5 Diapering Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Before I became a mom, I don’t think I realized just how knee-deep in diapers I’d be those first few months of parenthood. Diapers are the third largest contributor to landfill waste for a reason: we use A LOT of them. When diapers don’t hold up to their end of the bargain? No new parent should have to lose their sleep (or their sanity) over that.
So, with your sanity and sleep in mind, I present to you the 5 biggest diapering mistakes you never knew you were making. Let’s just say I’ve learned most of these the hard way.
Mistake #1: Staying in newborn diapers way too long.
Newborn-sized diapers (the size before Size 1 diapers) are designed, pretty universally, with no ADL. What’s an ADL, you might ask? Same question I had. It’s the Acquisition Distribution Layer and it’s the part of the diaper responsible for funneling moisture away from your baby’s bum and into the core of the diaper. Because newborns pee and poo so often, diaper companies expect you to be changing their diapers so much that you won’t need an ADL. If you’re like me, however, and your baby takes a bit longer to gain weight, you may overstay your welcome on the newborn size front and start to experience leaks. My recommendation: Get out of size Newborn diapers as soon as possible.
Mistake #2: Being afraid to size up when you’re outside the recommended weight range.
Similar to the point above, you don’t have to wait until your baby has reached the recommended weight range to size up. This is particularly true overnight. Fit matters, but so does absorbency. The biggest thing that has kept my baby dry (and sleeping!) at night? Using a size up for her overnight diapers! Yes they’re a little big, but the bigger the diaper, the more absorbent material you’ll find, and as long as I pull the diaper up high, fold the leg cuffs out (see mistake #3) and keep the tabs tight, I’ve found that I’m much more likely to have a wake-free night. Now whenever my baby starts to experience leaks, I take it as a sign that it’s time to size up -- at least overnight.
Mistake #3: Not folding the leg cuffs out.
Know those ruffles on the edge of the diaper that line the inner thighs when you put the diaper on? They’re called leg cuffs. And if you didn’t know that they should be folded out as you’re putting the diaper on, now you know. When they’re folded in, moisture has a much easier time escaping the diaper and finding its way onto your baby’s leg...and, you know, the couch/crib/bed/parent that leg is touching. So repeat after me: Ruffles out. I repeat. Ruffles. Out.
Mistake #4: Not letting your baby air it out.
Moisture, friction, and allergens. Those are the three biggest contributors to diaper rash. To protect your baby’s bum, then, you’re going to want to pay careful attention to how well your diaper breathes: how well is your diaper able to funnel moisture away from baby’s skin (basically does your baby’s bum feel dry when you change the diaper?); and what materials in your diaper are touching baby’s skin. The more natural the material, the better, and be sure to avoid any and all common allergens like fragrances. They can irritate the skin and contribute to rash (also known as dermatitis). Another pro tip: If you’re using wet wipes, wait until your baby’s bum has dried completely before putting a diaper back on. Same thing goes before you apply any diaper cream. The last thing you want to do is trap in unnecessary moisture.
Mistake #5: Assuming that you can only use one diaper at a time.
This was a tip I got from two amazing nurses and it literally blew my mind. You can use two diapers...at the same time! Most of the time, for overnight leaks, the sizing up did the trick for me -- but I love the idea of being able to layer on diapers for extra protection. This is also key for long car rides where you have the added incentive of protecting your car. Basically one diaper goes on the regular way, and the other diaper goes on backwards with the straps fastening in the back. The other tip they recommended for car rides? Putting a waterproof reusable diaper or swim suit bottom over the diaper for an extra seal to contain the mess. Genius.
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