born right up until he was potty trained.
Over the years, as I've become a bit more sceptical about so many baby and healthcare products, I always look into what other options there are available, rather than the big brands in our supermarkets, and, in my opinion there is pretty much always a better alternative. It can be better for the person using it or better for the environment – or can be better for both, which to me is a win win situation.
So when it came to deciding on what nappies to use for Luca, I decided to do a little research and I discovered the regular nappy brands that the majority of parents use, contained a number of toxic chemicals that I didn't like the sound of.
What types of chemicals am I talking about?
Tribulytin – also known as TBT – is found in disposable nappies, sometimes a much as 3.6 times the recommended level. TBT can be absorbed by your baby's skin and is a toxic chemical, which is a known endocrine disruptor. TBT is found on the plastic of disposable nappies.
Polyacrylic Acid – this is a super absorber. Have you ever noticed the little gel balls on your baby's bottom when you are changing a nappy? This Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) turns urine into gel and can absorb 100 times its weight in liquid. This same substance was banned in 1985 from use in tampons due to its link with Toxic Shock Syndrome. Due to its extreme absorbency, this chemical has been found to draw moisture from the skin – which can lead to severe nappy rash.
Dioxin – this chemical is a by-product of the paper bleaching process. Certain dioxins have been shown to be a carcinogen and can affect the reproductive and immune systems, cause skin disease, birth defects and liver damage. In response to scares over dioxin exposure, several disposable nappy manufacturers have started to produce nappies that are unbleached or bleached without chlorine.
So what are the alternatives?
You can either switch to eco-friendly disposable nappies or use reusable nappies for your little one. I opted for the eco-friendly disposable nappy and have been using the Naty brand for almost 15 months now with no complaints. They are made with natural and renewable materials and are chlorine and fragrance free. By avoiding harmful petrochemicals and plastics these nappies are kinder to babies skin and being biodegradable they minimise waste to landfill, so a great choice all round.
However since doing a little research for this blog post, I'm really considering a move to reusable nappies – or even a partial move – I may continue to use the Naty during the night, depending on how it goes. At the minute there are about 3 billion nappies thrown away in the UK each year – that's a staggering 8 million per day, which accounts for 4% of all household landfill waste. Imagine the positive effect it would have on the amount of landfill waste if even 10% of parents made the swap?
Today actually marks the beginning of the 20th annual 'Real Nappy Week' (who knew such a week even existed!?) which is aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of using reusable nappies. Click here for more information and find out if there are any events in your area. The website has all the information you need on cloth nappies and there are links for where you can buy them if you'd like to give them a go. Reusable nappies really have evolved significantly in the last decade making them a much more appealing choice for parents, not only will they save you money, but they will help reduce landfill waste which is a massive advantage.