Picking the right diapers for your baby can be a daunting task. There are so many brands and types to choose from that it’s hard to know where to start.
Some parents spend a fortune on diapers to end up with a baby who is irritable, uncomfortable and cranky!
As babies can’t convey their feelings, it’s up to parents to figure out their little one’s needs.
You know you’re going to need diapers and lots of them, but how do you decide which kind to use?
While the primary choice is between cloth and disposable, you have many options within both categories, from ultra-convenient disposable diapers—complete with a wetness indicator strip—to high-end reusable diapers in adorable designs.
Get ready to absorb some diaper basics!
Whether you’ve just brought your newborn home or think you’re going wrong with diapering, we’ve got you covered!
Our diaper-buying guide will help you pick the diaper packet that is just right for you and your little one.
Newborn babies can produce 10 to 12 dirty diapers each day, decreasing to six to eight diapers during toddlerhood.
Given all of that pee and poop, it’s vital to find the right fit for your little one. You certainly don’t want leakage from a too-loose waistband or too-tight leg holes!
But unfortunately for new parents, there’s no universal measurement guide for diapers.
Sizing varies between each infant—just like it does for clothes and shoes—and depends on weight instead of age.
For a general breakdown, check out our diaper size chart before heading to the store.
Choosing the Right Diaper Size
Over their diaper days, your baby will go through many different sizes.
They’ll probably start with “Newborn” diapers, which generally accommodate infants up to 10 pounds.
Premature babies weighing less than 6 pounds might need “Preemie” diapers, offered by some brands like Huggies.
Some parents like a diaper with extra stretch that will accommodate a newborn’s rapid growth.
You may also want to choose a style with a U-shaped hole cut out to make umbilical cord care easier.
Since newborns make small messes and get changed very frequently, absorbency isn’t a huge issue.
As your baby grows and becomes more active, their diapering needs change. They’ll start graduating to different sizes; most brands make diapers in size 1 through size 6.
Finding the ideal fit is significant after starting solids around 5-8 months since messier diapers require minimal leakage.
Indeed, as the size becomes more extensive, the diapers will have more absorbent materials, says Tricia Higgins, a spokesperson for Pampers.
Most kids remain in diapers until they’re between ages 2 and 3. Your toddler will constantly be on the go at this stage, so look for diapers with strong tabs and plenty of stretches.
Also, make sure to change the diaper often to avoid diaper rash, which can flare up when your kid is in motion.
Note that some brands even make size seven diapers for toddlers over 41 lbs.
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Baby Diaper Size Chart
While sizing varies between different manufacturers, this diaper sizing chart can serve as a guide.
Of course, parents should try multiple brands and styles to find what works best.
Newborn Diaper Size: 10 pounds and under
Size 1: 8 -14 lbs
Size 2: 12-18 lbs
Size 3: 16-28 lbs
Size 4: 22-37 lbs
Size 5: 27-35 lbs
Size 6: 35 lbs and over
Size 7: 41 lbs and over (Made for older toddlers, size seven diapers are sold by some brands).
As you may notice, some baby weights overlap between two different sizes. In this case, consider your baby’s body type when picking out diapers.
A slimmer and longer baby may benefit from the smaller size, for example, while a chubbier baby will fit best in the bigger size.
Finding the best diaper size might take a bit of trial and error as your child grows.
Diaper Buying Guide for New Parents
Picking diapers may be confusing, with various brands competing for your attention.
You may be tempted to pick up the first one you see; however, keep in mind that it may not be the correct choice for your little one’s bottoms.
So, what should a new parent look for in a diaper? We’ll tell you.
This is the first and most important of all the other criteria.
Reputed brands that have been in the diaper manufacturing business for a long should be opted for rather than the local, unheard-of ones.
These companies possess expertise and conduct research to develop newer and better features, which leads to our next point.
Once you’ve decided on a few good brands, it’s time to check whether they have the following features:
The diaper should be able to absorb a lot of pee and poop without leaking or becoming saggy.
A leaky diaper can cause the baby’s skin to contact the wetness, thus leading to irritation and diaper rashes.
Wetness Indicator Lines
Nowadays, brands like Huggies have come out with diapers having wetness indicator lines.
These are white lines that turn yellow when the diaper becomes fully soiled. It’s a handy feature as it helps moms check the wetness of the diaper and change it immediately.
Softness and Breathability
As your baby’s skin is delicate and sensitive, the diaper’s material is of prime importance.
Ensure that the diaper is made from a soft and breathable material so as not to restrict airflow to your baby’s bottoms.
Stretchability and Fit
Another essential feature you should look for in the diaper is stretchability. It should be stretchy enough to comfortably fit your little one without leaving any creases and marks on the skin.
Baby Size or Weight
Diaper sizes work differently for babies depending on their weight, so it’s best to get your baby weighed before going on a diaper-buying spree.
She will need bigger-sized diapers every few months, so avoid stocking up on one size. Go for the next size only if the diaper has become too tight for your baby.
Buying as and when one packet gets used up will save money and the hassle of unused diaper packs lying around.
All babies are unique and so are their peeing and pooping habits. Your baby will most likely pee and poop frequently throughout the day.
This is why a durable and highly absorbent diaper like Huggies Ultra Soft Pants is recommended to prevent her from dampness and diaper rash.
Knowing your baby’s pooping habits will help you estimate how many diapers you will need in a month and the amount you would likely spend on them.
A high price doesn’t always translate to excellent quality, so we recommend that you look at the features rather than the price tag.
A helpful tip – buy the most miniature packs of two or three diaper brands and try them on your little one. Once you note the product that suits her delicate skin, you can go for bigger value packs.
If your baby has sensitive skin, the first worry on your mind would be, “What if my baby gets a diaper rash?”
Popular belief has it that cloth diapers don’t cause rashes, but that’s not always true. Diaper rash can be caused by any moisture that’s sitting around in your baby’s diaper area.
You can keep diaper rash away by choosing disposable diapers that have been medically tested to keep your little one’s bottoms rash-free.
Caring for a newborn is nothing short of a challenge for new parents, given the sleepless nights and never-ending feeds.
In such a situation, disposable diapers provide the ultimate convenience and hygiene as they don’t need to be washed, unlike cloth diapers.
Choosing the correct diaper is one of the most important decisions you will make as a new parent.
Diaper Buying Basics
Here’s the bottom line on covering a baby’s bottom: While some baby items are one-time costs, diapers will be needed until your little one is fully potty-trained.
And your diapering needs and preferences may change over the years as your little one grows and your family transitions—while you may love cloth diapers for baby number one, disposables may be a better fit for your family when baby #2 arrives (or vice versa!).
The diaper years are a marathon, not a sprint, so use this complete guide to diaper buying basics to guide you to the finish.
Here’s the bottom line on covering a baby’s bottom: While some baby items are one-time costs, diapers will be needed until your little one is fully potty-trained.
The two main categories of diapers are disposable diapers and cloth or reusable diapers. Here’s what you’ll find in each category.
Types of Disposable Diapers
Disposable diapers are made from layers of synthetic materials (typically polyethylene and polypropylene, the same materials found in plastic wraps and bags and considered perfectly safe), sandwiching a core layer of super-absorbent polymer, usually sodium polyacrylate, a nontoxic compound that can absorb many times its weight in liquid.
Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers:
You’ll find a wide variety of eco-friendly disposable diapers designed to be free of chlorine, fragrances, latex, and petroleum-based lotions. Some green disposables may also be biodegradable or include layers made from biodegradable or renewable materials. And a few eco-friendly diaper brands even use a percentage of proceeds to support environmental causes.
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Types of Cloth or Reusable Diapers
Flats and Prefold Cloth Diapers:
These fabric rectangles (made from cotton, flannel, or bamboo) are similar to your grandma’s diapers on her little ones.
Diapering a baby with one of these no-frill nappies takes a bit of practice and a few cloth diaper accessories: You need to fold the cloth just so to fit your baby’s bottom, fasten it with separate snaps or pins, then cover it with a waterproof diaper cover to avoid leaks.
What to consider: While flats and pre-folds aren’t the most high-tech or convenient choice (especially when you’re still brushing up on your cloth-diapering basics), they’re the cheapest cloth diapers around.
You’ll also need to buy several cloth-diaper covers, available in materials ranging from waterproof polyester to organic wool.
Prefold cloth diapers, which are smaller than the unfolded variety, can also be used inside of a pocket diaper (see below) and are the type most commonly used by diaper delivery/laundering services.
Contoured Cloth Diapers:
Contoured diapers have an hourglass shape that’s meant to fit your baby’s bum better. Like flats and pre-folds, you still have to fasten them with separate snaps or pins and use a waterproof diaper cover.
What to consider: No folding’s required when you opt for contoured diapers, and because they’re slimmer than pre-folds, they dry faster, which can cut down on your electric bills.
Just remember, even if they fit more snugly, contoured cloth diapers can still leak, and you have to buy larger sizes as your baby grows.
Fitted Cloth Diapers:
Fitted diapers look a bit like cloth versions of the disposable kind of diapers and have built-in snaps, hooks, or Velcro (instead of sticky tabs) to fasten around your baby.
What to consider: Thanks to the elastic around the waist and legs, these diapers fit more securely than pre-folds or contoured cloth diapers, which means fewer leaks.
You still have to use a separate waterproof cover, though, and like contoured diapers, you’ll need to buy multiple sizes as your little one grows.
All-In-One Cloth Diapers:
These waterproof shells come in various colours and patterns and contain a removable absorbent pad that can be flushed or washed.
All-in-ones have elastic around the waist and legs, as well as built-in snaps, hooks, or Velcro fasteners.
Plus, there’s no need for a separate cover because the waterproof material is sewn right over the absorbent cloth lining on the inside of these cloth diapers (that’s why they’re called all-in-ones).
What to consider: All-in-one diapers are the way to go if you don’t want to deal with folding diapers or using separate covers — which means they’re also ideal for caregivers and family members who haven’t been schooled in cloth-diapering basics.
But keep in mind they’re pricey. Washing and drying them can also be more time-consuming (and expensive) because of their multiple layers.
These waterproof covers have an inner cloth lining and a pocket (inside the inner lining) that holds a folded cloth diaper or insert.
These diaper inserts, or liners, come in disposable, flushable and washable varieties.
What to consider: The separate insert makes for a quicker drying time, plus it’s much easier to adjust to your baby’s needs (you can add extra liners to increase absorbency as needed overnight or for naps).
All-In-Twos or Hybrid Diapers:
These diapers are very similar to pocket diapers, except the diaper insert goes directly against your sweetie’s skin (you either snap or lay it in).
That way, you can change out the insert instead of changing the entire diaper.
What to consider: The separate “soaker” insert may seem less convenient, but it makes for easier diaper changes. Diaper duty is a cinch when you’re just replacing a dirty insert with a clean one.
Another plus: Separating that layer from the rest of the diaper makes for faster drying — and lower energy costs.
Cloth Diaper Accessories
If you’ve decided to go the cloth route, you’ll also want to stock up on cloth diaper gear.
Here’s the lowdown on what you need.
How many cloth diapers to buy: Whether you’re using pre-folds, all-in-ones, or a combo platter, you’ll need to have about 30 to 36 cloth diapers in your baby’s size.
Newborns need an average of 14 diaper changes a day, which means you’ll be washing diapers about every two days.
(Want to do laundry less often? Buy more diapers. But again, don’t go crazy stocking up. You might decide it’s not so easy being green, or you may need a different style.)
If you’re not using all-in-ones all the time, consider buying a few: They’re super-convenient when you’re out and about.
Cloth Diaper Covers:
With all-in-one cloth diapers, the covers are included, but if you are using separate cloth diapers and covers most of the time, then you’ll need about six diaper covers.
That’s because covers don’t need to be tossed into the cloth diaper pail every time you change your baby — you’ll probably need to change the body only every third diaper or so.
Cloth doublers are fabric inserts that provide extra protection, no matter which type of cloth diaper you’re using (even pocket diapers).
While doublers are great overnight and during long naps, they add bulk and restrict mobility, so they’re not so hot when your baby’s awake.
Liners are biodegradable, flushable sheets of paper that fit any cloth diaper.
Liners don’t provide extra protection, but they make cleanup more accessible, especially once your baby’s eating solids and his poop becomes stickier and harder to get off the diaper.
You don’t really need flushable paper liners, but they’re inexpensive, so buy a pack and see how you like them.
Cloth Diaper Pail:
When it comes to stashing dirty nappies, any covered trash can do, but smell-wise, the tighter the lid fits, the better.
For a smell-buster booster, sprinkle a little baking soda in your cloth diaper pail to absorb the odour. (And clean that pail early and often.)
Liners for a Cloth Diaper Pail:
Many moms find that putting a removable, waterproof liner in the cloth diaper pail makes it easier to carry their dirty nappies to the washing machine (and liners keep the bucket less messy, too). Look for washable liners so that you can dump them into the device along with the diapers.
If you’re using pre-folds and other cloth diapers that don’t have built-in fasteners, you’ll need to stock up on either pins or snaps.
Try a few different kinds to see which type is the easiest for you to master.
Many cloth-diapering mamas like to go green with cloth wipes (you can even make your own out of old T-shirts), but you can also use disposables.
One way to feel better about disposable wipes is to buy the box just once, then refill it with minimal-packaging inserts.
Cloth Diaper Detergent:
Your choice of cloth diaper detergents will depend on the type of fabric diaper you use, with different organic cotton, hemp, and wool formulas.
In general, though, steer clear of soaps and additives like dyes, perfumes, and fabric softeners.
Why? They can affect the diaper’s fit and ability to wick water away from your baby’s bottom, plus they can be irritating to sensitive skin.
Use a dab of non-chlorine bleach to treat stubborn stains, and then wash with your usual cloth diaper detergent. (Some moms swear that letting diapers dry in the sun makes stains disappear.)
Your little one will most likely spend a few years in diapers, so it makes sense to think about choosing diapers that are healthy and safe.
If you choose cloth diapers, you’ll be reassured to know that we’ve come a long way since the days of two-inch-long safety-pin fasteners—no need to fear finger pricks!
And if you’re going for disposables, you’ll be glad to know that today’s disposable diapers are designed for safety and comfort—and in the case of eco-friendly diaper brands, not just baby’s security but the Earth’s as well. Here’s what to know about diaper safety.
Wet diapers cause rashes and irritation: When it comes to diapers, your only genuine safety concern is diaper rash.
Prolonged exposure to wetness and the natural acids in pee and poop can seriously irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. Frequent diaper changes are the best way to prevent diaper rash.
Cloth and disposable diapers are equally safe—as long as baby’s change regularly.
With cloth diapers, babies can feel when their diaper is wet—and will almost certainly let you know, too.
That means more frequent changes, which should mean less risk of diaper rash. With disposables, the liquid is locked away in an absorbent core, and babies don’t feel wetness, which significantly lowers the risk of diaper rash.
Disposable diapers are made from safe materials: Worried about what goes into your baby’s disposable diapers?
Don’t be. Disposable diapers are indeed marvels of modern engineering, but nothing inherently harmful in the materials used to make them.
Most disposable diapers (both eco-friendly and traditional) contain a core layer of sodium polyacrylate to suck in moisture and pull it away from the baby’s skin.
While it is a chemical substance, it is nontoxic and safe, and studies have shown that few babies have allergic reactions.
Lotions or fragrances are safe but unnecessary: Some disposable diaper brands layer in aloe, cream, or a mild fragrance.
While these are considered safe, some babies (and parents) may be allergic or sensitive to these kinds of additives.
If you find that your baby’s skin is sensitive, you may want to look for diapers that are chlorine-free, fragrance-free and dye-free.
Most cloth diapers fasten without sharp pins. If the thought of securing a squirmy little one’s diaper with a safety pin makes you nervous, you’re not alone.
But cloth diaper fasteners have evolved since your grandmother’s time and now range from sticky-tape or Velcro-style closures to snaps and grips.
Of course, if you’re comfortable using diaper pins, those are still around, too—and with a bit of practice, you may find yourself a pro!
- By the time the baby turns one, you will have changed 2,500 diapers and spent at least $600 on disposable diapers. Eco-friendly disposable diapers add another $500 to $1,000 to your annual diaper budget, depending on the brand.
- Cloth diapering costs more upfront but less over time. You can expect to spend about a third of the cost of disposables, depending on whether or not you use a laundry/delivery service.
- Some parents choose cloth because it’s eco-friendly and can be less expensive, while others like the convenience of disposable diapers. An increasing number of families use a combination: Cloth diapers at home and disposables while on the go.
- Diapers have evolved since your mom’s day! In addition to the different types of disposables (introduced in the early 1970s and rapidly developing ever since), there are now numerous kinds of reusable diapers on the market, including pre-folded diapers, all-in-ones, fitted diapers, contoured diapers, and pocket diapers, plus inserts and liners for added protection. Don’t worry; our guide to diaper buying basics covers everything you need to know.
- Before buying in bulk or signing up with a cloth diaper delivery service, your best bet is to test out a few different brands and styles to see what you and your baby like best.
- Rule number one of diapers, whether you use cloth or disposable: Have enough, but don’t overbuy. Babies outgrow diaper sizes surprisingly quickly, and your diapering needs will change over time.
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