Shreya had been having an excruciating week. Her mother-in-law had come to visit them and had spent the entire week disapproving almost everything about the way she was bringing up her three months old daughter. The biggest point of discord—the diapers.
Her mother-in-law hated the sight of the disposable ones and considered them the utmost symbol of lazy parenting.
Shreya wasn’t lazy but diapers were convenient. And she had never really considered the diapers to be the monstrosities her mother-in-law was making them out to be. Aghast, she got in touch with her daughter’s pediatrician.
Doctor’s verdict—Shreya wasn’t entirely right. But then, neither was her mother-in-law. It was, as the doctor put it, not a cloth nappy versus disposable diaper debate. It was about how the parent used the said nappy or diaper that was the moot point.
Shreya’s story is not uncommon. It is in fact, the everyday reality of most young parents. Between the plethora of flabbergasting parental choices that are to be made everyday, diaper dilemma is sometimes the worst.
A cloth nappy or a disposable diaper? The debate rages on.
In India, handmade nappies made of comfortable, soft cloth were the norm for the longest period of time. Unlike in the West, disposable diapers are a relatively recent trend. It is no wonder that elders in the house are often suspicious of this ‘artificial’ replacement.
Nappies are hard work. They need to be washed with utmost care—with bottles of Dettol and hot water. And they need to be monitored. Because unlike the super absorbent convenience of a disposable diaper, nappies need to be changed. Immediately and frequently.
The lure of disposable diapers is understandable for the exhausted parents, especially working mothers with demanding schedules. And it begs the question—is the disposable diaper really that bad?
Why you should not use diapers
The ‘Taking it for Granted’ Trap : Disposable diaper is bad when it becomes a mode of parent’s convenience at the expense of child’s comfort. It is tempting to let your child roam around in a diaper for hours without checking just because you can. Disposable diapers might lull parents into a false sense of comfort that might lead to carelessness. Unlike in a nappy where you will have to pay heed, whether you like it or not. As any pediatrician would point out, letting a baby stay in a ruined diaper for any amount of time is unacceptable irrespective of how effective the disposable diaper claims to be.
Unlike in a nappy where you will have to pay heed, whether you like it or not. As any pediatrician would point out, letting a baby stay in a ruined diaper for any amount of time is unacceptable irrespective of how effective the disposable diaper claims to be.
1. Time Trouble
Most disposable diapers come with a promise of certain number hours worth of usage. But, in reality, the number of hours a disposable diaper can be used is subjective and variable. Using a disposable diapers does not absolve you of the responsibility to monitor it. Your infant doesn’t operate on the clock. Just because his last diaper lasted eight hours, doesn’t mean his next will not get spoilt in two. Keeping an eye is fundamental.
2. The Toxicity Concerns
Toxicity and allergies are another issue that is often associated with disposable diapers. And while there is no conclusive study to establish that the chemicals in the diapers do harm the baby, there is no denying that chemicals are there. Besides, even if the diapers are not inherently toxic, some infants might have an allergic reaction to the dyes or chemicals in them. It is an issue that can be avoided by switching the brands but it can cause significant discomfort.
3. Expensive Necessity
The disposable diapers are expensive, especially when compared to the cloth nappies that are not only cheaper but can also be rewashed and reused. While it cannot be denied that diapers are a necessity, there is an argument that can be made in favor of the wisdom of using nappies whenever possible in order to strike a reasonable balance in terms of expenses.
Benefits of using diapers
Not everything about the disposable diapers is bad. They are extremely convenient especially when you are traveling with your infant or have an extremely busy schedule. And this is not just from the point of view of the hassled parent.
2. Baby’s Comfort
Even for the baby, a disposable diaper is better in these cases because it keeps the skin dry for a longer period of time and does not let the skin come in direct contact with urine or feces immediately unlike in the case of a cloth nappy.
3. Protection Against Rashes
Unlike the often mistaken belief, disposable diapers are indeed better from the perspective of preventing rashes. A diaper rash is usually caused because of prolonged use of wet/soiled diaper or nappy.
In that context, both a nappy and a disposable diaper are equally liable to cause a rash if not changed frequently enough. ‘Wet’ here is the operative word. In that sense, a disposable diaper in fact reduces the chances of a rash because of its enhanced absorbance, something that is usually an issue with a cloth nappy irrespective of how vigilant the parent is.
What should be preferred? (The Middle Path)
The best way out of the diaper debate is to stick to the middle path. You should use a combination of disposable diaper and nappy. Use cloth nappies at home and use disposable diapers for trips, outings to the store or when your child has diarrhea.
Diaper Guidelines That Must Always Be Remembered
There are no research to suggest that disposable diapers are essentially harmful or toxic. Similarly, there are no studies to suggest that cloth nappies are the only right answer. The key is in the way you use these products to ensure maximum comfort for your child. Below are few quick guidelines that you must keep in mind to ensure that your child is comfortable and happy in the diapers:
1. Be Vigilant. Check frequently. Change immediately.
There is no hard and fast rule about the number of hours a disposable diaper should stay. Whether it is eight hours or one, if you think it is time to change or that there is a chance your child might be uncomfortable, change it.
2. Diaper Free Hours
Whether you are using nappies at home or sticking to disposable diapers for all purposes, you should always give your baby a diaper downtime every day.
The diaper downtime will give your baby’s skin a much-needed chance to breathe. Trust us, your baby will thank you for it.
3. Hygienic Practices
Use mild soap and warm water to clean the baby while diapering. If using baby wipes, always choose the ones that are unscented, alcohol and chemical free.
4. Always Choose The Right Size
The diaper should be a snug and comfortable fit otherwise not only will the baby be constantly uncomfortable but it will also lead to frequent leaks and general mess.
5. Diapering Right
Use a clean, fixed, designated spot (like a changing table) for changing the diapers. Keep all the supplies handy and do not leave the baby unattended on the table. Use proper creams and ointments to protect from rashes.
6. Baby’s Comfort First
At the end of the day, a diaper is for your baby and her comfort should take precedence over everything else.
Be alert and keep an eye for allergic reactions or general discomfort. If a diaper doesn’t work for your child, switch brands immediately. Make informed choices and pay heed to the stuff being used in the diaper. And finally, if needed, be ready to give up the disposable diaper completely if your child seems happier in a nappy and vice versa.
Be aware and choose wisely even when the choices are hard. Ultimately, it is not about a nappy or a diaper. It is about keeping your baby happy.
So, what is your take? Nappy or Diaper?