Diaper rash is incredibly common. In fact, up to 35 percent of little ones under 2 are affected by it. Red, inflamed and bumpy skin can all be signs of diaper rash, and it’s not a very pleasant experience for our babies. But it’s not inevitable, and there are plenty of steps we can take to ensure we minimize the risk of diaper rash.
From changing our little ones regularly to choosing the right diaper, we can protect babies’ super sensitive skin and, hopefully, avoid a rash developing. But, what do we mean by ‘the right diaper’? Surely all diapers are suitable for babies?
Whilst you’d be forgiven for assuming that all baby diapers are healthy, unfortunately, that’s far from the truth.
So what’s in some baby diapers to cause diaper rash, which diapers should we avoid, and which are the healthiest for our babies’ delicate skin?
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Can certain diapers cause diaper rash?
It’s pretty crazy that some baby diapers are packed full of chemicals. But when you learn that they are, it’s no surprise that so many little ones suffer with diaper rash. So why are companies allowed to get away with that, and why do they use them in the first place?
The diaper manufacturing process can be easier and cheaper with the use of chemicals. Phthalates, for example, often make their way into baby diapers. Despite these chemicals being linked to asthma, eczema and even abnormal genital development in boys, they’re still used to make the diaper more flexible and durable.
Healthy diapers will steer clear of these horrible toxins, and find other ways to improve flexibility and durability.
Couple phthalates with a smorgasbord of other chemicals, including fragrances, lotions and heavy metal dyes, and it’s no surprise that lots of diapers on the market can cause diaper rash.
But not all diapers contain these horrible toxins. Let’s see which diapers are the healthiest…
Which diaper do not cause diaper rash? Best diapers for diaper rash:
The following diapers are non-toxic and skin-safe. They’re highly unlikely to cause diaper rash because they don’t use harsh chemicals like phthalates, fragrances and lotions.
Kudos diapers are pretty new to the eco diaper market, but they’re already making waves. They’re made with natural cotton and sugarcane, and, of course, they’re completely free of harsh chemicals: phthalates, fragrances, lotions and parabens to name just a few.
Designed by MIT engineers, these super skin-friendly diapers aren’t biodegradable, but they’re sold in recyclable packaging. With great reviews, they deserve a spot in my roundup of the healthiest baby diapers.
Why They’re Great
I talk about Dyper diapers a lot. They’re one of my all-time favorite brands, and for good reason. These non-toxic diapers are great for your little one’s skin. They’re free of harsh chemicals, including phthalates, fragrances and lotions, and use soft and sustainable bamboo.
And they’re not only made with plant-based materials – they’re biodegradable too! Plus, their subscribe and save service is great for diapers straight to your door. Dyper’s SOS service saves you from those ‘oh crap’ moments. If you find yourself low on diapers, simply click the ‘SOS’ button, and the brand will send diapers to your door at no extra cost (up to twice a year).
Suffice to say, I love Dyper.
Why They’re Great
Healthybaby – formerly called Healthynest – is a non-toxic brand that’s leading the way when it comes to skin-healthy baby products.
They’re the first diapers to be verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a group that shines a light on harmful industry practices. The nonprofit organization wants to help consumers to make better, healthier choices, so it’s great that Healthybaby have achieved a verification.
It means you can be sure that ingredients used in Healthybaby diapers are safe for our little ones’ soft and delicate skin.
And they’re not just healthy – they’re effective too. They’ve been proven to perform in line with or better than big brands on the market, and they offer up to 12 hours of protection. The only downside is that they’re not biodegradable.
Why They’re Great
Eco Pea is another of my favorite brands. And it’s easy to see why…
Made with 85% biodegradable materials, including soft and sustainable bamboo, they’re one of the best diapers when it comes to skin safety and eco-friendliness.
Completely free of fragrances, lotions, phthalates, chlorine and latex, they’re hypoallergenic, so suitable for little ones with the most sensitive skin, and they have great reviews to boot.
And if that wasn’t enough… their shipping process is carbon neutral.
Why They’re Great
Parasol diapers aren’t just good for our little ones’ skin. The brand donates 10% of every purchase to charity, which is wonderful news.
Of course, they also stay away from phthalates, fragrances, lotions and chlorine, as well as parabens, preservatives and alcohol. They’re not biodegradable, but they do use some plant-based materials, and they’re sold in 90% recycled packaging.
Why They’re Great
Made with super soft bamboo, which is heaps more sustainable than cotton, Andy Pandy is another brand on my all-time favorites list.
With great reviews, these hypoallergenic diapers are made with 87% biodegradable materials, which is seriously impressive.
And, of course, they’re free of chlorine, phthalates, fragrances, lotions, latex and antioxidants. Plus Andy Pandy is a small family business, which is pretty rare in the diaper world.
Why They’re Great
Ecoriginals diapers are about as eco-friendly as they come. Over 90% biodegradable, these Australian diapers are made with sustainably-sourced wood pulp and steer clear of the major chemical culprits: phthalates, chlorine, fragrances and lotions.
They’re suitable for overnights and have great reviews, which isn’t surprising when you consider they have 40% greater absorbency than your average disposable diaper.
The brand goes a step further when it comes to looking after the planet – they plant a tree for every order and the brand is carbon neutral.
Why They’re Great
What causes diaper rash?
There are lots of possible causes when it comes to diaper rash. One of the biggest is toxic ingredients.
Toxic ingredients in diapers
Toxic ingredients are used in lots of diapers, especially in some of the most popular brands, like Pampers and Huggies.
Phthalates are one of the main chemicals to avoid. Used for flexibility and durability, studies have discovered a link between these toxins and the increased risk of asthma, eczema and abnormal genital development in young boys.
You’d think such a potentially-harmful chemical would be regulated by the FDA. But no. It’s not. So brands are free to use it if they want to, and many do.
If a diaper brand steers clear of phthalates, they’re likely to shout about it. After all, it’s a massive selling point. So if a brand doesn’t explicitly state that this is the case, it’s safer to assume they’re used.
- Fragrances, lotions and dyes
It’s easy to assume that fragrances and lotions are a good thing. But these completely unnecessary chemicals can easily cause diaper rash. The term ‘fragrances’ is often used to hide a bunch of other harsh chemicals because – yet again – the term isn’t regulated by the FDA.
And dyes and inks can be problematic, especially if they contain heavy metals. They can cause allergic reactions, as well as diaper rash. If a company does use inks, water-based inks are the best.
Some little ones can be allergic to latex, so it’s best to avoid it if possible.
Chlorine is often used in diapers, and it’s so unnecessary. It’s used to change the color as well as make diapers more absorbent, but it’s possible to do these things without chlorine.
Some diaper companies use oxygen, ozone or peroxide-based bleaching systems, which bypasses the need for chlorine. These are the safest bleaching methods, and they’re all much better for the planet than using chlorine.
Alongside chlorine, you may have heard of the term ‘dioxins’. These are the by-products of chlorine bleaching and thought to be safe when it comes to our little ones’ skin. In fact, you’ll find dioxins in other sanitary products – tampons, for example.
Parabens have been used since the 50s to stop bacteria growth, in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. While they’re not commonly found in disposable diapers, they’re occasionally used. And why is that a problem? Parabens have the potential to affect natural hormone production. So it’s best to steer clear.
Not changing diaper regularly/wearing a diaper for too long
Leaving a diaper on your little one for too long could cause diaper rash. Make sure you change your little one regularly. Some parents and carers find diapers with wetness indicators really helpful when it comes to preventing rashes.
Bacterial infections are quite common, and can cause rashes. When you consider that the area covered by the diaper is moist and warm, it’s no surprise. If you’re ever concerned about a rash, it’s crucial you take your little one to see a pediatrician. If the infection is indeed bacterial, their doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
pre-exising skin condition
Little ones with eczema may be more prone to developing diaper rash.
Toxic detergents and cleaning products: wipes, lotions, powder
We’ve explored chemicals in diapers, but what about chemicals in other household products? Harmful toxins can be found in a whole host of products, especially cleaning products, baby wipes, baby lotions and washing powders.
When it comes to safe baby wipes, try to avoid those with added fragrances and lotions. Opt for cleaning products made from natural ingredients. Brands like Seventh Generation offer a great range.
introduction of new food
Sometimes a new food can be the cause of – or contribute to – diaper rash, especially as babies wean from just milk to solid foods. As they start to eat a variety of foods, their poop changes, which can increase the risk of diaper rash.
It might sound obvious, but if your baby’s had diarrhea, they’re more likely to experience diaper rash. More poop = a higher chance of a rash.
A 2005 study highlighted a link between diaper rash and diapers using dyes that contained heavy metals. Look for diapers that avoid the use of heavy-metal-based dyes. Water-based dyes are the best.
How to treat diaper rash
If your little one does develop diaper rash, what can you do about it?
- Use the diapers that don’t cause rash
One of the best – and easiest – things you can do to combat diaper rash is to switch to non-toxic diapers. All of the suggestions above are skin-healthy, and should help to calm diaper rash, and prevent it developing in the future.
- Going diaper free as much as possible
Letting air get to the space affected by diaper rash is essential. Try going back to basics, and letting your little one go diaper-free as much as possible when at home… in a room with easy-to-clean floors, preferably.
- Air dry while changing
Even if you can’t let your little one run amok without a diaper, it’s so important to give their bums time to dry and breathe after changing, before you put another diaper on. At least 5-10 minutes between changes is ideal.
- Going a size up
Going a size up can help with diaper rash, because it allows air to get to the skin. A diaper that’s too tight will keep moisture close to the skin, and increase the risk of a rash.
- Use healthy baby wipes
Healthy baby wipes are a must when it comes to tackling diaper rash. Many baby wipes contain unnecessary toxins, just like diapers. Look for wipes that use plant-based materials, and are free of fragrances and lotions.
Check out my guide to the best organic baby wipes for some of my favorites!
- Stop using wipes, even temporarily
It might sound crazy, but stopping using wipes altogether can be a great way to combat diaper rash. Some can be abrasive, even if they’re non-toxic.
Instead, either run their bums under lukewarm water and pat them dry with a towel, or use a cotton pad.
- Change diapers often
Make sure you change your little one’s diaper regularly – more regularly than previously if they develop diaper rash. It’s important to keep them clean, and let their skin breathe in-between changes too.
- Apply natural ointments and creams
Just like diapers and wipes, rash creams and ointments can be full of chemicals and preservatives that could further irritate your little one’s skin.
Check out my guide to the best natural ointments and creams, for truly skin-healthy solutions.
FAQ about best diapers for diaper rash
1. Can using different diapers cause diaper rash?
Yes. If you’ve changed diaper brands recently and your baby has developed a rash, it could be caused by chemicals and toxins in the diaper.
Many brands on the market, especially the most popular ones, are packed with chemicals which are no good for babies’ skin. Look for diapers which are free of phthalates, lotions, fragrances and dyes made with heavy metals to ensure you minimize the risk of a rash.
2. Do bigger diapers help with diaper rash?
Bigger diapers can help with diaper rash. Of course, the diaper can’t be so big that it stops keeping the pee and poop at bay, but a bigger size allows more air to get to the skin. A diaper that’s too small especially will keep moisture close to the skin, and that’s no good when it comes to diaper rash.
3. Are Huggies or Pampers better for diaper rash?
It might shock you that, despite their popularity, both Huggies and Pampers diapers contain chemicals. While many of Huggies’ varieties steer clear of fragrances, lotions and elemental chlorine, there’s no word on phthalates. And if a brand isn’t super clear that they avoid them, it’s safer to assume they’re used.
Pampers diapers are even worse. Many of their varieties contain fragrances and lotions, and, yet again, there’s no word on phthalates.
Pampers Pure Protection is the only variety that uses some plant-based materials, and they don’t contain fragrances. But that’s just not enough.
The best advice I can give is stay away from both Pampers and Huggies, and opt for a brand that cares about our babies’ sensitive, delicate skin.
4. How do I know if my baby is allergic to a brand of diapers?
If your little one has developed diaper rash, the best way to know if their diaper is the cause is to change it!
Combine this change with the tips above, including letting your little one’s skin breathe as much as possible, opting for non-toxic baby wipes and changing them frequently.
If you’re ever concerned about a rash, consult your pediatrician.
5. Which brand of diapers is best for sensitive skin?
There are so many brands producing super-skin-healthy diapers – brands that make a point to avoid potentially-harmful chemicals like fragrances, lotions and phthalates.
Check out my guide to the best hypoallergenic diapers for my top picks.
Conclusion: What are the best rash free diapers for babies?
Up to 35 percent of little ones under the age of two suffer from diaper rash. But while it’s common, it’s not inevitable, and there are plenty of actions you can take to minimize the risk.
The first step is to choose a non-toxic, truly skin-healthy diaper. Healthybaby, Ecoriginals and Dyper are just a few of the best rash free diapers for babies. They use plant-based materials, stay far, far away from chemicals that could irritate the skin and genuinely care about protecting the delicate skin of our little ones.
Couple the right diaper with allowing skin to breathe, using natural wipes and ointments and changing them regularly, and you’ve got a recipe for rash-free skin. But remember to always consult a pediatrician if you have concerns about a rash or your baby’s health.
Let’s hope that the FDA changes its mind and decides to regulate the use of chemicals, so parents and carers have one less thing to worry about…