Study Finds Diapers Slow Walking in Babies
As our society has become more ecologically conscious, there’s been a movement towards all things “green.” Some go so far as to make room in their budgets for all-natural baby formula, organic mattresses, and even cloth diapers. The cloth vs. disposable diaper debate is one that has great arguments on each side of the issue. Researchers Whitney G. Cole, Jesse M. Lingeman and Karen E. Adolph decided to tackle a different diaper question: do diapers hinder a baby’s ability to walk?
The modern diaper came into use in the 19th century. Since then, dozens of people have elaborated on it to make the diaper more functional and cost-effective. This study, published in the journal Developmental Science, argues that diapers of any kind, cloth or disposable, adversely affects walking in babies and toddlers.
According to the abstract of the study, “Infants displayed less mature gait patterns and more missteps and falls while wearing diapers.”
In the study, researchers observed 60 babies who were either naked, wearing a cloth diaper, or wearing a disposable diaper while they walked. The thicker cloth diapers did cause more falls, but both types of diapers led to shorter steps relative to the naked babies.
The researchers believe that allowing the babies to walk naked would speed up the time in which babies learn to walk.
So…are parents supposed to cover the entire house in plastic and hope for the best when their baby has to “go”? I’m no expert, but diapers have been in use for over 100 years now, and no one seems to be walking any worse because of it.
On the other hand, think of how long we went without using seatbelts in cars, or drink unpasteurized milk, only because we didn’t realize there was a better way of doing things? Maybe this study is the beginning of something new in the world of infant underwear.
What are your thoughts on this study?
Image via iStock [Greg Brookes]