When you figure you will go through approximately 6,000 diapers in the first 2 1/2 years of your baby's life, it makes sense to spend some time focusing on the type of diaper you will use: disposables or cloth diapers you launder yourself.
Environmentalists have raised a lot of questions about disposables because they are not biodegradable and can't be recycled. They also cause a public health hazard, since viruses present in excrement can be spread to those who collect the trash. And after disposable diapers are dumped at a landfill site, viruses can be carried into water supplies.
On a more positive note, disposables do save a lot of work, and they are more convenient. They eliminate the need for plastic pants, and they're much easier to use when traveling. Because there are no pins, family members with less experience in diapering are often more willing to change them.
If you choose to use disposables, here are some guidelines:
- Sample different brands. Start with a variety in the newborn size until you find one that fits well and has the softness and quality you like. Name brands are usually more consistent in quality.
- Don't use brands that clump, shred, or bunch up when wet, since your baby could ingest loose paper pieces.
- Brands that don't allow any plastic to touch the baby's skin are better for preventing rash.
- Once you've found a brand you like, shop around for a good discount, and then buy by the case.
- Inspect each diaper for impurities, discolorations, and foreign materials in the paper padding.
- Use the weight and size charts on the box or bag to determine proper fit. Diapers with elastic legs help prevent leakage. As you fasten the diaper, make sure the leg holes are not too constricting.
- Some disposables supposedly have parts that can be easily flushed. These don't work well. Nonetheless, you should try to flush as much waste from the diaper as possible. Then tightly roll up the diaper so the soiled area is not open to the air, and seal the diaper with diaper tape before throwing it out.
- Line garbage cans with plastic bags, and tie and seal them tightly for disposal. Garbage cans with locking lids are good; they keep curious tots out.
- Most disposables have refastenable tape or Velcro fasteners, which are convenient. However, it may be wise to keep a small roll of strapping or masking tape and safety-tipped scissors handy for times when you need extra adhesive or when you have a diaper with defective tape.
Home-Laundered Cloth Diapers
Buying cloth diapers and washing them yourself is the cheapest way to resolve the diaper dilemma. (Be sure, however, to factor in the time and labor washing takes, as well as the cost of the soap, water, and electricity or the cost of using a coin-operated laundry.)
Cloth diapers are available in a range of fabrics, cuts, and colors. Unlike the flat diapers of the past, which were constructed of a single, large piece of fabric, you may now choose from a variety of diapers, such as pre-fold, fitted, all-in-one (fitted diaper that has a built-in waterproof cover), and pocket (diaper in which an absorbent material is placed in a pocket between a soft material against baby's skin and a waterproof cover).
If the diapers you choose do not have snap or Velcro fasteners, you'll also need diaper pins. In addition, you'll need diaper liners for extra absorbency at night and waterproof covers. When washing cloth diapers, be aware that fabric softener, bleach, and even some detergents can irritate a baby's skin.
If you choose not to wash your baby's diapers, diaper services are convenient. Diaper services pick up dirty diapers and drop off clean ones.Diapering Hazards
Regardless of which type of diaper you use, you'll inevitably run into diaper rash. It's caused by a combination of moisture, warmth, and contact between the skin and irritants in urine and stool. Plastic or rubber aggravates it; cool, dry air makes it better. So be sure to change your baby's diaper as soon as possible after it becomes wet or soiled. And, whenever feasible, let your baby's bottom air dry.
Another diaper danger is the substances that your baby may eat or inhale during diapering. Usually what happens is that the person diapering hands the baby something to hold for entertainment, or the baby grabs it himself. The baby then ingests or inhales the baby powder, the ointment or cream, or the baby wipes. Symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, choking, shortness of breath, and vomiting. It's important to keep these products away from the baby while diapering.
Diaper pins carry with them the danger of a puncture injury to your baby. When diapering, always be sure to keep your finger between the pin and the baby's skin to avoid an accidental stabbing. Most accidental injuries occur when the pins get dull and the diaperer uses extra pressure to get the pins through the diapers. Occasionally sticking the pins in a bar of soap or petroleum jelly helps, but you should discard and replace dull pins and pins that show signs of rusting.
The best pins are those with safety locks that snap down over metal latch sections. Buy several pairs. Avoid diaper pins that have plastic tops in decorative shapes. These are unsafe because the plastic eventually becomes brittle and chips off, exposing the sharp edge of the pin.
Regardless of what type of diaper you opt for, you will still have to answer the question of clothes. We'll examine baby clothes in the next section.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.