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The History of Baby Diaper

Nowdays, diaper is one of most important baby need. And you must choose ones that best for your baby. Yes,diaper now may look fashionable and stylish, but did you ever think how is modern diaper at the beginning? I'll try to post the history that i have been found on the net.

The image above is a painting by Adriaen Brouwer(1606–1638) and titled as Unangenehme Vaterpflichten (Deutch). It is an Unpleasant duties, depicting the changing of a diaper. According to the Wikipedia,diaper is originally referred to the type of cloth rather than its use; "diaper" was the term for a pattern of small repeated geometric shapes, and later came to describe a white cotton or linen fabric with this pattern.

The first cloth diapers consisted of a special type of soft tissue sheet, cut into geometric shapes. This type of pattern was called diapering and eventually gave its name to the cloth used to make diapers and then to the diaper itself, traced back to 1590s England. This usage stuck in the United States and Canada following the British colonization of North America, but in Britain the word "nappy" took its place. Most sources believe nappy is a diminutive form of the word napkin.

Wrapping children not yet toilet trained, in some absorbent barrier, is as old as human history. In some countries with warmer climates, babies were kept naked and mothers tried to anticipate their bowel movements so as to avoid mess near their living areas.

In the 19th century, the modern diaper/ nappy began to take shape and mothers in many parts of the world used cotton material, held in place with a fastening - eventually the safety pin. Cloth diapers in the United States were first mass produced in 1887 by Maria Allen.Wowwww.... it was so long ago. In the UK terry nappies were used made out of terry towelling, with often an inner lining made out of soft muslin. Here is an extract from 'The Modern Home Doctor' written by doctors in the UK in 1935.
It is interesting to see here the usage of the words diaper and napkin.

Once available rubber pants would sometimes be used over the cloth diaper/ nappy to prevent leakage. Doctors were antagonistic to this because they believed that the rubber would act as a poultice and damage the baby's skin.

The constant problem to be overcome was nappy /diaper rash and infection. The concern was that lack of air circulation would make this worse. It was later found that poor hygiene - inefficiently washed and bleached nappies and infrequent changes of nappy, allowing the baby to lie for some time with faecal matter in contact with the skin, were the two main causes of serious problems.

In the 20th century, the disposable diaper/ nappy gradually evolved through the inventions of several different people. In the 1930's Robinsons of Chesterfield had 'Destroyable Babies Napkins' listed in their catalogue for the wholesale market. In 1944, Hugo Drangel of the Swedish paper company Pauliström suggested an idea of placing sheets of paper tissue (cellulose wadding) inside the cloth diaper/ nappy and rubber pants. The problem with this idea was that cellulose wadding was rough against the skin and when wet, crumbled into balls.

In 1947, a housewife in the UK - Valerie Hunter Gordon, started developing and making Paddi, a 2-part system of a disposable pad (cellulose wadding covered with cotton wool) and an outer plastic, adjustable garment with press-studs/ snaps. Initially she used old parachutes for the garment). She applied for the patent in April 1948, it was granted for the UK in October 1949 and in November 1949 she signed a contract with Robinsons of Chesterfield who then went into full production. In 1950 Boots the Chemist agreed to sell Paddi in all their UK branches. In 1951 the Paddi patent was granted for the USA and The whole of the World. Shortly after that, Playtex and several other large international companies tried unsuccessfully to buy out Paddi from Robinsons, as they realised the enormous potential of the product. Paddi was extremely successful for many years until the advent of 'all in one' diapers.

In America, on the other side of the Atlantic, another housewife - Marion Donovan from Westport, Connecticut, developed a waterproof diaper cover known as the "Boater" using a sheet of plastic from a shower curtain into which was placed a cloth diaper. (Patented in 1951) She later went on to develop a truly disposable 2-part system - like Paddi (with a garment and a disposable pad), but was unable to persuade any manufacturer to take on the product.

What is fascinating, was the inability of the big manufacturers to see initially, the huge commercial possibilies of disposable nappies. In the UK in 1948, Valerie Hunter Gordon made over 400 Paddis herself using her sewing machine at the kitchen table. Her husband had unsuccessfully approached several companies for help. It was a chance meeting with Sir Robert Robinson at a business dinner that got things going. In America, Marion Donovan could not find a manufacturer. In Sweden, Hugo Drangel's daughter Lil Karhola Wettergren, in 1956 elaborated her father's original idea, by adding a garment (again making a 2-part system like Paddi). However she met the same problem, with the purchasing managers, who were male, declaring they would never allow their wives to "put paper on their children." see Pauliström Mill History

However, since World War Two, there had been a quiet revolution in the female population of much of the world, which perhaps business men were unaware of. Mothers now wanted freedom to work and to travel and they could not do that whilst tied to their home sink, washing diapers all day.They wanted disposable nappies/ diapers.

During the 1950s, companies such as Johnson and Johnston, Kendall, Parke-Davis, Playtex, and Molnlycke did enter the disposable diaper market. In 1956, Procter & Gamble began researching disposable diapers. Victor Mills, along with his project group including William Dehaas (both men who worked for the company) invented what would be trademarked "Pampers". Presented to Fred Wells as 'project p-57' (this was the plane Wells had taught American pilots to fly during WWII), Mills stated, "This one will fly." Although Pampers were conceptualized in 1959, the diapers themselves were not launched into the market until 1961.

Over the next few decades, the disposable diaper industry boomed and the competition between Procter & Gamble's Pampers and Kimberly Clark's Huggies resulted in lower prices and drastic changes to diaper design. Several improvements were made, such as the use of double gussets to improve diaper fit and containment. As stated in Procter & Gamble's initial 1973 patent for the use of double gussets in a diaper, "The double gusset folded areas tend to readily conform to the thigh portions of the leg of the infant. This allows quick and easy fitting and provides a snug and comfortable diaper fit that will neither bind nor wad on the infant…as a result of this snugger fit obtained because of this fold configuration, the diaper is less likely to leak or, in other words, its containment characteristics are greatly enhanced. Further developments in diaper design were made, such as the introduction of refastenable tapes, the "hourglass shape" so as to reduce bulk at the crotch area, and the 1984 introduction of super-absorbent material from polymers known as sodium polyacrylate that were originally developed in 1966.


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  2. thanks sanjay jain,..
    am happy if yhis article is usefull
    thanks for visit

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  4. Diapers are really essential products for our babies; from years we are using diapers in different formats and products such as cloth diapers, cotton diapers and many others. But now days we are using disposal diapers; which provide good results and protect our baby's skin.


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