Diapering with Us

A quick and easy guide to diapering your baby with cotton.

If you would like to give your baby's tender skin the same cotton comfort that you enjoy in your own clothing and underclothing, this page will give you the simple basics of cotton diapering care.

Why Cotton?

It's a matter of comfort and health. The comfort is something you know about from your own clothing. It stems both from cotton soft touch on sensitive skin and from its breathability--which ventilates the skin and helps evaporate the potentially irritating ammonia that starts to form as soon as a baby wets. As for cotton's health for babies, it has thousands of years of history behind it. Cotton is the fabric of choice for use directly on the skin. Like its comfort, its natural absorbency is the polar opposite of the combination of paper pulp, plastics, and "super absorbent" chemicals in disposables. We can provide A-Z testimonials from moms whose babies experienced irritation with disposables that went away immediately with cotton.

Isn't It Inconvenient?

Not if you use a diaper service and the modern, no-pins cotton diapering system (see below). With a service, all you do with a used diaper is put it--without rinsing--in the hamper provided for your use. The service comes by once a week to take the used diapers and leave a fresh supply of soft, sweet-smelling cotton comfort. It also supplies a freshener that goes in the hamper and prevents your home from smelling diapery.

You can simply fold a diaper in thirds and place it in the cover, or fold it (still unpinned) the traditional way and trap it in place.

How Does Modern, No-Pins Cotton Diapering Work?

It combines a soft, three-panel diaper (the center panel is extra-thick and absorbent) and a Velcro-fastening diaper cover. You just fold the diaper in thirds (see above) and trap it in place under the cover. That's all. No pins needed. (For summer and other times when you might want your baby to wear a diaper with no outer cover, you can use either pins or diaper clips. The slight added effort for these few occasions is balanced by the fact that disposables don't ever allow you the option of shedding the outer plastic covering for your baby's summer comfort.)

How Often Should I Change My Baby?

Whatever kind of diaper you use, cotton or disposable, babies should be changed often--every two hours or so. Bacteria begin to form as soon as a child wets or soils, and leaving a diaper on a baby for prolonged periods can not only produce irritation but compromise the skin to the point of serious infection. The chemical dryness of disposables has produced a great lowering of standards in baby care because parents are led to believe that as long as the diaper feels dry, it's all right to leave on. It isn't! Dry does not mean clean, and the urine absorbed by the chemicals used in disposables stays right next to a baby's skin. (As do feces, which is a tremendous breeding ground for noxious bacteria.) Chemicals are not a substitute for the attention babies need, and "set-and-forget" diapering is not healthy.

If I Want To Fold A Cotton Diaper the Traditional Way, How Do I Do It?

It's easy with today's three-panel diaper, which is a far cry from the big, gauzy rectangle of yesteryear. Just follow these simple instructions:

1. Fold the diaper in thirds.

2. Open overlapping back section. Place baby on diaper with the wide top section centered at the baby's legs. Close in between the legs.

3. Bring the wide back ends of the diaper over the baby's hips and pin to the front section. Ease the pad section wider as necessary to comfortably encircle the baby below the navel. While pinning the diaper, insert your finger between the baby and diaper for baby's protection. Pin out as the picture shows.

Again, using a modern diaper cover over the diaper eliminates the need for pinning.

What if my baby has large thighs? Are there other traditional alternatives?

You might want to try a "bikini twist" fold. Again, just follow these simple instructions:

1. Lay the diaper flat.

2. Twist the diaper in the middle.

3. Bring the back ends of the diaper over the baby's hips and pin to the front section. Ease the pad section wider as necessary to comfortably encircle the baby below the navel. While pinning the diaper, insert your finger between the baby and diaper for baby's protection. Pin out as the picture shows.

Again, using a modern diaper cover over the diaper eliminates the need for pinning.

Anything Else I Should Know About Using Cotton?

A couple of things:

One is that you can probably expect your baby to toilet train a year earlier in cotton diapers than she or he would in disposables. The average stay in cotton diapers is 24-30 months, while the average for disposables is 36-42 months. (The reason for this is that the chemical absorbency of disposables obscures the cause and effect of wetting.) This not only has obvious implications for your budget and convenience, but it is highly significant for your baby's development. Toilet training is an important step on the way to increased competence, confidence, and sense of self.

The other is that a cotton diaper isn't just a diaper. It's a burp shield for parents' shoulders, a wash cloth, a light sheet in summer for an infant, a cushion under a baby on a rug or in a crib, a sunshade, a bib, a changing pad, a hand towel, and many, many other things that will help give you nice memories of your child's babyhood.