Which Diaper Should You Use?

If you are raising or caring for a small child, do you know which diaper to use? Here are several types to consider.

Children's products today are changing rapidly, evolving almost by the day to include up-to-date features and designs that parents a generation ago never dreamed of.

But there is one baby product that remains a fixed entity: the diaper. Called "napkins" by the British, these handy items are worn by children from infancy through toddler hood and sometimes during potty training. However, there are many types of diapers to choose from depending on the parents' preference and the child's use:

1. Cloth diapers. Considered largely old fashioned by today's parents, the cloth diaper was made of heavy-duty cotton fabric that was cut into squares, hemmed at the edges, and secured around children by tying or pinning. Sometimes covered by a sheet of hard milky plastic or rubber pants to protect against leakage, cloth diapers are not very absorbent and require frequent changing. That means they must be washed frequently, usually on a daily basis. In the past that daily washing sometimes occurred on a washboard in the bathtub by women who didn't have automatic washers and dryers in their homes. Today, some mothers still prefer cloth diapers because they are made of cotton, which is a more natural substance than plastic or paper. A parent has greater control over diaper quality when using home-made or purchased cloth diapers. The down side is they can sometimes cause more irritation to a baby's sensitive skin, especially if they are not changed often.

2. Disposable diapers. Secured with tape tabs on each side of the hip, disposable diapers are made of a cotton blend that feels like an ultra-thick or multi-layered paper towel. Soft and absorbent, they protect babies' skin from moisture and their clothing from leakage. Disposables come in a bevy of sizes, from newborn, which will still be large on a preemie (or premature infant) to toddler age, about the time a child begins to get potty trained, which for many children is about 2-1/2. The diapers are sized by a child's weight, so know what your infant weighs before attempting to buy diapers at the store. After one use they can be thrown away, hence the term "disposable."

3. A diaper service. For parents who are too busy to worry about changing or buying diapers, you can hire a diaper service. For a set fee each month, the staff will come by your home to a pre-designated location like the porch or front door and leave a fresh pail for depositing the child's soiled diapers in. Then they pick up the full pail or used diapers and take them to the company base for laundering and folding. The hardest part of this set-up is waiting for the delivery person to arrive with new diapers and to take away the used ones. This service works well for those who care to use it.

4. Pull-ups. When your child is ready to start potty training, there are sure to be plenty of accidents, especially at first. That is why you may want her to wear a diaper-underpants hybrid called a pull-up. These pants are made of the same type of product as disposable diapers. But they are shaped like a panty for pulling up and down, thus teaching a child how to maneuver clothing to use the restroom. Pull-ups are also disposable, so when they become soiled, you just wrap them up and place them in a trash bag.

5. Designer diapers. All diaper types come in a variety of colors and styles. You can find brands with cartoon figures, cute animal or toy motifs, or other pictures or themes that will appeal to young children and lessen the repugnance of diaper duty for Mom or Dad. Typically they cost about the same as regular "white" diapers, so you may want to give these a try.

If you are expecting a baby or shopping for someone who is, check out the various types of diapers that are available today and try some that will make this onerous chore a little easier.

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