Diaper sprayers initially seem like one of those cloth diapering accessories that one absolutely NEEDS. For the uninitiated, a diaper sprayer is a hose that attaches to the water line on your toilet. At the end of the hose is a nozzle that’s basically a mini garden hose, so you can hold those dirty diapers over the toilet and spray them off before tossing them in the diaper bag. Genius, right?
This lovely image of a Bumkins diaper sprayer from bumkins.com is not the diaper sprayer I bought. I regret this fact immensely, as you will see as you read on.
For the first few months I cloth diapered my daughter, there was no need for a diaper sprayer. Newborn poop doesn’t really need to be sprayed off, and I didn’t think I really needed to spend $45 on something that I might not use. However, once she started eating solid foods, and each diaper change brought forward new and horrifying substances, I began to rethink certain life choices. Before investing in a diaper sprayer, I decided to try disposable liners. They are thin little paper liners placed inside the diaper to catch solids. Then in theory, you just dump the liner into the toilet, flush it all away, and place your diaper in the laundry, smug at having cleaned out a poopy diaper while barely touching it at all.
However, theories basically exist to be disproven. While using a disposable liner was much easier than doing the dunk-and-swish method of rinsing out a diaper, I quickly found that they often bunched a bit in my now-mobile baby, and thus ended up not covering the entire diaper. I usually found myself dumping the liner in the toilet but having to rinse out the diaper anyway. It saved a little bit of work, but not much time, and I started to feel like maybe I was throwing money at something I *wanted* to work, but wasn’t *actually* working. Finally, I sighed and bought the cheapest diaper sprayer–to the tune of a whopping $9–that I could.
Diapering at the best of times is only an okay chore. The up side is tickles and giggles. There is a time, however, when there is no fun to be had while diapering. That time is when your little one has the runs.
It Can Hurt
Cloth on a rash, especially when it’s a texture like a towel, can be very uncomfortable. If you add this to a child that is mobile, even when they are sick you end up with chafing along with a higher chance of infection. It may be best to find or make inserts with a gentler texture. Also try to only use one insert and change your child more often. This will reduce the amount of area that the cloth will rub on, the amount of saturated body acids in contact with your child’s skin, and the length of time the body acids have contact with your little one’s skin.
Keep It Snug
Keep your cloth diaper snug. It’s wise to do this for one very good reason. You want to keep your and your child’s environment clean. A loose bowel movement can and will leak everywhere. It will get on your floor and carpet. It will ooze into your little one’s bed clothes and even get on beloved stuffed animals. While you don’t want your cloth diaper pinching or blocking off any part of your child’s body they may experience gas, you do want your cloth diaper snug enough to keep leakage minimal.
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.
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.
Prefolded diapers were totally revolutionary at one point. Instead of having a large flat diaper to fold over and over again, prefolds were sewn so you only had to make a couple of folds to get the diaper on your baby! This ease, combined with prefolds’ durability and relative cheapness compared to the cost of other types of cloth diapers make them a well-loved staple of many cloth diaper stashes even today. Over the years, people have come up with a million different ways to fold prefolds! Some may work for you and some may not, depending on the size of your baby (and their temperament—some babies will happily let you spend five minutes trying to get a diaper to perfectly fit on them, others are lucky to give you five seconds). Here are five common ways to fold a prefold diaper, as illustrated by the good-natured and hard working Mr. Koala:
Also called the “trifold.” This fold requires no fasteners such as pins or Snappis, and thus must be used with a wrap-around style diaper cover to hold it in place (no pull-ons here!). You simply fold the prefold in thirds, like a business letter, and place it in the center of the cover. Super quick and easy! With my firstborn, we used this fold the most. This fold is also neat because you can easily pre-stuff a few covers with the prefold before changing your baby!
This is probably the most common fold when using a fastener. The bottom two corners are folded into the center, leaving two longer “wings” at the top that wrap around baby’s hips and are fastened. This is also a very quick and easy fold.
You’ve decided to start using cloth diapers, part time or full time, for one or several reasons. Congratulations, and say good bye to all of your money, because cloth diapering can get pretty addictive pretty fast. Well, it doesn’t have to be addictive, but more often than not you’ll start hearing those trendy prints calling out your name and you’ll find yourself reaching for your wallet. If you can resist the temptation, well, double congratulations! For the rest of us with weak willpower, here are some places to buy cloth diapers:
As this article is being published on a website called Diaperswappers, it only feels right to start off my list with the “online” option! Most people are connected to the internet these days and indeed, if you live in an area without any fancy stores this might be your only option! Sites such as Diaperswappers provide an online marketplace where members can buy and sell used diapers. It’s not as gross as it sounds; as long as the diapers are washed well they are good to be used on your child! The advantage to buying used diapers is that they are often cheaper than new diapers, so you can get a decent deal. If you are savvy with a sewing machine, some members list old diapers in need of repairs for just a couple of bucks per diaper, so if you are able to put in a little bit of time repairing these old diapers, you can get some amazing deals!
If you’re not so keen on used diapers, or if you’re buying friends some new diapers for a baby shower, then there are many, many cloth diapering stores online to choose from. All of the major brands such as bumGenius, Blueberry, Fuzzibunz, etc., have their own websites you can purchase diapers directly from. There are also many online cloth diaper boutiques which sell dozens of brands—great if you want to try a few different brands all at once— and also have their own customer rewards programs, often offer free shipping over a certain purchase amount, and have “extras” such as cloth wipes and liners you can buy as well.
Cloth diapers are addictive.
Many people, mostly people who don’t use cloth or don’t have kids, will stare at you blankly when those words come out of your mouth. For heaven’s sake, they are diapers! It’s easy to understand buying an entire clothing line of baby clothes you think are adorable, or several of the same cute blankie because you know a few will get lost as the years go by. But…diapers? They’re just diapers, right?
No. They are not just diapers. They are diapers made out of mind-controlling, obsessive magical fabric that spurn you to open your wallet the second your favorite cloth diaper company comes out with a new line of prints, sending you running to grab the mail a few days later, throwing the diapers in the wash and the packaging in the recycle bin before your spouse can come home so they don’t realize you’ve bought EVEN MORE DIAPERS. This crazy obsession with cloth diapers has led to people spending hundreds of dollars on a single hard-to-find, highly sought after print (these people make far more money than me, by the way).
If you’re on a budget, or are afraid of getting caught up in the obsessive side of the world of cloth diapers, then a “Plain Jane” stash might be for you. The definition of a plain cloth diaper stash is a little different depending on the person, but it is basically a simple stash without the hundred-dollar prints or dozens of different types of diapers. For many people, it is a stash of flats and prefolds with some white covers. For others, it might be a stash of 25 white all-in-ones. Still others might have 30 tie-dyed prefolds and a couple of wool covers. Plain stashes can cross over with minimalism, so if you don’t have a lot of space or you just hate having “extra” things lying around (no 100-diaper stashes for you!), this might be something to consider.
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.)
How do I know we have it? I don’t. It’s what people tell me when I say the dishwasher leaves spots all over my dishes. But now I know the great evil that is hard water because my daughter has a diaper rash. WHAT? How could a cloth diapered, adorable baby have a diaper rash that won’t go away with all-natural creams, healthy diet changes, and teething remedies? Hard water. That’s how.
For all I know, I grew up with hard water. I couldn’t tell you the difference. But I do know that the house we just moved from and the house we now live in have very different water.
As any cloth diaperer discovers, every-so-often the diapers need to be stripped or deep cleaned to get out residues left from detergents, oils, and the ammonia smell that can occur. In our last home, we did it every couple of months with Blue Dawn Original detergent and an Oxyclean soak to knock out that ammonia. It’s always been successful. We use a detergent for everyday use that is made out of equal parts Oxyclean, washing powder, and baking soda that hasn’t given us any trouble. We were careful not to use too much to avoid build up and I was quite proud of our routine. Then we moved.