The Ultimate Diaper Buying Guide

Mastering the art of diapering requires proper instruction, and the right diaper changing accessories. Managing the mess can be downright icky at times, but having the correct sized diaper as well as baby wipes that suit your baby's skin needs, makes all the difference. Be prepared for any and all potential diapering dilemmas—there are sure to be a few—by learning more about your diapering options.

Making the Best Diaper Decision

A diaper's duty is to provide leak protection and keep baby feeling comfortably dry, but with three diaper options—disposable, cloth, and hybrid—to choose from, finding the right fit may require a little experimentation. Disposable diapers are made of soft-to-the-touch materials and feature an outer layer and an absorbent inner layer. To ensure a secure fit from birth through the developmental stages, most disposable diaper brands offer a wide range of sizes. While convenient to use, standard disposable diapers cost on average $4,000 per child over a two-year period. You can save money by buying disposables in bulk and shopping during sales.

Cloth diapers, which come in three main types—pocket diapers, all-in-ones, and one-size—are typically made of cotton, wool, and bamboo. They often feature a polyester microfleece or suede cloth liner, as well as an external waterproof outer cover. Fragrance, lotion, and latex-free cloth diapers are a good choice for babies with sensitive skin. Not as convenient to use when away from home, cloth diapers require a bit of work to clean, including: removing waste, pre-soaking prior to laundering, and adhering to a specific washing process. While the average cost for cloth diapering is harder to assess, independent studies show on average savings more than 50 percent when compared to the cost of disposable diapers.

Hybrid diapers, offer the best of both worlds, as they feature a reusable outer cover with a disposable inner liner that can be flushed, thrown away, or composted. Be sure to consider the comfort, cost, and convenience of each type before making your diaper decision.

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Organizing Diapers & Supplies

Diapers, wipes, ointments—oh my! A typical diaper change requires the use of many supplies. Whether you choose to refresh baby's diaper on a pad fastened to a changing table or a portable changing pad on a soft, sturdy surface, you'll want to have your diapering must-haves nearby. Diapers can take up a lot of space in a dresser drawer or on a changing table shelf, so it's wise to invest in a diaper stacker that can be hung from a closet door or wall hook for easy access. If you're constantly on-the-go, you may want to keep a second diaper caddy in the trunk of your car.

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Choosing a Changing Pad & Cover

Protect your baby's tender tush (and your home furnishings) by using a changing pad during diaper changes. If you have the space for a changing table in baby's nursery, or in another area of your home, you'll need to purchase a contoured or flat changing pad to lay on top of the table. Contoured changing pads are curved at the edges to prevent baby from squirming during diaper changes and to contain any escaped mess, while flat pads are typically cushioned for comfort. You should have two changing pad covers that easily slip over most changing pads and tighten around the edges. If you prefer having the flexibility to change baby anywhere, purchase a portable changing pad that features an easy-to-clean surface.

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Picking a Diaper Pail

Once you complete the dirty work of changing your baby's diaper, you need to lock in the stink by tossing your disposable, cloth, or hybrid diaper into an airtight diaper pail. Commonly made of stainless steel or plastic, most diaper pails seal the inserted diaper within a liner inside the pail when the lid is closed, which will keep odors at bay. Be sure to have refillable pail liners handy for when the diaper pail becomes full, or consider a reusable, fabric liner. Due to the size of cloth diapers, you may consider using a waterproof wet bag, which also works well on-the-go. Remember to rinse all cloth diapers, whether in the sink or with a diaper sprayer, to remove waste before placing them in the wet bag, and launder promptly.

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Selecting Baby Wipes Appropriate for Baby's Skin

When changing your baby's diaper, you must thoroughly clean him or her with a baby wipe to avoid skin irritation or infection. Disposable baby wipes come in a few varieties—scented, unscented, and hypoallergenic—yet they're all made of absorbent, non-woven cloth that is saturated with a cleansing solution. Organic, reusable cloth wipes may also be a good option for babies with sensitive skin, as they are composed of 100 percent natural ingredients, and without a wet solution, allowing you to control what cleanser—water, soap, etc.—you use on your baby's bum. You'll find that you use baby wipes not only for diaper changes, but also cleaning your little one's face, hands, and clothing in a jiffy.

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Deciding on Diaper Ointments & Creams

Diaper rash—typically caused by moisture from a diaper left on baby for too long, an allergic reaction, an infection, or chafing—happens. To treat it (and prevent future flare-ups), you'll want to purchase a diaper rash cream or ointment that contains zinc oxide or petroleum. You can utilize the same creams/ointments during regular diaper changes or when the first hint of redness appears. Aside from applying a thick coating of diaper cream to baby's clean, dry bottom, be sure to change your little one as soon as you realize that he or she is wet or soiled. If using cloth diapers, you'll want to avoid diaper creams with zinc oxide, as they prevent the liner from properly absorbing waste. Instead, choose an ointment or cream that contains natural ingredients, such as calendula and essential oils.

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