Preventing Diaper Rash with Healthier Diapers

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Baby forums are full of frustrated parents who have tried every cream and medicine possible to get rid of diaper rashes, yeast infections, and other skin irritations.

Through all their painful trial and error, the one solution that ends up working for so many of them is to simply stop using diapers that contain chemicals.

For some, getting rid of synthetic fragrances and dyes was enough. Others had to switch to completely natural alternatives that are free from chlorine, fragrances, gels, and synthetic dyes. If you’re in this boat, here’s what to look for and what to avoid.

Chlorine-free diapers & wipes

When looking for safer options, choose diapers and wipes labeled as unbleached or chlorine-free. These alternatives use a safe, non-chlorine bleach such as hydrogen peroxide to whiten the diaper, or they use a safe white pigment instead.

Alternatively, choose a non-white diaper. A safe, mineral-based pigment gives the diapers a more natural, brown-paper-bag look.

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Dye-free diapers

Colorful diapers are cute, but can cause persistent diaper rashes and allergic skin reactions. Opt for dye-free or 100% naturally dyed diapers instead.

Skip the convenient dye strips that tell you when the diapers need to be changed and check the diaper the old-fashioned way.

Fragrance-free diapers

There’s really no point in buying diapers with fragrances. Not only are many babies sensitive to it, but let’s be honest — the diapers only smell good before the baby poops! Look for fragrance-free or perfume-free.

To minimize smells from a dirty diaper, dump poop in the toilet before throwing the diaper away. Keep a box of baking soda near the diaper bin and sprinkle a little over each dirty diaper you add to the bin. Clean the bin periodically with white vinegar to kill odor-causing germs.

Diapers labeled as gel-free or SAP-free

Super absorbent diapers are great at keeping the baby dry and preventing diaper rash. This benefit comes by adding a small amount of super absorbent polymer (SAP) to the middle layer of the diaper. SAP is safe and convenient inside the diaper. The problem is that the crystals have been known to escape a torn diaper and stick to the baby’s skin.

Choose disposable diapers labeled as gel-free or no wetness absorbing chemicals. Gel-free diapers are thicker because extra cotton is added to increase the diaper’s absorbency. These may be uncomfortable for some babies.

Good to know

  • Trace amounts of harmful dioxins can be found in chlorine bleached disposable diapers. Choosing diapers that are free from dioxins can often clear an otherwise stubborn rash.
  • While there is scientific proof that SAP (super absorbent polymer) contributes to toxic shock syndrome from tampons, there are no definitive studies to show whether it is dangerous in diapers.
  • SAP is so widely used that it can be difficult to find disposable diapers without it.
  • Several companies now manufacture SAP from plant-based materials rather than petroleum. It is unclear whether these are safer for the baby, though plant-based materials are biodegradable and better for the environment.


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