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About Our Nappies


We stock a full and complete range of baby nappies as well as adult incontinence diapers. We also pride ourselves as being the market leader in educating new mothers about nappies. Below are a few frequently asked questions answered by the Internationally renowned disposable diaper specialist Carlos Richer.

Aren't you concerned that baby diapers are using up our forests ?

I have been asked this or similar questions many times, and it just shows that most people do not understand what is really happening. The woods used for the manufacture of cellulose, are one of the best managed resources in our planet. As years go by, the pine woods used for pulp are not only continuing to exist, but are actually growing!. The reason is that woods used for pulp are a good business, and as such, people involved in their administration, make sure that their business will continue to be profitable in the long run. Thousands of people make their living by making an intelligent use of the natural resources, the same way as most farmers take good care of their land. Opposing the use of pulp is as silly as being against agricultural farming. Did you know that these people actually plant more trees than the ones they cut? It is clear that what happens is that people are confusing the Woods used for pulp, with the rain forest. I am the first to be against the uncontrolled exploitation of our very limited rain forest!


Disposable Nappies - No Worse for the Environment Than Cloth Nappies A Government commissioned life cycle assessment (LCA), co-ordinated by the UK Environment Agency, has been published today (May 18, 2005) and shows through independent analysis that disposable nappies have no greater impact on the environment than cloth nappies.


Can you explain the manufacturing process of a disposable diaper?

Disposable diapers are produced in a continuous process. A baby diaper machine is typically between 20 to 45 meters long, depending on the speed and the complexity of the product to be made. A typical machine will also need from 8 to 15 meters in width. Typical diaper machine speeds range between 250 to 600 diapers per minute, however some of the largest companies have machines running at 1,000 pieces per minute. The process starts at the mill, where a sheet of pulp is fed to a rotary mill and converted into fibers (from 2.4 to 2.7 mm in length). These fibers are transported into a forming pocket using a vacuum generator also called the "dust collector", please visit Auxiliary equipment under Machine vendors if you want to learn more about these systems.

As the fibers are produced, they are mixed with super-absorbent within the drum former. The drum former usually holds between 8 to 12 pockets depending on diaper size and the diameter of the drum. The mix of pulp and powder coming out from the drum is called "the pad" or "absorbent core". Once the pad is formed, it is transported using a layer of tissue, this can be on the top, bottom or around the whole pad. The pad is compressed using a debulker roll, and later cut into individual pieces of pad.

Next step, poly or cloth-like material is added at the bottom of the pad (or laminated on line), and non-woven is added at the top. Frontal tape was previously glued to the poly film or cloth-like backsheet using a cut and place applicator. In order to glue all these materials, hot melt is used in the form of multi-lines or spray. Specialty glue is also used to a help with pad integrity when the pad is made very thin, this helps to reduce the breaking apart of the diaper when it is wet. Elastomerics are also added at this point to provide stretch to the waist and the leg area and glued with hot melts. Typical Elastomerics used in a diaper are Lycra (Spandex), and polyurethane or polyesther foam. 

The non-woven top sheet can be made of one or more pieces, depending on the features to be added to the diaper, for example, a diaper with or without leg cuffs. Typical nonwovens used in a diaper are Spunbond and Thermobond or a combination such as SMS (spunbond-meltblown-spunbond). The top sheet is made of hidrophilic nonwoven and the leg cuffs are always phobic to provide water resistance and stop leakage. The next step in the manufacturing process, is the addition of the lateral tapes, they are applied using another cut and place applicator.

Tapes can be the standard adhesive type made of polypropylene or mechanical tapes, like the hook and loop (originally called and patented as "Velcro"). After the tapes are added, then a die cutting system trims the leg area of the diaper and discards it using a vacuum system. These trims are later recycled in a different process to make plastic pellets to be transformed into garden houses or even funeral caskets linings. A visual system is frequently used for automatic inspection just after the trim and before the diaper folding. The diaper continues to a folding process, then it is cut into individual diaper pieces inspected and finally stacked into a plastic bag for its final sealing and boxing.

I have been told that cloth diapers are better for the skin of my baby ....?

This is simply not true! There are many diaper services that confuse the consumer using very "old medical reports" that claim that cloth diapers are better for the skin of the baby, they argue they are better because cotton diapers breath. A close analysis to these reports show that mothers did not use the same pattern for changing diapers. Disposable diapers were used for extended times between changes, most others compared very old disposable diapers, even before they had super-absorbent in them (just look at the date of the report), and of course many disposable diaper are now breathable too, please read the last question in this section to learn more about breathability. Do not be tricked.

 Are disposable diapers safe to use for the skin of my baby?

There are many diaper services, that are truthful in their claims, I have the greatest respect for all of the diaper services that still have managed to survive, it is hard not to feel bad for them, when their market has dropped so suddenly and so dramatically. Did you know that less than 4% of all babies in the U.S. still use a diaper service?  The fact of the matter is that even when we can recognize some marginal benefits of a highly breathable diaper, it is even more important a dry environment for a healthy skin. Nothing comes close to the dryness that a good disposable diaper can give to the baby's skin.


There are still a few disposable diapers in the market that claim to be better because they are made without any SAP some of them even try to claim (indirectly of course) that SAP is not good for baby's skin, in my opinion, in an attempt to justify the lack of novelty in their own diapers (17 years ago all diapers were made without SAP, so wow such a novelty for a diaper without SAP!). Well, it is not true. Do not be fooled or tricked, read what contemporary Pediatricians have to say about SAP: "The important thing is that parents can feel reassured that these technologies, especially superabsorbent material, improve skin health and hygiene and that they have undergone rigorous testing to ensure their safety. It is because of SAP that diapers use much less pulp (much less volume), SAP can replace as much as 4 times its weight of fluff and this is good for the environment. A disposable diaper without SAP is just poor intelligence and a poor marketing gimmick.

Do you know the true reason for all major diaper brands switching from the polyethylene backing to the new "cloth-like" backing on disposable diapers?

Let me try to remove any sales pitch from my answer and give you only the straight facts. The reason why cloth like is more popular, is because there is an increased "comfort perception" from the point of view of the mother...NOT THE BABY!. The mother makes the purchasing decision, not the baby. Most times when the mother is holding her baby on her arms (specially during summer months when they do not use more clothes), the mother's arm starts to perspire due to the plastic back sheet in direct contact with her skin. With the addition of the nonwoven layer, this problem is eliminated, plus it also gives the perception that the diaper is more comfortable to the baby (...that the baby will not perspire either).

The fact of the matter is that all cloth like diapers are made with plastic and nonwoven, in other words, there is a layer of plastic film inside a layer of nonwoven that faces to the outside of the diaper. So, even when it looks different, it still has the same plastic as before. The consumers are just paying extra money for the "cloth perception".

If you peel very carefully a cloth-like back sheet, you will discover the same plastic film inside. This brings my attention to another issue. The cloth like back-sheet has very little to do with your baby's rash problem, if anything, is just an unfortunate coincidence. Believe me when I tell you the cloth like is very safe to use (but "safer than" may be an overstatement), as you can agree, it is basically the same diaper as before, except that a nonwoven layer has been added outside of the liquid impervious plastic film (the same material used to make the nonwoven top sheet which is in contact with the baby's skin). Please note that the number one problem for rashes is wetness (diaper rash associated to humidity issues) and then chemical contaminants in the top sheet (not the back "cloth-like" sheet). Leaving the diaper for a long period will generate some ammonia which can also add to the chemical contaminants and of course the food and medicines also have an effect, but wetness is by far the biggest contributor and the number one concern. The new breathable diapers add a very small improvement (used just as a marketing gimmick), basically because total evaporation is just too small in comparison to the total volume. A typical diaper using a breathable back sheet looses less than 2% of its weight, and no one uses a diaper for 24 hours if you know what I mean. 

The only questionable benefit of breathable diapers may be the reduced temperature inside the diaper due to evaporation, and this may be a disadvantage during the winter months. A baby may not be very comfortable with a cold diaper under their bottoms, specially on a winter night. People have a wrong tendency of extrapolating the benefits of breathable sport jackets to a disposable diaper, in a sport jacket the surface area is much greater and the amount of sweat is much less than urine in a diaper, finally there is the issue of exposed convection area versus clothing outside of the diaper. My recommendation for you is to switch to brands that use no perfumes independently of breathability, specially if they have increased surface dryness without any added perfumes. Following is an extract from Pediatric Dermatology Volume 18 Issue 4 Page 282 from August 2001, that claims they have proof of some benefits from the use of breathable diapers, our own records indicate that it is just a minor advantage non detectable in most real life tests:

Effects of Breathable Disposable Diapers: Reduced Prevalence of Candida
Infants wearing breathable disposable diapers experienced significantly less diaper dermatitis (DD) compared to infants wearing standard, nonbreathable disposable diapers in a series of double-blind clinical trials. Severe DD, including confirmed infection with Candida albicans, was reduced by 38 50% among infants wearing highly breathable (HB) diapers. The prevalence of DD was inversely related to the breathability of the garments. The inhibitory effect of breathable diapers on the survival of Candida was further confirmed in controlled experiments with adult volunteers. A suspension of C. albicans cells was applied to delineated sites on the volar forearm. Each site was then covered by a full-thickness patch from either an HB or a standard diaper. Survival of Candida colonies was reduced by almost two-thirds in the breathable diaper-covered sites compared to the control sites.

How many diapers are required every day to satisfy the world consumption?

There are several statistical models that have been used to estimate the number of baby diapers required for the whole world. My model starts with world population projection from the U.S. Census Bureau which estimates world population at 6,431,662652 (4/19/2005), then you find the total number of babies with ages newborn up to 2 years old, using age pyramid tables. Then you calculate total diaper consumption for each diaper stage and estimate a representative consumption per baby per day; and finally, take into account market penetration, the most difficult part to forecast.

The amount of babies just in the United States at age newborn to two years old is 9;612,520 (19/4/2005 U.S. Census), each baby requires 4.42 disposable diapers every day in average normal use (as an example: 6.12 are needed for newborn and size 2 and only 3.74 at 2 years old or size 5 with non linearity). This means that 40.37 million diapers are required every day just in the United States. There are a few exceptions in terms of day consumption, for example in Japan where mothers are more concerned about hygiene, they use almost 2 more diapers per day than mothers in America. If we do a similar exercise but applied for the total World consumption, it translates into 1,375 million diapers every day if every baby in the world used a disposable diaper.

In summary:

For the United States alone, 467 diapers are used every single second (with market penetration estimated at 95.6%, only 4.4% use the old non disposable kind). Considering a typical weight of 45 grams per diaper, that means that 1,816 Tons are used every day just in the U.S. For total world consumption, 18,238 diapers are needed every second (19/4/2005), unfortunately in reality less than one quarter are consumed due to poor country economy and low market penetration. Many areas of the world have market penetrations of less than 2%. More than one third of the babies in this world have never used a disposable diaper!

What is your opinion regarding the use of disposable diapers inside the swimming pool?

Since the introduction of the "little swimmers" made by Kimberly Clark, parents are inclined to believe that it is OK to swim with your baby in the pool, after all he/she is wearing a disposable diaper. The only problem is that diapers are designed to absorb and retain liquids, an impossible task when underwater. There are very few things more enjoyable for a baby (and for that mater for the parents too) than playing with parents in the water, specially in a hot summer day. Unfortunately diapers are not designed to contain liquids submerged in the water, because of this reason the risk of water contamination is huge, specially if you are planning to swim in a large public swimming pool.

I was told of a particular very embarrassing situation, as a fact I am not even sure if it is all true or if it has been exaggerated, the final result according to the hotel manager who told me, was the need to remove and refill 100,000 liters of water due to an accident where a 2 year old baby using a diaper decided to "use it" when his father was jumping him up and down ( "the melting log" syndrome).
He told me that they tried to get it out from the pool but it just dissolved in front of everybody making it worst. When the temperature of the water is cool, I believe this is an extremely low probability event to happen, as the human nature is to contract the sphincter; however when the water temperature is warm as in this particular case, anything is possible.

You may be laughing now but it was not so funny for the rest of the people using the same pool in the hotel that had to get out of the pool. Please play all you can with your baby and also teach your baby how to swim (a very important lesson for a lifetime), but please do it in a small private pool not in a large public swimming pool.

What is the origin of the word "diaper" or the word "nappy"?

Diaper was originally the term for an overall pattern of small repeated geometric shapes, and then a white cotton or linen fabric with such a pattern. So the first babies' diapers were made from diaper fabric, meaning fabric with a repetitive pattern. A "nap" is a hairy surface of cloth formed by short fibers, it was the preferred material to make "nappies". The word "diaper" is used in America while a "nappy" is used in England, New Zealand and Australia.

What is the pH of Urine of a typical Baby or Adult?

Contrary to popular belief, the pH of urine is actually lightly acidic, in the range of 4.5 to 7.4 The kidneys maintain normal acid-base balance primarily through the reabsorption of sodium and the tubular secretion of hydrogen and ammonium ions. Urine becomes increasingly acidic as the amount of sodium and excess acid retained by the body increases. Alkaline urine, usually containing bicarbonate-carbonic acid buffer, is normally excreted when there is an excess of base or alkali in the body.

Some medications for urinary infection work best on alkaline urine but this is not typical of a healthy adult who is not taking any medication. In a typical diaper, it is possible to see an increase in the pH value. As urine degrades due to time and oxidation, ammonium hydroxide is generated increasing the pH values to 9 or as high as 10 (generating a hazard condition known as "diaper ammonia dermatitis"). In addition, it is well known that superabsorbent performance is reduced due to the higher pH making it even worst for the patient. Diaper should be changed before taking the risk of diaper rash associated to ammonia.

Don't you feel bad working in a field that generates so much waste?

"This is a question mainly from mothers involved in ecological groups. I have received a question like that also from the owner of a diaper service, and from an elementary school teacher. Let me try to answer as directly an honestly as possible....." The disposable diaper industry uses some components that are not currently biodegradable. About 80% of the volume in a diaper is actually biodegradable (wood pine pulp), however unless it is properly disposed of, is very likely that it will not decompose.

In my years experience in the industry, I have seen the improvement of the design of the diaper, which has helped to reduce the amount of materials used, at the same time that improved its performance. For example, a diaper made 20 years ago, was two times heavier than a modern diaper, and it had a performance of less than one half the performance of a new diaper. A mother needed many diapers before (from 7 to 9), more than the diapers she needs now (4 or 6) because of this improved performance. There are few industries that can show this level of improvement in terms of ecological value, very few can claim that they have done so much for the environment in so little time.

Many people believe that by using cloth diapers they are doing their part to save the environment, they could be wrong! Once you consider the pesticides used in agriculture, the energy required for the farming and the water used to wash the diapers, even when you use the so called "biodegradable detergents", the story can change. In some areas of the world, water is one of the most precious commodities, even considering that water will not be affected because of reuse, in actual practice this is a major concern, because water is not truly clean, unless you use a good amount of energy to clean it (oil or gas to heat it).

You have to be aware that cloth diapers are not recommended by many paediatricians for one simple reason, they can not compete with the comfort and feeling of dryness that a disposable gives to the baby, this is an added value that the cloth diaper do not have. This translates into a simple fact, disposable diapers are healthier for the skin of your baby when used at the same frequency as a cloth diaper. That is why there are less problems associated with diaper rash than those our mothers had when we were babies.

For those above 45, If you had "full memory" of your lives, you would probably remember the bad yeast infection you probably had at 1 or 2 years old. It is fortunate for some so called "environmentalists" that babies do not talk. (Of course they try to communicate with their parents, but not everyone is ready to understand them, if you know what I mean). Few diaper services are willing to talk about this situation. Just think about this simple experience: After you swim, have you ever sensed the discomfort of not changing your wet swim suit when you did not have any dry clothes, or even worst when you put some pants on top of the wet suit, well that is exactly what I am talking about. You can not be comfortable wearing a wet suit under your pants until you remove your wet swimming suit with dry clothes. This particular property is called "diaper rewet", and it measures how much liquid return to the surface. A cloth diaper does not even come close to a disposable in terms of its rewet. No cloth diaper feels as dry to the skin as a disposable diaper.

I believe on the benefits of the disposable and adult incontinence diaper, however, I am not satisfied with our improvements and I still feel bad about it. I feel bad about using my car, my air conditioning equipment and so on, and I still use them, I can do little about it, in the case of the disposable diaper, I can be a factor. We will continue to work on a better and even more environmentally friendly product. ........

Carlos Richer

Durban beachfront accommodation next to Ushaka marine world Bloemfontein Accommodation

Please note: The images may be different from the actual products.