Category Archives: Cloth Diapering

Starting solids and what that means for cloth diapering parents

cloth diapering and starting solid foods

This post is a natural to follow my previous post about making your own baby food. I was so caught up in figuring out how to make baby food and what foods we should introduce first, that it never crossed my mind that we were embarking on a new adventure in the cloth diapering world.

You see, with solid food comes, well, solid poops. Yes, this is a post about poop. But don’t worry, I won’t get too graphic.

Now disposable diapered babies won’t be too affected by this. Well, yes they will begin having solid poops and the smells will get a bit more pungent, but the act of cleaning a disposable diapered child remains the same. Clean and dispose of diaper. Not true for cloth diapered babies, as I was quick to find out.

For those of us using cloth we have a new challenge. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on this subject, an exclusively breastfed baby’s poopy diaper is handled just like a wet diaper. Throw the soiled diaper in your diaper pail and wash it with the rest of the diapers and wipes within a day or two. The poop is completely water soluble at this time so there’s no need to do anything else. But once you introduce solid foods this all changes. Now you must decide whether you want to scrape, spray or use liners on your cloth diapers to remove the poop before it’s placed in the washing machine. Lovely, isn’t it?

Well, luckily this all occurred to me the day after we introduced solids to our son (before he had a bowel movement). I didn’t fancy scraping or spraying poop into the toilet so I decided our best bet would be to try diaper liners. I was in luck because a locally owned baby boutique/consignment store carried two kinds in stock. I packed the boy up and off we went to purchase a roll.

Best decision ever!

The next day those liners were put to the test and they passed with flying colors. Diaper liners are biodegradable and can be flushed or thrown away. When they are only soiled by urine I tend to just toss them in the garbage, but when he has a poop it’s so simple to carry the diaper to the bathroom and just pull the liner and its contents off and drop it straight into the toilet. No fuss and very little mess.

It’s been an adjustment for both me and my husband. We have to remember to place a liner in each of his clean diapers and throw them away before tossing the diaper in the diaper pail, but it’s well worth the added small effort.

This post is written mainly so other first-time cloth diapering parents don’t cut it as close as we did to preparing for the change in poop. If it hadn’t occurred to me to make that last minute purchase, I would have been forced to spray or scrape his diaper the following day. And, by the way, this in no way means that the spray or scrape method aren’t just as good. It just depends on what works for you and how much (or little) you want to deal with poop. My husband can hardly change a poopy diaper without gagging so I think liners are the only method that will work in this family but I know others who have had no problems with using a sprayer attached to a sink or the toilet or a scraping device to get the same results. To each their own. The purpose isn’t to sway you towards one method or another, but rather to make you aware that you will need a method. I’m just thankful I figured that out in time.

Eczema and diaper rash fun

For over two months now we have been battling what our pediatrician diagnosed as a yeast diaper rash. And battling is an apt word for it. We have used two different kinds of antifungals and gone back and forth numerous times from our cloth diapers to disposables and some combination of both more times than I can count. I have treated the cloth diapers at least five times now (they can harbor yeast spores if not stripped thoroughly). And I’ve endured a lot of pee all over myself and towels to give my son lots of diaper-free time. It’s been enough to make me want to pull out my hair. But I think (knock on wood) we’re finally making headway. I’ll let you know our adventure so you might have quicker success yourself should you ever have to fight this frustrating battle yourself.

How it started:  One week after his two month well visit I noticed a small scaly patch on the area the diaper rests on his lower stomach. It was oblong and looked similar to ringworm. I didn’t think it likely he could have been exposed to ringworm but I did my research and began using a baby-friendly antifungal on him twice a day. It seemed to work and after a week I stopped when the spot cleared. Then a few days after discontinuing the antifungal cream it came back but this time much larger spots on his tummy and on his thighs where the elastic of the diaper leg holes rest. I made an appointment for a couple days later with the pediatrician.

Diagnosis: One quick glance and his doctor proclaimed it was a yeast diaper rash. She suggested switching to disposables since they keep babies drier and to start up the use of the antifungal again as well as using Cetaphil cream on him twice a day because he had sensitive skin.

I got home and looked on cloth diapering sites to see if I should stop using them while treating the rash and I’m glad I did. I didn’t realize that the antifungals and even some regular diaper rash creams shouldn’t be used with cloth diapers. The chemicals in them can ruin the efficacy of the cloth to absorb moisture. There are work arounds for cloth diapering and dealing with yeast, but I just wanted to clear it up fast so we bought disposables and I switched that day.

The next two months was a rollercoaster with many ups and downs. The rash would go away only to return within a few days of stopping treatment.  Then the antifungal we were using seemed to stop having any effect whatsoever. The pediatrician had mentioned that sometimes you have to try different antifungals to clear it up so we switched from a Clotrimazole cream to a Miconazole nitrate cream and saw some improvement, but it never seemed to completely clear. The skin just always looked red and irritated no matter how much diaper-free time I gave him or whether he wore disposables.

As frustrating as I was finding this whole thing I was beginning to doubt it was a yeast diaper rash. My son has not itched or been in any obvious discomfort from it, which is odd with a yeast infection. And the skin being effected is the skin that is rubbed against by the diaper. Maybe contact dermatitis? Or something along that line, I began to wonder. So at the next well check appointment I pointed out to the pediatrician that he was still suffering from it. She looked at it and said it still appeared to be yeast, but also that he appeared to have mild eczema so it was probably yeast and irritation. She suggested to keep up the routine as it didn’t look too bad (and at that appointment it didn’t, it was on an upswing) and to increase the all-over body moisturizing for his eczema.

Well within a few days of that visit it began to get red and angry again. Still my boy was not itching it or appearing in any pain, but I couldn’t stand seeing it. I began looking up natural holistic remedies. I had steered away from them thus far because I figured a rash should be pretty manageable by modern medicine, but I was finally running out of options. I know doctors will often prescribe an oral antifungal for severe or persistent yeast rashes, but I couldn’t see giving my four month old medicine like that when he didn’t appear to have any symptoms other than redness and there was no discomfort. So before going to that option I thought I might try some natural methods.

The one I came across that I was comfortable using was coconut oil. I use it for cooking, cleaning and make a face scrub out of it so I know how gentle it can be on the skin. I read how it has natural antifungal components and obviously is soothing to skin. So I swapped the antifungal creams for coconut oil at every diaper change and within 24 hours I saw improvement.

We are now on day three and the skin is almost scaly-feeling free and just barely pink now. I’m hopeful this will work because unlike the antifungal creams which you stop using after the rash clears, the coconut oil can be used all the time. Instead of a barrier cream I plan on using the coconut oil.

So does he have a yeast rash? It’s hard to know without seeing a pediatrician dermatologist. I began to realize when looking on baby blog posts how common it is for pediatricians to misdiagnose skin ailments. Not because they’re not good doctors, but they simply are not trained in that area. Many conditions can mimic the common diaper rash or a yeast rash so pediatricians naturally assume it to be just that. But if the coconut oil should fail in the long run I will definitely schedule an appointment with a pediatrician dermatologist next so we’ll know once and for all what it is.

Personally I think it may have begun as a yeast rash, but due to his skin sensitivity it has just continued to be irritated from both the rubbing of his diapers and the harsh antifungal creams even after the yeast was gone. If you find yourself dealing with a similar scenario consider using coconut oil. Even if it doesn’t work to clear a rash it will soften your baby’s skin.

Cloth diapering: Tips to getting started

Yes, this is another post about cloth diapering. The reason for this is simple; there’s a learning curve with reusable diapers and as I learn more and discover more useful tips I’d like to share them with other parents out there who may be considering cloth diapering their child. This advice is based on my own experiences and the experiences of other parents I’ve talked to about cloth diapering. And of course it only pertains to cloth diapering infants; I’m sure when my son becomes a toddler I will write another post about the do’s and don’ts on cloth diapering older children.

SUPPLIES

Diapers: 25 – 30 should be enough to successfully cloth diaper. It’s going to vary of course, depending on how many diapers your baby goes through in a day and how often you want to do the laundry. I have 28 cloth diapers and I wash them every other day. I would not suggest going more than three days without doing a load of dirty diapers or you may have icky smells and set-in stains. Since the cost of cloth diapers is a bit high ($12 – $25 each) I highly suggest putting them on your baby registry and making sure your friends and family know you want to cloth diaper exclusively. You can also purchase discounted gently used cloth diapers at baby and maternity consignment stores or online.

TIP – There are different kinds of cloth diapers (prefolds, pocket diapers, all-in-one, etc.) and I suggest getting a combination of several. We have three different kinds of diapers and a multitude of inserts and you can really mix and match together. You may find you like one type over another or you may find that certain types work best at different ages/sizes for your child.

Inserts:Whichever type of diaper you decide to buy will usually come with at least one insert. It’s probably best to have some extra inserts on hand though. Start by purchasing a few (6 – 10) extra inserts to have on hand. Then when you see how heavy a wetter your baby is you can decide if more are needed.

TIP – You can really never have too many inserts. They are useful as burp cloths or wash cloths. I have a giant stash (thanks to a generous donation from a friend) and I use them for everything. They’re great on spills too since they’re highly absorbent.

Diaper pail: I have only used wet bags so far and I love them. I started with one large sized wet bag and a small size to keep in the diaper bag. The bags have handles that make them perfect for hanging on a door handle (which is where I keep mine) or on a hook. I have since learned it is best to have 2 wet bags for the nursery so you can wash one with the diapers and still have a place for the newly soiled diapers so I have purchased a medium sized bag as well. They have zippers, but I suggest always keeping them unzipped because unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers do better when exposed to air. You don’t want them growing moldy!

TIP – Even if you’re not cloth diapering I suggest purchasing a small wet bag to keep in your diaper bag. It’s great for storing soiled clothes or cloths until you get home. Or if you are somewhere with no accessible garbage cans you can throw disposable diapers in it and toss them later.

I have not tried any diaper pails, but many parents I have talked to say they just use a cheap garbage can with a separate lid so they can keep it open and aired out. From what I’ve heard this works just fine. You can line it with disposable bags or a reusable bag that can be washed with your diaper laundry.

Detergents: Cloth diaper manufacturers will usually suggest using a detergent made specifically for cloth diapers. They contain less chemicals and are supposedly gentler on the materials. They are on the pricier side but I’ve found each bag lasts pretty long. I’ve just now (after three months) used up the first bag I purchased. I use Rock in Green brand, but you can find a wide variety online. I’ve also been told by other cloth diapering parents that good old Tide works great especially if they begin to smell. I have not yet tried it so I can’t vouch for it.

Detergent

Rash creams: Something you might not realize is that normal rash creams (Triple Paste, Butt Paste, etc.) should not be used with cloth diapers. The chemicals can cause buildup in the diapers and they may lose their absorbency. There are a ton of cloth-safe alternatives available online. We use GroVia’s Magic Stick mainly because A. it smells great and B. it is a stick so you don’t have to get your hands all dirty applying it. This can be applied to rashes or used as a preventative. I wish I had known about this earlier because our son got a yeast rash once he started sleeping through the night and was in a wet diaper longer than usual. We use it on every diaper change now.

Magic Stick

Disposable inserts: This is by no means a necessity, but if your child does get a rash these disposable inserts are great while you are treating your child. When our son got the yeast rash we had to use an antifungal cream on him three times a day. Since the antifungal creams are not good for cloth diapers we switched to disposable while treating him. Then I remembered the bag of disposable inserts we had bought on a whim and realized I could use these instead of disposable diapers.

disposable inserts

LAUNDRY

Laundry, in my opinion is the greatest learning curve to cloth diapering. Every brand will have its own set of directions on how to cloth diaper and if you do not follow them you are technically voiding the warranty. Now if you buy only one brand exclusively this will be easy to adhere to, but if you’re like me you have a hodge podge of brands and types there is no way you’re going to wash them each exclusively as their manufacturers instruct.

If you jump online and search for “cloth diapering laundry” you will read about a thousand different ways to clean them. But the truth is, you’re going to have to do trial and error and get to know your washer and dryer well before you get the perfect recipe for how best to wash your diapers.

There are two critical steps to cleaning your diapers: 1. Using lots of water 2. Rinsing them well so no detergent is left on them.

So this means you will need to experiment to find out how to best get your washer to use a lot of water and to rinse them well. For example top loaders use a lot more water during the wash cycle, but the rinse cycles are not always very efficient. Front loaders are built to use less water so you may have issues with the wash cycle, but they are generally very good with the rinse cycle. There are work arounds for each type so search for laundry tips based on the type of washer you have.

I have a basic top loader so my routine is as follows:

  1. 1. Start a hot cycle and put in my detergent

  2. 2. Place dirty diapers and inserts into the washer once detergent has dissolved. Flip wet bag inside out and also place in washer. Don’t forget to secure any velcro tabs your diapers may have so you don’t get a chain of diapers.

  3. 3. After this initial wash I will then run another rinse cycle using cold water.

  4. 4. Once the second rinse has finished I’ll smell the wet diapers to determine if another rinse is needed. If you smell ammonia it means you’re not using enough detergent, however, if it smells like the detergent, it has not rinsed enough and will need additional rinse cycles. The key is to get your diapers and inserts smelling like nothing.

  5. 5. When they are sufficiently rinsed I place all inserts and some diapers into the dryer on low or medium heat. High heat can kill the elastic in pocket diapers or all-in-one diapers so air drying may be best. Again this is something you can either turn to the manufacturer’s directions for or experiment with yourself. If air drying takes too long for you (as it does for me) you can also start them in the dryer on the lowest heat and then let them finish drying in the air. With time you will come to know what works best for each diaper.

  6. 6. I also use Oxyclean about twice a month to help keep them bright. I have had no problems with the Oxyclean affecting the absorbency of the diapers.

TIP – Don’t use dryer sheets in the dryer with your cloth diaper supplies. The chemicals can cause buildup which will make your diapers less absorbent.

So that wraps up my tips and discoveries thus far in the cloth diapering venture. Let me know if you have any helpful advice; I’m always open to learning more.

Blowouts, rashes and fashion: Reasons I’m loving cloth diapering

I’ve made it through my first month of cloth diapering and so far I’m loving it! I went into it fully expecting to find it burdensome and trying, but I have to say I’ve actually had the opposite experience.

We bought newborn cloth diapers, but found them to be a bit too small for our son. The one-size diapers, however, were too big. We ended up just using the disposable diapers the hospital sends you home with for the first week. Then our friends (thanks Catriona and Keith!) gave us their supply of newborn prefolds and covers since their six month son was now wearing the larger diapers and these proved the perfect fit for our son. So began our venture into the reusable diaper world.

The first week or so it took some trial and error in finding the best way to fold and stuff the diapers, but both my husband and I found our rhythm quickly enough. Then came the part I had dreaded most; the cleaning. But this too proved easy once I got my routine established.

Our supply of diapers was not large enough at that time (about 14 diapers) to go more than a day without washing, but even doing a load a day wasn’t hard. I would wake in the morning and clean all the diapers from the day before right away so we would have all of them available that day. Making it the first thing I did every morning made it a quick and easy chore that I could easily accomplish even with a newborn attached to me.

So after learning how to use cloth diapers and finding them easy to clean I was already happy with our decision. But a few other things further solidified my appreciation of cloth versus disposable diapers.

#1   For one week I went back to disposable diapers. The week I was traveling from Florida to Wisconsin I decided it would be easier to use disposables because I would not have access to a washer and dryer. The very first day I was using the disposables I took my son with me to my well visit appointment. This is usually done at 6 weeks but because I was moving my doctor had me come in at 4 weeks.

After my examination I asked my doctor if I could stay in the room for fifteen minutes to breastfeed. He assured me it was no problem so I laid back on the bed and began to feed him. Within minutes I heard (and felt) the telltale signs of my little boy pooping, but then I felt something alarming; wetness on my hand that was holding his back. I unlatched him and turned him around and was horrified to see a growing stain on his onesie. My son was having his first blowout and I was in the doctor’s office. Thankfully I was prepared with spare diapers and clothes, but nonetheless it was not a fun experience. Trying to wipe poop off a squirming baby and dig around in a diaper bag for a clean onesie was hard enough, but add to it that I was in my doctor’s office and had never dealt with such a situation like it before and it ended up feeling like a mini-catastrophe. Of course the lack of sleep and hormones might have contributed to my overwhelmed feeling. Over the week we had two more blowouts and many close calls. When I went back to the cloth diapers I had none. Thus far there have been no blowouts in the reusable diapers, although there have been pee leaks if I wait too long to change him. But I’ll take a leak any day over a blowout!

Blowout in the doctor's office

Blowout in the doctor’s office

#2   I had read that diaper rashes are far less common in children cloth diapered, but wasn’t sure if that were true. Well I can say that my son has not had any rashes or even redness except for the one week we went back to using disposable diapers. By the time we finally got to Wisconsin, after six full days of using disposables my son’s bottom was red and tender to the touch. But by his second day in cloth diapers all the redness had disappeared and he no longer seemed bothered by wipes.

#3  The last reason I love my cloth diapers are that they are so cute. They come in so many fun colors and patterns that it makes buying and using them more enjoyable. This should never be the sole reason for choosing cloth diapers, but it certainly helps.

As I stated in a previous post, cloth diapering is not for everyone. If I wasn’t staying home with my son I probably wouldn’t have the energy and drive to use them. But I feel that since I am staying home I have no reason not to use the less expensive and more ecofriendly cloth diapers and I am glad I have found them to be easy and fun to use.

Our cloth diaper stash

Our cloth diaper stash

Cloth diapering has a learning curve to be sure. Every baby’s body is different so you’ll have to experiment with different kinds of cloth diapers and different brands to find the best fit for your child. You’ll also have to play around with nighttime solutions until you find the best way to keep your child dry during the night. But if you’re like me you’ll find it worth the time and effort. We now have a healthy stock of prefolds, diaper covers, pocket diapers and all-in-ones that will last until our son is potty trained. And we can use the same diapers with any future children we may have. A few weeks of learning and we are set for years to come.

Cloth diapering

cloth diapering is love

After much consideration and research we have decided to opt for cloth diapers. No, not the traditional ones you fold yourself and secure with safety pins. There are now much easier versions called pocket diapers which will work for our needs. For any other parents out there wondering whether or not to try this route, here’s how we came to our decision.

Money

One of the main draws for us is the potential to save A LOT of money with cloth diapers. The amount you save will vary depending on the types of cloth diapers you purchase, the amount you purchase and how long you keep them but according to Consumer Reports you can save between $1500 – $2000 on one child’s diaper needs by using cloth diapers. That’s not an amount to scoff at. There’s even a handy calculator you can use to figure out your savings over paying for disposable diapers.

Waste

The statistics on disposable diapers is pretty depressing. It is estimated that a disposable diaper takes somewhere between 250 – 500 years to decompose! They are also the third most common item found in landfills. We would rather not contribute to this waste, so cloth diapers are a much better alternative for us. Not only will they be reused over and over again, but with pocket diapers you can get away with as few as 20 diapers for the entire diapering lifetime of your child because they are made to grow with babies. They have adjustable snaps that make one diaper good for a newborn and also for a toddler. Pretty handy.

Health

Disposable diapers contain tons of chemicals, many of which have never been tested or studied for their effects on humans. So rather than taking a chance and exposing my child to untested substances all day, every day, I think we’ll have greater piece of mind with cloth diapers made of natural materials.

Types of cloth diapers

Believe it or not, there are many types of cloth diapers out there. For a great description of the different types of diapers take a look at this blog post. It really gives a great idea of what each one is and how they work.

We have chosen pocket diapers for the following reasons:

  • They come in one-size varieties which allow you to use them for the diapering lifetime of your child
  • They come in various designs and fabrics
  • They don’t require a diaper cover in addition to the diaper; they already have them built in
  • They are made by many companies and easy to get a hold of

Cloth diapering is definitely not for every family. We are able to try this route because I will most likely be staying at home for the first couple of years and will have the time to dedicate to cloth diapering. Getting adjusted to reusable diapers and the additional laundry load is not something every family can handle, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons before embarking on such a venture.

I’d love to hear from those of you out there with experience with cloth diapering. I’ve read tons of articles and blogs but any advice is welcome. I have a feeling it’s going to take a moment or two to get acquainted with them.