The hybrid diaper system- a diaper that has a washable cover and can be used with washable or disposable inserts- really gained popularity with the gDiapers system that began being sold in 2004 (gDiapers was based on a Tasmanian based brand founded in 1990 called Eenee so it wasn’t the first modern hybrid, just the first to hit the states). In fact, the gDiaper was what first piqued my own curiosity about cloth when I learned there was a “middle path” though I never fully invested in that system or used it. The concept is great isn’t it? You can pick and choose when cloth works for you, often at home, and choose to use disposable inserts when you are out of the home or on vacation. Did you know there was a much earlier hybrid diaper on the market long before gDiapers were sold? It was called the Playtex Dryper- a truly revolutionary advancement for cloth diapers and for parents! It was “pinless” and convenient! (I introduced what I consider to be the first “pinless modern cloth diaper” that debuted in 1940 after 15 years of development in an earlier blog post.)
The earliest mention I can find of the Playtex Dryer is 1951- all of the records I’ve found for this diaper are advertisements and appear in various magazines. The diaper worked as a waterproof cover in conjunction with either their Playtex Dryper Pads or a regular cloth diaper. There seem to be at least two versions of the diaper- in advertisements it shows a nylon “soft” sleeve that the “flushable” pads slipped inside. The pads were removed and flushed (did they dare flush these back then? I hope not for their plumbing’s sake) and a new clean pad was slipped in. In my own diaper it appears you slip the pads into the slotted opening in the center- the panels hold the pad in place so this could be the “hybrid” option and the other was only used with disposable inserts as the advertisement suggets.
My diaper was purchased from Ebay as NOS (New Old Stock) and was never used. Still in the box! I love vintage advertising so I didn’t want to leave out the best part- photos of the box and the original price tag. The original price was $1.49 which seems extremely cheap, but with inflation the diaper would be about $13- right on par with a diaper cover today! Very interesting!
I don’t have the pads to examine but they were sold in boxes.
I added a vintage Curity flat, also purchased from Ebay, into the diaper to see how it would look and fit.
Based on the price and other literature of the day this product was likely a novelty item. Many parents in this time period refused to put waterproof covers on their babies believing that it increased diaper rash. PUL of today is more breathable than rubber, plastic, or vinyl. Babies often only wore waterproof pants on outings or to protect a special outfit. Advise articles of the day warned mothers to avoid the new “rubber” pants. To the Dryper’s credit- this vinyl has retained pliability unlike other vintage covers in my collection that are like crunchy shower curtains. The elastic is no longer stretchy but for a 60+ year old diaper I think that’s acceptable. They even reinfornced some of the snaps using a guitar pick shaped piece of plastic- it’s really a genius design. Flats and prefolds reigned due to availability and price until the rise of the disposable diaper in the late 80’s.