Myths & Facts about Disposable Baby Diapers

Once disposable diapers became used, they radically changed parents’ life and the very idea of ​​taking care of babies. Today, few people can imagine having a small baby in the house and not having a single diaper! How useful are disposable diapers? How to use them correctly? And can they harm a child’s health?


During the first year of life, a baby needs around 3000 diapers on average.

History and facts

Diapers for babies first appeared in 1961. They were created by an American grandfather, engineer Victor Mills – whose daughter asked him to take care of small grandchildren from time to time. Mills called his creation “pampers”. Nowadays, in many cultures of the world, this word is used much more frequently and more widely as a product name rather than the brand’s name. It almost ousted the real name “diaper” from our everyday lexicon. It is interesting to know that grandfather Victor Mills used the first models of uniforms for future astronauts, invented by Soviet space engineers in the late 1950s, as the prototype for the design of the first diaper models.

Currently, the use of disposable diapers in taking care of young babies is incredibly widespread all around the world. Most young moms and dads generally cannot imagine parenting without Mills’ invention.

Interesting facts about disposable diapers

  • Modern diapers generally consist of paper; the absorbent layer is a mixture of cellulose crystals and a super powerful absorbent. In general, polyacrylic polymers with the 50-fold absorbency of their own weight are used as an absorbent.
  • On average, every modern baby spends about 18-20 thousand hours in diapers.
  • Scientists have proved that men cope with diapers faster and in a more agile way than women: mothers spend an average of 2 minutes to replace a diaper, while fathers need just 1 minute and 30 seconds.
  • The most significant disadvantage of disposable diapers is that they are quite difficult to recycle. At present, this is a serious cause of headaches for all ecologists in the world: it takes an estimated period of more than 100 years to decompose one diaper in the ground. This means that even the first diapers used in 1961 have not been decomposed yet. For example, disposable diapers constitute about 1% of the waste produced in the United States.
  • In the countries where not only experts, but also ordinary citizens are deeply concerned about environmental issues, reusable diapers have become increasingly popular in recent years. They can be used an infinite number of times, and they are simple and economical for disposal.

Below are 3 most common myths about baby diapers:

Myth 1: Diapers overheat boys’ testicles, and so men are deprived of the future ability to conceive children

This myth can be busted in two ways. Firstly, fertility in men is determined by spermatogenesis – i.e. full maturation of sperm in a certain amount. Sperm matures in the scrotum (the testes) under the influence of hormones. But before the start of puberty, there are very few sex hormones in a boy’s body, and spermatogenesis does not take place at all. Thus, it is very difficult to damage what the boy’s nature does not have available and ripe yet.

Secondly, in order to deprive a man or a young man of the ability to procreate, his testicles should be heated pretty well – the researchers found that the microclimate around the scrotum should reach the temperature of 45-48 ° C (and remain at this level for at least 30 minutes) to reduce the spermatogenesis function sharply. But there is not a single diaper capable of creating such a warm atmosphere! All the studies concerning the question of whether the boy’s testicles are heated while wearing diapers have showed about the same results.

The temperature of the skin underneath the diaper may be higher than the skin temperature outside of the diaper by not more than 1 degree. It is the fixed maximum. But usually the difference is just one or two tenths of a degree. Painful and dangerous overheating does not then seem worthy of talking about.

Myth 2: Babies are poorly accustomed to a potty because of wearing diapers from birth

Scientists in many countries are trying to confirm this thesis empirically. But no one has managed to do this! While pediatricians tend to convince parents that there is no direct link between wearing diapers and the speed of getting accustomed to defecating in a potty.

Furthermore, medical science has found that kids are not able to fully and adequately learn how to use a potty or a toilet up to the age of 22-30 months because this is the age (and not before!) when their brain matures to the point enabling them to consciously control the processes of urination and defecation.

It turns out that if a baby is taught to use a potty before the age of 20 months, getting accustomed to it is not likely to go well for quite a long time (until the brain matures and the baby is physically ready to perform the “dressing” ritual). In this case, you cannot blame anything, but most often people tend to blame diapers. In fact, diapers have nothing to do with this situation. The assertion that kids find it comfortable to urinate and defecate in a diaper which makes them unable to later adapt to a potty does not seem plausible. A grown baby moves actively and gets more conscious by the age of 1.5-2 years, so it becomes uncomfortable and unpleasant to defecate in a diaper (or in the pants) exactly the same way as it would be uncomfortable and frustrating for an adult. If you begin to teach your baby to use a potty correctly and at the right time, he/she will master this skill instantly. Of course, you will soon forget about diapers!

Myth 3: The skin overheats under a diaper and becomes irritated, which causes diaper rash

This is not true. The most common reason for diaper rash in babies, oddly enough, is the wrong climate in the room where the baby lives. The fact is that small babies regulate heat through the lungs, and not through the skin as adults do. In other words, the baby is most often overheated not because of how he/she is dressed, but because of the air he/she breathes. If you leave the toddler naked and without a diaper in a room with warm and dry air, he/she will get overheated and turn red pretty quickly. There will surely appear some rash on the feet and hands, as well as diaper rash on the buttocks. This is unlikely to happen to the baby, left in a diaper and five pants, but in a room with cool and moist air.

The skin under the baby’s diaper is reddened and irritated not because the kid has defected in the diaper thus creating a tropical greenhouse. We have already mentioned that the inside of the diaper is less than 1 degree warmer than the outside temperature. Diaper rash is the reaction of the skin to inadequate climate, but it often appears when the skin comes in contact with urine and feces. In fact, these “products” are somewhat toxic by nature. Some children show greater sensitivity – they have light rash and their buttocks become red, while other people’s skin is less irritable. In such a situation, diapers are helpers rather than enemies because they are the champions of liquid absorbency. In a diaper, the skin contacts with the products of relieving nature are eliminated as quickly as possible (which is not true of conventional wet nappies).

When it’s time to gradually forget about diapers

You must understand that diapers are not needed by babies – they do not seem to care where to relieve themselves. Diapers are needed, above all, for those sitting all day long with the baby and looking after him/her. These absorbent pants for babies possess an admirable quality of saving time and space for leisure and recreation.

Therefore, you should not listen to grandparents or envious friends; use diapers in baby care as long as you find it convenient.

In any case, there is no reason to wait for the child to consciously adapt to a potty before he/she learns to tell you one way or another, that he/she needs to relieve nature. No sooner than that! And there is no sense in building a whole strategy for ridding the baby of diapers and training the use of a potty. The world has not seen a single healthy baby, who would have gone to the first form in a diaper, not knowing how to use a potty or a toilet. A little earlier or a little later, but all the kids anyway cease to defecate in a diaper or pants and begin to use a toilet. With time, you will forget anyway whether the baby started to use the toilet at 2 or 4 years of age.

Modern scientists have proved that the baby’s brain matures to the point at which it is able to control the processes of urination and defecation at about 22-30 months. So striving to teach your baby to use a potty (and give up diapers) before that age does not seem to make any sense.

Avoiding the use of diapers and training the use of a potty should not be a kind of child abuse, a problem for the family or a tragedy for the mother. The process of “separation” should be gradual, natural and “without nervous reactions”. Only parents decide, and exclusively from the point of view of their comfort and well-being, how long the baby will use diapers.

How to choose a good diaper

The task of diapers is to absorb the liquid, turning it into a gel as quickly as possible, thereby eliminating prolonged contact of moisture with the skin. Therefore, the main indicator of a good diaper is good absorbency. You can check these qualities in action only empirically. Try different brands and different models and choose diapers, which will “protect” your baby all night; the baby’s skin should be dry in the morning.

Many types of diapers with certain impregnated substances are currently available: chamomile, aloe vera, and so on. Will they “work” any better than your regular diapers? Only experience will show. Do they make any sense? The fact is that if you use any cosmetics under the diaper, its absorbent properties are somewhat reduced. If you smear the baby’s buttocks with fatty cream or with powder, the diaper will absorb moisture slightly worse than the one worn on the child’s butt without any cosmetics. To solve this problem, manufacturers are trying to put the necessary cosmetic products right into the diaper, not interfering with its absorptive function. Some companies happen to do this well, while others have not yet obtained any results – you can choose the best model only by trying and observing.

How often should I change a diaper?

As a rule, to prevent the occurrence of diaper dermatitis and other troubles that the contact of urine and feces with the skin can produce, disposable diapers should be changed in two cases:

  • immediately after defecation;
  • when urinating every 3-4 hours or by filling it significantly.

If you change a diaper, pediatricians recommend against using wet wipes in case you have access to warm water and soap.

What is the difference between disposable diapers for boys and girls?

In fact, there is no special difference. One manufacturer produces disposable diapers with exactly the same absorbent qualities. The only difference is in the coloring and in the fact that the absorbent is concentrated in the middle part if the diapers are for girls and slightly higher in the diapers for boys. The very idea of “gender specific” diapers developed exclusively as a business idea. But you cannot say that it has been paid off – in recent time, manufacturers are increasingly abandoning the production of “heterosexual” diapers in favor of the conventional “unisex” diapers.

One can raise a healthy baby without diapers – hundreds of thousands of generations that existed before 1961 proved it. Provided they are safe and convenient, the use of high-quality disposable diapers saves much time and the nerves of the toddler’s relatives. Besides, home furniture is not affected. It is your personal, family matter – whether to use this advantage to get closer to the condition of really happy parents, or to abandon it because of some ridiculous speculation and fears.