Baby Care & Child Health Problems

Part I

Baby Diapers

You have just become a parent. The excitement of labour and delivery has taken you to the next step of beginning your life with your baby. For the next few years, diapers* shall become an important part of your life. You will now wonder whether you would be using cloth or disposable diapers for your newborn. Use either of the two; your baby is sure to dirty about 10 in a day or about 70 in a week.

With the arrival of the newborn, there is a lot of joy in the air as well as lots of apprehension concerning his/her care and hygiene. For any new parent, the very thought of diapering your little one can be a scary idea. You will be amazed to see how often your baby pees and poops initially. Changing your baby after every leak is something that will command your attention most of the time. Diapers are a means to wick away wetness from your soft baby's skin, keeping him/her dry and happy. Changing your baby's diapers may seem to be a baffling chore at the start. However with a little practice, you will discover that keeping your baby dry is just a child's play. One of the important decisions that you have to make as parents is to whether put your baby on cloth diapers or disposable ones. While disposable diapers are handier and easy to use, cloth diapers are certainly the best bet. Cloth diapers are economical, environment-friendly, reusable, washable and quite easy to make.

Diapering a baby calls for some guidelines and precautions to ensure that your baby is comfortable and happy for the next few hours. If not attended well, diapers can lead to diaper rash which, when ignored, can worsen the condition. This chapter of baby care deals with the aspect of teaching new parents how to use diapers or nappies for their newborns. You will find how to make and fold cloth diapers, and pack a diaper bag. It also includes the use of disposable diapers and training a parent to tie a nappy.*

1. Making Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are back in vogue and are being favoured by an increasing number of parents today. Traditional cloth diapers are definitely enjoying an upper hand now, as opposed to their disposable counterparts. Apart from being economical and eco-friendly, cloth diapers are easily washable and can be reused. Also, the soft, airy feel of real cloth reduces any risk of your baby suffering painful rashes. Most parents often find it troublesome to fold a cloth diaper into a proper fit.

Choose a Style

You can begin by choosing a style for your diapers. While all-in-one (AIO) diapers are the most convenient option that comes without any pins or covers, pre-fold diapers are easy on your pockets. In case you wish to go for fitted diapers, you can sew them as per your preference.

Pick the Right Fabric

While making cloth diapers, picking the right fabric is an absolute essential. Fabrics like flannel, cotton knits, and terry make for great diapers. If you are willing for all-in-one diapers, opt for waterproof fabrics. Fleece can be used as water resistant diaper covers, as it quickly soaks away wetness from the baby's skin and keeps it dry for longer periods. It also reduces any chances of painful rashes. Terry could be used for the soaker, and a cute flannel print could be used as the external cover for your baby's diaper.

Choose a Pattern

Next step is to pick a pattern for your diapers. You can use disposable diapers for designing the pattern of your cloth diapers. Trace the outlines of the disposable diaper, carefully leaving 1/4 inch for the seam. While making cloth diapers for your baby make sure that the tabs are big enough, so that they can be adjusted as the baby grows. You can also check out the various Internet websites for the pattern.

Tips to Make Cloth Diapers

 Following the pattern, cut two hourglass shaped pieces, each from the internal cloth and the external covering. Cut out a rectangular shaped cloth from the soaker and place it between the interior cloth and external covering. The soaker should run along the full length of the baby's diaper. Put the soaker on the wrong side of the interior material and sew it up.

 Now using the measuring tape, asses the girth of the baby's thigh. Cut two strips of elastic band wide enough for the comfort of your baby and stretch them to cover the whole leg opening. Now, stitch the elastic to the wrong side of the external covering along the curved side of the leg opening. Measure the baby's back and cut out half inch wide elastic piece. Stretch it, so that it covers the entire width of the diaper and then sew it to the exterior material.

 Layer the inner and the outer covering of the diaper and sew it together. Allow a small gap in the front to turn the diaper right side out.

 Using a pencil or a butter knife, mark out the seams. Fold in the seam allowance and sew it up.

 Use snaps, Velcro or other closures to secure your diaper. Velcro has a lower longevity and tends to gets frayed after repeated washes. You can use diaper pins to secure your baby's diapers.

2. Folding Cloth Diapers

Folding a cloth diaper isn't a Herculean task and all it takes is a little practice. Folding your baby's diapers can be entertaining, as it opens the space for a lot of experiments. You can fold your baby's diapers in several ways. With time, you will eventually know what works best for your baby. The key idea is to keep your baby dry and comfortable. Here are some popular ways of folding cloth diapers.

Hour-Glass Fold

 Place the diaper on a smooth surface and even out the creases.

 Position your baby on the diaper and fold in the middle of the diaper towards the center creating an hourglass shape. Draw the other half of the diaper around the front part of the baby.

 If you are using diaper covers, secure the corners with the help of a Velcro or a snap.

 In case of pull up covers, use safety pins to close the corners and then pull the cover over the diaper.

 In case you wish to go for a folded hour glass diaper, fold the diaper from one sewn corner to another and repeat the above mentioned process.

Baby Boy-friendly Folds

 Place the diaper on a smooth surface.

 Fold one-third of the cloth diaper up and then fold the edges towards the center.

 Place your baby on the diaper and pull out the remaining half of the nappy around the baby's front.

 Pull the corners of the diaper to the front and secure it with a Velcro or snap.

 This fold is particularly helpful if you are using pull up covers. In this case, you can tie the back corners to the front layer of the cloth of the front corners.

Baby Girl-friendly Folds

 Place the diaper on a smooth surface and even out all the creases.

 Fold 1/3 of the cloth down from the top and fold the bottom sides to the centre.

 Place your baby on the diaper and pull around the remaining half to the front.

 Pull the corners of the diaper to the front and secure it with a Velcro or snap.

 This fold is particularly useful if you are using pull up covers. You can fasten the front corners of the diaper to the front layers of the cloth, particularly, the back corners.

Flat-fold Diapers

 For the flat-fold diaper, you can start with folding your diaper in half.

 Fold about two-third of each side of the diaper with one side, partly covering the other to create extra absorbency in the centre.

 The flat-fold diaper is the most versatile and it can be adjusted to different sizes.

Flat-fold Diapers

Folds for Traditional Diapers

The traditional diapers are square shaped and need to be pinned up. There are absorbent liners that can be used inside the cloth diapers, which are disposable. Cloth diapers are double lined for greater protection for night use. Diaper covers made of plastics are available to prevent leaks. They can be folded in these two styles:

Folds for Traditional Diapers

Triangular Fold

 The square is folded into half to form a triangle.

 Place the baby gently on the triangle in such a way that his/her back is on the longest side and the opposite corner pointing to his feet.

 Bring the front part between his legs onto his stomach.

 Bring one side to overlap the middle part.

 Bring the other side to overlap the two parts. Pin them together using a safety pin.

Triangular Fold Diapers

Rectangular Fold

 Fold the square into a rectangle.

 Place the baby on the rectangle.

 Bring the bottom part between his legs onto his stomach.

 Bring one side around and pin with the centre part, then bring the other side and pin again.

Rectangular Fold Diapers

3. Tying Cloth Diapers

Newborns and tots can make you wonder with the amount of pee and poop they generate every day. This results in lots of messy diapers. Your child needs to be kept dry all the time. On an average, a baby uses as many as 15 diapers every day. A full diaper can cause great discomfort to your little one. Your baby might catch cold, if he/ she sits on a wet diaper for too long and may also develop painful skin rashes. However, going over and over that rigorous process of changing your baby's diapers can leave you high and dry at times. Most mothers often have a tough time trying to be at ease, while attending to their baby's soiled diapers.

Knowing how to tie your baby's diapers effortlessly and comfortably can ease out your endeavour and make the entire process a happy bonding time for you and your baby. Also, it can make your baby feel much more comfortable. A badly tied diaper is just the same as wearing any other uncomfortable clothing. This could badly affect your baby's sleep and could cause it to be irritable and fussy.

Tips to Tie Baby's Diapers

 You can place a tri-folded diaper on the wrap and then position your baby in a way that the ties are in front.

 Pad the wrap with a soaker-pad, as per your convenience.

 Fold the soaker-pad up to the baby's belly and then draw the back wings of the wrap around to the front on top of the diaper.

 Grabbing the back wings with one hand, pull the front part of the wrap with the straps up between the baby's legs and stretch it to the sides and over the diaper.

 Enclose the straps around the back and bring them to the front again and to tie them in a knot.

Tips to Use Cloth Diapers

 If the diaper requires pins, use large pins with plastic safety heads. While pinning the diaper, place your hand between the baby and the diaper. This will ensure that you do not prick the baby. Alternatively, you can use diaper tapes.

 Diapers that are wet can be put into the diaper bin. If soiled, the stools should be emptied into the toilet. You can rinse them before putting them into the diaper bin, to wash later.

 Use a solution of baking soda and water for your last rinse, as this will control odour.

 Wash diapers separately. Do not do it with the rest of your laundry.

 Use mild detergent that is recommended for baby clothing.

 Use hot water to rinse each wash.

 Wash your hands well after each diaper change to prevent germs from spreading.

4. Disposable Diapers

It's normal for parents to lose their sleep over issues relating to their child. Every parent is concerned about their baby's food, health, hygiene and even diapers. Talking of diapers, there has been a lot of discussion over disposable diapers and the traditional cloth diapers. Although it was the traditional cloth diapers that dominated the scene in the past, introduction of disposable diapers have changed the way we look at baby hygiene today. However, the opinion is divided on what is the best kind of diaper for your baby. The reason tilts from health concern to environmental issues. While traditional cloth diapers are economical and eco-friendly, disposable diapers have got an edge over being handier and easy to use. Some pediatricians do not favour using disposable diapers as they are likely to cause skin rashes, while some others are of the opinion that disposable diapers are a safe option since they wick away all moisture from the baby bottom, leaving it dry. It is sensible to change your baby's diaper frequently, if using disposable diapers. Also, keep rash creams handy and don't forget to give your baby some “open-air” time to cure any rashes caused by either kind of diapers.

Tips to Use Disposable Diapers

 Unwrap the disposable diaper and gently slip it under your baby by lifting his/her feet. Your baby's bum should rest on the top edge of the diaper, while the adhesive strips should level with your baby's belly button.

 Lift the front part of the diaper, adjusting it between your baby's legs, on top of his belly.

 Pull the adhesive strips on the rear end of the diaper to the front part and secure it comfortably. Be careful not to stick the tape to your baby's tender skin.

 If you are using disposable diapers, clean your trash regularly. This will avert growth of any harmful bacteria in your household apart from checking spread of any foul odour.

 When trashing your diaper, fold the dirty baby wipes inside the diaper. Roll it into a ball and secure it with the tapes of the dirty diaper. Put it into a cellophane grocery bag, tie it as tightly as you can and dispose it into your trash bin.

 If you notice red marks around your baby's legs and waist, opt for a loose-fitting diaper next time. Ill-fitting diapers can cause great discomfort to your baby.

 In case you notice skin rashes around your child's leg and waist, immediately shift to a different brand of diapers. Certain brands of diaper can cause skin sensitivity and allergies to your baby.

 When diapering a baby boy, position his penis downward before fastening it. This will stop leaks from seeping out over waistlines.

 If your baby's umbilical cord has not yet fallen off, be careful to fold up the waistline of your baby's diaper to prevent any kind of abrasions.

 Don't forget to wash your hands after changing your baby's diaper each time. This will prevent the spread of all kinds of harmful germs.

Let's Remember

·      Change diapers frequently.

·      Look out for zinc oxide based diaper ointments to treat rashes.

·      Don't put your baby always on diaper. Allow your baby to go without diaper for at least some part of the day.

5. Packing a Diaper Bag

You will often see parents of little babies saddled with overstuffed diaper bags that contain almost everything, from disposable diapers to digital thermometers. When you plan to take your baby out from the comfort of your home, the focus will always be on caring for his/her little needs and having everything required, at your convenience. However, when you start deciding what assumes priority, you will be amazed at the wide range of items that you would need to choose from. At this hour, it is the diaper bag which comes to your aid. Parents are often overly careful not to exclude anything important, while packing their diaper bags. As a result, they end up cramming it with every item they come across, and then spend precious moments digging through their bag, trying to find that one small thing they need. Putting together a diaper bag requires as much careful consideration as anything else for your baby. As you get used to your child's needs, you understand that you don't really need to carry a nursery in your bag each time you go out. A little thought and smart planning is all that it takes to pack a diaper bag. Read on to know more about packing a diaper bag.

A diaper bag

Tips to Pack a Diaper Bag

 While packing diaper bags, it is essential to consider your travel time and the size of your bag first. A tote bag is just fine to cover a short outing, while you might need a large diaper bag for longer outings. You can choose from hard-sided and soft-sided bags, traditional baby bags, savvy bags, rugged-manly styles and even overnight travel cases.

 If you are planning to stay out for a short time, you can carry a bottle of milk with you. In case you wish to stay out longer, don't forget to pack in more feeding bottles. Also, do not feed your toddler with any leftover food. If you are nursing, don't forget to carry nursing pads.

 The next important thing to put into your diaper bag is diapers. Carry at least six to eight diapers for your baby, if you intend to stay out for longer hours.

 Carry anti-bacterial wipes in small containers to clean your baby's hand, face, bottom and even your own hands.

 Keep changing pads handy, in order to keep your baby from getting dirty and to wipe the dirt off your baby.

 Carry two pairs of extra clothes, bibs and socks when you are going out, just in case your little one soils his/ her clothes.

 Carry a blanket to keep your baby warm.

 Using diapers for long hours can cause skin rashes. Therefore, it is important to carry a diaper cream in your bag to soothe any kind of skin irritation. This is extremely important if your baby is seated for long hours.

 Plastic bags are absolute must, in case you need to make an emergency change. Apart from holding the soiled diapers and clothes, these are extremely useful in preventing any kind of odour.

 Pack a single small toy or rattle for your child to play with, so that he/she does not get fussy while you are shopping.

 If you are planning for longer trips, don't forget to carry emergency medicines, a medicine dropper and a nasal syringe.

 Keep all the emergency contact information handy, including the contact numbers of your relatives, friends and the pediatrician.


Q-1. How can I keep my baby dry?

Ans. Prepare soft cotton pads using cotton and gauze and put them under the baby's buttocks when you are at home. As soon as they get soiled, dispose them off and use a fresh one. this way the baby will remain dry.

Q-2. What kind of diapers are the best for the baby?

Ans. Good quality disposable diapers for night and for outings are good as they save you the trouble of changing diaper number of times. But when at home or during the day, use diapers made with clean cotton cloth. These diapers are more airy and you can change them as soon as they are soiled. This way the baby remains clean at all times. This reduces the chances of your baby getting a diaper rash.

Q-3. How should I wash the cloth diapers?

Ans. To wash the cloth diapers, first clean them with soap water. Then rinse them thoroughly to wash off the soap. Wash them once more in dettol or any other anti-bacterial solution. Dry them in bright sunlight. This will disinfect the diapers completely and help in preventing rash and infection caused due to diapers.

Q-4. What should I do if the baby develops diaper rash?

Ans. If it is a mild rash, apply zinc oxide cream or a petrolatum emollient twice a day at the affected area. Keep the area dry and change the diapers frequently. In case the rash is severe and suggests fungal infection, then consult your paediatrician. Delaying this matter can cause the infection to spread to other parts of the body through blood and endanger the life of the baby.

Q-5. Is it advisable to keep my baby without diapers for some time?

Ans. During summer months, there is no harm in letting the baby go without diaper for a while as this way the skin remains dry and clean. But during the winter season, this may cause your baby to catch cold. So avoid it if possible.

Q-6. What are one-way liners?

Ans. Special one-way liners are useful since they allow urine to pass through to the towel napkin outside leaving a dry layer next to the baby's skin. These liners are now available in India in big stores.

Q-7. How are square napkins tied for girls and boys differently? Ans. While using a square napkin, you need to place its double thickness in front for a baby boy and at the back for the baby girl.

* A diaper (as known in North America) or nappy (in other countries) is a sponge-like garment worn by individuals, especially babies, who are not capable of holding their bladder or bowel movements or are unable to use the toilet.