Diapers are a staple in every parent’s life through the early years of parenthood. In fact, they are in contact with your baby’s skin 24/7/365 for nearly the first 3 years of life!
This is why it’s tremendously important to know what’s in those diapers that you’re putting on your little one’s skin day after day.
Not only can an infant’s fresh skin be very sensitive to certain chemicals and ingredients, but there are toxins in tons of diapers that could leech into the skin of our babies! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the harmful toxins that I wouldn’t put on my own body, to touch their fresh little skin.
A bunch of top baby brands have diapers containing harmful chemicals, even with the push to bring more organic and natural products to our stores and homes.
I wanted to round up a list of the baby brands who are doing it right and stepping up for the care of our babies and the world by offering nontoxic diapers that are just as absorbent and soft as the leading brands.
Can disposable diapers pose a risk to my baby?
While disposable diapers are generally considered safe for use with babies, some studies have suggested that certain chemicals used in some diapers may pose a risk to babies. Specifically, some diapers may contain phthalates, dioxins, and other chemicals that can be harmful to babies’ health.
The skin of your newborn is very sensitive and the chemicals pose a risk of causing severe allergies and rashes. Disposable diapers may cause skin irritation if a baby is sensitive to one of the chemicals used in their production.
What’s Not Included in Natural and Organic Baby Diapers
With each generation, we learn more about the importance of clean products and what we should put on our skin and why. More importantly though, understanding what to avoid on our skin and in our bodies is very important when reading a list of ingredients.
EWG (Environmental Working Group) believes that all diapers should be:
- Free from harmful chemicals, materials & contaminants
- Low-emitting in volatile organic compounds
- Free from added fragrances & lotions
What are the toxins that are in many diapers on the market?
We know the value of choosing safe products for our children, especially when it comes to baby’s sensitive skin. Ingredients like dyes, fragrances, latex, heavy metals or harmful chemicals can commonly irritate the skin, cause an allergic reaction and be considered toxic.
Many conventional brands use these items in their products and it’s important to try to avoid these additives when possible.
The main toxins to watch out for are:
Dioxins: A by-product of the chlorine bleaching process, dioxins are a known carcinogen. They can also cause reproductive and developmental problems.
Sulfates: Sulfates are a type of surfactant (a substance that reduces the surface tension of liquids) that can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems.
Phthalates: Phthalates are a type of plasticizer that can cause reproductive problems and developmental delays.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Chemicals that can cause respiratory problems, headaches, and nausea.
Tributyltin (TBT): A toxic chemical that can affect the immune system and hormone balance.
Sodium polyacrylate: A superabsorbent polymer that can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems if inhaled.
Formaldehyde: Often used in diaper production as a preservative.
Fragrances: used in conventional diaper brands can cause skin irritation and breathing problems especially in young babies.
Chlorine bleach: used during the manufacturing process and can produce toxic byproducts when exposed to air or moisture during disposal.
What to look for when buying the cleanest diapers?
When looking for the cleanest diapers, it is important to consider the materials used in the diapers, as well as any added fragrances or lotions. Look for diapers that are made with plant-based materials and are free from chlorine bleach, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals.
When selecting a brand, look for those that have been certified by organizations such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG publishes lists of best-rated disposable diapers and cloth diapers so you can make an informed choice that fits your budget.
It’s crucial to get diapers devoid of these dangerous substances. The most hygienic diapers are often made of organic cotton, bamboo, or other plant-based materials that are natural and sustainable.
These diapers are beneficial for the environment as well as the health of your infant.
Why Bamboo Diapers?
Bamboo is recommended by leading dermatologists for being a naturally anti-bacterial, deodorizing, breathable and super-absorbent fiber.
This renewable silky-soft wonder fiber is naturally moisture wicking and thermal regulating to keep your baby’s skin dry and comfortable year round. Not to mention hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and odor resistant.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant, reaching full maturity in 7 years. It also produces 35% more oxygen than conventional trees.
It’s an infinite resource that does not cause garbage, but can be completely biodegraded which is one of the many reasons why we believe in bamboo.
How to Read a Label of Clean Diapers
It’s important to be aware that not ALL clean diapers are created equal. Plenty of diaper manufacturers can slap some non-toxic or natural wording on their packaging to get your attention, but it’s important to read the fine print.
When choosing the cleanest diapers for your baby, it’s important to read the labels first and foremost. Disposable diapers often contain toxins like chlorine, dioxin, and formaldehyde, so opt for natural and non-toxic alternatives that are free of these harsh ingredients.
It’s also important to look for diapers made with sustainable materials like cotton or bamboo that are free of plastics or other synthetic materials.
You’ll find much more information about what you’re looking for by reading everything. Here are some important things to note when looking at clean diapers:
Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) vs. Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF)
Diapers that are marked using TCF pulp means that the bleaching process does not use chlorine or chlorine derivatives. It is a much safer process because it uses oxygen, peroxide, or ozone-based bleaching systems.
These methods are safer than using chlorine because they do not generate dioxins. This is the safest bleaching method you’ll find being used in diapers at this time.
Diapers that are marketed using ECF pulp means that elemental chlorine is not used. However, the pulp is bleached with chlorine dioxide, which is a chlorine derivative and itself is a hazardous substance.
This process reduces dioxins, but it is believed that it doesn’t fully eliminate them.
Dyes vs Water-based Pigment Ink
Look for products that use natural, water-based pigment inks instead of dye-based inks for diaper designs. Pigments are finely ground particles of color, whereas dyes are chemicals.
Pigments are painted onto the surface of the material, while dyes bind to the material via a chemical reaction. Pigment-based inks are more water resistant, less prone to smudging and are more UV resistant.
Keep in mind that the standard wetness indicator used in diapers is an adhesive that turns color when wet. Depending on the specific ingredients used, this may not be the most natural and clean option for baby’s skin.
In addition, some diapers that appear “natural” in color are created to look this way by using a combination of pigments that result in a light brown color versus white or patterned.
Fragrances, Lotions and Parabens
The average number of ingredients in the most popular wipe brands is 9, some of which are unrecognizable and hard to pronounce. Avoiding added fragrances, soaps, alcohols and parabens in wipes can help to eliminate a potential skin reaction.
That said, fewer ingredients may not always be better.
Best brands of Nontoxic, Clean Diapers
Luckily, we now have many options of nontoxic diapers to choose from. However, there is one brand specifically that is set apart from the rest.
Best Option: Healthy Baby Diapers
Healthy Baby is the only EWG VERIFIED™ diaper in the world made with soft and sustainable organic cotton with leak-proof technology and low waste design. It is the safest diaper for baby’s developing brain and body.
Healthy Baby‘s products are made with plant-based materials to feel dreamy soft. Engineered with proprietary Magic Channels and Flash Dry Technology for happy skin and overnight leak protection. This makes the diapers 9x more effective at keeping baby dry and preventing leaks and 25% more absorbent.
I love Healthy Baby diapers for the softness they provide while knowing that nothing harmful is touching my baby’s skin. A plus is that they’re delivered to my doorstep each month with a subscription service or as needed.
What does EWG VERIFIED™ mean?
When you see the EWG VERIFIED™ mark on a product, you will know that the product meets EWG’s strictest criteria for transparency and health. When you see the mark, you can be confident that the product:
- does not contain any ingredients on EWG’s “Unacceptable” list, meaning ingredients with health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns.
- must meet EWG’s standards for ingredient disclosure on the label, provide full transparency to EWG, including fragrance ingredients.
- manufacturers must develop and follow current good manufacturing practices to ensure the safety of their products.
Other Clean and Non-Toxic Diapers
There are a few other high-ranking, nontoxic and clean diaper brands out there as well, but they just don’t meet the qualifications to be EWG-verified. Here are some of my favorites:
Believe Diapers exists to help you do good for your family, good for other U.S. families in need, and good for the environment with each diaper change.
There’s nothing in these diapers that doesn’t belong there. No harmful chemicals, preservatives or additives.
There is no use of chlorine, latex, alcohol, PVCs, lotions or phthalates when making a Believe Diaper. Just clean, sustainable, skin-friendly materials found in nature.
1 in 3 U.S. families struggle to afford diapers. Believe was started to help alleviate the diaper need in the U.S. with our one-for-one matching program. This may directly help to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Cloth Diapers- Reusable
The most clean, natural and non/toxic baby diapers are modern cloth diapers that are washed and reused over and over again.
Disposable diapers are a non-renewable source and are not considered sustainable: in the US, diapers make up 2% of all landfill. Reusable diapers are more environmentally sustainable and are cheaper at the same time.
One child gets through around 6,000 disposable diapers before being ready for toilet training. As they contain plastics, it is estimated that they take up to 500 years to decompose in landfill.
Anecdotally, many parents using modern cloth diapers (as well as cloth wipes) report less diaper rash, and that children toilet train at a younger age.
Reusable diapers such as NappyLuxe, made with bamboo, provide parents with a better choice for the environment and for their baby. As they are premium and long-lasting, they can be passed down from baby to baby, therefore multiplying the savings further.
A company started by parents, ABBY&FINN is dedicated to making high quality, eco-friendly products that are free of harmful chemicals and gentle on kids’ sensitive skin.
They use thoughtfully sourced ingredients that are ultra-gentle on skin, super absorbent and hypoallergenic.
Abby & Finn diapers are on average 20% more affordable than other Totally Chlorine Free brands and with every bundle purchased, the company donates diapers to families in need across the U.S.
They offer a flexible subscription model, allowing parents to customize their box with a mix of baby’s everyday essentials, and pause or edit shipping at any time.
Hello Bello diapers are hypoallergenic, eco-friendly & effective. They are made using a plant-derived, absorbent core liner without lotion, fragrance, phthalates, and latex.
The material is sustainably harvested fluff pulp with a convenient wetness indicator.
Their cutting-edge core contains a specially-designed, super-absorbent material that quickly locks wetness away in bubbles of leakage protection. Plus, the inner and outer layers are super soft with a snug fit for supreme comfort.
I found Hello Bello to provide maximum absorbency while my 2 year old moves and grooves and the adhesive is strong which is always important to me! I really can’t stand when diapers just fall off because the adhesive isn’t super sticky.
Soft on baby’s skin, but tough on leaks. Kind by design, with zero tolerance for toxic ingredients. If you’re looking for a diaper with both capability and a conscience, you’ll want to try Dyper.
I love how soft these diapers are even though they’re made with bamboo. Dypers are all white without offering any prints. This makes me feel safer that there are no additional additives close to my baby’s skin.
Dyper products are designed to prioritize plant-based ingredients and are made without harmful chemicals. Their diapers are OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified for safety and DermaTest® 5 ★ clinically tested for skin compatibility.
They source their wood pulp from responsibly managed forests and independently audit the supply chain. Their viscose from Bamboo is OEKO-TEX® STeP certified, verifying environmentally and socially responsible production.
We’ve made it possible to reduce the impact of diapering with our optional REDYPER™ program by returning diapers and wipes back to us for centralized commercial composting.
Freestyle made the first-ever tree-free diaper. Caring about kids translates to caring about the environmental impact – so their diapers are made from 100% bamboo pulp, not tree pulp.
That being said, being a tree-free diaper means they have the opportunity to save 1 BILLION trees a year! They have tested alongside your typical everyday diaper brands and came out at 55% more absorbent than the leading brand!
Forbes named Freestyle the coolest sustainable diaper and a baby registry must-have. Babylist says they are the best eco-friendly diaper of 2022. Motherly noted that they were shocked to see how much these diapers actually absorb. They had seen nothing like it before from a nontoxic diaper.
Their crazy-soft, uber-absorbent diapers are made from bamboo fibers and chlorine-free US virgin wood pulp to pull wetness away from your baby’s skin and absorb liquid without leaking.
Kudos says no to wrapping babies in plastic! Kudos has 4x more plant-based materials than the leading diaper brand.
In addition to being gentle on baby’s skin, Kudos diapers are also gentle on the planet. Other “natural” materials, like bamboo, require harsh chemical-processing to be transformed into the rayon fabric used in baby products.
The TruCotton® used in Kudos diapers, however, is naturally soft, carbon-negative, US-sourced from sugarcane, and cleaned with a breakthrough dry process which utilizes zero water, chemicals or process heat.
Unlike traditional disposable diapers, Kudos diapers are lined with 100% cotton instead of plastic. They’ve also been certified to the strictest safety standard, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100.
Hypoallergenic, breathable, and ultra soft, DoubleDry™ tech handles moisture and provides overnight-level reliability with two layers of protection instead of one. Kudos diapers are free from chlorine, lotions, latex, fragrances, parabens, and phthalates.
Coterie’s diapers are free of fragrance, lotion, latex, rubber, dyes, alcohol, heavy metals, parabens, phthalates, chlorine bleaching, VOCs, and optical brighteners.
Coterie’s diapers contain an absorbent core made of sodium polyacrylate (SAP) and Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. There is a nonwoven backsheet made of polypropylene and polyester, and topsheet made of polypropylene.
Babyganics diapers are made with plant-derived and traditional ingredients and made without latex, petroleum-based lotions or fragrance. Triple Dry Diapers are Babyganics’ driest, most absorbent diapers with a new U-shaped channel that quickly whisks away wetness.
Babyganics diapers use totally chlorine free (TCF) fluff pulp, soft, non-woven polypropylene for the top sheet, a breathable PE film back sheet (providing a cloth-like feel inside and out for additional comfort), strong tabs and stretchy wings for a secure fit and a wetness indicator on all sizes.
In addition, there’s an umbilical cord cutout on Size Newborn and front & back leakage cuffs designed for blowout protection on Size 1 and Size 2.
All diapers are also made with a touch of NeoNourish® on the topsheet – their own blend of tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin, and raspberry seed oils – with baby’s soft skin in mind.
Other clean diapers:
Seventh Generation: This company offers a line of free and clear diapers that are made without fragrances, lotions, or chlorine bleach.
Honest Company: The Honest Company offers a line of diapers made with plant-based materials and without chlorine, fragrances, or lotions.
Earth’s Best: Earth’s Best offers a line of chlorine-free diapers that are made with renewable resources and without latex or synthetic fragrances.
Naty: Naty offers a line of eco-friendly diapers made with plant-based materials, without chlorine or synthetic fragrances.
How to save money on nontoxic diapers
One way to save money on non-toxic diapers is to buy in bulk. Many, if not all, of the above companies offer discounts for buying diapers in large quantities.
Additionally, some companies offer subscription services that provide regular deliveries of diapers at a discounted price.
Finally, consider using cloth diapers, which can be more cost-effective in the long run and are often made with natural, non-toxic materials.
There are many choices to make as a parent and it can often feel overwhelming. Trust your instincts, ask your pediatrician and get advice from fellow moms.
For parents who wish to keep their infants safe and healthy, selecting the cleanest, most organic, and non-toxic baby diapers is crucial.
A good rule of thumb is to choose products that are transparent and have a clean ingredient list, while being effective and purposeful. These choices don’t have to break the bank either!
Parents can provide their children with the best start in life by being aware of the toxins that can be found in many diapers on the market and taking steps to locate the cleanest options available.