Chemicals in Diapers to Avoid

Chemicals in Diapers

Choosing a diaper is a personal decision—what’s best for your baby’s skin, your lifestyle, your wallet and for the state of the environment your baby will live in. When you scan the package ingredients of different options and look to make the best choice, you may want to think twice if you spot the following chemicals in diapers.


  • PHTHALATES: A recent National Institutes of Health study found that many diaper brands (and sanitary pads) contain phthalates, an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) found included on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. More research is needed, but studies have “linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities,” states the EWG.
  • PARABENS: Also on the Dirty Dozen list, parabens are preservatives that can penetrate the skin. Researchers have linked some of these to certain cancers.
  • LATEX: Latex allergies, which affect about 4% of the population, can be life-threatening. The good news is that modern diaper brands typically do not contain latex.
  • FRAGRANCES: “I would say that fragrance is one of the worst ingredients in disposable diapers,” says Yasmine Moussa, founder of the site, The Gentle Nursery. “Fragrance can be anything.” That’s because the FDA considers fragrances “trade secrets,” and does not require brands to disclose ingredients. With 2-11% of the population experiencing fragrance allergies, these hidden ingredients can be a source of irritation—and hidden phthalates or other toxins. Seek out chemical-free, fragrance-free diapers to be safe.
  • TBT: TBT or tributyltin is an antifungal agent that may irritate skin and another EDC known to cause harm to aquatic life.
  • CHLORINE: “The problem with chlorine is that it emits small traces of known toxic chemicals called dioxins during the bleaching process,” explains the pediatrician-advised resource Baby Gear Lab. Dioxins can cause cancer, developmental issues, and problems with immunity and hormones.

While your baby can be exposed to a small amount of dioxins in bleached diapers, most of their exposure (and adults’ too) comes from the food supply. Because of that, a collective effort to reduce the toxin is what’s needed: “Going chlorine-free means you are doing good things for the environment, and in the long run, this translates to good things for all the babies,” says Baby Gear Lab.


More research needs to be done to know how much exposure to the toxins on this list causes harm to humans. You can’t avoid them completely, but what can do is grow your awareness and make smart choices to limit your baby’s exposure and take steps to protect the planet, like choosing chemical-free diapers

DID YOU KNOW? We listened to parents’ concerns about diapers and now bring you what we believe is the safest, smartest choice. The Baby Box Co. just teamed up with DYPER to offer our members chemical-free , biodegradable bamboo diapers that are also super-absorbent (keeping your baby dry is the best way to prevent diaper rash). To celebrate our new partnership, get a FREE diaper bag when you subscribe to DYPER. (Cancel anytime if not completely satisfied;  you still get to keep the bag!)

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