This is a quick and dirty blog (no pun intended). A sweet friend told me a few weeks ago that she was having horrible rash issues just recently after switching to cloth diapers. Another told me that her diapers wouldn’t absorb anything at all, and the pee was sliding out of the top. Lots tell me they can’t afford it (I never have a spare $20 for disposables, so this truly puzzles me). And of course, there is always the poop issue. It comes up every time.
I’m not trying to sell more diapers by saying this (although if you want to buy, hop on over to simplebaby.com, please!). I’m going to tell you these things because I want more people to love and succeed at cloth diapering. And I hate that an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are consumed every year in the U.S.
And I am shocked time and time again to hear stories about cloth diapering failures that are a result of no one telling those parents the most basic truths of cloth:
1) IT DOESN’T TAKE HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS TO DO IT.
You need something to absorb the pee, and an outer layer to keep you from getting leaked on or keep the poop from sliding on to you. $50 at a thrift store buys you cotton inners from used (*upcycled*) tees and microfleece, and used wool sweaters or blizzard fleece for outers. A few hundred dollars can comfortably get you more than started (possibly all the way to potty training).
I want you to buy my stuff – but I don’t want you to give up completely on an eco-friendly practice that is healthier and more comfortable for baby just because you can’t shell out the cash for a full stash of AIOs up front.
Diaper-Pin has a fab calculator that works magic for $$ conscious hubbys.
2) ITS ALL ABOUT THE WASH ROUTINE.
This probably should be number one. This is the biggest, saddest truth of them all. Sad because your baby can get a horrible rash or chemical type burns from using the wrong stuff. If your baby is having rash issues you should look first at the detergent you are using. Pinstripes and Polkadots has an awesome detergent list.
If your detergent isn’t listed as a “best of” it needs to go. Personally – I Love Tiny Bubbles, and have never had rash issues with my customers (err, or their babies) when it is used properly. In the past I have used Charlie’s, Rockin Green, Country Save, Lulu’s, Biokleen and Ecover – and this is the stuff I like and have great customer reviews in all kinds of water. So FWIW.
Part 2 of this – if you are using too much detergent, stop. Rinse, rinse, rinse some more. If you are washing without detergent and bubbles are appearing – stop using so much detergent (after you get that stuff stripped out!). You just have to play with it to figure out how much you need for your wash set up. TB works perfect for me with just almost a full scoop. Detergents not meant for CDing need WAY less that you need normally. Softer water, less soap usually. If your diapers seem gunky, use less detergent – not more. I like RLR for stripping and I am excited to try Funk Rock. But you will strip a lot less if you use the right amount of detergent. You will also strip less if you use natural fibers. I don’t have any science at all to back this up, but this is my experience, and that of several other lazy (meaning we don’t hang dry, are terrible about prepping, use random detergents, etc, etc) friends.
3) Also in the chapped and bleeding bottom category: NEVER LET MICROFIBER TOUCH YOUR BABY’S SKIN! Microfiber is great at wicking away moisture. So great in fact, that it will also wick away the oils and moisture in your baby’s skin. For some babies, this is enough to cause horrible problems, for others it’s a combination of microfiber and a bad detergent choice, or fabric softener, or some other environmental nasty. While microfibers can more cheaply stuff pockets and absorb, natural fibers are a better solution, and some (like hemp) work just as well as a microfiber diaper. If you must use it, keep microfiber away from the skin….
4) And one last thing about rash, etc, etc: IF YOU USE SOMETHING ON YOUR BABY’S BOTTOM MAKE SURE IT WON’T RUIN YOUR DIAPERS. Things that are made to put a barrier on your baby will also put a barrier on your diapers which will then leak, and likely stain. Then you have gross looking leaky diapers. If you are going down the path of trying to heal a rash, use something cloth diaper safe, and sweet and breathable on your baby’s skin, like Grovia’s Magic Stick.
5) POOP ISN’T THAT BAD AND STAINS COME OUT WITH SUN. Technically you are supposed to be flushing poop, even in a disposable. Just so ya’ know. Poop has basically three stages in your diapered baby, exclusively breast fed poop (which you can just throw in the wash, it’s water-soluble), the in-between, “I just started solids” poop (easily managed with disposable liners or a few strips of cheap fleece and/or a diaper sprayer) which lasts about 3 months in most babies, and the most-solid-like-an-actual-little-human poop, which rolls into the toilet. OR you can do EC (elimination communication), which I have to tell you (having had one EC’d baby, and one traditionally PT’d baby) is awe-some for the poop situation. Either way – just not that big of a deal, and not worth being squeamish about.
On to stains – a brilliant biologist type explained to me the other day that the same pigments that make a baby jaundiced are the ones that make poop have color. So that totally explains in one sentence why sunning works. So – unattractive staining – no longer a factor.
There you go! Now go forth and cloth diaper! And add your own truths in the comments