Diapering a baby has changed a lot in the last few decades. Gone are the days when the biggest decisions you had to make were cloth or disposable and whose turn it was. Today’s diaper industry offers an array of styles, features, accessories and gadgets to make the dirty deed easier, cleaner, and more enjoyable.
The first decision you must make is whether you will use cloth or disposable. The following are some questions to ask yourself when deciding how you will diaper your baby:
Which one do you feel more comfortable using?
Which one fits more conveniently in your lifestyle?
Which do you think your baby will be more comfortable in?
Which diaper option fits your budget best?
Do you have a washer/dryer?
Will you have time to wash the diapers?
Can you afford a diaper service?
Once you decide which kind of diapers you will use, stock up ahead of time. On average your baby will go through 10 to 12 diapers each day during the first few weeks; that means you will need three packages of at least 50 diapers to get you started. If you plan to go with cloth diapers, you will need six to ten packs (12 diapers per pack) of pre-folded diaper-service-quality (DSQ) diapers.
About 95 percent of parents choose disposable diapers, making the disposable diaper industry a $3.6 billion-a-year business. This means lots of different styles, features, and prices for you to choose from. Despite the vast selection, all disposable diapers fall into three basic categories, each more costly than the last.
The basic model is thick, bulky, and relatively inexpensive.
The second option is the ultrathin diaper which is often more absorbent, a fraction of the size, plasticized, and easy to fasten with tape closures.
The third, best, and unsurprisingly, the most expensive option is premium diapers which are super-absorbent, and have a cloth-like cover and easily re-closable fasteners.
Disposable diapers come in a wide range of sizes, from preemies (for babies under five pounds) up to a size 5 or extra-large for bigger babies and toddlers. The only way to figure out which diaper works best for you and your child is to experiment. The perfect diaper will absorb about four urinations, and keep wetness away from your baby's skin to prevent irritation and diaper rash. It will also fit your baby well enough to prevent leaks at the waist and legs. Keep in mind that size guidelines mean different things to different brands, so some may fit your baby's body shape better than others. The diaper should also be easy for you to work with and afford in bulk. And don't be afraid to try a generic store brand diaper; finding a good one could save you big bucks over time.
Cloth diapers tend to leak more, but they can save you a significant amount of money if you wash them yourself. However, home washing machines may not sterilize the way commercial units can. The other option with cloth diapers is hiring a diaper service, which is convenient but costly. If you do choose cloth diapers you will need to also purchase plastic pants or diaper wraps, which are made of waterproof laminate between two layers of polyester knit, and Velcro over the cloth diaper to prevent leaks. Another advance in the world of cloth diapers is the pin-less diaper clip. Struggles with sharp, tricky pins are a thing of the past with these plastic, easy-lock clamps that fasten quickly and firmly onto all sizes of cloth diapers.
Another option for those who use cloth diapers is the Kushie All-In-One Diaper. These washable 100% cotton flannel diapers are reinforced with an absorbent middle layer and an outer waterproof barrier for leak protection. An adjustable Velcro waistband provides a secure fit. These diapers fit well and wash and dry easily, and are durable enough to last through several children. The main drawback is the price. They usually come five to a package and run about $50 a package. But if you're planning to have more than one child they are a very cost effective choice.
Diaper liners are a good way to get more mileage out of every diaper (cloth or disposable). They add absorbency and make diaper cleanup a breeze. Simply apply a liner to each diaper and throw it away when wet or soiled. Chemical-free liners help ward off diaper rash by wicking wetness away from your baby's skin, and they also provide added protection for overnight or long car rides.
Don't forget to have a good, all-purpose healing ointment on hand in case diaper rash erupts. If you catch and treat diaper rash early it will leave as quickly as it appeared. A & D Ointment is a favorite among the diaper set. This is a clear petroleum-based ointment enriched with healing vitamins and should not only heal diaper rash quickly, but will protect baby's tender skin from future outbreaks if used regularly. It also works wonders on little cuts and scrapes.
Now that you have a dirty diaper, what do you do with it? Old-fashioned, pop-up-lid diaper pails can be messy, smelly, and unsanitary unless cleaned several times a day. But two new innovations can help you overcome the smell and hassle of dealing with dirty diapers: the Diaper Boss and the Diaper Genie.
The Diaper Boss is a one-handed diaper disposal system that lets you throw away dirty diapers while keeping one hand securely on your baby. The Boss hangs on the changing table or wall for easy access. It has a double-lid system with deodorized bags to hold the diaper and lock in odors. Emptying the Boss is a snap: simply toss the liner bag in the trash.
The Diaper Genie has a wide mouth that lets you slip diapers through to a self-contained bag that you seal off after each disposal. In seconds, the Genie compacts a soiled disposable diaper, wrapping it in a strong layer of scented plastic film. You just insert the diaper into the Diaper Genie, give the lid a twist, and the diaper is sealed and stored in the container base.
Now that you’ve taken care of diaper disposal, here are a few other accessories to make diaper duty safer and more enjoyable: The Diaper Holder by BabySmart is simple in design but essential for baby's safety during diaper changes. This space-saving diaper holder stores diapers in a clear plastic rack so a fresh diaper is always within reach. It clips on to edge of changing table, allowing you to keep one hand securely on your baby during diaper changes.
The next item is more of a creature comfort. The Wipes Warmer, manufactured by Prince Lionheart, keeps wipes toasty warm for your baby. Simply lift the lid, drop in a stack of wipes, and the warmer will heat the wipes to an adjustable, bottom-friendly temperature.
Diapering on the go is made easy with the Fold & Go Changing Kit — perfect for tucking into your purse on a trip to the park or a day of shopping. Two foldout pockets hold diapers and a reusable case for wipes. And there's room to tuck a few small items such as an extra T-shirt or diaper ointment into each pocket. The kit has a sturdy moisture-resistant changing surface and is a snap to clean. A convenient carrying handle will allow you to snap it onto the stroller for easy transport.
The Portable Changing Pad by J.L. Childress ensures germ-free diaper changes whenever you take your baby out in public and is a favorite of dads because it's small enough to fit in his back pocket. It’s fully padded and waterproof and the soft vinyl is gentle on baby's little bottom. The pad opens up to a generous 19 x 14 inches and you can attach diapers or wipes with a clinch strap.
Whether you choose cloth or disposable, high-tech accessories or just the basics, diaper changing time is a great opportunity to interact and bond with your baby, so take the time to play games and sing songs. You may find that your baby looks forward to diaper changing in anticipation of all the fun!