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The Dilemma: Nappie Issues - Disposable or Reusable

The Debate Rages On

By: Sherrie Cook of Itty Bitty Baby Bunz

Welcome to the crazy world of nappy changing! (Known in the United States as "diapers"!)

On average, in your baby's first year, you will be changing a minimum of 2000 and maybe even as many as 5000 nappies. (It is recommended that, regardless of what nappy you choose, you change your child approximately every 2 hours. Just because the diaper can "hold it" doesn't mean it should!) If you are a first time mum, you will want to get a primer - crash course - on changing your newborn.

Wondering what kind of nappies to use? Consider these options:

Disposable Nappies

No extra laundry to wash. Disposable diapers are tops in the convenience department. They are compact for storing and traveling with and trim under baby's clothing. They are also readily available at even the corner stores.

Newer styles hit the market everyday. They are very absorbent, and give baby a dry feeling next to his skin. They come in so many varieties that if one doesn't meet your needs, another brand or style will.

That sounds pretty good...so what's the downside? Disposable nappies feel dry even when they have soaked up a lot of urine. This often results in fewer nappy changes and consequently increases the risk of nappy rash. Read more about nappy rash. Another issue concerning newborns is that it's tough to measure urine output, which is a large indicator of how much milk your baby is consuming. The absorbing materials in a disposable nappy can easily deceive you into thinking your child is not outputting as much as expected in those all important first weeks and months of life.

Another negative effect is found in those buzz words of late - environmental concerns. According to the Women's Environmental Network in the UK in an article they published in 2003, one-half of the waste produced by a family wth a baby who wears disposable nappies is the nappies that are thrown away! If you are looking for an eco-friendly diapering method, cloth could be a better option.

In addition, disposable nappies are expensive! (Cloth nappies can be too if you use a nappy service.) See the numbers!

Cloth Nappies

If you can stand an extra load of laundry once every two or three days, reusable cloth nappies will work for you. Why would you want to do extra laundry? You're already busy!

Here are a few reasons why. Cloth nappies allow air to circulate around baby's bum and therefore, you have less chance of nappy rash. The latest innovations in cloth nappies use materials like fleece that allow baby's urine to pass through to be absorbed by another layer away from direct contact with his skin. If you choose to use prefold or flat nappies, the plastic, waterproof pants that were once used to hold in liquids and were known culprits of skin irritation, are a thing of the past. Yippee! You now have the options of fleece, wool, and laminated fabric covers, just to name a few!

Baby's bum feels comfortable and is less irritated and prone to rash. It is easier to tell when he is wet and you can change him immediately. No more guessing in those beginning weeks about whether or not you're getting the right number of wet nappies either.

As mentioned earlier, cost is another major factor. If you launder them yourself, then cloth nappies are a significantly cheaper option.

If you want the best of both worlds and don't mind the expense, choosing a nappy service that delivers laundered reusable nappies to your doorstep is a good option. Investigate to see if there is one in your local area.

Other thoughts on the debate

Your baby may not sleep through the night if he feels wet. If you choose prefolds or flats for your daily nappy system, you might want to consider a fleece liner or a dryer feeling system at night, such as pocket nappies. However, if you choose to continue with your daytime system at nighttime, you may find your baby stops wetting his nappy at night altogether. This could prove to make pottie learning easier in the future!

So which is better?

When it comes to nappy changing, the choice of nappies will depend solely on you and your baby. What was right for your mom might not be right for you. What works for your friends may not work for your baby. It is all a matter of personal choice. Once you make the educated choice, be confident in it and try not to second guess yourself. Other people's opinions are just that. If you haven't asked for their expertise, don't feel like you need to take it into consideration!

Unfortunately, there are a plethora of time-tested methods and this can make it tough to predict what will be the right choice for your baby. Each choice has its own pros and cons that must be thought through. The best route is to try one to see how it works for your family. Ask other moms for their opinions and research your options online. Soon you will find yourself turning into quite the nappy expert!

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About the author:

Sherrie chooses cloth for her family in Arkansas where she owns and operates Itty Bitty Baby Bunz a natural parenting business focused on cloth diapers and accessories, child carrying wraps, and breastfeeding supplies.