The diaper debate

In this day and age, few parents feel the need to mull over diapering decisions, as disposables are a whole lot more convenient. However, some parents are still keen on idea of wrapping their precious babies’ bums in gentle fabric rather than scratchy paper diapers.

Argument on diapers

Argument on diapers

In this modern day and age, few parents feel the need to mull over diapering decisions, as disposables are convenient and virtually pain-free when it comes to laundry time. However, some parents are still keen on idea of wrapping their precious babies’ bums in gentle fabric rather than scratchy paper diapers. So what can we expect from disposables and cloth, and which should we use?

The disposables

Gone are the days when mothers have to spend hours breaking their backs to scrub the waste and stains out from soiled cloth diapers. Now, it is simply a matter of removing the soiled diaper and throwing it away. However, no matter how convenient disposables are, it is undeniable that problems like nappy rash are much more common due to the nature of the materials used.

The convenience of disposables also comes at a cost. Disposable diapers can range from 15 cents a piece to almost a dollar each! The average newborn uses up to 12 pieces of nappies a day, with the minimum being 5 once your baby turns a year-old. Imagine the cost of all that until your child is fully potty-trained!

With the new emphasis on conserving Mother Nature, need I also remind you of how much garbage these disposables will turn into? There are biodegradable disposables that you can buy, but they are much more costly and not as easily found.

Cloth Nappies

Previous generations of babies hardly suffered from nappy rash because of the breathable comfort that cloth nappies provide. Once the cloth gets wet, parents would have to change them immediately or risk dirtying the rest of the house. Because of such habits, baby’s bum has a much less chance of soaking in the acidity from their own waste and it again greatly reduces the chances of nappy rash.

Cloth diapers are least affected by the constantly rising prices of living, as they can be used countless times and even handed down to younger children once an older one has been potty-trained. When you are done with having babies, they can still be passed on to other mothers to be used for years to come.

Environment-wise, you hardly generate any garbage because there is nothing to be thrown away (except for the poop that has collect in the diaper) and torn nappies can even be converted into rags for everyday household cleaning!

Despite the obvious extra laundering work that cloth diapering brings, some modern parents still swear by the benefits of this traditional method. I was one of these converted parents when my boy ran into problems while in disposables.

How our diapering journey began

When my boy Joshua was born, we started with expensive newborn diapers that barely gave him any skin problems, but were costly. Being totally breastfed, my boy passed out waste that was runny and very toxic. Diapers had to be changed after each excretion to make sure his bum would not be irritated by his own poo. This easily meant 10 diapers a day, and each pack of newborn diapers only came in small packs, which meant no bulk savings.

We tried out cloth diapering, but being a stay-home mom recovering from a recent C-section and no other forms of help from domestic helpers or in-laws, the need to scrub and wash soiled diapers proved too much for me. Cloth diapers also failed to hold in the runny poop, leading to even MORE washing of stained crib sheets and rompers. Thus we started the search for wallet-friendly yet gentle disposable diapers.

Some of the brands we tried irritated Joshua’s bum tremendously. An hour into wearing it, his bum turned red and he started to scratch himself constantly. We put it down to the thick material and the fact his skin could not breathe through it. After weeks of trial and error, we finally chanced on a wonderful brand that was not only comfortable for him, but also friendly on our wallets. We were overjoyed!

Venturing into modern cloth diapers

Months down the road, Joshua started teething again. This led to another round of loose stools similar to diarrhea. There was once when he pooped at night, and we had failed to notice and change him. His red angry bum greeted us in the morning when we woke up to give him the first feed of the day.

Despite the steroid creams prescribed by the doctor, the rash refused to go away for days. We tried to cloth diaper him, but being the fidgety 10-month-old that he was, he REFUSED to stay still long enough for us to wrap his bum up. Even when we managed to put it on him, the nappy just didn’t stay put on his bum as he crawled and explored the house.

I was so distraught with the situation that I dug up any related information on the Internet, and this was when I found the solution: Micro-fleece pre-folded diapers with removable and washable inserts.

We immediately ran out to the retail store to get our hands on a piece, just to try for starters. It didn’t come cheap at S$30 a piece, but my boy immediately fell in love with the soft comfort it provided. He was happy all day and didn’t scratch his bum at all!

Putting on the diaper was a breeze with snap closures, and washing up was fairly easy as well. All we had to do direct the showerhead’s spray on the poop, and it all washes out almost immediately! A few rinses of the pee-soaked insert and we can just pop everything into the washing machine for pain-free washing! Joshua’s nappy rash cleared up 3 days into using the pre-folds, and we were greatly relieved. You can say the product was a God-send.

Joshua is 17 months-old today, and we interchange between disposables and pre-fold cloth diapers. This at least halves the amount of garbage we create, yet does not put us into too much trouble with the laundry. We use disposables when we go out and at night, and he toddles around happily in cloth comfort in the daytime at home. This combination makes his bum and our wallets happy and is the best investment we have ever made as parents!

Here are some related articles:

Diapering your baby; your alternatives

What to expect from your newborn the first week

Diaper rash remedies