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What Are Different Types of Diapers?

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Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

In summary, when it comes to baby diapers, parents can choose between two main options: cloth and disposable. Cloth diapers are favored for their eco-friendliness, cost-effectiveness over time, and reusable nature. On the other hand, disposable baby diapers are known for their unmatched convenience, high absorbency, and ease of use, making them a popular choice for parents with busy lifestyles.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
Discussion Comments
By comfyshoes — On Aug 21, 2010

Icecream17- Also, I wanted to add that many supermarkets offer new mothers a set of coupons and free products.

Both Publix and Winn-Dixie for example, offer free coupons for products like baby lotion and baby powder.

They start you off with like eight or ten free products, and then they provide you coupons periodically for different items in the store.

Usually the coupons are for baby related items like coupons for baby food, diapers, and baby shampoo for example.

I know with Publix, they also offer you a guidebook that was recommended to me by my pediatrician on how to care for your child for the first five years of life. It was a great book that I referred to many times.

By icecream17 — On Aug 21, 2010

Suntan12-I did that too. I subscribed to the Pampers and Huggies newsletters and was able to get coupons for both companies.

I even bought my newborn diapers, before my baby was even born. I remembered that Pampers had a promotion that if you sent in your proof of purchase tags from the box, you can use it to purchase prizes.

I was able to get a little Jeep car for my daughter. It is a pretty big size too. She was able to drive it around the block. It was so cute.

By suntan12 — On Aug 21, 2010

Although I know many people use cloth cotton diapers, I always used fitted diapers that were disposable.

Prefold diapers are generally cheaper than disposable diapers, but it is also more time-consuming to use cloth diapers.

I only bought Huggies diapers and was able to get diaper coupons when I subscribed to the Huggies newsletter on their website.

They give you coupons for several years and it really adds up because infant diapers can be very expensive.

I used to get up to two dollars off a package. I would save up my coupons and wait until there was a sale and then I would stock up on diapers.

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