To help parents choose the diaper that is best for their baby, we have created this ultimate diaper guide, with every little detail you need to consider, and then some.
Choosing a diaper might seem like a simple task, but now more than ever, there are so many different things to consider, and so many choices for parents to make.
The guide will provide you with all the information you need to choose a diaper that suits your baby and your lifestyle best, and all the extras that come with using diapers, such as accessories and alternatives.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about choosing, using, and moving on from diapers!
Table of Contents
What You Need To Know About Diapers
Diapers are not one-size-fits-all. What works for your first baby might not be the best option for your second. You will also find that your baby’s needs change as they grow, and you might have to change the brand or type of diaper they use as time goes by.
Unlike a stroller or a cot, diapers are a continuous expense, and it will be an expense that you should plan for over a good few years.
You will be in it for the long-haul when it comes to diapers, so keep this guide handy, because you never know when you might need some advice on moving up a size, changing diaper brands, or how to start potty training!
What Type Of Diaper Should I Get?
The first decision that parents need to make is the type of diaper they are going to use for their baby. When it comes to diapers, there are three types – disposable, cloth, and organic.
The type of diaper you choose will depend on your preferences, your budget, and your lifestyle.
Here is a bit about each, and their respective pros and cons:
Disposable diapers are the most popular type of diapers used by families across the world. They are wonderfully convenient and you do not have to put up too much of an investment to start using disposable diapers.
A good disposable diaper will prevent leaks and messes and control odors. They are very easy to use when out and about, and you don’t need much else to use disposable diapers, other than a few wipes.
The problem with disposable diapers is that they create a huge amount of waste, as they are not reusable. They also end up costing quite a substantial amount over a few years. The average baby will go through around 2000-3000 diapers in their first 12 months. This cost accumulates quickly.
There is also the chance that the super absorbent polymers (SAPs) found in disposable diapers could cause rashes on your baby’s skin.
You need to weigh up the convenience that disposable diapers bring, against their overall cost and the large amount of waste they create.
Click here to check it out on Amazon.
Pros of Disposable Diapers:
- Convenient to use
- Protection against leaks and spills
- Good odor control
- No big investment upfront
Cons of Disposable Diapers:
- Big expense over time
- Create a large amount of waste
- Absorbent materials in diapers could cause rashes on sensitive skin.
Cloth diapers have been used for centuries and dropped in popularity when disposable diapers were introduced, but they are now back with a force and have been designed to be almost as convenient as disposables, but with less waste created and less money spent over time.
Many parents are now making the move back to cloth diapers, and it is made much easier nowadays thanks to a modern design that makes cloth diapers incredibly easy to use, and not at all the same as how our mothers or grandmothers used cloth diapers.
There is quite a variety of cloth diaper designs to choose from, whether you choose the more traditional square cloth and pins, or choose a cloth diaper that can be buttoned together to be used almost the same as a disposable.
Click here to view this product on Amazon.
Pros of Cloth Diapers:
- Creates less waste
- While large investment at first, much cheaper than disposable diapers overtime
- Do not contain chemicals or SAP’s which could cause rashes
Cons of Cloth Diapers:
- Not as convenient as disposable diapers
- Higher upfront investment than disposable diapers
- You have to wash the liners and cloth covers often
[Looking for more information on cloth diapers? Please see Cloth Diapers: Everything You Need to Know.]
The new player in the diaper market is organic diapers. Organic diapers are made from natural, plant-derived materials and tend to be softer and gentler on your baby’s skin. They are hypoallergenic and do not contain harsh chemicals.
Organic diapers are becoming more popular as more of us are becoming aware of the footprint we leave behind on earth, but they are considered a luxury, as their price is still considerably higher than the average disposable diaper.
Check it out on Amazon.
Pros of Organic Diapers:
- Natural materials which are safer for your baby’s skin
- Leave less of a waste footprint
- Better for the environment overall
Cons of Organic Diapers:
- More expensive than cloth and disposable diapers
- The liners might not be as effective at absorbing liquids as disposable diapers.
[Want to know more about organic diapers? Read Everything Parents Need to Know About Organic Diapers]
What Brand Of Diaper Should I Choose?
If you have decided to go the disposable diaper route, your next decision would be which diaper brand to use.
While there are many diaper brands on the market, there are a few that are recognizable to most, which are the most trusted and loved brands by parents.
Here is a quick review of these, to help make the decision a little easier for you
Huggies are a popular disposable diaper brand that most parents start off with. They have an extensive diaper line for all the stages and needs your baby will go through.
When compared to other leading diaper brands, Huggies are not considered the most absorbent or the most comfortable, but this does not mean that they do not perform well.
Most parents love using Huggies during the daytime, as the diapers help to prevent leaks and messes, no matter how much your little one moves around. The contoured and snug fit keeps leaks in check, while not feeling bulky at all.
Check out product on Amazon.
Pampers are considered premium disposable diapers by many who use them, but still considerably affordable. Pampers have a large range of diapers available, with different product lines for parents to choose from, according to a baby’s age and needs.
Pampers diapers are great for nighttime and work well to prevent leaks and overfills while your baby sleeps. The diapers keep your baby drier for longer and stops them from waking up sopping wet in the middle of the night.
The material used to make the Pampers diapers are soft and gentle on a baby’s skin and give better comfort and coverage over longer periods.
[Want to see how Huggies and Pampers stack up against each other? Read Huggies vs Pampers: How to Choose the Best Diapers for Your Baby’s Needs]
Luvs diapers are considered the budget disposable diaper brand. It is quite obvious that most parents would be looking for a budget option of disposable diapers, but still want to use a diaper that is absorbent and comfortable for their baby, and at times Luvs does provide this.
Luvs diapers are not as absorbent or high-quality as Huggies or Pampers, and this can be deduced by the price alone, but if your baby is not too sensitive to the diaper they wear and is not prone to rashes, then Luvs diapers are a great option for during the day.
The issue is that as the absorbency is lower than the other brands, you might have to change diapers more often, which means you will end up spending about the same in the long run.
It is best to use Luvs for daytime, and then Pampers or Huggies for extended dryness at night.
[Looking for Honest Diapers? Check out our Honest Review of Honest Diapers here.]
Diaper Size Guide
A wrong fitting diaper can lead to discomfort, leaks, and even rashes. You need to make sure that you choose a diaper that fits your baby properly. It should be snug, but not too tight, and loose enough to allow your little one to move around comfortably, without letting out leaks or liquids.
There is no universal measurement used for diapers, and diaper brands will have their own recommended age or weight for the diaper on the packaging.
Looking at the two most popular disposable diaper brands, Pampers and Huggies here is a size chart that parents can use as a guide:
Preemie Diapers – For babies 6lbs and under. Not all brands sell Preemie diapers, but Huggies and Pampers do.
Newborn Diapers – For babies 10lbs and under
Size 1 – 8 to 14lbs
Size 2 – 12 to 18lbs
Size 3 – 16 to 28lbs
Size 4 – 22 to 37lbs
Size 5 – 27 to 35lbs
Size 6 – 35lbs and up
Size 7 – 41lbs and up
Unless your baby is born premature, you should be able to start out with a few packs of newborn diapers, and once you notice your baby begins to go through these quickly, or they start feeling tight on your baby, you can move up a size.
Some of the sizes also overlap in weight, and this is to accommodate different body types that babies have. Some babies are shorter and plumper, while others are longer and thinner. They might weigh the same, but their body types call for different fits of diapers.
You will probably have to go through some trial and error before figuring out how to choose the best fit for your baby, and this will change as they grow. The size chart does help make this easier.
How Do I Know When I Need To Change Diaper Size?
You need to look out for signs that your baby needs to move up a diaper size. A diaper that is too small is incredibly uncomfortable for a baby and can cause rashes and tightness around the diaper area.
These are some signs to look for that your baby needs to move on to a bigger diaper size:
- The diaper bands around the legs feel too tight
- The side tabs of the diaper do not stay down and pop open
- You cannot fit two fingers under the waistband, and it feels too tight
- It is difficult to put the diaper on your baby, and you have to pull the sides to fit it on
- There are red marks or signs of irritation around the diaper area, especially by the legs
- The diaper doesn’t cover their bottom properly, and it just looks too small or too tight
- Your baby seems fussy and not comfortable in their diaper. Older babies will pull at the diaper or try to take it off
- There seems to be more leaks and mess than usual
If you notice a few of these signs, then it is time to move your little one onto the next size diaper. Sometimes a diaper might seem too small, and the next size seems too big. Your baby will soon grow into the bigger size however.
[Wondering how many diapers you will need when your baby is born? Read How Many Diapers Do I Need? It will walk you through the process of answering that question.]
Diaper Accessories You Will Need
Along with quite a few diapers over the years, there are other diaper accessories you will need. Some of these are essential, and others go a long way to making diaper storage and diaper changes that much easier.
A diaper pail is a special bin designed to hold dirty diapers. The pails have a system of storing dirty diapers, which prevents the pail from smelling every time you open the bin to throw another dirty diaper away, and also prevents the room from smelling like dirty diapers as well.
Most diaper pails come with bags inserted into the top of the pail, which hold single diapers as they are placed into the pail, and which seal up to prevent bad odors even further.
Diaper pails are not necessarily essential, but they are incredibly helpful at dealing with dirty diapers until bin day, and not having the nursery smell really bad!
Check out the antimicrobial diaper pail on Amazon.
Diaper bags are a must-have for all parents. Designed to be used on short trips away from home, diaper bags have spaces and pockets needed to hold essentials, and then some, when out the house.
You should be able to fit all the things you might need for your baby into a diaper bag, such as diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and other items. Click here to view available diaper bags on Amazon.
[Want to learn more? Check out our article on the Best Diaper Bags.]
A diaper organizer, or a diaper caddy, keeps all your diaper-changing tools ready on the changing table, so you can get to changing dirty diapers without digging around for everything you need.
A diaper organizer will hold a few diapers, wipes, some bum cream, and a few other items.
Having a changing table in your nursery or room really does help to make diaper changing easy. Many changing tables have a surface to change your baby on, and underneath there is storage for diapers, clothes, and other baby items.
There is quite a wide range of changing tables for parents to choose from, such as solid wood changing tables, or compact, fold-away tables.
Check out a similar product on Amazon.
Changing Table Safety
Babies love to wiggle about, and sometimes this means that changing tables aren’t so safe. As a solution to this, there are changing tables that come with straps to hold your little one down while they are having their diaper changed, just to ensure that they can’t move around too much and potentially hurt themselves.
If your changing table does not have one, or you choose to not use a changing table and instead change your baby on the bed, then a changing mat is always a great tool. Not only are they comfortable for babies, but some even have raised edges to keep your baby from rolling.
The best part is that baby changing mats prevent any spills, leaks, or diaper messes from getting onto your bed or other surfaces!
Click here to view this product on Amazon.
You can’t change a diaper without baby wipes, so you should always stock up on these when you can. Not only will you be reaching for the baby wipes every time you change a diaper, but they are just so essential to have as a parent, to wipe sticky fingers or clean messy faces.
Check it out on Amazon.
Eco-Friendly Baby Wipes
If you are against creating more waste by using baby wipes or want to avoid the drawn-out expense, then you could consider using eco-friendly baby wipes.
The Cheeky Wipes Company has created reusable cotton terry cloth wipes that can be used in place of baby wipes, to clean your little one up during a diaper change. They can be washed and reused over and over again, still being wonderfully gentle on your baby’s skin.
[Want to learn more? Check out our article Best Natural Baby Wipes.]
How To Change A Diaper? The Best Changing Technique
For many new parents, changing a diaper is a daunting thing. Most of us have never had to change a diaper before, and there seems to be so much pressure around getting it right the first time
If you feel nervous about changing a diaper, here is the best changing technique to follow!
What you need:
- Diapers (either disposable or cloth)
- Diaper cream
- Diaper pail
- Changing table or changing mat
What to do:
- First wash your hands before changing your baby’s diaper, to remove the possibility of transmitting germs or bacteria.
- Get all of your supplies ready and within reach, you do not want to have to leave your baby alone on the changing table while you go hunting for wipes.
- Lay your baby down gently on their back.
- Unfasten their diaper tabs, raising their bottom to pull the diaper down and away from their body. The best way to do this is by grasping their ankles gently and lifting them upwards.
- For when there is a lot of mess, use the top of the diaper to gently wipe an excess mess down into the lower half of the diaper.
- Move the dirty diaper away and out of reach of your baby.
- Use wipes to clean your baby. For girls, wipe from front to back to avoid an infection. You can either use baby wipes or moistened cotton balls that have been dampened with warm water. These cotton balls are often gentler on newborn skin.
- Place the dirty wipes or cotton balls on the top of the dirty diaper.
- Slide a clean diaper under your baby, making sure the side of the diaper with the tabs is under their bottom.
- Apply any baby cream to the area if needed.
- Pull up the tabs to the front of the diaper, attaching them to the front. Make sure this is not pulled too tight, or too loose.
- If your baby still has their umbilical stump, fold the diaper down so it does not cause any irritation.
- Move your baby from the changing table to a safe spot and clean the changing area well.
- Throw the diaper and the dirty supplies into the diaper pail.
- Wash your hands and wipe your baby’s hands down as well.
This might seem like an awfully long list to change a diaper, but once you get the hang of it, it is as easy as can be! You will just have a squirming baby to contend with.
What You Need To Know About Diaper Rashes
It is more than likely that your baby will experience a diaper rash at some point. Their skin is so soft and sensitive, and the wrong diaper, or a diaper that has been left on for too long, could cause their skin to break out in a rash.
Most of the time, this is nothing to worry about, and a little bit of diaper cream can sort the rash out in a day or so.
Continued diaper rashes should be seen to by a doctor, and you might have to consider changing the diaper brand you use, or any products that might be irritating your baby’s skin.
The most common causes of diaper rash are:
- Wet diapers
- Sensitive skin
- Irritating baby products
Visit this link for more information about diaper rashes and their causes.
What Is Diaper Rash Cream?
Diaper rash cream is what you would turn to if your baby breaks out in a diaper rash. The main ingredient in most diaper rash creams is zinc oxide. When applied to the rash and irritated area, the cream helps to soothe your baby’s skin, and protect it from any further irritation.
You can buy most diaper creams over the counter, but for stronger creams, or medicated creams, you would need a prescription from a doctor.
Check out diaper rash cream on Amazon.
Baby Yeast Infections
Babies can be vulnerable to yeast infections. Candida, the strain of yeast responsible for baby yeast infections which presents as diaper rash, grows in moist, warm places, which is the environment created by a wet or soiled diaper.
Some babies are more at risk of developing a yeast infection, such as babies who are taking antibiotics, or babies who are drinking breastmilk from mothers who are on antibiotics.
There are other reasons why a baby might develop a yeast infection, such as frequent bowel movements, too much acidity in their stool, hot and humid conditions, or even diapers that are too tight.
To treat a baby yeast infection at home, you could use an over-the-counter antifungal cream suited to be used on babies. If you are unsure of what to do, or if the yeast infection does not go away and either worsens or your baby develops a fever, phone your doctor for advice.
What Are Diaper Cakes?
Don’t be alarmed if you have never heard of diaper cakes before, they aren’t some weird baked goods served at baby showers!
Diaper cakes are instead a gift given to expectant moms and dads, typically at a baby shower. Diapers are tied together in tiers to recreate a traditional cake, just without any of the baked goods.
They have become a traditional gift given to moms-to-be, and are a fun way to gift diapers instead of just handing over a plastic pack.
You can make a diaper cake from disposable diapers, cloth diapers, and even organic diapers. Ribbons, lights, and flowers can all be used to decorate the diaper cake to make it even cuter!
[Want to learn more? Check out our Guide to Diaper Cakes.]
What Are Swim Diapers?
Swim diapers are diapers that can be placed on babies or toddlers when they go swimming. These can be worn on their own or under a bathing suit.
Swim diapers were created to allow little ones to enjoy the water without parents worrying about any accidents happening while they are swimming.
There are both reusable and disposable diapers, and which one you choose to use will depend on how often your baby goes swimming.
Unlike regular diapers, swim diapers do not absorb water, instead, they help keep water out, and any liquids in. This stops solids from leaking out of the diaper, protecting everyone else in the pool.
[Want to learn more? Check out the Best Swim Diapers.]
Do I Need Overnight Diapers?
Overnight diapers are heavy-duty versions of disposable diapers, which are made to have better absorbency and more capacity than a regular diaper.
They are created to allow your little one to sleep more comfortably at night, without waking up to a very wet diaper or a diaper that has leaked through onto their bedding.
Overnight diapers are designed to keep babies dry for up to 12 hours and can hold up to 25% more liquid than regular diapers.
While every parent might not need overnight diapers, if you are finding that your baby is waking up often with a wet diaper, they are definitely worth a try. They could be the answer to more sleep for you and your baby!
Pampers are considered the best option for overnight disposable diapers, as they are softer, gentler, and more absorbent than other brands.
For cloth diapers, you could look to get a thicker insert liner, which will hold more liquid throughout the night.
[Want to learn more? Please read the Best Overnight Diapers.]
Potty Training Diapers And Pull-Ups
When it comes time to start potty training with your child, potty training diapers can really help make the process much easier for you and your baby.
They are the stepping stone between diapers and underwear and allow children to pull the diapers down themselves, for when they learn to use the potty on their own.
There are two main types of potty training diapers on the market and online on Amazon.
Disposable Potty Training Pants
Disposable potty training pants, or pull-ups, work much the same as regular diapers, but instead of having tabs, they are put on like underwear.
After some time potty training, your child can learn to pull these disposable diapers down, and put them on themselves, giving them more independence and confidence.
These also make potty training easier for adults as well, as you do not have to worry about quickly unfastening tabs when your little one is desperate to go!
Click here to check it out on Amazon.
Cloth Potty Training Pants
Cloth potty training pants are a great option too. They look very similar to kid’s underwear but have layers of absorbent fabric that catch any accidents. They make the transition from diapers to underwear much easier.
Many parents prefer using cloth potty training pants, as they are cost-effective and get your little one ready for wearing proper underwear.
When To Use Potty Training Diapers
When beginning potty training, it is a good idea to let your child run around with no bottoms on for a while. This removes the familiar feeling of having a diaper on, which they can rely on to wee in. It might mean a little more cleaning up at first, but it should help them recognize that they need to go to the potty to wee.
Once they get used to this feeling, you could start with potty training diapers. Help your child pull down the potty training diaper each time they go to the toilet, and help them pull it back up again. They will need some help pulling the diapers on and off at first, but just stay patient and keep encouraging them until they master it on their own.
Can I get free diapers?
Diapers can be expensive, and we could all use a little bit of help now and then. If you are in need of diapers, you could always ask at your local pediatrician’s office or hospital. They often have free samples on hand that they would be happy to hand out.
There might also be mother support groups in your area that could help you find some free diapers to use while you get on your feet.
Look online for special diaper clubs near you as well, where you can get samples, freebies, and discounts on diapers and other baby products.
How long do children wear diapers for?
Most children will be fully out of diapers by 30 months, but they can be ready to move out of diapers from 18 months old. This is very dependent on the child and how ready they are to use the toilet on their own.
Some children take longer, and might only be out of diapers at the age of 4, and that is completely fine. Each child moves at their own pace.
How long can I store diapers for?
You should not store diapers for more than 2 years. You might have stockpiled a whole lot of diapers, or have diapers leftover from baby number 1 that you are planning to use for baby number 2, and while the diapers won’t necessarily expire, the absorbency might not be as good as what it might have been, and you could expect more leaks and spills.
How often do I need to change a newborn’s diapers?
Newborns wet their diapers more than older babies. How often you need to change your newborn’s diaper will vary, but typically, you would need to change their diaper every 2 to 3 hours.
This period between changes does extend as they get older.
Your Guide To Diapers
Hopefully this guide has given you all of the information you need to decide on the best type of diapers to use for your baby, and some extra tips and information to make it through the first few years when it comes to all things diapers and potty training!
Rebecca Brown is a mom to two and writer on all things parenting. She has been focussed on content creation and article writing for the last four years, drawing on the inspiration she gets from her own experience as a mother, and the expansive research the job requires.
When not writing, you can find Rebecca outside with the kids, or hidden away enjoying a good cup of coffee!