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Purchase the "Do It Yourself" Cloth Diapering Handbook: The most complete and comprehensive introduction to cloth diapering today! Endorsed by Natural Family Online.

Question: I’m due with my first child in three months, and I’m considering cloth diapering. I’m interested in one-size diapers for the greatest investment value. Do one-size diapers really fit from birth to potty training?

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Heather Sanders responds: Consider first that the word “fit” has as varied a meaning as the increasing numbers of cloth diapers available and the body shapes of the babies who wear them. What makes a “good fit” for one baby might be considered too large, too small, too loose or tight at the thigh or too high in the rise for another. So do one-size diapers really fit from birth to potty training? The answer would have to be a definite “sometimes.”

The idea behind one-size diapers is to create a diaper that is large enough to fit a 30- to 45-pound toddler and then, through a series of tucks, folds, snaps, hook-and-loop closures or fold-over pockets, down-size enough to fit a newborn. More often than not, descriptions of one-size diapers state that they fit “most” or “many” newborns. Other one-size diapers specify weight ranges such as 8 to 32 pounds or 10 to 45 pounds -- neither of which will necessarily cover the full extent of your baby’s diaper-wearing life. For instance, I read just the other day about a business offering “the only diaper you will need to own” that fits fit babies from 12 to 40+ pounds – which makes me wonder what the baby will be diapered in from birth to 12 pounds.

If you do have an 8- to 10-pound baby, will you get a good fit with a one-size diaper? It depends what you’re looking for in “fit.” If you are looking for a diaper that does not gape at the thigh, is not too bulky in the stride from the multiple folds and fits snugly at the waist, then most one-size diapers are not going to meet your needs. However, if you’re willing to make do with the fit for a few weeks in order to stretch your diaper dollars, then one-size diapers might be a nice money-saver and right up your alley. If your baby doesn’t end up in the 8- to 10-pound range at birth, you’ll need to consider a back-up diapering system to stand in until your baby grows into the appropriate weight range for the one-size diaper.

Another alternative? Two-size diapers. Two-size diapers fit babies from birth through potty training but with two overlapping sizes. The smaller diapers have an weight range starting at about 6 pounds and usually extend from 18 to 20 pounds, while the larger diapers start at about 15 to 18 pounds and fit into the toddler years.

If your newborn babe is in your arms already, you have an extra advantage. Before purchasing a one-size diaper, contact the business owner and request the diaper’s waist, thigh and rise measurements on the smallest setting. Then you can make an informed choice about whether or not that particular diaper will fit baby’s specific measurements.

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