A diaper or a cloth napkin?

9 Aug

This is an eternal question once the baby is home in India. And more often than not, I have been told by many elders, that a diaper is just to take the baby outdoors, where as indoors it should always be a cloth napkin. This concept firstly sounded like the best way to go about it, especially when you are a new mother, and very paranoid about diapers and the even worse diaper rash! So, I started with the whole napkins at home and diaper for outdoor regime, and let me ask you, are you prepared to change the napkin every 20 mins? When there is someone around to hold the baby in between, or get you a fresh napkin, it’s all good. But, the moment you have to go about it by yourself, you see that it’s not an easy task. Cleaning and feeding seems like the only task you are ever doing. This made me rethink my decision, and I was never too convinced with the certainty of a diaper rash on using a diaper. So, I started my research on the reasons and what are the options which I have in front of me and also to look at the economics of it.

There are many variants of diapers available, with different features, as per your requirement, but a cursory search on the web shows that every brand has great and bad reviews. So, I figured its only a part the brand, but also the methodology of usage which has made a particular brand a success or a disaster for the baby. Following this, I started to read about diaper rashes, and what causes them.

Firstly, how do they look… a cursory google search will show you that it looks really scary!

Now, why do they occur?

1. A very small fraction of the rashes is attributed to the material of the diaper not suiting the baby skin. In this case, the rashes are seen consistently all over the area which is covered by the diaper, and they are usually very harsh.

2. Another fraction is because of improper cleaning and remnants of pee and poo causing an irritation to the tender baby skin.

3. A major fraction is just plainly because of the moisture/ dampness being in constant touch with the baby skin. This is more like a bed sore, where also its the warmth, dampness of sweat all causing the skin to be irritated and hence resulting ghastly rashes. And, what is the prescribed prevention/ cure for bed sores? Clean the area and apply a soothing cream, with an oil base which is allow no moisture to come in contact with the skin. This is the same procedure I followed to prevent diaper rashes. I smear a small amount of baby cream/ petroleum jelly during every diaper change, after wiping her clean with a wet wipe tissue. This has the skin soft, supple and coated with a water-repellent product.

Then there was an issue of letting the baby’s skin breathe and not always to encase it in a diaper ( pee/ poo inclusive or else). For this, as a practice, I remove her diaper once she is up in the morning, and place a cloth napkin instead. I keep changing her cloth napkins till its time for her bath and then she is back on diapers till the next morning. In this manner, the skin can breathe and I can also run around changing napkins every 20 – 30 mins.

Now to the economics of it…

First the diapers..

1. Babies usually need about 3-4 diaper changes in a day under normal circumstances, which amounts to 4 x 31 = 124  ~ 130 diapers a month.

2. Diaper varieties are many in India, so if we take the upper bracket, the imported variety of Pampers etc, they are priced at approximately Rs.450 for 40 diapers.

3. This has us spending Rs.450 x 3 = Rs.1350 a month on diapers.

And if we look at the napkins  

1. A napkin would have to be changed every 30 mins or at best an hour, which would mean a minimum of 20 napkins which are to be used in a single day, also to note, the infinite night-time napkin changes, when you are in a half drowsy state after a feeding session 15 mins back.

2. Napkins also need to be washed and dried, so that would also mean you need at least 40 napkins at hand, to allow for a wet – wash – dry cycle.

3. Some good absorbent napkins are priced between Rs. 50 – 70 a napkin. This results in an initial spend of 40 x 60 = Rs. 2400

4. Another aspect to be considered in case of napkins is that children grow out of napkins, so there needs to be a replacement to the right size which needs to be done. And its been observed that napkins usually come in Newborn, S, M, L and XL sizes. And if you’re using a napkin, you would anyhow have to go through the all sizes, and 30 of each size need to be bought at a minimum. which is 60 x 120 = Rs. 7200

5. We need to also assess the usage of detergent for washing the napkins on a daily basis, which lets say would be a kg of detergent in a month. And 1 kg of detergent would be around Rs. 150.

Now if we look at the first one year, then we would be needing Rs. 16, 200 for diaper usage, and Rs. 9000 if you go with napkin use. This is not including the cost of the person who will be washing napkins on a daily basis, or the machine electricity and water costs. Added to that the cost of a plastic sheet to protect the mattresses, and also a plastic play mat which has to be bought. When the baby is wearing a napkin, there is no way they can be put on the sofa, bed or any rug. They always have to on a plastic surface. And once they start crawling, moving about, this becomes more difficult, with all items getting sodden over a period of time.

As we look at this it would seem napkin usage is far cheaper, but the convenience far outweighs the price.

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One Response to “A diaper or a cloth napkin?”

  1. Fredric Fulbright February 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Few things are actually more perfect than a baby’s soft, smooth skin. However, due to the fact that it is so delicate and tender, that sweet skin can be susceptible to diaper rash, a moderate inflammation of the skin that induces redness about the diaper area.The majority of instances of diaper rash are triggered by too much dampness and friction. While diaper rashes are usually not serious, they do create unpleasantness for your child. Presently there are a number of diaper rash remedies available for use in your home. Discover which ones work for your infant.Diaper rash often tends to develop in older kids, around 9 months and up. That’s when older babies urinate more, which saturates the diapers and makes the skin damp. Furthermore, older babies have started to consume solid foods, and the varied acids they generate in their urine may result in diaper rash.”

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