Diapers 101

Diaper Sizing and More

baby standing

How do I know my peanut is ready to bump up a size?
You'll probably notice the obvious clues: The side tabs are popping open, the leg bands feel supertight, or her diaper resembles an itsy-bitsy bikini, falling an inch or more below her belly button. Leakage issues also can mean it's time to go larger, Higgins says. Sizing is based chiefly on a baby's weight, and "as you move into the larger sizes, the diapers have more absorbent materials," Higgins says.

What do I do with all of my extra diapers?
You ordered a case of size 2s for your little dude, but six diapers in, he's busting out of them. You could pass your surplus along to a friend or donate them to women who could really use them. "For so many moms in need, diapers are like gold," says Lisa Truong, cofounder and executive director of Help a Mother Out, a nonprofit that's devoted to increasing access to diapers. "Programs like food stamps help families with food, but they don't allow those in need to purchase diapers. Without them, babies can suffer from severe rash, urinary tract infections, even jaundice." What's more, a baby may miss out on free or subsidized child care if his parents don't have the means to buy diapers, says Truong, because most day cares require a steady supply to keep a child enrolled. Last year, Huggies launched Every Little Bottom, which has donated more than 22.5 million diapers to children in need. Visit EveryLittleBottom.com to locate a diaper bank in your community or to give to agencies that distribute diapers. And you can also host a diaper drive; get more details at HelpAMotherOut.org.

Will cloth or disposable diapers help my munchkin graduate to Superman underpants sooner?
"In the U.S., where disposables are the norm, potty training starts later than in countries where infants wear cloth diapers or no diapers at all," says L.E. Wolovits, M.D., a pediatrician and founder of At Home Pediatrics in Dallas, and mom of a 1-year-old. But that doesn't necessarily mean that kids using cloth diapers take to the toilet earlier. Cultural norms are a big contributor. "In some places, earlier potty training is seen as a part of being a good mother," says Lauren Thaman, associate director of global science communication for Pampers. So in countries such as India, where fewer than 5 percent of mothers work outside the home and kids have so much hands-on time with their mom, it's not surprising that 55 percent of tots are toilet trained by 18 months; whereas in the U.S., only 3 percent have ditched diapers by that age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child starts showing signs of readiness, such as staying dry for at least two hours in the day or after naps and expressing interest in the toilet -- this usually happens between 18 and 24 months. Once you begin, remember these two words: patience and motivation. Emphasize that accidents happen and keep your eye on the prize: big-kid underpants or stickers for your cutie, no more changing diapers for you!

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