Diaper Changes and Choices

Options for diapering your baby
By Sarah Sullivan
This article originally appeared in

Disabled Parenting Today, Volume 1 Issue 1, September 1998
Used here with permission.

The average child will have 8,000
diaper changes before being potty trained. For most parents this is a
non-issue but if you have dexterity challenges it is one. The good news
is that there are options in diapering, which make this everyday, all
day, task an easier one.

Basically, there are three diapering
options: disposable diapers, home laundered cloth diapers or a diaper
service. Any one will do the job or a combination works well for most
families. Each option has its advantages and drawbacks.

The most common method of diapering
these days is disposable diapers but not all disposable diapers work
well for parents with dexterity challenges. Most disposable diapers are
kept closed with sticky tabs. These can sometimes be very hard to get
off. The one brand that is easier is Huggies Supreme. They use a Velcro?
type tab, which is easier to open. Of course the major advantage of
disposable diapers is that they don’t require laundering but they do
need to be disposed of so if carrying bags of garbage is a concern it
may be actually more trouble. One factor to keep in mind with disposable
diapers is cost. From birth to potty training, they can add up to
approximately $3,000.

Cloth diapers have come a long way.
There are a lot of choices and styles to choose from. They no longer
have to be pinned (although you still can). Velcro? has revolutionized
the diaper industry and made it very parent friendly. Many parents
prefer an all-in-one diaper that has a built in plastic layer that makes
cloth diapering just as easy as putting on a disposable. There are many
brands such as Kooshies, Baby Love, and Babykins. There are also many
all-in-one diapers that require diaper pants over them to prevent
leaking. Some brands grow with the baby and fit from newborn to 35 lbs.,
others have different sizes for each stage. Of course the more diapers
you have to buy the more expensive it will be.

The other Velcro? option that works
quite well and is cost-effective are prefold diapers and Velcro?
covers. You fold the diaper in thirds and place in the cover, then put
on the baby like a disposable diaper. The best prefolds are Chinese
cotton diaper service quality. There are many diaper covers to choose
from and they come in different sizes for each stage. You need 3-6
covers for each size. Some covers such as the wool covers are quite
costly but there are some very good nylon covers that are much cheaper
and work very well.

Theresa Rodriquez Farrisis, author of a
new book called Diaper Changes, recommends going pinless and foldless
for anyone with a dexterity challenge. Contoured diapers can be used
with Velcro? diaper covers but unlike prefold diapers they require no
folding at all. They can be purchased in different sizes to match the
size of the covers. Smaller sizes can later be used as doublers.

It is a good idea to also purchase some
doublers which are small, thick pads which can be used at night or for
heavy wetters. Liners which keep the urine away from the babies bottom
and allow easy cleaning of bowel movements really make cloth diapering
easy. Some brands are Gerber, Flushybye and Kooshies. They are to be
flushed down the toilet but ones that have just been urinated on can be
laundered and reused several times.

Approximately 3 dozen of each size or
of a one-size-fits-all diaper are needed. Less could be purchased if you
don’t mind washing daily. Depending on the brand, it will cost $300 to
$500. Many parents find good quality cloth diapers for excellent prices
at consignment stores. If the choices seem mind boggling, a good idea is
to purchase samples of a few different styles you are interested in and
try them out before making a large purchase. Also, diapers are a great
idea to ask for as shower gifts. Diaper Changes published by Homekeepers
Publishing (see below for more information) reviews all the different
diapering choices and is a great resource.


Many parents are put off by cloth
diapering because of the laundering chore. But it really isn’t very
complicated. Ms. Rodriguez Farrisi recommends using disposable diaper
liners and then you just toss any soil into the toilet and place the
diaper into a dry diaper bucket. This way diapers will be dirty but not
heavy and wet on wash day. She also suggests using reusable nylon diaper
bucket liners. Then when it is time to wash the diapers you pull the bag
by the cord out of the bucket and carry the bag of diapers to the
washer, not a heavy bucket. The bag can be washed at the same time as
the diapers. It is a good idea to have two bags for each diaper bucket,
one to use and one to wash. Liners also keep the bucket clean, which
means you don’t have to wash it. This would work very well for those
parents in wheelchairs because the bag of diapers could easily be
carried on your lap to the washer. Also, if the diapers are not being
soaked, it makes using a front loading washer much easier.

To wash your diapers set your washer
for a pre-soak, long wash cycle on hot. Use a phosphate-free detergent
and washing soda, Borax, Amaze or an all-fabric bleach. Adding vinegar
to the final rinse helps sterilize and kill the ammonia. You can use a
Downy? ball for the vinegar to save yourself having to catch the final
rinse. Fabric softener is not recommended as it can irritate the baby’s
skin. Chlorine bleach can cause your diapers to prematurely break down.
If your diapers get stained and the other detergent boosters don’t help,
you can do a bleach wash every couple of months. Bleach is also not
recommended on diaper covers or all-in-ones with a plastic barrier. When
the wash is over remove any covers to hang dry (the drier can
prematurely age them) and put your freshly laundered diapers in the
dryer or hang them out in the sun. The dry diapers don’t even have to be
folded just put them in a basket ready for the next change.

There is no need to purchase diaper
wipes. They can be made from small washcloths or cut up towels. Simply
use water to wash the baby’s bottom after each change and throw it in
the diaper bucket with the diaper. If the change table/area is not close
to a sink a small spray bottle of water can be kept with the diaper
changing supplies. Some parents keep some washcloths in a small
container with water and baby oil with their changing supplies.

A good idea is to set up several
changing stations around the house. This could include clean diapers,
wipes, covers, a diaper bucket and any ointment needed. A few special
toys can work wonders at distracting a wiggly baby while changing a

An option, which is the best of both
worlds, is a diaper service. A service supplies all your diapers and
some even supply the diaper covers. They don’t require any soaking, you
just put the used diapers in a plastic bag and twice a week the service
picks up the used ones and brings fresh ones to your home. This means
that there is no soaking, no laundering, no shopping, no lugging dirty
diapers to the garbage and if you don’t have a washer and dryer can be a
real blessing. The pricing is based on how many diapers are used so as
the baby gets older and doesn’t urinate as often the cost goes down. If
a diaper service is used from birth to potty training it would cost
approximately $2,000 which is still cheaper than disposable diapers.

Diapering is one of the areas which
parents have many choices and every family has their own needs. A
combination of all three is also an option, use a diaper service for the
first 4-6 weeks so you don’t have to worry about doing laundry, then use
your preferred cloth diapering system at home and disposable diapers
when out or travelling. There are a lot of good resources out there
which can help with the diapering dilemma and several very good Canadian
companies which sell a wide variety of diapering products. If you have
some first hand tips which you would like to pass on to DPT readers
please write or e-mail us.

  • Bummis

  • Born to Love

  • Baby Love Products Inc.

Internet Web Sites

Diaper Changes
Homekeepers Publishing
FAX: 1-717-279-7348
E-mail: homekeep@ptd.net