What I’ve Learned Using Cloth Diapers

23 Mar

I’ve imparted most of the lessons I’ve learned over the last eight months of cloth diapering in the previous posts. But there are a few things I didn’t cover.

Cloth diapers leak a lot less than disposable diapers.

I touched on this a little bit in the post where I compared cloth diapers and disposable diapers. Not only is the elastic in cloth diaper covers a lot stronger than the elastic in disposable diapers, the attachment tabs are stronger as well. I have had the tabs come open on very full overnight disposable diapers diapers. And that will cause leaks as well. Whenever I have friends who are going on a long drive with a new baby, I tell them to get cloth diaper covers or reusable swim diapers to cover their disposable diapers. I have had this little trick save the day multiple times. But the most memorable is when I put Daisy in a disposable, covered with a diaper cover, before her baptism. She had a blowout, but didn’t get anything on her baptism gown because the diaper cover kept it in.

It is very important to fully pre-wash your diapers

Most types of new cloth diapers will include instructions to run them through a hot wash and then dry them about six times before using them on the baby. This prep work washes away natural plant oils, and oils and sizing (starch) used in fabric manufacturing. To check if the diapers are ready to be used, sprinkle a couple of drops of water on a dry diaper. If the water is instantly absorbed, then the diaper is ready. If the water beads before absorbing, it needs to be washed and dried some more. Skipping this step will lead to leaky diapers!

Water is a good cleaner

When I change wet diapers, I use plain water in a spray bottle and a cloth. The baby gets clean without the expense and potential irritation of cleansers or scents. For dirty diapers, I use California Baby Diaper Area Wash because water doesn’t get everything off.

Mix and match to find a system that works for you

I use disposables when we leave the house and for overnight. I don’t like carrying a wet bag around for dirty diapers because I am terrible about remembering to put it in the diaper pail when we get home. And I’ve tried several different cloth diaper solutions for overnights, but the special overnight disposable diapers have worked the best at keeping Daisy dry. They don’t work perfectly – one night the diaper got so full that the closure tab let go. All in all, we’ve bought less than 300 disposable diapers in the last 8 months. (For comparison, if we were using disposables full time, we would have bought over 2,000 disposable diapers by this point.) Even though we are using some disposables, we are still saving a significant amount of money on diapering costs.

Consider reusable “cloth” swim diapers

Even if you decide to use disposable diapers full time, consider getting a cloth swim diaper for under your baby’s swim suit. Swim diapers are designed to hold in poop and keep it out of the pool. They are not absorbent, or they would soak up the pool water. I have used both the Bummis Swimmi and Imse Vimse Swim Diaper and really liked both of them.


This is part five in a five part series.

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One Response to “What I’ve Learned Using Cloth Diapers”

  1. Cleaninup Kate March 30, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    I have to second your “consider reusable swim diaper” suggestion. I can understand that some people (definitely NOT me) don’t want to use cloth diapers because they think it’s too much work. But the reusable swim diaper is the best investment you can make! For the price of a single package of disposable swim diapers (or even less), you get one that will last for years.

    My first son went through 2 – 1 for the birth to 1 yr stage, another for 1 yr to potty trained. They simply do not wear out (although they faded a fair bit – but I use them under a bathing suit so you don’t even see the cute designs anyway).

    Now my second son is using them.

    One thing people may not know about swim diapers – even the disposable ones – is that they’re designed to trap poo. NOT PEE. They let pee pass through them so they won’t be too heavy.

    I’ve seen moms wring out disposable swim diapers after using them so that they can re-use them to save money. GROSS! Just get a cloth one! Also, unless you rip the disposables off your baby, I find them incredibly difficult to remove when they’re wet. Cloth ones just open up and come right off.

    Wondering what to do with your cloth swim diaper if baby poos in it when you’re at the pool? Plop the poo into the toilet, put the diaper into a bag. SIMPLE. But to be honest, in my years of taking my sons to the pool, neither one has ever pooed. In fact, the only kids I’ve ever seen poo at the pool are the ones who aren’t wearing a diaper but should be! And then they have to shut the pool down.

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