6. Dipes and Wipes
Ok, enough with the pleasantries. Let's get down to brass tacks.
You are going to be changing your newborn's diaper 5-8 times per day, and about 5-6 times a day for a 6-month old. Your baby will be wearing diapers morning, noon and night for the next 1-3+ years (about 5,000 in total), so it's important to find a solution that works for you.
Unlike our parent's generation [who trudged barefoot through the snow and used animal pelts for diapers], there are now many options available for diapering your baby: cloth diapers, disposable diapers and diaper services. There are even some combinations thereof.
There are a few considerations to take into account when deciding which diapers to use, such as...
1. Your gusto -- If you are not using disposable diapers, there is more work required, so ask yourself where you stand on the gung ho/lazy continuum? It’s not just you, but anyone who will be changing your baby’s diapers: your husband, grandparents and nannies/caretakers. Most daycares, for example, will only use disposables.
2. Cost -- A quick calculation: unless you are using a clean-at-home cloth diaper system, you will be spending *roughly* $40/month on diapers. Some diapers are cheaper, like store brands. Some are more. You may decide - after getting pooped on multiple times - that a higher quality diaper is worth the extra money. Or maybe you're into it. Hard for me to say, we just met.
3. The eco-factor -- The sad truth is that 3.5 million tons of diapers end up in landfills every year. The even-more-disheartening truth is that the carbon footprint of eco-diapers (vs. disposables) is only marginally better, if at all. You should know the facts on this before you go through great efforts to save the planet.
4. Skin sensitivity -- If your baby has sensitive skin, you may want to opt for Pampers Sensitive or cloth diapers.
5. Boy or girl -- Boys tend to pee more in the front of their diaper and for girls it tends to collect in the middle and back. Boys often have leaky pee pee diapers because their little weenies point in a certain direction and they pee with direction and... force (even seen a girl write her name in the snow? didn't think so). For boys, getting a snug fit around the thighs matters a lot.
Today, 83% of moms use disposable diapers. The reason is because they are so very convenient.
[Aside:] Look, every time I throw a diaper in the trash can, I feel bad, okay? I am otherwise a very good citizen of the earth: I recycle and compost, I take mass transit every day instead of driving, I make baby food instead of buying it in the jar... but when it came to scooping poop from a diaper into the toilet, then washing a bunch of poop-stained diapers in the washing machine (for which I had to use COINS because I rented an apartment in the City), my head started to explode. I'm sorry, Mother Earth. I hope you'll find it in your earthy heart to forgive me. I still love you.
I had to get that off my chest. Moving on.
(in order of top-selling according to Diapers.com)
1. Pampers Swaddlers/Baby Dry/Sensitive - In the hospital, Pampers will be the first diaper to hit your baby's bottom. I am very happy with Pampers; they are soft, fit well and contain leaks.
Pampers Swaddlers are our go-to diaper. Pampers Baby Dry are designed to be used overnight because they contract to keep a snug fit, although the Swaddlers work just fine overnight too. Last but not least, Pampers Sensitive is the most highly rated diaper, overall, according to users of the interwebs. All of these run about 23 cents each.
2. Seventh Generation - These disposable eco-diapers are chlorine-free and are made with natural wood pulp. Parents say they are good with leaks, are soft and have good quality closure tabs. I think Seventh Generation deserves major props for trying to make our world a less toxic place. The fact that they are chemical free AND perform well says a lot. In fact, I think I just talked myself into trying them.... they run about 35 cents each.
3. Luvs -- Luvs makes a much cheaper diaper ~ about 16 cents each ~ and it actually rates fairly well. It's a decent diaper, although perhaps not as well made. Almost every reviewer complained about the scent of these diapers being too strong. Coincidentally, Luvs and Pampers are both made by Proctor and Gamble, Pampers being the premium brand and Luvs being the ghetto brand.
5. Nature Babycare – This is European diaper that has made its way to America. From a carbon footprint perspective, this is probably the most sustainable disposable diaper out there (oxymoron?). I bought a box a while back and found it to be a very bulky, thick and stiff diaper. I also didn’t think it was stretchy enough to get a good fit. They run about 39 cents each.
6. Huggies - Huggies compete for the same high-end brand name market as Pampers. Some people love them, but many mothers - especially moms of boys - say they leak like crazy. They run about 23 cents each.
7. Store brand diapers - Almost all of the big box stores offer their own store brand diaper. It would be un-American not to, no?
Costco has a Kirkland diaper, Target's store brand is called Up & Up (15 cents ea, ohmagah), Sam's Club makes the Member's Mark diaper and now Diapers.com makes their own as well.
These diapers are considerably cheaper, about 15 - 18 cents on average. I read many (many) reviews on all of these diapers. Let's put it this way.... they're aw-ite. Not great... but not awful either. If you're on a tight budget, I suggest you give some of these a try. Please let me know what you think.
* All prices are for a Size 2 diaper bought in the largest quantity available
The bottom line is that you may want to try a bunch of different brands before deciding on one. See if you can borrow a few from a friend or just buy the smallest quantity possible.
From whence do they come?
To save money, diapers are best bought in bulk (see caveat below). For me, buying online is a worthwhile endeavor. I certainly don't want to schlep huge boxes of diapers all around town.
SO [ahem], allow me to introduce you to Diapers.com. They will ship your diapers (and any other crap you need: wipes, breastpads, formula, your sanity (for an extra fee)... ) in 1-2 days and if the order is more than $49, shipping is free. Yes, please!
Amazon.com, my other go-to site, also offers the Amazon Mom program, which is free to join. With it, you get a free Amazon Prime subscription for 3 months, which means free 2-day shipping on all baby items. Splendid! It will be interesting to see what happens now that Amazon.com has acquired Diapers.com (I think only geeks like us in Silicon Valley follow this stuff).
Update 4-15-12: Amazon Subscribe and Save
Amazon now has a diaper "subscription" program where they automatically send you diapers (and wipes or whatevs) at certain intervals. There are big savings involved and really no downside (you can always cancel or defer a shipment at any time, etc, etc).
*The Subscribe and Save + Amazon Mom discount used to be 30%, but they've scaled it back to 20%. Whatever, it's still a good deal.
For example... our diapers (Pampers Cruisers Size 4) normally cost $51.44 for the big box. With the "Subscription" + Amazon Mom, that same box costs $37.74. That's crazytalk! (my grandmother would be so proud of my thriftery). Someone explained it to me: diapers are their loss leader. Fine with me, baby. Gimme gimme.
Sizing: For your newborn, you will start with a special size called Newborn, 'N', (there is no number). If you have a really small baby (less than 7 lbs), you may even start with size 'P' (Preemie). Don't buy too many because they will graduate to a Size 1 in about 2 weeks. From there, it goes from 1-6, although you probably won't make it past Size 4 unless you are incredibly delinquent in potty training your toddler. Or your kid has a huge ass. Either one.
* When buying diapers in the first 3 months or so, don’t go toooooo crazy with buying in bulk. Your baby is growing so fast during this time. If you buy 2 huge boxes of Size 1’s, for example, you may end up giving half of them away (I did).
* When traveling with your baby, don’t schlep large quantities of diapers with you. Just buy them when you get there or order them online to be delivered to your destination.
Cloth diapers have come a long way since our mothers used them. Cloth diaper systems usually consist of a diaper with some sort of insert or liner. The bumGenius is a very cute, one-size, reusable cloth diaper ~ about $25 each. One size fits a 7-35 lb baby. I mean, dear lord, you can adjust this thing 6 ways from Sunday.
One could write a book about the logistics of cloth diapers, but instead I will refer you here. Amalah has written exhaustively on this topic. You will potentially spend a couple hundred dollars buying all of the requisite setup gear, so *please* make sure you like it before you take the plunge.
gDiapers are a hybrid outer/inner system that also have a diaper cover and a washable, compostable (pee only) or flushable (with some work required) insert. You can use their cloth inserts [wash and re-use], or you can use their biodegradable/disposable liners.
My beef is that the inserts are like, really costly, ok? The refills are 40-45 cents each, which is more than a whole disposable diaper. They really only make economic sense if you plan on using the cloth inserts the majority of the time and using the disposable inserts for travel and such.
Too much work for you? Shoot, I'm breaking a sweat just thinking about all this washing and re-using.
If cloth diapers appeal to you but not the obligatory work involved, you should consider a local diaper service (ask Mr. Googles). They will deliver cloth diapers to your house every week pick up the old ones. No fuss, no muss (what is muss anyway?). The downside is it can be a little costly - perhaps even more than disposables. Also, people complain that they only use the old-fashioned "pre-folds", which nowadays seem like something only cave-babies would wear with a bone in their hair. A diaper service might be a great way to dabble in cloth diapers to see if you likie before making the large capital expenditure.
For all of the number twos in your baby's future, you will need wipes. Don't put a whole lot of thought into this, they are all pretty much the same. You can go ahead and stock up on wipes; you will need them for years to come.
For changing diapers on the go, I highly, highly recommend a changing kit, such as...
You can get away with not even having a diaper bag as long as you have one of these. With its portable wipe container and comfy pad, this is truly one of the most useful baby items. Ever. Munchkin makes a nice one for about $15 -- or go fancy with this one (above) from Skip Hop.
Now that we have dipes and wipes covered, let's talk furniture. Yes, you can change a diaper just about anywhere, but you will be doing it so often, why not make it comfortable.
You need a good, sturdy surface on which to change your poopy princess (or prince). Ideally, you want it to be about waist-high or slightly higher. Anything lower and you'll be straining your back. You can buy a changing table made specifically for this or be a little more creative and use the top of dresser or a desk. I've seen people change diapers on their bed and I don't recommend it as a long-term solution. There is way too much bending over involved and do you really want poopy diapers all over your bed? That stuff gets messy, believe me.
On top of your changing surface, you want to get a changing pad (pictured below). The changing pad is shaped like a half-pipe so your baby stays in place during a diaper change. You can screw it in to your changing table so it doesn't move around.
You'll also need 2 or 3 changing pad covers. They get soiled pretty quickly so you’ll need more than one. On top of the changing pad cover, you will also need a whole bunch of waterproof pads (the white pad below) as an added layer of protection -- these are much easier to wash than the covers. Get a whole bunch, you'll be washing them all the time.
If you prefer something you can wash off directly, try the impermeable Keekaroo Peanut Diaper Changer [below].
You'll probably want a special trashcan for disposing of diapers. Moms seem to be really divided on this topic: some say: yes, the right diaper pail will conceal the poopy smell. Others say there is no way to *really* hide the smell of poo. I fall into the latter category.
My method: For the first 6 months (while on the milk-only diet), you can put poopy diapers in your diaper pail without creating a gross smell. But after your kiddo starts real food, forget it, all bets are off. Out of the 5 or 6 diapers you change per day, about 2 of them will be poopy.
I like to use my diaper pail for pee pee diapers only. For the poopy diapers, buy rolls of Arm and Hammer diaper disposal bags (if you have a dog, you can also use dog poop bags). Put your poopy diapers in the little bag and simply throw it out every night (outside, like in the big garbage can). Is it a pain? Yeah sort of, but it's the only real way to keep your nursery from smelling like, well, shit. Or you can just put the poop diapers in there and deal with the smell. Your choice.
If your goal is to get a trashcan to conceal the smell, there are 2 that moms think work fairly well: the Diaper Champ ($35, pictured right) is an inexpensive pail that uses regular tall kitchen trash bags (yay!). This is my personal favorite, and I've used ALL of them (except for the Ubbi). Simply place the diaper in the opening, then pull the handle so it drops down into the can. So easy and best of all, no squishing a poop-filled mess through a narrow slot, like with the Diaper Genie (yuck!).
Another favorite is the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail (also $35ish), which wins the odor control contest. This pail requires special bags and uses a baking soda dispenser (which you also have to refill) to control odor. It does require a bit of diaper-squishing, but not nearly as much as the Diaper Genie. If odor control is a top priority and you don't mind buying special bags, this is your dogg.
For the design-concious, an awesome yet pricier diaper pail is the Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail [below]. At $80, this sleek diaper pail comes in about 10 different colors, controls odor quite well AND doesn't require special bags. If you have the money, the Ubbi is as good as it gets.
**Don't be freaked out by the (consistently) crappy ratings that most diaper pails recieve. I think people's expectations (to completely mask the poop smell) are too high here.
You don't need to use any lotions or cream on your baby unless prescribed (much to the chagrin of your mother) -- the only exception is diaper rash cream. In the early days before the "real" poop starts (pre-solid foods), your baby will (hopefully) be a stranger to diaper rash, but keep some on hand just in case because you'll need it eventually.
My favorite is Boudreax's Butt Paste (yes that's really the name, which is why I bought it), Desitin, and Aveeno, although my pediatrician friends tell me that A&D is the best for prevention and Triple Paste is the best for treatment. When your child inevitability gets his first stomach virus (and thus, terrible diarrhea), you will need boatloads of diaper rash cream. Just a heads up.
Recap ~ You need:
- Diapers and wipes
- A small wipe container for your diaper bag
- A changing surface
- A changing pad and covers
- Waterproof pads
- A Diaper Pail
- Diaper rash cream
Holy schnikies, that was way more than I intended to write!
On to --> 7. Feeding