Raising a child requires many decisions—and finding the right diaper is one of them. Our guide will help you balance the costs and benefits of different options to find the right diaper to meet your family’s needs. Keep the following in mind when selecting diapers for your baby:
Diapers are designed to fit children based on age and size. Size tends to be more important, so if your baby is larger or smaller than what is believed to be the "average” size, you may need to pick the diaper a size or two up or down from your baby’s actual age.
Different diaper brands and products have different shapes and one design will not work for all children. If you often struggle with diaper leakage, consider using a gender specific-diaper, which may fit your boy or girl better, or trying a different brand.
Do not leave a diaper on for longer than recommended on the package. Leaving a child in a wet or dirty diaper can lead to diaper rash and skin infections.
Consider your lifestyle. You may like that cloth diapers are more natural and may be more environmentally friendly than disposables, but if you’re a busy mom or you’re on the go a lot, cloth may not be practical.
Diapers do not have to be an all-or-nothing commitment. If you like the idea of using cloth, give it a try, but you may want to keep a few disposables on hand to use in a pinch, such as when you’re traveling.
What they are: There are dozens of brands, sizes, and styles of disposable diapers, which are designed for a single use and then thrown away with the regular trash.
Why to buy: Disposable diapers tend to be the least expensive and for most people they are the most convenient. Different brands offer different prices and options regarding absorbency.
Things to consider: Some parents find high-absorbency, disposable diapers are so effective that they hinder potty training. If a toddler cannot feel that he or she is wet and uncomfortable, it may be harder for the child to make the connection between the urge to go to the bathroom and asking to go beforehand. Disposable diapers are often criticized as being the least environmentally friendly diaper option.
Environmentally Friendly Disposable
What they are: Environmentally friendly disposable diapers are similar to regular disposables, but instead of throwing them in the trash, you can flush them down the toilet.
Why to buy: If you like the convenience of disposables, but are concerned about generating large amounts of trash, environmentally friendly products can be the perfect solution.
Things to consider: Environmentally friendly diapers tend to be the most expensive option. Most brands require that you use a toilet plunger or stick to break up the diaper in the toilet before flushing to prevent toilet clogging. If you live in an older home, the plumbing may not be able to handle flushable diapers.
What they are: Cloth diapers are made from absorbent cotton or other materials and are used, washed, and reused. Cloth diapers can be purchased and washed at home, or you can use a diaper service to take away dirty diapers and deliver clean ones each week.
Why to buy: Many people like that cloth diapers are more natural and may be “lighter” on the environment than disposables. If you purchase the diapers yourself and wash them at home, they can be very inexpensive.
Things to consider: Many people feel cloth is the most environmentally friendly diaper option, but this may be true only if you wash them at home yourself. With a diaper service, energy used to deliver and pick up the diapers has an environmental impact. If you have a big “ick” factor about handling dirty diapers, cloth may not be for you. A newer washer with a “sanitize” cycle will make cloth diapers easier to use. Cloth generally cannot be left on a child as long, because the cloth will not soak up and separate the wetness from your baby as well as disposable diapers.