Helpful Information about Diapers, Sizing, and More!
From diapers to door locks there is a lot to learn about as a new parent. In this post we take a look at diapers, something new parents will spend a lot of time buying, changing, and possibly cleaning (if you go the reusable route). Typically, as a new mom you learn everything you need to know about diapers from a mix of googling, shopping, talking to other moms, and of course, changing them. But we’ve tried to shorten that learning curve and give you everything you need in one easy post. Favorite this one and email it to a pregnant or new mom friend so that you have it both now and as a future reference!
One growing trend that we’ve noticed, is that there are more options than ever for diapering your baby. Many of these options involve more health and environmental conscious choices, such as: removing dyes, fragrances, and synthetic materials.
While we are a team of experienced moms, we realize that we might have missed a trick or two, so if you see that something is missing, let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to update the post!
Types of Diapers
More types of diapers are available now than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily make choosing the right one for our family easier. If anything, more choices means more research, and a bigger decision to make. During baby's first year, plan on going through an average of 2,200-2,800 diapers! That’s a lot of dirty diapers and an expensive investment, so make sure you’re factoring cost, environmental impact, and lifestyle when making your decision. Below, we break your options down into three main categories to help make choosing the right type and brand easier for you.
The majority of moms today opt for disposable diapers. They are easy to use, generally hygienic, and save time. There are a number of different options from your name brands like Pampers and Huggies as well as white-labeled brands offered by big stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and even Target. These diapers come in a range of sizes and have different features, such as wetness indicators, fragrance free, sensitive skin formulas, and more, which we’ll cover in more detail later.
The downside to disposable diapers is their environmental impact. They take a long time to break down in landfills and also use many harmful chemicals in their production. With more new moms looking for environmentally friendly products, many are ditching disposable diapers for the next option, cloth and reusable diapers.
Cloth and Reusable Diapers
Reusable diapers are making it big today for a couple of important reasons. The first is the obvious environmental impact. By choosing reusable diapering solutions, moms save thousands of diapers from hitting the landfill. While they require a little bit more of an investment up front, the second big reason moms choose cloth and reusable diapers is that they save money in the long run.
The downside or turn off to using reusable diapers is the cleaning. This can seem daunting or gross to some moms. However, there are lots of online resources, communities, and tools available dedicated to help make this sustainable option more feasible. Check out some great introductory resources like Diaper Jungle and Jillian’s Drawers to learn more.
To meet some moms in the middle, there are also now diapering solutions that reuse the leakproof outer layer, and use disposable inserts to cut down on the waste. gDiapers offer a flushable insert to their reusable diapers making it easier than ever to be sustainable in your childrearing. Depending on the diaper mess, the inserts can even be composted (urine only)!
With the advent of subscription services for just about everything, you can now get even your diapers delivered conveniently to your doorstep based on whatever schedule works best for you. Say goodbye to late night runs to Target! Abby and Fynn, Dyper, Honest, and Hello Bello are just a few options to have diapers conveniently delivered. These services allow you to easily change your size, quantities, and frequency based on your growing baby’s needs.
How to Change a Diaper
You’ll want to have a few things handy when it comes to changing diapers. A safe place to put your baby, whether that’s a foldable changing pad on the floor or a diaper changing table, is the most important. As babies explore their world, they will move and potentially roll. Therefore, we cannot stress enough how important it is to never leave your baby unattended on an elevated changing surface. It’s not a matter of if your baby will roll over, but when.
Then, of course, you’ll need all the supplies: diapers, wipes, and the optional diaper cream or powder. Having these within arms reach is also very helpful as the diaper change often becomes a round of baby wrangling, especially when your little one gets older.
To change your baby’s diaper, undress them from the waste down. Undo the fasteners, and using the top part of the diaper, wipe downward from front to back. This will help reduce the amount of mess you need to clean and cut down on the number of wipes used.
If you've just fed your baby, you'll want to minimize the amount of time and how high you lift their bottom during a change. Elevating their stomach can cause milk to flow backwards, out of their stomach causing them to spit up.
Another helpful step is to identify the leak guard that runs down either side of the diaper and turn this outward. This will help to protect against leaks around your babies legs.
Changing a Newborn’s Diaper:
When you first bring your baby home from the hospital, the stump of their umbilical cord will still be healing. When putting a new diaper on your newborn, be sure to keep the diaper from covering up or rubbing against the umbilical cord stump. Some newborn diapers are shaped to help you keep this area uncovered, while others you’ll simply want to fold down the top of the diaper and then fasten it.
Pro Tip: Take a wipe, which are usually cool and gently wipe it across the skin at the top of their diaper. The cold wipe mimics the cold air which is what can typically cause babies to pee during a diaper change. This can help cut down on accidents during diaper changes. And believe us, they not only happen, but babies can get some distance.
When using wipes, start from the front and work towards your baby’s bum. It will reduce the chance of spreading bacteria to her vagina. Newborn girls can have a bit of white “gunk” for lack of a better term over or around their labia. Don’t wipe this away as it is natural and protective.
When baby boy’s penis is exposed to the air, there’s a good chance, especially in the early days, that your little boy will spring a leak mid diaper change. As soon as you unfasten the diaper, place a wipe, clean diaper, or other diaper changing accessory over them, you can help to avoid a mess mid change. When diapering a boy, it's helpful to point their penis down, into the diaper to help avoid leaks. This is especially true in the early days of a newborn's life.
When to Change a Diaper
There’s a good chance that your baby will let you know when they need their diaper changed either through smell (ha!), increased fussiness, or irritability. But it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the need to change their diaper. In the beginning, babies typically need diaper changes at least every 1-2 hours. To make life easier, many disposable diapers now have a line down the middle of the diaper that is a wetness indicator. Often this line will start as a pale yellow and turn blue to indicate wetness. Baby’s diaper will also grow in size and volume as it fills. As you grow used to your baby’s schedule and diaper’s performance, you’ll be able to tell when they need to be changed.
Babies bellies tend to be wider than their waist, where diapers fasten. Bellies swell when they're full and shrink when they're empty so going by sight isn't always helpful. You'll want to make sure they fit snugly, but aren't too tight. A good test is to fasten the diaper and then try to insert your finger into the waist band. If you can just get you finger in, you should be in good shape.
What You'll Need to Change a Diaper
Many nursery sets come complete with a freestanding diaper changing table. While some parents opt to use a bed, other furniture, or even the floor, these freestanding changing aids can help save your back and keep you organized. Some baby dressers will also double as a changing table by providing a place to affix a diaper changing pad. Other parents will choose to convert a dresser or other piece of furniture to serve this function.
Regardless of what option you choose, a designated, safe place to change baby’s diaper is a very functional spot for parents as it will make changing them that much easier. Your child will also get to know this space, and laying them here may calm or soothe them. Changing your baby’s diaper is a great bonding experience for both of you. Your baby will at first begin to recognize you and the space, and then over time, interact with you. Diaper changes will go from something you have to do, to something you both look forward to.
Foldable changing pads are great options for your diaper bag. In fact, most diaper bags come complete with a changing pad. This keeps your baby clean, provides a comfortable space on which to change them, and can help protect your car, or the floor of your friend or family’s house from potential messes.
Yes, even with something as seemingly simple as a baby wipe there are numerous options to choose from. You can find wipes with or without fragrance, wipes made mostly from water, and even wipes with special formulas for sensitive skin. Every baby skin is different. We suggest trying a few different types of wipes out to find what your favorite kind is before heavily investing in one type.
No one likes to be woken up in the middle of the night by something cold touching their tush. To help moms avoid the midnight crying that can be caused from cold wipes, some companies offer wipe warmers. The jury is still out on these accessories, but many moms are opting to leave these off of their registries these days.
Diaper Cream (butt paste, and applicators)
You’ll want to change your baby frequently and give baby’s privates plenty of “air time” to avoid red and irritated skin. After removing your baby’s diaper, sing a quick song or play a game of peekaboo to give baby’s sensitive skin a chance to breathe.
Even with frequent changes and diaper-free time, your baby’s sensitive skin can still experience painful irritation. Diaper rash cream is a great way to help soothe and heal your baby’s bottom. There are lots of great options out there, from petroleum-based to zinc-oxide-based to more generic all-purpose creams with essential oils that can be used to heal a variety of baby boo boos.
With many diaper creams being thicker, a new option for parents and caretakers is a diaper cream applicator. These plastic wands let you protect baby’s bottom without touching the cream which can be hard to wipe off of your fingers.
Yup, while baby powder might have been bigger when we were babies, it is still around and available in many stores. Many health sources for babies say that baby powder is not actually needed. And while asbestos was removed from these talcum based products in the 1970s, inhalation of this powder can still be harmful to babies and adults. Further studies show that regular use of talc based baby powders might have a link to ovarian cancer. Other powders are made from cornstarch but some experts highlight that the main ingredient in these products may cause some diaper rashes (those caused by yeast infections) to get worse. Many healthcare professionals recommend keeping the skin clean and dry and seeking the advice of your doctor for treatment recommendations.
Diaper Hygiene for Parents and Caretakers
It's important to wash your hands before and after a diaper change. While it might make sense to wash your hands after, washing them before might surprise some parents. Washing your hands before can help prevent spreading bacteria which can cause skin irritation or infections for your little one.
Diaper Fit and Sizing
Diapers today come in many different sizes from 0 or Newborn up to size 7. Most diaper brands will have a sizing guide on their packaging or on their website. Sizes are based on weight rather than age. Some babies might progress through the smaller sizes faster than others simply because they are growing faster.
Start with your baby's weight and select a size based on which weight range they fall. If your baby is on the higher end of a size’s weight range, we suggest going up a size. This is helpful when you are buying diapers in bulk and want to maximize the number of diapers your baby can wear in a certain size.
On many diapers there will be a size indicator to help you gauge when you need to move up a size regardless of your baby’s weight. In many disposable diapers this is a blue or red line on either side of the top of the diaper, in the place in which the tabs fasten. When the tabs reach this blue line, your baby might be due to go up to the next size of diaper.
It can be helpful to have a small quantity of the next size of diaper on hand. When you think they might be growing out of their current diapers, you can grab one of these to try on. If you are preparing for a baby shower, or know an expecting parent looking for diapers, it can be really helpful to gift larger sizes of diapers. Just like clothing, expecting parents often receive a ton of newborn sizes. By gifting them a different size you can help them out down the road.
Pro Tip: If your baby is in between diapers, you might be able to continue using the smaller diapers during the day with more frequent changes and the larger size at night to avoid leaks.
We know it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Hopefully you’re now well on your way to becoming a diapering pro. Enjoy these special moments with your baby. Before you know it, you’ll be onto the next step -- potty training!