History of the disposable diaper: the revolution for baby

The arrival of cloth diapers can be seen as a step backwards. Indeed, diapers as we know them today did not always exist! When did disposable diapers appear? How was baby dry before diapers? We tell you all about its history in this article.

World without diapers: how do we take care of baby?

Before diapers, babies were swaddled in cloths. Indeed, the main objective was to keep them upright so that the body would not deform. So they were swaddled in a first layer of swaddling clothes with splints to keep their legs straight. Then, a second layer allowed the baby not to be cold.

Then, doctors will discover in the 18th century that the growth of the legs does not depend on the swaddling, the splints will thus disappear. Despite this discovery, the French will continue to keep the legs of their babies straight in their swaddle. How are swaddles made? They are actually sheets, blankets or mops. Any fabric will do.

As this swaddling was very complicated to remove, infants were not changed often and stayed in their urine or stool for too long. Even when the mother took the time to change him, she would hurry to put the cloths on quickly for fear that the baby would deform.

Hygiene-wise, it was very complicated... The diapers had to be washed, so the households were equipped with washing machines. These are the ancestors of the washing machines, the equivalent of pots in which mothers boiled the cloths. But it was not really ideal, between humidity, the heat that the pot gave off, and also the smells.

Beginning of the 19th century: appearance of safety pins

The beginning of the 19th century marks the arrival of the diapers with safety pins. The cotton and hemp squares are held by safety pins. It was at this time that the urban legend of babies being killed by safety pins was born. Fortunately, this rarely happens, even if accidents can happen.

Mid 20th century: Pampers disposable diapers

In 1961, Pampers marketed the first disposable diaper as we know it today. It was a real revolution for the time, for parents and for baby's comfort. However, at the beginning, when the products arrived in Europe, parents were reluctant... It is true that the first models of diapers were bulky and children were not necessarily very comfortable to move.

Before that, at the beginning of the 40's, a Swedish stationery company launched a disposable paper to be put between the diapers and the buttocks of babies. This corresponds in fact to the protective layer that is contained in disposable diapers today.

Year 1971 : marketing of Peaudouce diapers in France

Later, in 1971, Procter & Gamble's Pampers diaper technology was imported into France and the French brand of Peaudouce diapers was created .

Then, a few years later in 1978, the Kimberly Clark group launched Huggies which became the second largest manufacturer of disposable diapers.

Today, disposable diapers are used everywhere in Europe. The disposable diaper is composed of an external part that will allow the diaper to be waterproof, but also an internal part including an absorbent core, having for goal toabsorb baby's needs and to keep him dry.

Baby diapers: a product in constant evolution

As time goes by, diapers will progressively become more absorbent, thinner and easier to use, with elastics, repositionable tabs, allowing the diaper to adapt to the baby's morphology and to be ultimately more comfortable.

Better compositions for disposable diapers

Greenpeace in the 2000s will reveal that disposable diapers contain toxic substances and chemicals. Then, in 2019, the ANSES will publish a study indicating that "dangerous chemical substances" are present in several models of diapers sold in France. It is from there that will appear the ecological layers with healthier compositions. The particularity of these diapers is that plastic will be replaced by natural materials, much softer for your baby's skin, and also more respectful of the environment.

New washable and reusable diapers

In the 1980s, North American studies highlighted the impact of disposable diapers on the environment. All this awareness will lead to an increase in the demand for cloth diapers. Today's cloth diapers have nothing to do with the diapers used in the past.

Training diapers

Finally, there are now also the famous training pants. They are used when your baby is learning and/or starting to be potty trained. They replace the diapers of your little one. There are several types:

  • Disposable paperdiapers;
  • Training pants.

The training pants will allow toabsorb accidents. They are of course not as absorbent as regular diapers.

If your baby asks to go to the potty, has greater mobility and makes you notice when his diaper is dirty, you can startpotty training and start replacing his diapers with diaper covers or training pants.


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