My non-toxic baby guide to disposable nappies


Emily is a mother to baby Isabella, who is beginning a journey to find non-toxic baby products in a world full of disappointingly unsafe chemical filled ones. We’ve re-posted her article on disposable nappies:






I’ve been meaning to look into nappies for as long as my blog has existed. There have however been a few things that stopped me from getting to it so quickly- Firstly, nappies don’t have an ingredients list on them and so it is much more time consuming and difficult to investigate and assess their toxicity status.

Secondly, I was petrified of what I was going to find – and rightly so… I had an idea that some were bleached with chlorine which is definitely not good, but I had no clue that it’s common for a nappy to be fragranced or have a lotion impregnated top sheet (think endocrine disrupting phthalates) and that some are even held together with glues containing formaldehyde!

I wish I could say that Isabella has been in cloth nappies from the get go, but to be honest, we struggle keeping on top of our washing in our house as is! I wish I could say that Isabella has been in eco nappies for all her life… again, it’s not the truth. I was so scared of her nappies leaking, being wet and causing nappy rash that she was in Huggies for much, much longer than I care to admit!

Early on, before I started investigating chemicals in baby products and before this blog was even thought of, I did an absorbency test with a glass of water, a Huggies and an Aldi nappy. I was purely just interested in which absorbed the water best and stayed drier. The Huggies nappy won hands down (the Aldi one when squeezed, released a little puddle of water into the nappy again!) After that, I wrongly just assumed Huggies must be the best out there!

I then started this blog and investigated the chemicals in all sorts of baby products, never venturing into nappies because of the fear of finding out what truths might lie there. I’m all for easy substitutes when there is a safe, non-toxic alternative which performs as well. I just wrongly believed nappies were different and the eco nappies weren’t up to scratch – and some aren’t! But there are some awesome choices too!



I feel like at the moment, I’m in the best position I’ve ever been to test nappies. (READ: Over Christmas, Isabella got gastro for 10 days and so I started breastfeeding her day and night. Now, she breastfeeds almost continually each night and I haven’t got around to night weaning her again. – we previously used the Jay Gordon method successfully if anyone’s interested, though it’s never easy and you have to be really ready to do it.) Anyway, at the moment, I have a super hydrated baby who feeds all night and is in the same nappy from 7pm- 7am. Those morning nappies are HEAVY and we’ve had our fair share of leaks I navigate the brands!!s a!

Absorbency in a nappy is important to all of us and so I have carried out an at home absorbency test on a whole range of nappies (the results and photos are below!). I would never go back to a mainstream supermarket nappy now and am kicking myself a bit for not having investigated nappies earlier. We’re all on a journey and sometimes we just have to go at our own pace.

I wish I’d been able to get to this point earlier, but it’s important to not beat yourself up and to use that energy to promote action instead. I’ve since found some truly awesome nappies and would NEVER go back to the others now I know more.

How is a nappy structured?


The ingredients of what makes up a nappy varies dramatically between brands, however the essential structure is the same.

A nappy consists of:

  • An absorbent core sandwiched between two layers. The inner layer sits right against the baby’s skin and is designed to be soft and to stay relatively dry and the outer layer is waterproof to prevent leaking.
  • The absorbent core is designed to pull moisture in and keep it away from the baby. It is made up of a fluff material (wood pulp, bamboo etc.) and also chemical crystals called SAP (Super Absorbent Polymer).
  • The fluff material distributes the liquid and the SAP absorbs it and locks it away from being squeezed back onto baby.
  • SAP is in the absorbent core of every single nappy I have come across. The reason why SAP is used is because it has an amazing ability to absorb liquid- it can suck up 300 x its weight in water.
  • Ecoriginals nappy is the first based SAP, Their unique plantcell technology optimizes and premium combination of natural materials with a dual seal for up to 4o% superior absorbency to traditional disposable nappies




Disposable nappies; what to look for when choosing:


Non-toxic ingredients: Chlorine is often used to bleach the paper liners and wood pulp in nappies. This process can leave traces of a toxic chemical called Dioxin in the nappy as well as releasing it into the environment during the bleaching process in manufacturing. Dioxins are carcinogens and are linked to many health problems. Always choose chlorine free nappies – for your baby’s health or the environment.

Fragrance free: Fragrances are frequently used in nappies to block odour. They often have endocrine disrupting phthalates in them which are linked to a whole host of negative health effects. These are unnecessary nappy ingredients as you should change a nappy frequently anyway. Nappies with fragrance should definitely be avoided.

Phthalate & lotion free: Phthalates can also hide in lotions which can be used on the inner layer of the nappy. Either look for a nappy without lotion or make sure that they are phthalate free




Performance: It’s great to have something non-toxic, but if it’s hard, scratchy, leaks or doesn’t absorb well, it’s still not a product you want.

Absorbency: Needs to actually work! The nappy needs to take moisture away from the surface, distribute the liquid and keep it within it’s absorbent core.

Fit: A good fit is important for comfort and leak prevention. The elastic and pleating of material around the leg of the nappy also plays an important role in leak prevention.

Environmental impact: We want to ensure we don’t negatively impact our children’s future world too much! More and more companies are producing eco nappies nowadays and whilst I would love to think this completely offsets the problem about sending so much to landfill, there’s a lot of different components to whether something is actually eco-friendly or not.

At Ecoriginals we offset the impact of our products. Being Plastic neutral, Carbon neutral and Planting trees globally.

Biodegradability: No nappy is 100% biodegradable. A nappy can have many biodegradable ingredients, however the tabs and elastic cuffs at least a are not. Biodegradability is important – a nappy with a higher percentage of biodegradable materials will break down faster than one which doesn’t. Unfortunately though, land fill is an environment with no light and air; without this, even a highly biodegradable nappy’s decomposition is extremely slow.

Cradle to Grave impact: Disposable nappies can have a large negative environmental impact during aspects of its whole life cycle; from the raw materials if they are not sustainable, to the manufacture if they use chlorine bleaching, to their disposal in land fill.



Less nappies used.
Less residual waste
Ecoriginals 90% biodegradable nappies with super absorbency = less nappies used and less residual waste.

Your plastic impact with Ecoriginals is zero.

Compare that with standard disposable nappies with plastic or blended layers that have as much as 200g of plastic being discarded each day*.

*Assumes average nappy weight of 50g and 5 nappies used per day.

What are the ingredients in
nappies to avoid?

Bleached with chlorine
which can leave small amounts of carcinogenic Dioxin residues

Synthetic fragrances
(Endocrine disrupting phthalates are often hidden in synthetic fragrances and used as preservatives as well)

Unsustainable Packaging
Use unsustainable forestry to make the wood pulp and packaging.


containing glues holding them together

Not biodegrabable
and have a horrible impact on land fill

How do you compare nappy brands?




Looking at the non-toxic status of nappies is difficult. Nappies don’t have ingredients lists on their boxes and I had to email companies and search their websites. A lot of supermarket brand nappy companies didn’t reply to my emailed questions. I can understand why… If you knew you were going to give answers like “yes, our nappies are bleached with chlorine and contain phthalates” you wouldn’t reply either!

Unless a company is forthcoming with how non-toxic and eco-friendly they are, I make the assumption that they are not, otherwise I’m sure they’d be telling us how wonderful they were! (Which I’m guessing is why the eco-nappy companies did write back and the others didn’t!)

Even if a nappy is non-toxic, it still needs to perform its function well as otherwise it’ll leave your baby with nappy rash which isn’t healthy either.

I have tried samples of all of the below brands. Some brands I only got a sample pack of 2, so I could feel them and try them for fit and use one on Isabella overnight and then I used the other for the absorption test.

I think it is also important that a disposable nappy is eco-friendly. We shouldn’t just be concerned about what chemicals make contact with our baby when the use of a product has the potential to come back and bite in their future world too. (And let’s face it, we go through a HUGE amount of nappies per child before they are toilet trained!)

I’ve also included the cheapest prices I could find the nappies for, which are the prices they are per nappy (size 4) when bought in bulk – newborn nappies are always cheaper than this in each brand. A lot of us mums aren’t back to working full time yet or are paying child care fees and so cost has to be thought about at least!

Absorbency test

Like what you see in the old school nappy ads, I got a certain amount of coloured water (that way you can see how far the liquid is spreading.)


  1. You will need 4 nappies to test
  2. 300 ml of liquid
  3. Pour quantity of water evenly over the front part of the nappy
  4. Stretched out the nappy to let the liquid distribute and absorb. (leave for 4 minutes)
  5. Press and rub the nappy to help liquid distribution and simulate body weight and movement.
  6. After 5 minutes, I pressed the nappy with a piece of paper towel to see how much residual fluid was left and not absorbed into the nappy. Results in below.

The Results


Non-Toxic Status: Excellent

These are elemental chlorine free and contain no fragrances, lotions or phthalates. They have non- toxic inks/dyes and glue. Safe plastics are used where applicable.

Fit/ Absorbency: Very good

These are lovely and super soft nappies to touch. They fit well although don’t have quite as tight pleated elastic around the leg making them not quite as leak resistant potentially as some nappies for a highly mobile sleeper overnight. The tabs work well and are easy to roll up once used. Absorbency is excellent. These actually topped the absorbency test. These aren’t quite as streamlined as some.

Environmental status: Very good

These are 80% biodegradable which is super impressive. They are made from FSC certified wood pulp. They also have compostable packaging. They don’t however have any independent certifications about their eco-friendliness in manufacture,

Bulk price/ nappy: 58c with subscription

Muumi Eco Nappies:

Non-Toxic Status: Very good

These are chlorine free (they use oxygen) and contain no fragrances, lotions or phthalates. They have non- toxic inks/dyes and glue. Safe plastics are used where applicable.

Fit/ Absorbency: Very good

These are a bit thicker and so more bulky, but have good pleated elastic around the legs and have very good absorbency. The liquid distributes well and we had no problem with leaks. They are soft to touch.

Environmental Status: Excellent.

These nappies contain FSC certified wood pulp and also carry the Nordic swan eco certification. They are made using hydroelectric energy in a factory which recycles all waste sending nothing to land fill. They use 100% oxygen to bleach their nappies and are very careful where their raw materials come from. Their packaging is also biodegradable.

Bulk price/ nappy: 70c

Comment: I really liked these nappies. They are super eco- friendly (on the disposable nappy scale!) and are non-toxic and do very well in fit and absorbency. They are a bit more bulky than the bambo, but they are great


Thankyou: (Made in China)

Non-Toxic Status: Very Good

These are elemental chlorine free and contain no fragrances or phthalates. They have non- toxic inks/dyes and glue. Safe plastics are used where applicable. They do have an Aloe Vera and Vitamin E infused top sheet, but this is phthalate free.

Fit/Absorbency: OK

These fit well though are a bit more bulky than some of the nappies and have a little less extra material around the legs which predispose them a touch more to leaks. They also could have rated a bit better on absorbency…

Environmental Status: Good

They are made from FSC certified wood pulp. They contain between 36-46% biodegradable materials.

Nappy price in big box (supermarket price as can’t find in bulk): 45c

Comment: I love this company because its profits go to supporting women and children in need. These nappies are soft and fit well. They could be a bit more leak proof, but are better than most. I’d prefer it didn’t have the Aloe and Vitamin E infused top sheet as I don’t like any extras that don’t need to be there, but they are great nappies and are available at a really good price point. Definitely my top pick of nappies from the supermarket!


Seventh Generation: (Made in USA)

Non-Toxic Status: OK

These are chlorine free (completely unbleached) and contain no fragrances, lotions or phthalates. They have apparently non- toxic inks/dyes and glue. Safe plastics are used where applicable.

Pigments are used to colour these nappies brown. The pigment ingredients aren’t fully disclosed by the supplier which leaves Seventh Generation having to make the claim that to the best of their knowledge there are no toxicity issues with it. I’d prefer to know for sure!

Fit/ Absorbency: Poor absorbency

These are a slim fit nappy and fit well around the leg. They don’t leak, but don’t do so well with absorbency either and I think baby would get a bit damp. It was the lowest performing nappy in the absorbency test.

Environmental Status: Better than the mainstream brands, but I wanted more from an eco nappy!

These nappies are not biodegradable or compostable according to their website. They are made from FSC certified wood pulp.

Bulk price/ nappy: $1.07

Comment: These look like the most natural nappy of them all as they are an unbleached brown colour and have no prints… I was surprised to learn it was actually coloured that way! These aren’t my favourite nappy- while they are OK in their non-toxic status and fit, they don’t absorb as well as I’d like and I’d want something more environmentally friendly to satisfy my already huge guilt about using disposable nappies!



Non-Toxic Status: Excellent.

These are chlorine free and contain no fragrances, lotions or phthalates. They have non- toxic inks/dyes and glue. Cornstarch based papers and bioplastics are used as well as safe plastics.

Fit/ Absorbency: Disappointing.

These nappies are a bit papery and scratchy to feel. The fit isn’t as good as some and we had overnight leaking. The tabs also don’t stick to the paper and so it isn’t easy to roll them up to throw away.

Environmental status: Excellent.

These do have the SSNC good environmental choice eco label which means they must be pretty good environmentally from cradle to grave. They are also made from FSC certified wood pulp. They are also apparently more than 60% biodegradable.

Nappy price in supermarket 27 pack: 52c

Comment: A great non-toxic, environmentally friendly nappy at a fantastic price point. Unfortunately, the nappy feels a bit papery and scratchy and doesn’t have the fit and absorbency I’d like.


Tooshies by TOM: (Made in Mexico)

Non-Toxic Status: Very Good

These are elemental chlorine free and contain no lotions or phthalates. They have non- toxic inks/dyes and glue. Safe plastics are used where applicable. They do use citrus extract and liquid chlorophyll as an odour blocker, but this is phthalate free.

Fit/ Absorbency: OK

These are a fairly slim fitting nappy with a good fit and elastic pleating around the legs. They seem to have a less wide absorbent core than all the other nappies which results in them being less absorbent than some others too.

Environmental Status: Good

These contain wood pulp from sustainable forests, but they aren’t FSC certified and have no other independent certification. They are over 45% biodegradable.

Bulk price/ nappy: 61c

Comment: I love the prints on these and they fit well, although they aren’t as eco-friendly as some brands or as absorbent. I’d prefer them without the odour blocker because I don’t like any extras that don’t need to be there but they are a great choice and so much better than the mainstream supermarket brands.


And now for Huggies…

Having used Huggies for so long with Isabella, I really persevered with my questions to the company. I got a reply, but it was clearly a cut and paste and didn’t answer my questions. Upon re-questioning on the topics they avoided, they never wrote back. I don’t think this is unique to Huggies by any means. I think this is common across most of the mainstream brands unfortunately as they don’t have any legal disclosure requirement for ingredients.

Huggies: (Made in Australia)

Non-Toxic Status: The company doesn’t disclose enough about their ingredients to comment.

I had no reply when I asked about chlorine, phthalates, lotion and fragrance in their nappies. I can only assume that the nappies contain them until notified otherwise. They do contain non-toxic glue and safe plastics.

Fit/ Absorbency: Very good

These nappies fit well though they are a bit bulky. They have good elastic pleating around the leg, good leak resistance and excellent absorption.

Environmental Status: No information.

The website does say that the wood pulp is from sustainable sources, but there is no independent certification. They once went into partnership with a nappy recycling company but it seems like it never got off the ground.

Nappy price (supermarket price as can’t find in bulk): 46c

Comment: I would not use these nappies on Isabella again