Friday, November 30, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Parent Quick Guide

I love cloth diapers!  For so many reasons, health, cost, landfill reduction, comfort, etc, cloth diapers may be right for you.

Check out this website called Real Diaper Association for more statistics and information on choosing to use cloth diapers.

 I want to make cloth diapers not only available, but easy and affordable for the families in my care so I developed this quick guide for how to easily and affordably get started in cloth diapering.

Currently cloth diapers are welcome in my child care and I strive to set up a full supply of cloth diapers to completely eliminate the cost to the families.  The families can choose at that point to continue with their own diapers (cloth or disposable) or use the cloth diapers while in child care only (I will change them into a cloth diaper at their first diaper and back into their own diapers at their last change). Update: we now have a small stock of items available for use but still ask that the family brings in the first set of flat or prefold cloth diapers and a pack of Snappi to get started.  A full time child will need around 2 packs of cloth diapers and a part time child will need one.  I will match your purchase in cloth diapers and provide all the training pants and covers.  

Until then, if you want to use cloth diapers, 
this is the easiest, way to go:

1. Gerber 10 pack Cloth Diapers $16.99, Target
2. Snappi diaper closures 5 pack $12.50, Amazon
3. Gerber Waterproof pants 2 pack $3.99, Target
     4. Wet bag $11.95, Smarti Pants, or Rubermaid bin with lid $8.49, Target
5. Arm and Hammer Sensitive Skin laundry detergent $8.79, Target

The Diapers

Target sells a pack of 10 Gerber prefolded (already made thicker in the middle) diapers for $16.99.  They are universaly sized and can be folded down in front to accomidate younger Infants or tri folded and paired with a fitted cover for Toddlers.  Use them alone with a Snappi closure or Sumo band at home for soft, natural diapering.  These also make great burp rags and 'loveys'. Update: the photo shows flat diapers but pre-fold ones are about the same price and have the same packaging.  Check the name in the lower right corner. I recommend flat for small infants and pre-fold for older children.  You can also use flat for older children but will probably need to double them up.  However, the flat are less bulky and wash and dry easier.
The Closures

Diaper pins are a thing of the past!  Snappi makes a three point grip closure similar to the metal closures on a flexible wrap bandage.  Little prongs grip the diaper material and hold it safely.  They are dishwasher safe and can be used all day long.  I hand-washed mine and sprayed them with a bleach solution when they got dirty and let them air dry.  There are several different sizes to choose from.  Update: I'm reading on the package that you should avoid bleach so now I hand wash them when I wash my hands after a messy change.
The Covers

The easiest are slip on waterproof pants from Gerber or Dappi.  You grandma called them 'rubber pants' but they're really a pair of underwear made of flexible, thin, waterproof material similar to a waterproof windbreaker or thin plastic tablecloth.  These are a must for overnights or for out and about or day care settings where leak-throughs would be a health problem for others.  Smarti Pants brand Smart-Fit cloth diaper covers or similar are the best though.  They are one size and have three areas of plastic snaps for ultimate size adjustments for Newborn to Toddler.  They are cloth-like, waterproof, and come in a verity of colors.  Both are machine washable and should be air dried.  There are lots of patterns for homemade diaper covers as well through Simplicity and similar.  You can use the same cover over again if you want but I believe Hennepin County requires a new, clean diaper cover for every BM change while at daycare. Update: these are really easy to clean.  I take off the cover inside out, wipe it with the wet wipe and set it aside, then diaper the baby and replace cover.  Dirty or soiled covers need to be changed.

Excerpt from Rule 2:

An adequate supply of clean diapers must be available for each child and stored in a clean place inaccessible to children. If cloth diapers are used, parents must provide a change of the outer plastic pants for each fecally soiled diaper change. Cloth diapers, except those supplied by a commercial diaper service, and plastic pants, if supplied by parents, must be labeled with the child's name.

Laundry Supplies

You will need a stink proof diaper bin or bag until laundry time.  There are two methods: wet bin and dry bin.  The dry bin is just a collection bin and the wet bin holds an amount of water for presoaking the diapers before laundry day.  I think a wet bag like this one from Smarti Pants or a simple Rubermaid bin with lid is the easiest using the dry method.  That's how I've done it in the past.  It does smell when you open it but in general, the lid keeps it stink free.  You can then do laundry or send them out for laundering as needed. If you use a wet bag, you use it as a liner in a lidded container.  Then you wash the diapers and the bag in the washing machine.  Update: I use both now.  With a child under 6 months, BMs are liquid and so I just tossed them all in the wet bag until laundry day.  I tossed the bag in the wash too inside out.  Now that I have an older child in cloth diapers, there's more mess : ) The easiest way I found is to put the really dirty diapers, cover and wipes directly into the toilet (be careful not to flush!) I finish the diaper change and put baby back to play.  Then with a gloved hand or a toilet brush, I swish them around in the water and place them in a small bucket covered with a small amount of fresh water.  Flush the yucky water and that's it.  You can dump the wat bucket of pre-soaked diapers directly into the washer, water and all then add the rest of the items from the wet bag and wash as usual.  No or little stains!  Note: you should change the soak water daily.  Just pour off excess water and retop with clean water.  No need to squeeze out the soaked items, they will only soak for 2-3 days max.  I do diaper laundry Wednesdays and Weekends.

Putting the Diaper On

Open the diaper flat.  Fold it in thirds along the seams.  Open up the top of the folds, this makes the back of the diaper.  Lie the baby on the diaper and bring it up through their legs.  Open up the other side of the diaper.  The sides of the diaper should now overlap at each hip.  Cross the back corners over the front corners and use a Snappi clip to hold it all in place. Start at the sides, then clip the bottom part.   If the diaper is too large for the baby, fold the front edge down horizontally inward before securing.  (Also good for boys who wet heavier in the front.) If the diaper is too small, leave it folded in thirds and use a fitted cover to hold it in place without securing.  Cover with waterproof pant or diaper cover. 

Washing and Drying

Wash the cloth diapers in a washing machine using cloth diaper safe detergent.  Don't use much detergent, it can build up a layer on the diaper blocking it's natural absorbency.  Hang dry the diapers.  Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets as they can make build-up on the diapers and block absorbency.  Breast fed baby diapers can go in the machine with no prep work.  Large or solid BMs (bowel movements) should be rinsed or emptied into the toilet.  Use a bidet toilet attachment like this one or swish the diaper in the toilet if it doesn't off easily.  There are also disposable liners for the diaper if you're squeamish.  Or better yet, call a local cloth diaper laundering service like Twin Cities DO Good Diaper Service. Update: you do not have to hang dry your diapers if you don't want.  putting them in the dryer keeps them soft and helps new diaper shed their excess fluff and lint.  Dry on the coolest setting.  Waterproof pants and covers can go in too as well as the diaper wet bag.  Just read the labels the first time. : )

Stripping Diapers

Every so often, the cloth diapers need to be stripped to eliminate any product build-up that can block the diaper's absorbency.  A diaper laundering service can do this or do it at home by hand.  Here's a video of how to do it at home with just liquid soap and a nail brush.  Update: I use the flat diapers right now and have not needed to strip them over the last 3-4 months.

Diaper Creams and Detergents:

You should use creams and detergents that are cloth diaper safe like the ones in these videos.  You can also use the homemade diaper cream recipe here.


Commercial diaper wipes contain fragrance and additives that can be rough on baby's skin, not to mention costly.  I use two kinds of wipes.  Simple cloth wipes that are wet with water only, such as baby wash cloths, wash cloth mitts or cloth squares cut from receiving blankets or flannel.  The great thing about cloth wipes is that they are easy to transport, can be used for face or bottom, are machine washable and re-usable and best of can easily use warm water with them which is nice for baby.  Or keep a spray bottle of sterile or distilled water in your diapering basket for on-the-go or diapering around the house.  You can use this diaper spray with wipes if you want.   I also use disposable home-made wipes like these for dirty diapers.  These can also be used for helping to get a BM from a cloth diaper into the toilet though be careful about flushing them as they are made from paper towels and may clog the toilet. Update: you can also just run dry, heavy duty, paper towels under the sink tap to wet them completely for messy diaper clean up.


Every child is unique and you may have to play around with covers and folding techniques if you have a lot of leaks.  You may also need to try different diapering methods for overnight vs. day time.  And you don't need to stick to ONLY cloth diapers if you don't want.  Go ahead and use them only at home and change baby into a disposable one for going out or overnights.  Use a disposable if your child is feeling sick if you prefer.  Any little effort you make is great.  Update: I noticed a diaper rash on our little cloth diaper user the first week.  This diminished as we played with wipe formula and diaper cream.  It may take a week or so for your child's skin to adjust to the cloth diapers.  There has been very little redness since then but I do use diaper cream every dirty diaper just as a preventative.

Using Cloth Diapers in Child Care

Right now cloth diapers are encouraged and accepted in my child care.  My goal is to slowly build a stock of cloth diapers and covers to allow for any family in my care to have access to cloth diapering during the day if they choose at no additional cost.  At that point I will be happy to change the children into cloth diapers at their first daily change and back into their own diapers at their last change of the day.  For right now, please feel free to bring in cloth diapers and covers to use in care even if you're not using them at home and I'd be happy to use them during the day for you and take care of all laundering details!  I will always provide the homemade diaper rash cream, and all wipes (cloth and homemade) regardless of which diapers you choose to use during the day.  Please make sure all your diapering items are labeled as they will be washed together.  

Good Luck and than you for doing your part to protect the Earth and do what's best for your baby!

If you have any questions, just ask!!  
I'd be happy to help however I can. 

No comments:

Post a Comment