One of the most controversial issues in newborn care today, along with breastfeeding, co-sleeping, pacifier training, is the issue of swaddling. It is very difficult to unequivocally answer the question to swaddle or not to swaddle a child. Which child to swaddle, and which one can do without it, even a specialist will not answer. Ultimately, the parents and the child himself decide.
Do you need to swaddle?
In Soviet times, children were tightly swaddled up to 6-8 months, but modern doctors consider the method of tight swaddling to be non-physiological, therefore, it is recommended to use clothes immediately after birth (sliders, overalls, etc.) or free swaddling. Unlike tight, it is more gentle and does not constrain the movements of the baby.
Simple loose swaddling helps soothe baby and ensure restful sleep — the diaper creates tightness for him, reminiscent of security and comfort inside the womb (warm and cramped). At the same time, the baby moves his arms and legs, swaddling is free (this is important for the proper development of the joints), the diaper does not restrict movement. By the same principle, children fall asleep perfectly and sleep for a long time in slings.
It is very easy to learn how to swaddle, watch a short instructional video:
Diapers are necessary for the reason that the baby still does not know how to control his movements. Chaotic shuddering of the arms or legs, capable of scaring him, prevent him from sleeping peacefully. A swaddled baby feels warm, comfortable and safe.
Products must be:
- sewn from soft material, with finished ends, but without coarse seams and protruding threads;
- provide warmth and comfort without creating a «greenhouse effect», which is harmful to the baby;
- absorb moisture well and be durable;
- fabric or pattern should not be too bright.
Saturated colors may indicate the use of chemicals, when coloring, increases the risk of an allergic reaction. Bright colors have a negative effect on the baby’s eyes, causing overexcitation and irritation.
How to choose the right diaper for a newborn
The best baby diaper ever:
- from natural fabricswithout synthetics (usually cotton and bamboo viscose, which is not synthetic);
- soft and tenderthat does not lose softness after washing;
- breathable, good air conduction, to avoid diaper rash and lack of oxygen (if the diaper is used as a cape on a stroller or car seat);
- well crafted along the edges, without seams, decorations and ruffles on the canvas.
There should not be a dense line. It can contribute to chafing of children’s skin. It is better to choose ready-made fabrics without seams. When self-made, the edge is processed with an overlock or zigzag. Can be overcast by hand. Modern canvases contain a certain amount of artificial impurities, thanks to which the fabric can be melted. A candle flame, a lighter will do. It is important to be careful and careful when handling fire. The disadvantage of this method is the formation of a hard edge. It is better to spend more time and make an overcast seam.
Types of diapers
There are a great variety of diapers, we will consider their main types below. We will not consider waterproof disposable and reusable diapers, only woven ones.
- by type of fabric (chintz, flannel, knitwear, muslin, coarse calico, marquisette, etc.), different types of fabric have different characteristics of softness, breathability, wash resistance, and can also vary greatly in price;
- according to the composition of the fabric: it is mainly 100% cotton, cotton with bamboo or 100% bamboo (bamboo gives the fabric a special softness and silkiness);
- type of diaper: traditional, in the form of a square, processed along the edges, and cocoon diapers (with Velcro, with a zipper or with another design without traditional swaddling);
- to size (traditional can be large, medium and small; cocoon diapers vary according to the size of the child);
- according to seasonality: it depends on the thickness of the fabric, diapers can be thin (coarse calico, marquisette), medium (2-layer muslin, thin knitwear, chintz) and warm (flanel, 3-4-layer muslin);
- by budget: the price always matches the quality, so the most expensive diapers (bamboo muslin and organic cotton muslin, premium flannel and premium brand cocoons) always have better characteristics of softness, hypoallergenicity, breathability and tailoring than the cheapest cotton or flannel ones.
We will analyze the types of diapers below, their features, pros and cons!
3.1 Muslin diapers
Let’s start with what is currently considered the best fabric for baby diapers! Forget chintz, calico and flannel, they lose to muslin both in softness and in other parameters.
Muslin — it is a light, soft, loose fabric with a rare weave, similar to gauze. For muslin diapers, this fabric is sewn together in 2-4 layers (depending on seasonality), 2-layer diapers are most common.
CHARACTERISTICS. The most important characteristic of muslin is softness! The fabric is like a cloud, wrapping a baby in it is a pleasure! A muslin diaper does not lose its softness characteristics even after numerous washes — at most, a bright pattern may fade a little, but softness will not go anywhere.
COMPOUND. Muslin diapers can be 100% cotton, 100% organic cotton, cotton with bamboo (70% or 30% bamboo), or 100% bamboo.
Bamboo (or bamboo viscose) is an artificial fiber (not to be confused with synthetics! This is not polyester!), absolutely natural (produced by processing bamboo pulp), which has excellent qualities of softness, silkiness, hypoallergenicity, therefore it is widely used in children’s clothing and bedding . Similar in characteristics to silk, but much cheaper.
USAGE. Muslin diapers are used not only for swaddling (their largest size is needed for this), but also for many other purposes. For more information, see our article 10 Uses for Muslin Swaddles.
TYPE OF DIAPER. As a rule, traditional, square diapers of different sizes are made from muslin. Some brands also make muslin sleeping bags.
- Standard (large) size of muslin diapers: 120cm x 120cm. This size is sufficient for a comfortable swaddling of a newborn, and is also convenient for other uses, for example, as a cover for a stroller.
- Average size: 70cm x 70cm Convenient for everyday use, as a changing table cover, burp wipes, car seat blanket and more.
- Small size: 40cm x 40cm used as handkerchiefs or napkins for a newborn, as well as a comforter — a more hygienic analogue of a soft toy.
SEASONALITY. Depending on the number of layers of muslin, diapers can be lighter or thicker and warmer. The standard muslin has 2 layers, but some manufacturers offer 3- and 4-layer muslin for the cold season.
BRANDS. More and more manufacturers are starting to offer muslin diapers, which is not surprising given their superior performance. The main manufacturers are Aden&Anais (creators of muslin diapers!), SwaddleDesigns, Jollein, Bebe Au Lait, a full review of the best brands of muslin diapers can be read here >>
Cocoons are the second most popular types of diapers, primarily due to the fact that they do not require any swaddling skills, the child is placed there very quickly. Cocoon diapers are especially loved by dads.
Depending on the design, such quick diapers can be with Velcro, with a zipper, in the form of a jumpsuit-envelope. Also, due to the fact that such a diaper has a form in which the child is placed, it always has sizes (for example, from 0 to 3 months, from 3 to 6 months), or age restrictions (for example, you can only use up to six months).
Diaper-cocoon with a zipper
The simplest and most inexpensive model, quickly put on, easy to unfasten and fasten. Knitwear of different density is used for production (depending on seasonality). IMPORTANT! When buying a diaper-cocoon with a zipper, pay attention to the following points:
- seams should be outside, not inside, so as not to rub the delicate skin of the child;
- zipper must be protected by a cloth so as not to accidentally harm the baby when fastening the zipper;
- more convenient two-way zipperwhich opens from the side of the neck and from the side of the legs — it is convenient to change the diaper, even when the child has fallen asleep.
BRANDS: imported (SwaddleMe) and Russian (Mums Era, Sofuto). Thanks to a very simple design, there are a lot of manufacturers and Russian brands are not inferior in quality to imported ones, but are more affordable.
Diaper-cocoon with Velcro or buttons
The design of such a cocoon has a pocket and two panels that wrap around the baby and are fixed with Velcro or buttons. We recommend buttons more, as Velcro can wake up the baby when unfastened.
BRANDS: first of all imported (SwaddleMe, Aden&Anais), fittings and design in such models is very important, we do not recommend cheap Chinese analogues!
Diaper in the form of a jumpsuit-envelope
In such a diaper there are legs and two long panels that are not fixed, but simply wrap around the child. This model is convenient to use not only for sleeping, but also for changing towels after bathing, and thanks to the presence of legs, it can be used with a car seat in the warm season.
BRANDS: Russian-made Mums Era.
3.3 Flannel diapers
Flannel made from thick threads woven in a linen way. This is the simplest and at the same time very dense weaving: for this reason there are no gaps between the threads, and the fabric turns out to be heavy and thick (its weight can be up to 400 grams per meter). The peculiarity of such a fabric is a smooth uniform pile, which can be either on one side or on both.
Flannel is a warm fabric that retains heat well, ideal for the cool season. The material is soft to the touch and gets softer with every wash. Flannel is very easy to care for.
However, due to the density of weaving, its breathability is rather low, the disadvantages of flannel include the formation of pellets over time, the long drying of the fabric after washing or getting wet, as well as the strong wrinkling of some types of flannel (however, the material is also easily smoothed out).
But not every flannel is the same! It is cheap flannel that is tough, of poor quality, quickly rolls up after washing, it is difficult to use it with a newborn, the dimensions are too small for comfortable swaddling. Cheap flannel swaddle sizes are 120x75cm or 120x90cm, which is less convenient for swaddling than a full square of 118 or 120cm on each side.
And here is the premium flannel — soft, warm, does not require conditioner during washing to soften. These diapers are more expensive, but the difference is very big! This model will serve you for a long time and will be especially comfortable in winter.
BRANDS: Imported SwaddleDesigns diapers from the USA are the best on the market. The large size of 118cm x 118cm is extremely versatile.
3.4 Thin cotton voile diapers
Such diapers are produced by SwaddleDesigns (USA).
What is the difference between a voile swaddle and a muslin swaddle? The fabric is similar in design to a single layer of muslin, it has the same loose weave, but the threads are slightly thicker, so one layer is enough for swaddling. To the touch, the fabric is much softer than chintz, but still loses to muslin in softness and airiness.
The size of these diapers is also large, 120cm x 120cm. Such models are great for the summer (or for a well-heated room). Just like muslin, the voile can be used for a variety of purposes other than swaddling, such as sheets, towels or napkins.
3.5 Knitted diapers
Both cocoon diapers (see above) and square diapers are sewn from knitwear. Knitted fabric is soft, well-stretched, as a diaper for the warm season, it is quite suitable. In such models, it is very important to pay attention to the composition — the fabric should not contain elastane (it is needed only for clothes, but not for diapers), as well as polyester!
THE SIZE. Large size can vary from 120 to 100 cm on one side — this is due to the greater elasticity of knitwear, 100 cm is enough for swaddling.
Recently, many beautiful sets of knitted diapers with caps have appeared, which are used for photo shoots of babies. They look beautiful in photos, but for everyday use we still recommend muslin much more!
3.6 Cotton diapers and calico diapers
chintz — This is a light cotton fabric, a special dressing, which is used for sewing bed linen, men’s shirts and summer outerwear. Cotton diapers — still often used by many mothers, because. you can easily sew them yourself by buying inexpensive calico fabric in the store. However, such a fabric is quite dense, tends to become stiffer after washing, not soft enough and loose for easy swaddling.
There are also cheap calico diapers on sale, this fabric is similar to chintz, but it also has differences: chintz is softer than coarse calico, which makes it preferable for toddlers; calico is a denser fabric, which is also not very good for diapers.
Despite the low price, we highly recommend the softer versions of light diapers such as muslin and marquisette! And leave chintz and calico for bed linen
How to choose diapers for newborns?
When choosing diapers, pay attention to:
- seasonality and / or heating of the baby’s room. The higher the temperature outside and at home, the lighter diapers you need for daily use (for example, in hot weather or in hot climates, you do not need flannel);
- the importance of fast swaddling. If simplicity and speed of use are most important to you, then purchase cocoon diapers; if the versatility of the diaper and the possibility of other use cases are important, it is better to choose the traditional format;
- budget. If funds allow, we definitely do not recommend cheap flannel, chintz and calico. Their advantages are only in price, and more expensive muslin diapers are the best choice for everyone.
Required number of diapers
How many diapers does a newborn need? The answer to this question is very subjective and depends on many factors. For example, if you do not use diapers, you need a lot of diapers, they may need to be washed frequently. Or if you use diapers not only for swaddling, but also for other purposes — as a cover for a stroller and a car seat, a cover for feeding, like sheets and towels after bathing, the number of required diapers can increase.
Average for the usual climate of central Russia, the birth of a child requires:
- several large diapers medium thickness (for example, 4-5 muslin diapers size 120x120cm, ideally from muslin with bamboo, or voile cloth diapers);
- some warm diapers — (for example, 2-3 flannel diapers, preferably from premium flannel, or knitted diapers);
- if you prefer to put on quickly, part of the traditional diapers can be replaced diapers-cocoons or sleeping bags (only pay attention to their size, you may need to buy them as the baby grows);
- pack of disposable diapers for exits to the hospital, to the street and for other purposes.
- optionally available medium diaper set (70cm x 70cm), if traditional swaddling is not planned, but multi-purpose use in the form of a sheet, cape or towel is important.
Many manufacturers sell diapers in sets that match in color and pattern (for example, 2-3 muslin diapers in a set), as well as light + warm diaper sets (like SwaddleDesigns).
You can buy diapers for newborns here >>
Newborns need special care. Half of the success lies in proper care — these are clothes, personal items, diapers, including.
A few decades ago, swaddling was considered the only way to dress a newborn. The diaper accompanied the child in the first months. In recent years, another point of view has emerged, whose supporters argue that such products have a bad effect on development. However, parental experience has shown that diapers are necessary for a child — they help to adapt to life. Also, a swaddled baby sleeps better. Therefore, parents are in no hurry to part with such an important accessory as a diaper.
For swaddling, ordinary diapers, cocoons, as well as a variety of sleeping bags are used. They are used not only to wrap the baby. Warm ones, for example, are used as bedding when a child takes air baths. Thin ones can be used to protect against hot sunlight or a cool breeze.
Today in stores you can find diapers of different brands. They differ in design, color, additional features, and price. In order not to make a mistake with the choice, you need to carefully observe the behavior of the baby, because each person develops in his own way, with individual speed and his own preferences.