Choosing diapers

Essential information to rememberMost newborns need frequent diaper changes. So why not make it a fun and enjoyable time for you and your baby?

Photo: France Laliberté

Diapers will be part of your baby’s wardrobe for about two and half years. Disposable or washable diapers? It’s a matter of choice. Opt for the diapers that correspond best to your values, needs, and situation, and to your baby’s skin.

Washable diapers can be less costly than disposable diapers in the long term, but your initial investment will be higher.

Disposable diapers

Disposable diapers contain crystals that convert the urine into a safe gel and separate it from the stools. This eliminates the mix of urine and fecal matter that can irritate your baby’s skin. Some scented disposable diapers can also irritate the skin. If this happens, try another brand.

Disposable diapers should be changed regularly because they can seem dry even if they’re not. The accumulated urine, when in contact with your baby’s skin, can cause irritation.

Washable diapers

There is a wide choice of washable diapers available that are easy to use and clean and that fit your baby’s bottom well.

Washable cloth diapers are less absorbent than disposable diapers so they have to be changed more often. Some brands of washable diapers offer a more absorbent, nighttime diaper or a second, absorbent layer you can insert in the diaper.

To keep the diapers in good condition, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. For example, some suggest you soak them before washing, while others don’t.

Changing diapers

Information to which special attention should be paidMake sure she doesn’t fall! Never leave your baby alone on a changing table. Always keep one hand on her when you have to reach for something. You can also change her on a towel or change pad on the floor.

Whether you use disposable or washable diapers, it’s important to change your baby regularly, and as soon as possible after she poops. Changing her diaper often helps prevent irritation.

To change a diaper

  • Wash your baby’s genitals and bottom with water and soap every time you change her diaper, whether she’s a newborn or older (see Genitals)
    • If you don’t have water and soap handy, use baby wipes (moist disposable towelettes). It’s best to use them only on healthy skin. Opt for unscented types to avoid irritating her skin.
  • Dry her bottom well before putting on another diaper
  • Wash your hands after putting your baby down in a safe place

You don’t need to apply protective cream to prevent irritation. If her skin is irritated, you can apply a layer of zinc oxide ointment (see Redness on the bottom (diaper rash)).