Shweta Barailly, a mother to a one-year-old, works as an air hostess with a reputed airline. When her son was born, she was overjoyed. Initially, she used to find changing her son’s diapers exciting, even though the smell used to be overbearing sometimes. However, it was not the smell that bothered her. One day, when she was taking out her son’s diapers to the trash can outside her house, a neighbour pointed out that it was bad for the environment. An interactive question and answer session followed between the two where Shweta, to her surprise, found out that only a small amount of the waste from disposal diapers goes into the sewage system and the remaining amount ends up in a landfill.
Shweta is not alone in her experience of dealing with a diaper. Diapers have become a bare essential to many of us until the child is completely potty trained which most likely is when they attain their toddlerhood. Diapers come in all shapes, sizes and designs to suit the baby’s needs. They can be segregated in to two categories- Cloth diapers and Disposables.
There are many parents out there who, due to time and work constraints, rely on readymade diapers as the quick and easy way out. But is this the right approach?
Imagine this scenario: You are a parent to a baby. In a household, where both you and your spouse are working, you hardly have time or energy to wake up in the middle of the night to change clothes that have been wet by your baby. So, you just put on diapers on your child and sleep throughout the night. However, what about your little one? For, even with diapers on, she will be sleeping with the waste sticking to her all night long? Is this the right thing to do?
An article, published in The Hindu Business Line, states that in India, the diaper market is pegged at a massive Rs 1,400 crore. This huge amount is supported by favourable demographics with 26 million babies born in India every year.
Here are some interesting yet shocking facts about diapers in general:
Shocking fact #1: Harmful to the environment
- Disposable diapers hold 50 per cent of a newborn’s household waste. Worldwide they rank #3 in occupying landfills which are beyond the capacity for many of the countries. It is also noted that about 90 per cent of babies who use diapers use disposables instead of cloth diapers.
- It is still not sure how long a diaper (not all parts of it) takes to decompose. It might take generations for it to go down. In an average, a research study states that it would take 250 to 300 years for a diaper to decompose. All these factors combine to make diapers a threat to the environment.
- On an average, a baby might require 5 to 8 diapers which can account to 24 hours a day. Each diaper is filled with chemicals including polymer which can absorb a huge amount of water content. It most cases, it is harmless but if left on the baby for a longer time, the crystals filled in can break out and harm the baby’s tender skin. As they come in constant contact with the baby’s skin throughout the day, parents need to be extra careful in changing diapers on time.
Shocking fact #2: Might cause infection and skin rash
A baby’s skin in general, especially that of an infant or newborn is tender, soft and prone to rash when a diaper is used. Many people assume cloth diapers to be skin-friendly but it can also be otherwise. Any diaper which is left on for long or has a leakage without the parent’s knowledge can cause a nappy rash.
The chemical element which holds the content in without leakage also blocks air circulation making the baby’s skin stay in a wet and moist environment for long periods, which is a home for most microbes that cause infection.
Diaper rash is a common condition in babies during the first few years when they wear diapers on a regular basis. However, it does not mean this condition is not painful for babies. Go through this article that provides tips to handle diaper rash in your little one.
Shocking fact #3: High cost
On an average, it is assumed that 6000 plus diapers are used for one child. Each diaper in India costs somewhere between Rs.10 to Rs.15 which could prove expensive in the long run. In fact, disposable diapers are expensive than cloth diapers which can be cleaned and used.
Shocking fact #4: Might delay potty training
Potty training is a huge achievement for parents and children alike. A child who wears a diaper is potty trained approximately by 3 years of age. A research suggests that children who had used cloth diapers are trained much earlier than the ones who had used disposables. But a child who has never used a diaper is potty trained as early as 6 months of age.
Shocking fact #5: Hampers flushing of content
Almost all disposable diaper companies advise flushing the faecal content of babies before disposing of the diaper. However, 99 per cent of the people who use it conveniently wrap it up and dispose of it in the garbage which eventually ends up in landfills and not in the sewer.
Shocking fact #6: Used for unusual things
Diapers are super absorbent and can be used for some quick fix remedies. For instance, a leak in a tap can be fixed temporarily or a water spill on the dining table can be quickly gotten rid of by pressing on the inside of the diaper. It can also be used to grow some types of plants which need retaining of water for a long time.
Shocking fact #7: Clashes with diaper free time
The importance of diaper free time has come to a peak after disposable diapers were introduced. They are so convenient that parents often forget about diaper-free time for baby and are kept in it for 24 hours a day. Though changing it on time does not harm the baby but some airy time during the day is advisable for the tender skin.
Are you a new parent who is having trouble changing your little one's diapers? This video explains how you can change your baby's diapers the correct way.
Although diapers have made life easy and convenient for parents, especially when both are a shift from disposable diapers to cloth nappies can do a world of good and has many advantages as well. It only requires a little extra effort in cleaning and drying but what matters at the end is the child’s wellness.
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