What are gum-rubber pants?


Quick Answer

Gum-rubber pants are a type of covering for cloth diapers that were used before the introduction of plastic pants. Gum-rubber is a natural rubber that is made from the sap of rubber trees.

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Full Answer

Prior to the development of gum-rubber pants, parents typically covered cloth diapers with wool diaper covers, which were very absorbent but not waterproof. The invention of gum-rubber pants offered a solution to the problem of leaking diapers, as gum-rubber is waterproof and kept moisture contained within the cloth diaper, stopping the baby's diaper from leaking onto its clothing or crib. Gum-rubber pants were especially popular at the beginning of the 20th century, before the invention of vinyl pants and then disposable diapers.

The first gum-rubber pants were held together with a series of snaps, but later versions were modeled to look more like underwear, with an elasticized waist and leg holes, and they could be slipped on over a cloth diaper. One of the most popular advantages of rubber pants was that they held cloth diapers in place without pins, which kept a baby from getting hurt by a pin that had come unfastened. Gum-rubber pants grew out of fashion for diapering babies after the introduction of disposable diapers, as most parents choose to stop cloth diapering their children. However, gum-rubber pants are still used by many adults who suffer from incontinence as they are very effective at keeping moisture contained to the incontinence pad or adult diaper and offer protection against embarrassing leakage in public and during the night.

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