Diaper Closure Evolution- Pins, Clips, Snaps, and More!

Vintage safety pin

Securing diapers today is a breeze and our choices are limitless.  Throughout the modern age diapering has relied on various techniques to secure around baby and believe it or not, the diaper pin has only existed for 165 years!  And since that day the goal throughout time as been to invent ways NOT to use it.

Diaper Pin (1850’s)

Vintage safety pin

The diaper pin was invented in 1849, tension kept the sharp end secure making it ideal for securing flats around babies.

Acme Shoulder Diaper Suspenders (1900’s)

Diaper Suspenders

Doctors warned parents of the effect restrictive diapers could have on proper development.  This device by Acme was meant to keep diapers from falling while still allowing movement of legs.

Buckles (1940’s)

pinless_diapers_invention

The first pinless diaper I’ve found looked a lot like an apron with a buckle.  Invented in 1940, the diaper never caught on but the desire to be done with pins kept driving entrepreneurs to find alternatives. …read the full story here.

Metal Snaps (1940’s)

Early metal diaper snaps

Marion Donovan created the first modern cloth diaper and one of the innovations was the addition of metal snaps.  It wasn’t the first pinless diaper but the snaps caught on more than any other previous invention. …read the full story of the Boater here.

Ties (1940’s)

Tyzon

Diapers with ties debuted in the 1940’s as another new way of avoiding diaper pins.  Tyzon is one of many brands to use this method of closure throughout the years, some brands still use ties.

Diaper Clips (1960’s)

klipperssmwbg

 

A safer alternative to pins were these diaper clips.   Cloth diapers were still the only option yet diaper pins were always a point on contention for parents.

Velcro (1960’s)

riegelvelcroprestochango

Velcro was invented in 1948, patented in 1955, and found many applications including on diapers! The mystery has been solved folks, velcro on cloth came before tape on disposables. My work here is done.

Tape (1970’s)

Pampers Custom Fit Tape
Disposables were closed using diaper pins until the adoption of fastenable tape in the early 1970’s. Due to the plastic outside tape it was a one shot application with no room for error until they came out with re-fastenable tape.

Snappi (1980’s)

snappi

 

The Snappi, invented by a father tired of using pins, made prefolds and flats a easier option for countless families. Snappi is still the go-to closure device for families today and IMHO ushered in the modern diapering age.

Plastic Snaps (1990’s)

KangaWrap with Snaps

Modern cloth diapers started using plastic, resin snaps in the 1990’s based on what I have seen.  If I find any earlier examples of plastic snapped diapers I will amend that.  Most cloth diapers were still using velcro on their wraps in this era, however.

“S” Hooks (2000’s)

wahmieshooks

“S” Hooks went in and out of fashion as a diaper closure method in the early 2000’s. Wahmie’s and the WAHM brand TK Cuddlers were the most popular to offer the option.

Boingo (2010’s)

BoingoUsing the same technology that Snappi invented in the 1980’s, the Boingo is a smaller version without the capability of holding the diaper in the center.  Sold in packs of 2.

 

Love this post?  Want to learn more?  Look at all of my history of cloth diapers articles in my archives.  The ultimate and comprehensive history of cloth diapers timeline coming this month to DDL.

Image credits: Kim Rosas, Photobucket, Snappi, Boingo, lilfamily.com, Flickr.com.
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  • Idigia

    Fantastic post!

  • cocoricoucou

    You got me really curious about ties and I found the Tushie Ties. I think I will try making one myself with a prefold, il will be cheaper and an easy way to tell if I would like it or not. Thanks a lot!

  • Tonia Neal Johnson

    This is fascinating! I had never heard of clips before, and didn’t know snappis dated back to the ’80’s! Wow! When my 3yo was about a year old, we were really into fitteds and EC and I searched high and low for a tie-on brand of fitteds that I cant remember the name of now. They looked so awesome. Alas, I never found any.

  • Anne Sweden

    I love your historical posts, Kim! That picture of the diaper suspenders reminded me of several fails we’ve had around here when I didn’t properly secure our flat diapers and my toddler is on the go. Ooops! LOL

  • Keara Biller

    I had no idea that Snappis existed in the 80s! For some reason I thought they were a much more recent invention. Great article, very interesting!

  • Ria Jim

    Wow great read! I always wondered what they did for diapering back in the day. Very interesting.

  • Marnie Bergstrom

    This is great Kim! The only part I am curious about is the introduction of Pampers. Is it just Pampers with tape that was introduced in the 70’s? The reason I ask is because I was born in 1968 shhhh and my mother tried Pampers but I was allergic so she went back to cloth. Also, you didn’t mention the wonderful “rubber” pants that I unknowingly thought was my only option in the late 80’s. Overall, I was amazed at how little history of cloth I knew! It was definitely more complex than I thought. Thanks again!

    • kimrosas

      That’s all covered on the actual timeline. This is just about the closure development. Pampers were around before they had tape, they just closed with pins.

      • Marnie Bergstrom

        Sure! If I read the actual timeline before I commented, I wouldn’t have revealed what an old lady I am. That’s what I get for trying to sew and get caught up on Facebook at the same time.

  • Cathy

    As a former museum curator now full time parent I’m loving this series! I thought you might get a kick out of this pattern (full disclosure, it’s from my shop but you’re welcome to use the image in your blog if you ever would like to): https://www.etsy.com/listing/226799794/vintage-diaper-pattern-vanta-pinless-and It came to me with a bunch of ca. 1910-1930 patterns but I wonder now if it is later based on your history above. Here’s another listing (not mine) for the tape used to make the diapers! https://www.etsy.com/listing/129967415/antique-vanta-twistless-tape-notions

    • Cathy

      And a newspaper dated 1927 featuring Vanta Baby Garments so I guess I wasn’t far off the mark! http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/10288750/

      • kimrosas

        I’ve seen the Vanta ad before. It had the little ties versus one large tie in front but was a cover. It’s very cool.
        Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

  • elizabethann577

    On 1997 I used cloth with my first, using prefolds, plastic pants, and diaper clips that I haven’t seen since … they were plastic, circle shaped, and you placed one on each side of baby to close the prefold. I would love to find some again!