A billion years ago (so it seems), the only diapers that were used were flat-style diapers. Many cultures across the world did and still do practice elimination communication, but many cultures also still use flats. Don’t get me wrong, flats have plenty of upsides—they’re easy to wash by hand and quick to dry, and you can make a flat diaper out of almost any spare fabric you have lying around, in a pinch. I totally went through a “flats phase” and understand the benefits. One of the reasons I liked flats for a while was because my daughter did best in cotton fabrics. Anything else she was more prone to getting rashes in, but that good ol’ 100% cotton was cheap and breathable.
Flats: as close to a universal diaper as you can get
However, the upsides of flat diapers can quickly become the downsides as well. They can be difficult to fold quickly, and aren’t as absorbent as some modern manmade fabrics. Another downside I only discovered after my second child was born: Some kids simply do not like sitting in a wet diaper.
All-in-one diapers are very popular, for good reason. Every part of the diaper comes sewn together in one neat piece, rather than having multiple pieces, such as inserts or covers, that must be assembled to make a complete diaper. The convenience comes at a price—they are more expensive than other diaper types—but they are especially well-liked by daycares and other temporary caregivers that may only be familiar with disposables. However, because all-in-ones are all one piece, they require a little different care and look different than other diapers. To make things even more confusing, some diapers that are actually pockets, especially foreign-made ones on eBay, are often labeled as “all in one diapers” even though they are what we call “pocket diapers.” Let’s look at the parts of a true all-in-one diaper below.
One of the biggest concerns with cloth diapers is how good they are to travel with. With disposables, you have your diaper bag with diapers and wipes (and possibly additional things like trash bags and creams). After a change, you throw it all away whenever you find a trash can, which we’ve found is sometimes harder than others. At someone’s house, you may have to be creative since they don’t want stinky diapers in their trash can.
It’s not that much different with cloth, and I actually think it’s better. You still have your diaper bag with diapers and wipes. You will change the diaper, just like you would disposable, but instead of throwing it into your closest trash can (complicated or not), you pull out your travel wet bag and dump the diaper in that. It is water proof (same PUL material as some cloth diapers), locks in odors, and zips or ties shut. And they stay in there until you are ready to do a load of laundry.
Have you ever tried to diaper a newborn while receiving aid from a toddler? It’s one of the most frustrating things to do. On one hand you want to encourage the helpful nature of your toddler. On the other hand you would rather not have the contents of the newborn’s diaper decorate your home’s carpet. Luckily, for us all, there are ways to nurture your little helper and keep your carpet refuse free.
Let your toddler help with snaps. The best way to allow this is the unsnapping of the diaper. This is because there is a pulling motion rather than a pushing motion. It’s not likely that, with your supervision, the toddler will fall on the baby. At the same time toddlers are fascinated with things that can open and close. This could also help the toddler with motor skills. The upside for you is as long as your little guy has a part to play he will most likely be fine letting you do the rest without trying to help more.
Have your toddler be your gopher. Have him help get the wipes, the Desitin, or an insert for the diaper. Make sure all the materials are close by and then, as you need an item, ask for them. Between eighteen months and two years of age a toddler should be able to carry out simple requests. It will take some time for them, so be patient.
I recently wrote an article here about my woes with my cloth diapers in a hard water location, namely the entire state of Utah. Since I had recently moved, I had not yet found the way to clean my cloth diapers and hoped that someone would be able to give me the answer since my research had not found anything that worked. After talking with my sister-in-law, who works at a cloth diaper store, and consulting with many other cloth diapering mothers, I have found what worked for us – Tide original powder and Calgon.
Calgon is a liquid water softener found in the laundry aisle in Walmart. I haven’t found it anywhere else besides online. Calgon contains the active ingredients zeolite and polycarboxylate, which interact with the hard water ions in water to prevent them from forming limescale or interfering with soap lathering. The bottle says that it can also be used as a laundry enhancer, making whites more white and all that jazz. I’m not as fussed about those benefits, but I thought it would be nice if it helped my laundry be better overall.
I started off with a strip where I did a cold rinse to remove all the icky stuff and then added one tablespoon of Blue Dawn Original dish soap and did a series of hot washes until all the bubbles were gone, which took all day. I used a capful of Calgon with every wash. When I was done with the strip, I did one more wash using the Tide Original powder, then threw them all in the dryer for a low heat spin. And VIOLA! It worked.
When my hubby and I decided to cloth diaper, we did not at all consider cloth wipes. It wasn’t something we had heard much about and cloth diapers seemed like a big enough change anyway.
We got our first diapers from a nice woman on raigslist and they were pretty much brand new. She also hooked us up by including two diaper bags, three travel bags, and a dozen cloth wipes and wipe soap. She hadn’t been a user of cloth wipes, but had exchanged the diapers she had because they were faulty. The diaper company sent her cloth wipes along with the replacement diapers as an apology. She then told me she wished she had known about them sooner because she loved using them.
Now, I had nothing against disposable wipes. Really, when my husband started using them he lamented not knowing about these miracles wipes when he was a bachelor. We used them for everything from bottoms to dirty hands and faces to table wiping to dusting. Any surprise mess was a job for the wipes. They were convenient, easy to use, have-on-hand tools. But I made a point of trying the cloth wipes because of this kind woman’s passion and I had to say goodbye to the disposable miracle wipes.
You have your last child potty training now and it’s time to get rid of those cloth diapers. Don’t just throw them out! That would defeat the purpose of those eco friendly diapers. Besides they can have so many other uses.
Pass Them On
If you know you are done having children and now all your children are potty trained perhaps it’s time to pass those diapers on to someone who will need them. Perhaps you know an expecting mother or someone who is being eaten alive trying to keep up with the cost of disposable diapers. Or perhaps you have noticed your little one has a friend with sensitive skin and could use cloth diapers. Whoever you choose to pass those clothies on to it will help save them a great deal of money.
That’s what our For Sale or Trade Forum is for! Sell your cloth diapers and other child rearing supplies. You’ll make some money and the buyer gets a great deal buying used. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!
It will probably happen at some point. In my case, it happened the very first time we cloth diapered my tiny newborn daughter—your child poops, you run the diaper through the wash, and it comes out stained! Many people feel gypped the moment this happens. After all, if you have 12 fancy all-in-one diapers that cost $25 each, you will probably panic a bit—they were SO expensive! The Internet swore they were top of the line diapers, and after one use they look used and gross! What to do? (Unless you’re one of the mysterious minorities of parents online who claim that in their nine years of cloth diapering, they’ve left dirty diapers lying around for days before washing and never had a single stain. In that case, you can go on washing your diapers in your magic washing machine and send the magic our way.)
So… after months of agonizing over diaper types you’ve decided to use pocket diapers with your child. Or, you know, you just randomly used one and was like, “Hey, this is a cool diaper, I’m going to buy a bunch of these now.” The pocket diaper covers, or “shells,” are all constructed pretty much the same. There’s a layer of PUL on the outside and a stay-dry inner such as microsuede or fleece on the inside (and a very few pockets have cotton velour as an inner lining too!). Every brand is shaped a little differently, or has different snap configurations, but this is the basic construction of a pocket diaper. The true differences in each pocket diaper are what’s stuffed into the pocket.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I asked myself all the questions a new parent asks, from what crib to breastfeeding to parenting styles. Among these questions was, “What kind of diapers should I use?”
I’m a traditionalist and I liked the idea of cloth diapering, but when I asked around, I was met with a lot of negative information.
It’s so dirty!
You use so much water!
It’s so complicated! All those pins and folding.
Many older moms, like mine, had tried cloth diapering with their first born. My own mother recalls that she came to America with her only suitcase stuffed with my brother’s cloth diapers. But when she discovered the miracle that was disposable, she said she threw out cloth and never looked back.
My dreams of cloth diapering were shattered and I went with disposable. Sure, they worked, but we were constantly running out at awkward times, often in the middle of the night. Our daughter grew out of the infant ones immediately, and it wasn’t long before she grew out of the next size up, leaving us with half a pack of newborn and a quarter pack of ones. Save them for the next child was the general advice, but with us living in a one bedroom apartment, storage was sacred. It was frustrating to have precious space taken up by out grown diapers.
When we were pregnant with our second daughter, my husband got out of the military and we were suddenly unemployed. I tried to potty train my daughter, but she stubbornly refused to do it, even though she had proved capable of it when she was in the mood for a treat. We reevaluated our finances and wondered if cloth was still a way to go.