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Most parents choose the convenience of disposable diapers. Learn what disposable diapers are made of, some earth-friendly choices, and how to find the right size for your baby.
Featured expert Ariel Gold is based in San Francisco. She has certification as an Eco-Maternity Consultant from the International Maternity and Parenting Institute and has been working with parents at DayOne Baby since 2011.
Learn more about earth-friendly disposable-diaper choices.
Hi, I'm Ariel Gold, a baby gear expert in San Francisco, and today we're going to talk about disposable diapers. Parents tend to love disposable diapers because you can't beat them for convenience. You can buy them just about anywhere, and you throw them away as soon as they're soiled. The sizes range based on weight, starting at preemie and going up to around size 7, then ending with the training pant.
A newborn diaper tends to have a cutout here for the umbilical cord stump. If your newborn diaper does not have a cutout or if your child isn't in the size newborn, then you can simply fold over the top part of the diaper to make room for the umbilical cord stump.
Almost all disposable diapers consist of three layers. The outer layer is a waterproof plastic film. Green diapers may use a more eco-friendly plant-based material. The inner lining that touches your baby's skin is usually made of a polypropylene, a common material that's also found in thermal underwear. This is what helps wick moisture away. And the absorbent center is made of a wood pulp and super absorbent polymers, usually sodium polyacrylate. This compound, introduced in the 1980s, can absorb up to 30 times its weight in urine. A type of diaper that does not have this absorbent core would be a swim diaper. These diapers aren't absorbent at all and are merely used to keep the poo out of the pool.
If you want to be more eco-friendly, look for disposable diapers that are chlorine- or fragrance-free, that include more biodegradable materials, or that are sold in minimal recyclable packaging. Compostable diapers do exist but aren't widely available. Most city compost bins don't accept compostable diapers, and only a few companies nationwide will pick them up as a compost service. And you should definitely not try to compost these in your backyard – you're dealing with fecal matter and pathogens after all.
To learn more about diapering and all things parenting, visit us at BabyCenter.
Video production by Paige Bierma Productions