‘Up to 16 hours protection against leakage’
’12 hours of dryness’
‘Lock-in moisture up to 12 hours’
‘Absorbs up to 3-4 pees’
These are the slogans you see when you look for diapers for your babies. 12-hr protection, really? Are we really going to keep our babies in a single diaper for 12 to 16 hours? You know the convenience of diapers but do you know the disadvantages? Diaper rash is the least of my worries. I’m concerned about Urinary tracts infections (UTI) that can be very dangerous to infants and young children. Studies showed that there is an increased risk of UTI if you keep a diaper on for a longer duration. One study concluded that super-absorbent diapers could be a risk factor for urinary tract infection in infant girls. The materials involved may or may not be contributing to the UTIs. What is definitely contributing is the fact that bacteria grow even if the wetness is absorbed. And the longer your kid stays in that pool of bacteria, the greater the risk of infections.
Don’t use a diaper for long hours:
Diapers are convenient so that you don’t have accidents to mop up or embarrassing incidents outdoors. But they are not meant for absorbing multiple pees despite what the marketing says. Most mothers change a diaper immediately after a baby poops. And you must do so, at all times where poop is concerned. But you should also change a diaper as soon as you realize that a child has peed in it. And the sooner you realize, the better it is. Typically, you shouldn’t keep a kid in a diaper longer than 3 hours. In my opinion, a diaper is not supposed to be put on for the purpose of absorbing multiple pees.
Consider cloth diapers:
I prefer if there is wetness in the diaper when a baby pees, so she would get uncomfortable and cry, signalling the parents for a diaper change. For that reason, think about using cloth diapers rather than the super-absorbent kind. Cloth diapers are also good for the environment. But you have to clean them carefully to avoid infections.
Reduce the frequency of diaper use and Potty train:
Consider using diapers sparingly when at home or avoiding them all together. When outside, remember to change frequently or as soon as they pee or poop. My child’s paediatrician convinced me into potty training my child very young. Read about ‘Elimination Communication’. You can start training your child when he is just a few months old too. But do not pressure the kids. Early potty training could take a long time for complete success, but it reduces the frequency of accidents rapidly, keeping the children clean and healthy. I stopped diapers all-together by the time my child turned 1. I used diapers occasionally when outside, but ensuring to change frequently even at nights. Yes, you’d have to go through the inconvenience of bed-wetting but that is a lesser evil than UTIs.
You must be patient with children as they don’t gain control over the muscles involved in urinating. They can control their poops sooner than pees. If you can get them to poop in a potty instead of a diaper (and wipe from front to back), you can avoid bacteria entering the urethra. And you have won half the battle or more. By avoidance of diapers or using them sparingly, you can keep them safe. Consider buying small portable potties which can go anywhere in the home making it easy for the child to get to, quickly. By 1, my child always used a potty for poop. For pees, it took her longer but the accidents got fewer and fewer. By 1, she used potty for pees 5 out of 7 times which is a big win.
You can do it too!
References / More Reading:
- Sugimura, T., Tananari, Y., Ozaki, Y., Maeno, Y., Tanaka, S., Ito, S., … & Masunaga, K. (2009). Association between the frequency of disposable diaper changing and urinary tract infection in infants. Clinical Pediatrics, 48(1), 18-20.