Believe it or not, disposable nappies are made from wood and plastic! The main body of nappies are made from pastics and are held together with glue. The clever part of a nappy is the absorbent pad which is made from a mix of wood pulp and 'super absorbent polymers'. The absorbent part is a chemical called Polyacrylate and is capable of absorbing 30 times its own weight of liquid. When Polyacrylate crystals absorb wetness, they expand into a gel which is how they manage to keep our baby's wetness in. Incidentally, this same material is used to create artifical snow and is sometimes added to soil to increase water absorption, particularly in the cultivation of potted plants.
Some nappies are made specifically for girls or boys and these are slightly more absorbent at the points that tend to get wettest - for boys this is at the front while for girls, this is towards the middle and back.
Disposable nappies have long been criticised for being environmentally unfriendly. These days they do break down in landfill but the process is still extremely slow but at least Polyacrylate prevents content from leaching from landfill sites which is one of the dangers of other disposed chemical products. The other point about the environmental impact of dispoable nappies is the amount of energy that they consume during manufacture and transport to market - far higher than for reusable equivalents.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers are for ever playing around the place and one day will inevitably get themselves a splinter. Most can be brushed away or removed with a pair of tweezers or long finger nails. However, if it needs a bit more attention, here are some pointers.
- If it's sticking out - Sterilize a pair of tweezers and wash your hands before you start. Give lots of encouragement and reassurance to your child. Try and get hold of the splinter at the base (where it comes out of the skin) hold tightly and pull out. If it doesn't come out easily, don't force it as it might break and remain inside.
- If it's not sticking out or has broken inside - Sterilise a needle with a flame and cool. Soak the area in warm water, and use the needle to create a slit in the skin and carefully remove the splinter. It won't hurt, but the idea of it may scare your child, so give lots of encouragement and perhaps get someone to help hold your child still while you do it.
- If it's a big one! - If it's big, or curved, or glass you should take your child to the doctor.
- If it's a little one - You may find that leaving the splinter alone it will eventually work loose and fall out itself. Try washing in warm water a few times a day.
If it gets infected
If it seems swollen, red or pussy, you must take your child to the doctor and make sure that your child's immunisations are up to date.
How to prevent splinters
- Make sure your child keeps shoes on in the garden and wears slippers indoors if you have wooden floors.
- If you break a glass use a vacuum and clear up all the tiny fragments carefully.
- Keep away from garden sheds and any other wooden items in the garden that are not sanded down.
- Be aware of wooden edges to pathways or climbing equipment at the playground that may be damaged.
Whilst a splinter can be rather painful, most of the time the pain subsides as soon as the foreign body has been extracted. Take care.