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The Art of Diapering

Yes, believe it or not, there is an art to diapering. After all, who wouldn’t be proud of the ability to diaper a moving target, save 5 cents per diaper, always be prepared for a blowout, or simply get the darn tabs to stick when and where we want them to? While as parents we all change a whole lot of diapers, the art of diapering involves doing it better, faster, and cheaper, and with less mess.

Choosing a Diaper

Whether you choose cloth versus disposable, brand name versus generic, or any combination thereof, you and your baby may develop some preferences for the diapers you use. Some babies are “well-contained” using a variety of brands and styles of diapers, whereas others may do best with one certain brand. Some require extra absorbency while others do just fine with the less expensive, less absorbent types. Some babies may be sensitive to particular materials in diapers and may be more prone to rashes when wearing certain brands. The bottom line: Each baby is different, more expensive brands are not always better but some are worth their absorbency in gold, and finding a suitable diaper for less can clearly be a good way to save a lot of money. So don’t be afraid to try something new!

Velcro Versus Adhesive

Deciding on the brand is not the only decision you’ll need to make when it comes to choosing a diaper. Disposable diapers now come with a choice of Velcro or tape fasteners. While Velcro may be more expensive, it is easier to reattach—for instance, if you need to check for a wet diaper—especially if you find yourself doing it with water, lotion, Vaseline, or diaper rash cream on your hands. Additionally, the tape fasteners may stick steadfastly to themselves before you get a chance to secure them in the proper position and may also lose their adhesive qualities once detached. Once you become skilled in the fine art of changing diapers, however, it usually doesn’t make too much of a difference one way or another under normal circumstances.

Diaper Sizing




The exact numbers vary from brand to brand, but in general, newborn diapers are designed for infants up until they reach about 10 pounds. Unless your newborn is particularly small (in which case, you might start out with preemie diapers for babies weighing less than 6 pounds), you may find yourself jumping up to size 1 diapers fairly quickly. Given that size 1 diapers are designed to fit infants between approximately 8 and 14 pounds, you may find yourself rounding up and bypassing the newborn diapers altogether.

Diapering Around the Umbilical Cord




Until a newborn’s umbilical cord stump fully dries and falls off, it is recommended that you leave it exposed to air as much possible, as well as limit its exposure to pee- or poop-filled diapers. While newborn diapers usually have umbilical cord cutouts, you can also use diapers that don’t and simply fold the front of the diaper down below the level of the belly button.

Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Last Updated
Heading Home With Your Newborn, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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