Since you’ve just landed here, chances are you already know that conventional disposable diapers may contain a whole slew of potentially toxic ingredients that could be harmful to your child’s health as well as the environment. If words like sodium polyacrylate, fragrance, dyes, phthalates, dioxins, tributyltin, and volatile organic compounds don’t sound familiar to you though, I recommend you take a quick look at Toxic Chemicals In Disposable Diapers first.
Ready to get straight down to the dirty diaper business?
You’re here to figure out how to find the best safe disposable diapers, right? Or at least the safest disposable diapers for your budget. Hey, disposable diapers aren’t cheap, that’s for sure!
To save your time, I’ve created a very simple guide to non-toxic diapering.
I hope you’ll find it helpful!
How to choose safe disposable diapers?
Simplicity is the key here. The less, the better.
If you can, look for diapers that are:
Essentially, you don’t want anything unnecessary on your child’s skin.
You don’t know the extent of what your child might potentially react to, and diapers will function just as well without the addition of things like perfumes, dyes, or lotion.
We’ve covered chlorine, fragrance, and dyes in the post I’ve linked at the top, so you hopefully already know why I suggest avoiding these.
Lotion sounds pretty innocent…???
It doesn’t sound toxic, I agree.
Even the fact that it’s a petroleum-based lotion may not raise any red flags because some people have no issues with that.
There are two reasons why I suggest avoiding lotion in disposable diapers. 1) You don’t know which exact lotion formula is being used in your child’s diapers which opens up a can of worms of possible hard-to-identify allergic reactions. 2) A diaper will likely contain more ‘to avoid things’ if the topsheet has been coated with a layer of lotion. The safest diapers use no lotion. Plain and simple.
Which ones are the safest disposable diapers?
Here are some brands of disposable diapers that I’ve divided into 4 categories:
- THE GREENEST (the most baby- and eco-friendly);
- The GREEN (which are OK);
- The DRESSED AS GREEN (the wannabes); and
- The FAR FROM GREEN (the worst of them all).
Clicking on the product’s name will take you directly to the manufacturer’s website for more information, whereas the pictures displayed contain affiliate links.
THE GREENEST disposable diapers
These are the disposable diapers made with plant-based ingredients exclusively!
Tell me that’s not awesome!!!
POOF diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (no chlorine bleaching used), dye, latex, lotion, fragrance, lead, harsh chemicals, additives, surfactants, and polymers.
Poof diapers are FULLY biodegradable. They’re made with sustainable non-gmo materials and printed with soy-based inks. In addition to chlorine-free wood pulp, the absorbent core contains plant-based SAP. Because these diapers are made with bamboo fibers which have inherent antibacterial properties, these diapers are also naturally antibacterial!
BROODY CHICK diapers are FREE OF: chlorine, fragrance.
Broody Chick diapers are advertised as 100% natural and FULLY compostable, containing natural super absorbers. There isn’t enough information on the company’s website to understand which (if any) dyes/pigments/inks are used. However, given the nature of this product and the environmental focus of the company, I’d almost assume that dyes are not used. It would be nice though if Broody Chick offered more transparency into what is likely a wonderful product.
Compostable and biodegradable disposable diapers…
Are they worth the higher price tag?
Well, if you compost the diapers yourself (which is really NOT recommended – and FYI, poop is NOT compostable) or if you have them composted at a municipal/industrial facility (which are really hard to find), then YES.
If you just throw used biodegradable diapers in the trash, it’s a YES and NO. Modern landfills are designed to be kept air-tight which essentially prevents the process of biodegradation. Not much, if anything, biodegrades in a landfill. Which means that your biodegradable diapers are not going to biodegrade… HOWEVER, the reason to choose biodegradable disposable diapers is for a certain peace of mind that comes with using a green disposable diaper. It’s a safe option for your child, and it’s the better choice for the environment. Even though the diaper is likely going to end up in a landfill anyway, the manufacturing practices of fully biodegradable diapers tend to be more eco-friendly overall, and the toll on the environment isn’t as pronounced.
GREEN disposable diapers (with varying shades of green)
BAMBO NATURE diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (these diapers are peroxide-bleached), phthalates, PVC, organotins, heavy metals, formaldehyde, lotions, dyes, and odor inhibitors.
Bambo Nature diapers are bio-based, fully breathable, absorbent, and made with high-quality materials. The absorbent core does contain petroleum-based SAP, but this is still a great choice of a diaper. This company seems to be serious about their environmental footprint and has been awarded the coveted Nordic Swan Eco-Label accreditation. Go Bambo!!!
ECO BY NATY
ECO BY NATY diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (they are completely unbleached), fragrance, latex, TBT, lotions.
Eco by Naty strives to use natural and renewable materials as much as possible without losing out on performance. Petroleum-based plastic has been replaced with non-GMO corn-based bioplastic which, unlike conventional plastic, provides better breathability. These diapers feature a patented absorbent core which does contain petroleum-based SAP, but Naty claims they use less than other leading brands.
ATTITUDE diapers are FREE OF: chlorine, fragrance, latex, carcinogens, mutagens, and endocrine disruptors.
Attitude diapers are made with biodegradable and renewable materials and are carbon neutral. The absorbent core is advertised to contain biopolymer, but it wasn’t clear right away whether that’s a replacement for or an addition to the traditional super absorbent polymer. I have contacted the manufacturer, and it turns out that Attitude diapers contain both biodegradable biopolymer and superabsorbent polymer (SAP). For the record, these diapers are about 90% biodegradable.
EARTH’S BEST TENDER CARE
EARTH’S BEST diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (no chlorine bleaching), fragrance, latex, dyes, lotions.
Earth’s Best diapers are some of the greener diapers that also happen to be widely available. The inner liner and the outer cover are made with natural and renewable materials. In addition, bio-based super-absorbent polymers are added to the absorbent core to reduce the use of petroleum-based SAP.
THE HONEST CO. diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (no chlorine bleaching used), latex, fragrance**, lotions.
**These diapers are perfume fragrance-free; the bio core contains naturally derived odor blockers from citrus and chlorophyll.
The Honest Co. diapers are made with bioplastic and safe(r) adhesives, and they’re printed with ink that’s free of heavy metals. The absorbent core contains fluff pulp from sustainable sources and bio-based wheat/corn blend which reduces the need for petroleum-based SAP.
FYI: The Honest Co. seems to be getting a lot of backlash for their “free trial” offer which is essentially a monthly subscription for diapers and wipes that seems to be difficult, if not impossible, to cancel. Just something to watch out for, I guess.
Disposable diapers DRESSED AS GREEN (AKA the posers)
SEVENTH GENERATION diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (no chlorine bleaching), lotions, dyes, and fragrance.
Seventh Generation is a fairly well-known brand of diapers advertised as green. While I resonate with the green mission of this company and they do fulfill the basic requirement of no fragrance/chlorine/dye/lotion(!), they just seem to look a little more green than they really are.
The good thing is that the inks they use are free of heavy metals, and the wood pulp comes from sustainably-managed sources. They do, however, use petroleum-based plastic in addition to petrochemical-derived SAP. While these might be considered safe disposable diapers, you can definitely find safer ones.
Also, at first glance, the brown tinge these diapers have (instead of being white) gives them the perception of a natural product. It’s nothing but a result of added pigments though. Not a huge deal (and the company is upfront about this on their website), but worth knowing I guess.
UP & UP
UP & UP diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (non-elemental chlorine bleaching process used), perfumes, and dyes.
Target’s UP & UP diapers seem to be quite popular from what I’ve seen and heard. They’re advertised to contain no chlorine, perfumes or dyes, but very little information is actually available about these diapers. Who knows what these diapers do and don’t contain…?
I’ve noticed that complaints about strong chemical odor of these diapers as well as rashes and burns started popping up which makes me wonder if the formula has changed (and reminds me of Pampers’ switch to Dry Max and the fiasco and lawsuit that followed soon after).
Disposable diapers that are FAR FROM GREEN (don’t even…)
I’m not even going to link you to these.
PAMPERS diapers are FREE OF: chlorine (non-elemental chlorine bleaching process used).
Pampers diapers are indisputably very popular. Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive is also the diaper endorsed by most hospitals, so a lot of people will automatically trust the quality and the mission of this company.
I honestly don’t understand how P&G gets away so easily for playing with words and not disclosing more information than what’s listed on their website (and there really isn’t much useful info there). Pampers diapers are far from safe disposable diapers. They’re petroleum-based all around (including the added lotions), and with the exception of Swaddlers Sensitive, they do contain perfume fragrance. They’re rendered chlorine-free based on the bleaching method used but offer no proof of the claim.
LUVS are the cheaper version of Pampers. These diapers are made by the same manufacturer and with the same concept, offering the same well-crafted responses and leaving a lot to desire.
HUGGIES diapers are FREE OF: who knows… If I remember correctly they’re perfume free, but I don’t think even that was mentioned on their website the last time I checked.
Huggies is another popular brand of disposable diapers that unfortunately likes to keep secrets.
Kimberly-Clark seems to pay more attention to the specific Disney prints they use rather than telling consumers what their diapers are made out of. Safe disposable diapers? I’m guessing not really. They don’t even make any safety claims themselves – it’s probably not their priority.
Even Huggies Pure & Natural – the only version of Huggies diaper advertised as green – isn’t really all that green and pure after all: it’s perfume-free and contains less ink, but the bleaching method isn’t disclosed. It’s supposed to be pure and natural but contains vitamin E and aloe. It’s made with organic cotton which would be awesome if it weren’t only used on the outer cover where it’s pretty much useless. Fail…
Related: Pros And Cons Of Using Cloth Diapers