Your Baby’s Bottom Line “Wreaking havoc.”

Source: Laura Klein - organic food, organic living.

That’s how Carolyn Grogan, owner of the Housatonic, Massachusetts-based environmental retailer Mama’s Earth, describes pesticide use in today’s cotton industry-and it’s of particular concern when it comes to your baby’s health.

Cotton-the fabric used to make cloth diapers for decades-is one of the most "pesticide-intensive" crops worldwide, Grogan notes.

"These pesticides are very effective because they’re strong and long-lived," she tells "They pollute soil for years, draining it of nutrients, forcing the use of more dangerous fertilizers and eventually making the soil unsuitable for farming. This is what is meant by ‘unsustainable’ agriculture."

And it’s also an "unsustainable" option for your baby’s bottom. Harmful chemicals and toxins in synthetic fertilizers irritate the skin before being absorbed by the body. By choosing organic cotton diapers, you eliminate these risks entirely. As a bonus, your diapers will remain soft after each washing, yet retain their durability.

Disposable diapers like Pampers should be avoided at all costs, says Natalie Schuhler, co-owner of Punkin-Butt and All Natural Mamas, two Castaic, California-based companies that specialize in cloth diaper products and natural parenting tools, respectively-not to mention the mother of two children. Just consider the following health issue: In 1955, 100% of American babies wore cotton diapers, and only 7.1% of them experienced diaper rash. Fast-forward to 1991, when 90% of U.S. babies wore disposable diapers-and a whopping 78% suffered from diaper rash.

"In the ultra-absorbency disposable diapers, sodium polyacrylate is so absorbent that it has been associated with bleeding and skin lacerations," she tells "It can absorb more than just urine, drying a baby’s skin so severely that it cracks and bleeds. We frequently get parents searching for alternatives for their sensitive-skin babies, and they find relief in cloth diapers."

From an environmental perspective, disposable diapers continue to fill landfills around the world, creating a seemingly eternal biohazard. By contrast, washing organic cotton diapers at home uses surprisingly little water: 6% of a household’s total water usage for top-loading washers and 3% for front-loading washers, Schuhler says.

She provides the following price-comparison chart:

Diaper Type Total Cost Based on 6,750 diaper changes Price Per Change
Cloth diapers (washed at home) $778.05 12¢
Cloth diapers (diaper service) $2,133.00 31¢
Disposable diapers $2,530.00 37¢

"In the summer, we use more water to keep our lawn green than we do to wash our diapers," she says. "Although the environment was not a main factor in my choice to use cloth diapers, using them has made me more aware of our environment and what my family can do to preserve it. It is very satisfying to know that I’m making good choices for my children’s immediate health and well-being, as well as their future."

Choose an ecologically friendly detergent, Schuhler advises. (You must use detergent-not soap-for adequate cleaning.)

"There are some brands that are better than others," she says, "and one that we love is Bi-O-Kleen. They have a product called Premium Laundry Powder that is safe and effective to use on cloth diapers. We suggest that parents read the labels of the products they purchase and avoid phosphates, perfumes and chlorine bleach.

If you dread the thought of poking yourself with diaper pins and trying to solve the "origami" of the proper diaper fold, you can relax.

"Gone are the days of rubber pants and pins," Schuhler says. "New designs and fabrics are replacing the old styles, making it easy and fun to cloth-diaper.

"The goal of being more health- and environmentally conscious, living naturally, and avoiding chemicals and toxins is a fast-growing movement," she adds. "Families of young children are especially dedicated to finding the best products and making the best decisions. Cloth diapers are inevitably discovered along this more natural lifestyle path!"

If you would like to learn more about organic living for you and your baby, check out Ever-So-Easy Organic Baby Food and Oh! Baby.

Laura Lynn Klein is the Publisher and Editor of makes it easy to add a little green to your life, covering everything from organic food, living, gardening, health, beauty and sustainable living.