What Are Diapers Made Of?
Advances in disposable diapers have been able to increase mobility and convenience among families. The introduction of super-absorbent disposable diapers has improved the performance of diapers beyond what we ever thought possible and babies are able to experience dryer and more comfortable days. No one can dispute disposable diapers are a great convenience in the modern world, yet there is not a lot of information on what diapers are made out of and few companies choose to disclose a full list of ingredients.
Different Types of Diapers
Not only do the fabrics used in diapers vary globally, but also regional diapering practices influence the distribution of the form of diaper used. There are many types of diapers and each will have a different impact not just on the environment but on how they are manufactured and what ingredients are used. The manufacturing and laundering upkeep of cloth diapers vs disposable diapers is in many cases a worse choice in terms of sustainability.
Components in Disposable Diapers
Every component in the diaper has a purpose. Before discussing the ingredients of each component, it is important to understand what comprises the properties of a diaper and the role each component has on the overall performance.
Cellulose / Pulp - this makes up a big percentage of the diaper core. Cellulose allows for urine to move quicker and easier along the length of the diaper core.
Super absorbent polymer - this along with the pulp makes up the entirety of the diaper core. Super absorbent allows diapers to actually retain liquids. Without super-absorbent, the cellulose would soak up the liquid but would release it under pressure. Picture buttocks sitting on wet pulp pads that then release all their urine when sat on.
Core carrier - a fabric that wraps and encloses the diaper core - basically holding the pulp and super absorbent polymer together. This also keeps the superabsorbent particles trapped inside and does not allow any to come up and come in contact with the baby or make any mess.
Topsheet / Inner Layer- The layer that sits next to a baby’s skin and has the main job to trap humidity so as to prevent excess moisture to be in contact with baby’s skin.
Backsheet / Outer Cover - the main purpose of the backsheet is to create a waterproof layer that does not allow leakages from the diaper core to travel through the back. Backsheets are also intended to make diapers soft and feel good when mama or papa holds the baby’s diapered buttocks.
Elastic Waist and Leg Cuffs - stretchy material that allows a range of fit in the waist and legs and seals in any leakages.
Tabs to Seal the Diaper - in the past we used to seal the diapers with safety pins. This now evolved to most diapers using either an adhesive seal or a velcro/hook and loop closing mechanism. Diaper pants have a stretchy waist and no closing mechanism.
What are disposable diapers made of?
We can’t guarantee what other disposable diapers are made of. There is no single recipe as some will include different blends of different fibers and fabrics, some will be made from viscose derived from pine or bamboo yet all will include an element of plastic, there is currently no way around it. Additionally, few companies choose to share what their diapers are actually made of.
We continue to be appalled by the FTC and FDA’s insistence to exclude diapers from product labeling. At Parasol, we believe every parent has the right to information. When it pertains to our bodies and our baby's bodies we all have a right to be informed consumers.
What are Parasol Diaper Made of?
All of our Parasol products have a full ingredient list printed on the bag. And just so you don’t need a chemistry degree to buy diapers - we are happy to make it easy and break the ingredients (and their uses) down for you.
Chlorine-free wood pulp
The pillow-y inside of our diaper core is made of pulp (cellulose). Cellulose is the main constituent of plant cell walls and vegetable fibers. Our eco-conscious mission includes sourcing our pulp from FSC-certified sustainable forests. This practice is important as more trees are planted than what is being cut down. Additionally, new forests are better at sequestering carbon than old ones. Young forests are able to extract carbon from the air and incorporate it into their biomass more quickly than mature trees, which means sustainable forestry as a renewable resource is a great choice for mama earth.
We do not use chlorine to bleach our pulp as some brands do. You can rest assured our plup is sustainable, chlorine-free and never ever tested on animals (none of our products are!)
While it is still durable, our diaper is thinner and lighter because of our innovative material application which allows us to use way less wood pulp for better performance. Our mission is to reduce the global warming impact by lowering product weights to save carbon footprints.
Super absorbent polymer
These are the magic particles in diapers that can hold up to 50x their weight in liquid, effectively transforming pee into gel. Super absorbent is critical to keeping your newborn dry and comfortable and reducing diaper rash caused by exposure to moisture. All current super-absorbent that will meet performance requirements to keep your baby dry is petroleum-based but we are working really hard on finding a plant-based super absorbent. At this moment “bio” sap does not meet performance requirements for our premium diapers and while there are some brands out there that claim to use “bio” sap, in reality, they use a mix of bio sap and synthetic just to fulfill the requirements for a plant-based claim.
Polypropylene nonwoven fabric
The inside of the diaper that feels super soft and cushions your newborn baby’s bum. Polypropylene entraps humidity way better than viscose derived from bamboo and other fibers, keeping urine under the fabric and away from your baby’s skin. This is of utmost importance in preventing diaper rash. Nonwoven fabric is also used for the cloth-like extra-soft backsheet of the diaper and in the ear tabs that seal the diaper.
This film is near the bottom layer of the diaper and it’s used to make the back of the diaper water-proof. This is necessary to keep all your little one’s waste trapped in the middle, without any leaks through the back.
Latex-free, hygiene-grade elastic
Elastic is used at the waist and leg cuffs to secure a snug and leak-free fit. We chose our elastic to be latex-free to remove as most allergens as we possibly can.
That’s it! No other hidden ingredients.
At Parasol, we do not add fragrances or lotions and are free of chlorine, latex, gluten and other substances. Baby’s skin is the most delicate and sensitive skin, so, no matter what, the products you choose to use every single day and night should be gentle and pure. Harsh chemicals and fragrances can cause irritation. Choosing the softest, gentlest, natural diaper is best for baby’s skin and your peace of mind.