Baby Diapers

Diapering is a rite of parenthood that most parents could do without. But keeping your baby in clean, well-fitted diapers is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your little one healthy and happy.

When you were in diapers, your parents may have used the cotton variety, which required safety pins and lots of washing. But today, 95 percent of parents opt for disposables—primarily because they're easy to use.

How to choose Baby Diapers

If you're set on using cotton or cloth diapers, check your phone directory for the number of a local diaper service. 

If, like most parents, you plan on using disposables, keep the following in mind:

Baby Diapers types

Most standard diapers are unisex—fine for boys and girls. As your child gets older, look for gender-specific diapers that provide greater absorbency in the areas most likely to leak—in the front for boys and in the middle for girls.

Basic diapers do the job just fine, but ones marketed as "premium" and "supreme" may offer added features like Velcro fasteners, a more tapered fit, or greater absorbency.

Overnight diapers generally hold more liquid and leak less than regular diapers do. To keep fecal matter out of pools, shop for swim diapers. Training pants, like Huggies Pullups, are made of absorbent, diaper-like material, but feature a continuous waistband that allows them to be worn like underwear. These help ease the transition to underwear for toddlers who are potty-training.

Choosing a baby diaper size

Sizes range from newborn (smallest) to  6. Choosing the right size means knowing how much your child weighs and comparing it to the recommendations on diaper packaging (which you can check online). Size 1 diapers, for example, are recommended for babies 8–14 pounds. Size 6 is for children 35 pounds or more. When your baby's born, buy just a couple of packs, one newborn and one size 1. Then see what size you'll need to stock up on.

What's in a diaper?

Disposable diapers are made of absorbent materials and synthetics that let them soak up more liquid than cloth diapers do:

  • Absorbent materials sop up urine and moisture to keep skin dry and prevent skin irritation. They can be synthetic or natural. One example is polyacrylate, a nontoxic crystalline compound that absorbs moisture and prevents leakage by turning into a gel on contact with urine. Another example is cellulose wood pulp, which makes up absorbent padding.
  • Synthetic materials keep a diaper's shape and prevent urine from leaking out: Polyester forms the waist hooks and prevents diapers from sagging, while polyethylene and polypropylene improve the fit and prevent leaks. Elastic strands made of rubber secure the fit.
  • Some brands offer added ingredients like aloe vera and baking soda to soften and protect your baby's skin. If germs are a concern, look for products, like Drypers-brand diapers, with antibacterial agents.

How to use Baby Diapers

Try these tips to make diapering a pleasant and safe experience for both you and your baby:

  • Change your baby after each urination and bowel movement, and just before bedtime.
  • Wash your hands carefully before and after changing diapers.
  • Clean your baby's skin before putting on a new diaper, and always remember to wipe from front to back, on both boys and girls.
  • Have everything you need within your reach, and out of your baby's reach.
  • Never leave your baby unattended on the changing table.
  • Place the changing table up against a wall to keep the baby from rolling off.

When you're fitting a diaper, consider these questions:

  • Do the fasteners hold well?
  • How well does it prevent leaks?
  • Is the price per diaper reasonable?
  • Will it keep your baby's skin dry?
  • Will the padding wad up? 

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by a licensed physician. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication.

Mother and Baby