What's in a diaper?

You probably pay attention to what you eat. You may pay some attention to the lotions and soaps you use on your body. For most people, though, it stops there. Unfortunately, there are a number of items against your skin often enough that you need to look at these, too. This, sadly, includes the disposable diaper that is on your baby for an average of thirty months.


In order to work, these diapers are often full of chemicals that are difficult to pronounce. The chemicals actually became more potent as the public wanted them thinner and more absorbent. When you purchase a typical disposable diaper, these are the main chemicals that are included:


Tributyl-Tin: Tributyl-Tin is a toxic pollutant that is also known as TBT. It was not purposely added into the disposable diapers, but found in a study as a by-product. TBT is extremely harmful to the environment and can have negative effects on your baby as well. It is shown to interfere with liver function and links to obesity.


Dioxin: Dioxin is another by-product that is in any disposable diaper that is bleached. If you look at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website, you can see that dioxins are listed as one of the most carcinogenic toxins. This means that it is highly known to cause cancer and other health related problems. It can affect almost any system of the body including the immune, reproductive, endocrine, and nervous systems. It may also be the cause of many diaper rashes.


Volatile Organic Compounds: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) will not be listed on the ingredient list either. You will see names such as

  • Xylene
  • Toulene
  • Ethylbenzene
  • and others

The EPA also lists these as possible carcinogens, though not yet known to be as bad as dioxins. VOCs are shown to cause skin rashes, sore throats, headaches, and negative effects to the central nervous system.

diaper warning label


Sodium Polyacrylate: Sodium Polyacrylate is one of the newer ingredients added to disposable diapers to aid in absorption. It is essentially tree pulp, a non-sustainable ingredient, mixed with polyacrylate. This makes the crystals and gel that you may see if the disposable diaper opens. Since it is a newer chemical, studies are not yet complete. It is thought to cause skin irritation and was actually removed from tampons as a link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.


Other Ingredients: There are a number of other ingredients that may or may not be in your disposable diaper including allergens like soy and gluten, fragrances, dyes, and plastics. These are used to bind materials, add color, and mask odors.

These are only a few of the ingredients you are going to find in a typical disposable diaper. While you may not be able to avoid them, you should pay attention to what you put on your baby as it can affect her. It is also important to note that even green brands of diapers may contain some of these toxins. If you are unable to afford or find an alternative, rest assured that we are exposed to these every day and the amount is minimal in the diapers.


Learn more about Bamboo versus regular diapers HERE