How to choose the right diaper.
Welcome to baby diaper basics. Did you know that, by the time your baby is ready for potty training, you will have changed anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 diapers? That said, before we get started, know that your choice will largely be influenced by your lifestyle and needs. Consider your options carefully. I'm here to help however possible.
There are two categories of diapers to choose from -- disposable and cloth -- and each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Take a look, then decide what works best for your lifestyle, needs and preferences.
Disposable: While disposable diapers are more convenient and require less managing than cloth diapers, they are a waste product that ends up in our landfills. So if the environmental impact of your baby's diapers is important to you, this is something to think about.
If you elect to go with a disposable diaper over a cloth diaper, the first step is to pay attention to size. While most babies are very small, U-shaped diapers are the best for cradling their small bottoms. Disposable diapers also come with a convenient cutout for the umbilical cord. This allows for fresh air as this sensitive area is healing. If you opt for a cloth diaper, be sure to fold it so that this area is not covered up. That way, it's exposed to the air -- not to the baby's urine.
As your baby grows, the size of your disposable diapers will also change. As babies get older, their eating and sleeping habits change, too. This affects the type of diaper absorbency you will need -- as well as the frequency with which you will be changing diapers. Do not leave a soiled diaper on for more than four hours. Not only will your baby be uncomfortable and fussy, but you do not want to increase his/her chances of developing diaper rash or other skin irritations.
Cloth Diapers: Generally speaking, cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly. However, they do add to your laundry chores, requiring more of your time and energy. Again, depending on your lifestyle, this may or may not be something to take into account when you make your decision. Fans of cloth diapers will be the first to tell you that the diapers cause fewer diaper rashes compared to disposables -- provided the baby is changed often enough. In addition to washing them, cloth diapers require folding, pins and plastic covers.
On a more positive note, today's cloth diaper styles are more colorful and attractive than those of the past and are considered just as convenient as disposables. Some would even argue that they work better, but until you try both disposable and cloth diapers, you will not know what works best for you.
If you'd like to learn more about the different types of cloth diapers available today, here are a few highlights:
- All-in-Ones / All-in-Twos: Think of these as cloth versions of the disposable diapers. These come as one piece. The distinction is that the All-in-Twos have an extra insert that serves as an absorbent layer, while the All-in-Ones have the insert and outer covering set into a single piece so you're ready to go.
- Fitted Diapers: As the name implies, these are fitted at the edges to help prevent leaks. But be aware that this option requires a diaper cover.
- Flat and Pre-fold: Yes, these are the kind of diapers you think they are -- the old-fashioned kind! They are actually made to be a bit more convenient nowadays, using snaps instead of pins. However, they are not fitted and do require folding. There are always the pre-fold options that offer more cloth and therefore more absorbency. They are by far the cheapest option for cloth diapering. Bear this in mind if cost is a factor in your choice.
- Pocket Diapers: These are similar to the All-in-Twos option, only the inserts go into a pocket vs. sitting in the diaper. The best part is that you can use any natural and organic material as an insert for added absorption and protection.
- One-Size Diapers: The name says it all! These are one-size diapers which you can take from infancy through potty training. For moms with older and younger kids still in the diaper phases, it doesn't get any more convenient than a one-size diaper.
Once you figure out the type of cloth diaper you want to use, also think about what diaper liners and diaper covers you may need.
There are many options out there, so don't get overwhelmed. It's worth taking your time, considering the many diaper changes you will be making in the first year alone. You'll feel really good knowing that you are making a personal decision based on your own lifestyle and needs.