This is the third in a series of posts about cloth diapering. If you’re interested in started from the beginning, you can start with cloth diapers, pt. 1: why, oh why?. If you’ve already decided that you want to cloth diaper, learn more about some different diapering choices with cloth diapers, pt. 2: decisions, decisions.
This post will focus on daily issues with cloth diapering. I’m going to try to answer the main questions I had when I was figuring out what supplies to register for or buy, and tell you the truth about how things really go down with cloth diapers in my house.
I think the issue of most concern when you’re dealing with cloth diapers is that of laundry. These diapers are reusable, which is pretty much what makes them awesome, but it also means that you have to wash things designed to contain poop, which is kind of daunting, to say the least.
First of all, realize that cloth diapers will increase the amount and frequency of laundry you will need to do. But having a baby will do that anyway, so if you cloth diaper from the beginning, you won’t know the difference.
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, baby’s poop is water soluble, so you can just throw wet and poopy diapers alike into a wet bag or lined diaper pail until it’s time to do the laundry. We do baby’s laundry once a day or every other day, depending on how fast we blow through the diapers (and pajamas and sheets and onesies and bibs…you get the idea). Now that he’s hit the 6 month mark it seems like we’re able to stretch our diapers to an every other day laundry cycle, which is pretty great.
I use a cheap free and clear detergent , and I haven’t had any trouble with my diapers repelling moisture or with buildup of any kind. I try to start with just a cold rinse and spin every other load or so, to prevent staining. Then I wash the diapers along with the wet bag they’ve been sitting in (and the rest of Baby Guy’s stuff) in warm water. I used to do an extra rinse at the end, but I recently read that with hard water, ending with a rinse is a bad idea, so I’ve quit.
Then, I pop the AIO diapers and all my diaper covers on a drying rack. The inserts (and everything else) goes into the dryer on low. Usually one cycle will dry everything, although my hemp overnight inserts require extra time to dry thoroughly.
We’re just now venturing into the world of solids, so our non-water soluble poopy diaper routine has not been fully established yet, but last Monday my diaper sprayer arrived (and I installed it myself without incident). My Spray Pal, a sort of shield to keep the diaper sprayer from spraying diaper contents all over the place, also arrived last week. I haven’t had to use it yet, since my son refuses to ingest solid food (so far). I’ll post about how the new poopy diaper routine works as soon as my son eats enough solids to actually make it through him. It may be awhile still.
Overall, the laundry can be daunting at times, but it’s not too bad, even when you’re operating with a sort of minimal number of diapers, like we are. If you had a bigger stash, you could get away with longer intervals between loads (though I’d advise against leaving dirty diapers to sit for too long).
Even after we’d fully decided to cloth diaper, it took me awhile to think about wipes, but I was reading a blog and the author mentioned that she used cloth wipes. I thought that was crazy, and I may have even told my husband about it in a sort of “can you believe people actually do that?!” kind of way.
Well, we use cloth wipes. It totally makes sense in real life. With cloth wipes, we can just toss them in the wet bag with the diapers. Otherwise we’d have to keep the wipes and diapers separate, with a trash can available for wipes. That’s more difficult than it sounds. We do use disposable wipes when we’re out and about, just because they’re a lot easier to keep in the diaper bag, but it’s a pain because it’s really easy to just put them in the diaper when they’re all gross, and then they accidentally end up in the washer, which is not ideal. Lately I’ve been thinking of trying to take some of my cloth wipes with me on outings. We’ll see.
Anyway, the wipes I use are basically squares of flannel serged around the edges to keep them from fraying. We wet them in a homemade mixture of water, organic unrefined coconut oil, and Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap. We fold them so that they’ll pull out of a diaper warmer (my husband found one on the cheap at a garage sale) nicely, and we have warm, pre-moistened wipes on the changing table ready to go. It works for us!
You can’t use normal diaper ointments with cloth diapers because the chemicals and oils cause problems with absorbency and sometimes break down the waterproofing. However, Desitin is basically a fact of life with a newborn. There are CD friendly solutions, though.
I use coconut oil rather than lotion on my son’s skin. Coconut oil is cloth diaper safe, and it smells delicious (if you’re into that). I use it on his butt, too, as a nice barrier. However, I’ve found something that works even better than coconut oil for preventing and helping to heal diaper rash if it manages to occur: It’s a GroVia Magic Stick. The ingredients are all natural, and it’s made to be used with cloth diapers. I used to just use it when I was out in about, because it’s easier to keep in the diaper bag than a container of coconut oil. However, I’ve been using it about every other diaper change lately, and Baby Guy’s butt is as soft as a baby’s bottom. I’m going to invest in a second stick to keep in the diaper bag since I’m using the original one at home.
Side note: My little one doesn’t get diaper rash too often, but he always gets it within a few hours of wearing disposables (which is only when we’re away from home overnight without laundry access). When he’s had a rash that absolutely requires a conventional diaper rash cream, we’ve used biodegradable disposable liners to protect the absorbency of the diapers. They work pretty well, but I’d rather prevent diaper rash than try to heal it, so the Magic Stick is my first choice.
As I mentioned earlier, we keep dirty diapers in a wet bag. We have two bags so that when one is being washed, we can be filling the other. We also have a smaller wet/dry bag for our diaper bag (since you have to carry your dirty diapers as well as your clean ones), and a tiny wet bag that I use for bringing wet cloths or wipes with us. These bags zip closed to keep in odors and wet stuff. We’ve been happy with the ones we have.
I’d say the biggest problem we have with wet bags is that sometimes I forget that the diaper bag one is in the wash, and then I find myself at the store without something to hold dirty diapers for the rest of my outing. Now I try to keep a plastic shopping bag or two tucked away in the diaper bag, just in case the wet bag has been left at home.
If you’re going to use prefolds (or fitted diapers without attached fasteners), you should get yourself a Snappi or two. A Snappi is a little contraption that plays the role that safety pins used to perform in cloth diapering. They come in all different colors, and they come in different sizes, too. Just hook its three sets of teeth into the diaper and it will stay on your little one! We have two of them in size 1, and we’ve never had any problems with them. I only use them once in awhile, but I’d recommend having one or two on hand if you’re planning to use prefold diapers at all.
I think that pretty much covers the nitty gritty of daily issues with cloth diapering. It’s really not difficult, and my husband and I have spoken many times about how glad we are that we’ve decided to do it.
Unless I get questions about issues that I haven’t covered here, this is going to be the temporary end of my series on cloth diapering. I will add posts about life after solid food poo and about diaper stain removal after I’ve worked through those issues, but for now I don’t have enough experience to write anything meaningful about them.
Let me know if there’s another aspect of CD that you’d like me to write about. If I have something to contribute, I’ll be happy to do so. For now, go check out some adorable, fluffy diapers!