A diaper (in North America) or nappy (in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries and Ireland) is an absorbent garment worn by individuals who are incapable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements, or are unable or unwilling to use a toilet. The purpose of a diaper is to absorb moisture and contain mess so that the wearer can remain dry and comfortable after wetting or soiling themselves. When diapers become full and can no longer hold any more waste, they require changing; this process is often performed by a secondary person such as a parent or caregiver.
Diapers can be made of cloth or disposable materials, and there is much debate regarding each types various advantages and disadvantages. Rubber or plastic pants can be worn over them to avoid leaks. Diapers are primarily worn by babies and children who are not yet toilet trained, but are also used by adults who suffer from incontinence or in certain circumstances where access to a toilet is unavailable. Associated with infancy and helplessness, wearing diapers can be a source of considerable humiliation. Because of this, they are an effective tool of domination in the punishment known as "diaper discipline".
Diapers may be made of absorbant layers of cloth or terry towelling fabric, or of disposable absorbant materials. The choice to use either cloth or disposable diapers is controversial. While cloth diapers are certainly cheaper than disposables over time, environmental impact, health and convenience also play a role in the decision. However all of the studies which started the controversy in the early 1990s were funded by Procter and Gamble, which manufactures the vast majority of disposable diapers, and was facing growing criticism at that time.
Cloth diapers are washable and reusable and place less stress on landfills, however, they also require large amounts of laundry detergent and water. Disposable diapers take a great deal of processing and their materials remain intact in landfills for many years. A recent development is a hybrid reusable/disposable system, with an outer plastic part which is re-used, and an interior absorbent part which is disposed and is fully biodegradable.
A specific type of cloth diapers are tie diapers.
Disposable diapers are laced with chemicals obtained unintentionally in production, as well as intentionally in order to improve absorbancy and pull wetness away from the skin. While this system works well in keeping skin dry, it also provides a potential skin irritant. Cloth diapers are most commonly made of industrial cotton, which is grown in conjunction with the heavy use of pesticides. The fabric is also usually bleached white. Alternative materials which are grown without pesticides, such as unbleached hemp and organic cotton exist.
Disposable diapers have the advantage of convenience for the parent. Cloth diapers, however, have become more user friendly in recent years. Pre-formed cloth diapers with snaps or velcro and all-in-one diapers with wet-proofing exteriors are now available in addition to the older pre-fold and pin variety. Some cities offer a cloth diapering service which delivers clean diapers and picks up soiled ones for a fee.
Diaper changing is essential to the prevention of contracting skin irritation of the buttocks, genitalia, and the waist. When to change a diaper is the decision of the caregiver. Some people believe that diapers should be changed at fixed times of the day for a routine, such as after naps and after meals. Other people believe that diapers should be changed when they feel a change is needed regardless of timing. Still others people believe a diaper should be changed immediately upon wetting or soiling. And, some believe that a diaper should be changed only when the wearer is uncomfortable, the diaper is full, the diaper is leaking, or the wearer has a bowel movement. Failure to change a diaper on a regular enough basis can result in diaper rash.
 Adult usage
Diapers are worn during infancy because babies are unable to control their bowel and bladder movements. While awake, most children no longer need diapers when past two to four years of age, depending on culture, diaper type, parental habits, and the child's personality. However, diapers can be worn by teenagers and adults who are unable or not allowed to reach a toilet for longer than their bodies can hold out.
- Bedwetters may wear diapers at night-time because they urinate involutarily during sleep. Since wearing diapers at an older age can be embarrassing, many disposable diapers aimed at adolescents are designed to be discreet and mimic underwear. Popular brands include GoodNites and UnderJams.
- People who suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence may be required to wear diapers. This can include people with a physical or mental disability and the elderly.
- People who are being diaper disciplined. This can include children and teenagers who are being punished by their parents for misbehaviour and adults in BDSM and fetish situations.
- Astronauts wear diapers or "Maximum Absorbency Garments" during liftoff and landing. On space shuttle missions, each crew member receives three diapers: for launch, reentry and a spare in case reentry has to be waved off and tried later. The super-absorbent fabric used in disposable diapers, which can hold up to 400 times its weight, was developed so Apollo astronauts could stay on spacewalks and extra-vehicular activity for at least six hours.
- Death row inmates who are about to be executed wear diapers to collect body fluids expelled during the execution and after their death.
- Divers who remain underwater continuously for several hours may wear diapers.
- Guards who must stay on duty; this is sometimes called the "watchman's urinal".
- Pilots during long flights may wear diapers.
- Weightlifters may wear diapers when they first get started because the pressure makes them urinate.
- Legislators are rumoured to don a diaper before an extended filibuster, so often that it has been jokingly called "taking to the diaper."
- Commuters in China often choose to wear diapers to avoid long bathroom lines during China's traveling season.
 Diaper fetishism
Diaper fetishism is a form of sexual fetishism in which a person is sexually aroused by being diapered like a baby. People interested primarily in diapers themselves are referred to as "diaper lovers" while those more interested in dressing and behaving like infants or toddlers are known as "adult babies". Together, they are known collectively as the "AB/DL" community. They may enjoy wetting or soiling their diapers to various degrees, depending on the individual. In BDSM roleplaying games, diapers can be used as a power exchange to emphasise loss of adulthood or control over bodily functions. Alternatively, they can also be liberating, as an infantilist is granted the freedom they desire to be a baby.
Diapers are sometimes used as part of ageplay scenes. In some such scenes a bottom may be required to wear diapers as a form of humiliation. In others the wearing of diapers may be merely appropriate for the fantasy age of the participant. In some cases the use, or non-use, of a diaper may itself be an excuse for a spanking or other punishment.
 In popular culture
Diapers are a frequent source of humor in pop culture. The humor may stem from the disgust of the person forced to change the diapers, or the humiliation and discomfort of the person wearing them, especially if the wearer is an adult.
Diapers play a major role in the comic Diaperman, which revolves around an infantilist superhero and his incontinent sidekick.
 In spanking
A "diaper spanking" is a spanking on a diapered bottom. These are relatively rare as the diaper provides too much padding to the naughty child's bottom, either making the punishment less effective or making injury more likely as the parent smacks the child's bottom harder to compensate for the additional padding. The diaper position is where the child is laid on his or her back. The parent uses one hand to hold the child's legs up, and the other hand to spank the child's bottom. This position is only possible with young toddlers as it is easier to hold their legs up and spank their bottom at the same time. This position is very good for spanking the sit spots of the young child's bottom, something that will make the naughty toddler truly repentant.
- Diaper Discipline Site
- Diaper Punishment & Nappy Humiliation
- Astronaut Candidates 2004 - Training Journals
- NASA diapers become topic No. 1
- The Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky., Merlene Davis Column: I Did My Research on Adult Diapers
- The electric chair
- Adult Diapers are Top Seller During Spring Festival Travel Season
- AB/DL for BDSM Enthusiasts
 See also
- Diapers and Spanking (photo series, /M)
- How to Draw Cloth Diapers tutorial by Arkham-insanity on deviantArt
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