Which Diaper is Best?

Archived Responses: 

Just adopted an 11-month-old - which diaper?

Nov 2007

I am about to bring home my 11 month old daughter from Guatemala (finally!). I have planned to use cloth diapers, but don't want to be naive, or mess with her beautiful diaper rash-free bottom. (Of course, she in Huggies there.)

Please offer some support, advice, experience, admonishments, etc. with cloth vs. disposable. I'd also love to hear if anyone has had success with Gdiapers or any other environmentally-considerate brands. (I notice lots of Gdiaper starter sets end up on the Marketplace.)

If I do cloth, I'll use a diaper service.

thanks! lisa

well, I've used all three!

cloth: I get ABC diaper service, which is incredibly easy and affordable. my 7 month old daughter does get diaper rash occasionally, nothing that seems to bother her, and either ~ 15 minutes of air time a couple of times a day or 1-2 applications of diaper cream clears it up. When she was not rolling, I could just litter her crib with diapers and set her down on them with a naked butt (Baby Legs are awesome for keeping her legs warm while doing this). Now that she's good at rolling and grabbing, I just slather her with cream when it looks very red, and give her a naked massage after her bath. I've also noticed that giving her certain solid foods makes her have rash, so if I were really concerned I could just avoid those. cloth diapers are the best for poop. Runny poop soaks in, and you can use the clean corner to wipe most of it off before you toss the diaper in the bin.

GDiapers: My mom bought me a GDiaper starter kit. The covers are really cute. I used them for my cloth diapers. I can't use he GDiapers in my apartment because I have the delicate East Bay plumbing that seems so common here. I did use up the starter kit while I was my mother. It works really well for wet diapers--sucks up a LOT of moisture and keeps her dry. Poop seems to just collect on the surface, which makes for a more difficult clean-up. Also, even in my mother's house, with good plumbing, I did flood ner toilet once, which was really, really embarrassing. It happened after the third diaper in a half-hour span, so if your babe has a poop marathon, I'd add a few extra flushes between diapers.

Disposables: we still occasionally use disposables--like when she uses more cloth dipes than usual. In my experience, they don't really help much with diaper rash. They do help a little with night sleeping--cloth diapers get so cold and wet. They are more convenient when traveling, although now we just bring cloth dipes with us. The poop issue is similar to GDiapers.

Hope that comparison was helpful. Jinjer

Congratulations on your adoption - you must be very excited! Our son (now 19 months) has spent most of his life in cloth diapers, although he sleeps in a disposable diaper at night to control leaking. We have had a few bouts with diaper rash, but it seems to be the most common when we are traveling and he is wearing disposables all day. Other people have had opposite results. I would start with the diaper service and see how it works for your little girl; if you aren't happy, you can always cancel it. Now that we have out own laundry, we use fleece pocket diapers, which are easier to change and keep Si drier than the prefolds that we used to use. Kevin
We've been using ABC diaper service since my daughter was born. I have been very happy with the cotton diapers. The only time I tried disposables was during our trip to South Asia last winter. I tried Huggies with aloe which unfortunately is unavailable in North America as of Jan 2007. That was great, she did not develop diaper rash, whereas she did develope diaper rash with the regular Huggies. I am very vigilant about changing her diapers too, but found the disposables to be harder on her tush than the cloth. Crystal
I used a cloth diaper service with both of my kids and it was great for us: nice to have diapers delivered and picked up (no store runs at odd hours), easy to tell if baby was wet, both kids transitioned fairly fast to using the toilet---mostly undies day and night by 2, I think because they could feel it when they peed. And avoiding water-absorbing chemical crystals close to such a tender area was important to me. Kristine
I was perplexed about this issue, too. I work in the environmental field and am very passionate about protecting the environment. There are a few studies out there done by neutral, reputable organizations showing that when you take into account the whole lifecycle of the diaper (cloth vs disposable) and look at all environmental impacts (energy, water, landfill, etc.) you basically come out equal. There is very little environmental difference. They both stink. See http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/5439_Solutions0906.pdf and http://www.ilea.org/lcas/franklin1992.html

Some people are concerned that the ''gel'' used in disposables (and G diapers) is toxic. But, there appears to be no evidence to show that the gel is a problem, or that it is even absorbed through the skin.

We tried G diapers and thought they were a great alternative with a slightly lower impact... but sadly they did not fit our daughter. I would definitely give them a try. It's worth it to buy a starter pack and see how they fit. We had no problems with toilet clogging or anything and they were really easy to use. I wish they had fit her.

We ended up going with Pampers (Swaddlers and Cruisers). Pampers (the high end ones, not the Baby Drys) have kept her rash free. They are also super absorbent and as long as you don't have a frequent pooper, you can use just a few diapers each day because the pee just wicks away and she will stay dry. Huggies and the other brands (including the greener ones, and especially Tushies) gave my daughter awful diaper rash. Also, per Greenpeace, Kimberly-Clark (maker of Huggies, Kleenex, Kotex, Scott, Cottonelle, etc.) is cutting down old-growth forests to make these products!!

You should really think about elimination communication. We're trying to get our daughter out of diapers early and using fewer diapers on the way, by getting her to use the potty as much as possible. You can start this at any age and there's a lot of great info out there (websites, books, yahoo groups, etc.) to get you started and support you along the way. Good luck!

Hands down, the most convenient is disposables -- we used 7th Generation for a bit (work pretty much just as well as Pampers but were chlorine-free). That said, the landfill/tree usage is a bit scary.

G-diapers aren't too bad, just a bit more of a pain to prepare the diaper, but the covers are pretty cute, and the options in disposing the diapers are much more environmentally sound.

But finally, we became somewhat opposed to disposable technologies (esp. the crystals that soak up fluid so baby doesn't feel the wet), because it seems like baby *should* feel wet when she pees -- it's more ''inconvenient'' compared to disposables mostly because you actually have to do something when baby pees/poos, but frankly, I'd rather NOT ignore this! (I've met too many parents of kids who potty-trained very late because the kids got so used to peeing without noticing it.) So we pretty much became cloth diaper fans. We used a diaper service for a few months, then just purchased our own to wash ourselves when we didn't need as many. Lily

I just started using cloth diapers with a service. I hesitated starting on cloth as well, for fear that my child would get a diaper rash. So far it's been fine with cloth. I am just more diligent about changing her and making sure to use diaper cream. I still use disposables occasionally: when we're going out and I know I won't be able to change her right away, or overnight. There is just no comparison to how absorbent disposables are. Using cloth 'most' of the time helps alleviate some of the guilt of adding to our landfills, but doesn't threaten my babies bottom. anon
I am using cloth (with a diaper service) and absolutely love it. I did it just to give it a try, and I was a convert from the get go. You do have to change the baby more often than you might with disposables, but if we're going somewhere where changing might be inconvenient, I'll put a disposable on her for the trip. I love that I'm not generating trash for the landfill and that I don't have to have diapers on my shopping list. For nighttime, I stuff a disposable into a fuzzi bunz (pocket diaper) and my baby stays totally dry through the night. Good luck! Christine
Lovely to hear you are bringing home your baby soon. I was living in a very hot and humid equatorial country when I had my first baby. We used cloth diapers - washed at home & line dried (we had no dryer). I was sure we were going to be dealing with diaper rash, but it never happened. I think I remember using little cloth-like paper liners in the cloth diapers that made poop disposal into the toilet a breeze. We used Pampers only for outings (because of the cost) and those too caused no diaper rash. I used Desitin pretty liberally, just to be on the safe side. Monica
I use gdiapers and I like them a lot. With gdiapers, there's a cloth outside, a plastic liner, and then an absorbant paper insert which can be flushed. So waste goes into the waste stream and not into landfill, I don't have to wash poopy cloth diapers in the toilet all the time, and when the outside gets wet or soiled it can be thrown in the washing machine. The plastic liners snap out, so when they get wet or dirty, I can just change the liner and not the whole cloth cover.

Every once in a while, poop will get on the cloth cover, and I'll have to wash it off in the toilet before washing, and if I go too long between changes, the cloth cover will often get wet. But it's better for my baby to be changed more often anyway. Disposables are easier, but not so much easier that I want to change. But I do keep disposables around for when all the cloth covers are in the wash, or if we're traveling somewhere where it will be difficult to store or wash dirty covers. But daily outings I usually stick to gdiapers. Talia

We started with disposable diapers and couldn't deal with the amount of trash we were creating. It just sickened me. We switched to cloth with ABC diaper service and are much happier. They are also much better at catching or absorbing baby poop what in disposables would just shoot up their back. Mothering also addressed this debate in 1998: http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/diapers/joy-of-cloth.html
I'm glad to see that so many people responded to your question re: diapers. We have used all three types: cloth, G-diapers, and Huggies-type. We have used primarily cloth diapers for both our children. Our first was potty trained by the time he was 2 years old and I attribute this to the fact that he always felt wet or poopy in the cloth diaper (a plus, in my opinion). Our second child is the same although he's just turned 15 months, so it'll be a little while before he's potty trained. We have used G-diapers when we are on extended trips, such as camping, holiday get-aways or international travel. I've noticed that some posters here said they didn't/don't use G-diapers because they can't flush them in their sensitive toilets. Please note that since they are FULLY BIODEGRADEABLE, you can still flush the poop into the toilet and throw away the diaper into your trash; at least you'll know it'll biodegrade. You can even put your pee-diapers into your compost bin. So, please consider G-diapers. We've used this on our travels to Mexico, the Philippines, and Europe. But, I highly recommend them in places like the Philippines where biodegradeable diapers are better than Huggies-types that won't break down for hundreds of years -these countries can do without any more of these diapers! Lastly, we've used Huggies-types only for emergencies (like when I was caught without a diaper) and yes, they are super absorbent. But, interestingly, my oldest son always got a diaper rash in them and never wanted to poop in them - perhaps it was the gel, or the paper or just the feeling? My husband was reluctant to use cloth diapers but since he's never used any other type, he easily became a proficient and avid follower of cloth diapers. Oh, I would highly recommend a diaper service (we used www.tinytots.com) during your first year or at least your first 6 months just so you don't have to deal with cleaning them yourself. AFter the first 6 months, we always cancelled the service and washed the diapers ourselves. That's pretty easy, too. cloth family who loves g-diapers, too!
In all the discussion about GDiapers vs. disposable, etc., I keep reading that the excuse for not using GDiapers is ''sensitive plumbing''. This is a cop-out. You don't have to flush them, and they are still better for the environment because they degrade faster than any disposable. Also, if you follow the directions properly there is no reason they shouldn't be flushable if that's your issue... it just might take a couple flushes, and some vigorous stirring. Also, sometimes you have to tear the outer lining part into smaller pieces. I'll admit it took me a couple weeks to get the process down, including figuring out how to best make the diapers fit my baby, but it's worth it. GDiaper Lover
There's a fourth alternative (which you can combine with any of the 3 you mention - or other options - or none!): Elimination Communication (EC), i.e. offereing your baby a ''pottytunity'' whenever you feel s/he needs one. More info at http://diaperfreebaby.org/; there's a local group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EastBayDFB/. Happy parenting! Convinced part-time ECer, twice now