There are three basic types of diapers that apply to both infant and adult versions. This article refers only to those for babies, not adult incontinence briefs, though there are many similarities. There are cloth and disposable versions, with disposable diapers being categorized as either absorbent or superabsorbent.
Cloth diapers are reusable and made of bleached or unbleached cotton fibers. A primary reason for parents to choose cloth over disposable may be out of concern for the environment. While it’s true that disposable diapers are not biodegradable, if you factor out the convenience of disposable, cloth is also less expensive. Conversely, the primary reason parents choose disposable over cloth is because the disposable versions don't need to be washed.
When using cloth diapers, you have two choices. You can use a diaper service or you can handle the load yourself. A service will deliver fresh diapers of your choice and pick up used ones at regular intervals. Of course, this is a more expensive option than washing your own.
If you wash your own, it is recommended that you have at least 32 on hand of the size your baby wears. You will need to familiarize yourself with the various styles of cloth diapers to decide which type you prefer. Start by looking into the all-in-one version and explore the other options from there.
Disposable diapers have either a normal cellulose center or an absorbent gelling material (AGM) in the core that pulls moisture away from the skin. Those with AGM cores are called superabsorbent. Though some parents do not approve of the chemicals comprising the gelling agent, pediatricians do not recommend against them and hospitals use only disposable types. In fact, superabsorbent ones can prevent diaper rash when changed at proper intervals and are particularly useful overnight.
Choosing cloth over disposable is a matter of personal preference. Many parents start out using disposable diapers in the first few months and switch to cloth later. Some experts believe that using cloth prompts earlier potty training, though others disagree there is a connection. The best choice is what works best for you and your baby and what fits into your budget.