You've received lots of cute outfits for your new baby and you've made it a point to wash all of them so that your baby's skin doesn't come into contact with any harsh chemicals on the fabrics. Shouldn't the same care and concern be used when it comes to your new baby's diapers? Of course it should! Read on to find out what you need to know about choosing and using the one garment that will be closest to your baby's skin 24 hours a day, every day, for the first 2-3 years of his life.
Don't be Fooled
Long before the arrival of your little one, your mailbox will be overflowing with disposable diaper ads. Touted as being cloth like, leak proof, and rash resistant, disposable diapers may seem like the most logical, simple, and economical diapering choice available---especially since you'll be receiving tons of discount coupons for them. Please don't fall for this gimmick! If you choose to diaper with disposables, you're going to spend a small fortune to diaper your baby through toddlerhood---much more than you'll spend investing in cloth diapering products. And worse yet, your newborn baby's most intimate garment will consist of chemical-laden wearable garbage that will clog our landfills.
Organic and "Green" Diapers
Standard cloth diapers are great, but since newborn skin is so very delicate you may want to consider purchasing a couple dozen organic or "green" cloth diapers for your baby. The cotton used to manufacture organic cloth diapers is grown without the use of toxic pesticides and it is also free of dyes, chlorine, and other harmful chemicals, which is why organic cloth diapers are the most pure and natural ones available. "Green" diapers are second best. They are free of dyes, bleaches, and formaldehyde, but the cotton used to manufacture "green" diapers is not organic. In other words, it is grown with the use of pesticides. Both organic and "green" diapers are more pure than standard cloth diapers. And since they are free of bleaches and dyes, they are beige in color and even softer than other cloth diapers. They're the perfect diapering choice for your newborn baby's sensitive skin. Don't forget to run your new diapers through at least two wash cycles prior to using them on your baby and never use bleach or fabric softeners on them.
Buy the Right Size
It's important that you purchase the right size diapers and covers for your newborn. This will assure a snug fit without leaks. Most cloth diaper business owners offer "newborn", "small", or "infant" diapers and covers for babies weighing up to 15 pounds. These are the ones that you want. Don't buy more than two or three-dozen diapers and six or eight covers for your baby, because as he grows, you'll need to purchase larger standard size diapers and covers to use for the duration of his diapering period.
Don't Ruin Your Baby's New Diapers
Your baby's first few poops are going to be rather messy. This is due to meconium, a "tarry greenish-black substance that gradually filled your baby's intestines during his stay in your uterus."1 Since this tarry poop can stain your baby's cloth diapers, be sure to use disposable diaper liners inside of his diapers during his first week.
Consider Using a Diaper Service
The arrival of a new baby is a wonderful event, but it's going to upset the status quo of your household for quite some time, so be honest with yourself about whether or not you're going to be able to keep up with the added chore of laundering cloth diapers. Many parents sign up with a cloth diaper service during their baby's first year. (That's what I did.) This is as simple as using disposables, but it's much healthier for your baby and the planet. Since this is more costly than home laundering diapers, make it a point to cancel your diaper service as soon as your household has adjusted to its newest addition and you have the time to launder diapers yourself. And remember, by making the decision to cloth diaper, you'll be able to slow down and truly enjoy your baby's infancy and early toddler months.A period of time that goes by far too quickly.
1) Eisenberg, Arlene, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, B.S.N. What To Expect the First Year. New York, New York: Workman Publishing, 1989, 1996.
© Copyright 2002 Stacy Jones Tolentino/ Homefront Publishing
This article may not be copied, reproduced, republished, abstracted, posted, transmitted, or otherwise, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of Homefront Publishing. Single copies may be made for your personal, non-commercial use provided this copyright notice remains intact. For permissions send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.