Finding the right diaper

Aug 23, 2010 at 12:45 a.m. ET

You wouldn't think a little thing like choosing the right diaper for your baby could be such a huge decision, right? But the dizzying amount of diaper options out there is enough to make a new mom's head spin! Take a deep breath – we've got the guide to help you find the right diaper for your baby.

Diaper change


The big positive when it comes to conventional disposable diapers is, of course, convenience. They hold a somewhat shocking amount of...well, you know, and you don't have to worry about washing to reuse them. And, according to Pediatrician Tracey Drummond, M.D., of East Scottsdale Medical Care, "The advantage of disposable diapers is they keep the skin dryer so baby is less prone to rash."

To be most effective, a disposable diaper needs to fit properly, so follow the size guide given on the box (generally by weight). If the diaper is too big, it could leak; if it's too small, the elastic at the legs could squeeze baby too tight and possibly cut off circulation. If you notice red lines or creases where the diaper hugs baby's legs and waist, it may be time to move to the next size up.

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When you think of cloth diapers, you may think leaks, messes, and just general ewww, right? But these are not your mom's cloth diapers! The old school cloth diaper of yesteryear has given way to a brand new cloth diaper "system" that combines a three-panel diaper with a super absorbent center panel and a diaper cover with Velcro fasteners (buh-bye diaper pins!), which help prevent leaks while offering a comfortable fit.

Best yet, diaper services are the newest thing in cloth diapering, according to Drummond. These professional laundering services "rent" cotton diapers to families (you may choose the number of diapers that you contract out), delivering clean diapers, then picking up the dirty ones on a weekly basis. The services use a special formula to launder the diapers to eliminate any soiling and odor. Check out for more details and to find a diaper service in your area.

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There are several brands of diapers that combine the convenience and effectiveness of a disposable with the environmental awareness of a cloth diaper – enter the diaper hybrid. Diaper systems (like gDiapers) utilize a 100 percent biodegradable refill or a soft and fitted gCloth insert within soft, cotton, (and don't forget cute!), "pant" that looks like a pair of stylish bloomers. The biodegradable gRefill insert for the gDiaper breaks down in less than 150 days.

When you are making your diaper decision, note that you must decide what works best for you and your baby. Drummond adds that all babies get diaper rash at some point or another, regardless of the kind of diaper you choose. She suggests always using a barrier protection product (like Desitin or Boudreaux's Butt Paste) and allowing baby to "air dry" for a few minutes each day. "It's amazing what a little fresh air can do," she notes. Just try to plan this time after baby has gone to the bathroom!

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