Diaper creams and your cloth diapers

Here’s a little known fact about cloth diapering: Cloth diapered babies rarely get rashes.

In over 10 years of cloth diapering four boys, I can count their combined rashes on two hands. Usually rashes are a result of using improper detergents or fabric softener, detergent build-up, or leaving baby in a soiled diaper too long. Luckily, all of these things can be prevented and sometimes even fixed if the issue is already there. If your diapers have been washed in a non-cloth diaper friendly detergent or are showing signs of build-up, try using RLR or Funk Rock to freshen them up. Try changing baby more frequently if they are experiencing rashes or use a stay-dry liner or silk liner to wick the moisture away from them. Occasionally babies also get rashes when they are teething, when they have a reaction to a food they tried, or when food softens their stools.

I don’t recommend using diaper creams preventatively, as baby’s skin should be left to do its own balancing act whenever possible. It is a good idea to have a cloth diaper safe cream on hand for those just-in-case moments though. The best idea is to get a cloth diaper safe cream from your favorite cloth diaper store. There are others on the market, but you have to read the ingredients carefully. Sometimes even creams that are “natural” have a combination of ingredients that wreak havoc on cloth diapers. I have seen diapers beyond repair after meeting with Desitin or similar creams.

Avoid any cream with any of the following possibly unsafe ingredients:
Sodium Borate
Benzalkonium Chloride
Boric Acid
Calcium Undecylenate
Hexachlorophene
P-chloromercuriphenol
Phenol
Resorcinol
Triclosan

I follow the rule “if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t put it on my baby.”

Here is a list of ingredients general considered safe for use with cloth diapers:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Shea Butter
Cocoa Butter (deodorized, not raw)
Coconut Oil

Calendula Oil (infused in Sunflower Oil)
Jojoba Oil
Apricot Kernel Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Beeswax
Lanolin
Oregon Grape Root
Vitamin E
Myrrh Gum
Yarrow Herb
Calendula Flower
Derivatives of the plant Balsam of Peru
Salicylic Acid (derived from Willow Bark and Wintergreen)
Yellow Petrolatum
Rosehip
Essential oils

These lists are not exhaustive. Please check with your local cloth diaper retailer if you have questions about a diaper cream

The beauty of side snapping One-Size diapers

We think, “What’s not to love?” Here are some features of Bottombumpers One-Size diapers with side snaps that you may not have thought of:

1. Customizable fit for chubby or thin babies with a variety of snap settings for tummies and legs.
2. No wing droop.
3. Trim front panel that eliminates bulk in that area.
4. Front of the diaper doesn’t gape open.
5. Solid PUL stretches across front of diaper, eliminating wicking around aplix stitching or snaps.
6. Easy to fasten when babies are twisting, turning, and crawling or walking away from you.
7. Toddlers have a difficult time opening them.
8. Adjust to fit babies and toddlers up to 40 pounds.
9. Can be used as pull-ups for potty training.

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Hydrophobic diapers? How to fix repelling in your cloth diapers.

It is not a common cloth diapering issue, but it has been known to happen. Luckily there are ways to fix it.

What is repelling, you ask?

Every once in a while, a diaper will be placed on a baby and you will marvel at the fantastic fit around their round belly and adorably pudgy thighs. Then baby will pee and leak everywhere, soaking everything they are touching! You’ll check for gaps in the perfect fit and come up short. You’ll furrow your brow and take off the diaper and hold it in front of you. You’ll turn it from side to side checking for micro-tears in the fabric. Your forehead will crease as you realize it is in perfect condition. Then you’ll touch the diaper and you’ll notice the diaper isn’t wet at all. With a puzzled look on your face, you’ll throw it into your diaper pail and grab another diaper.

Does that sound familiar?

If so, your diaper is probably repelling. This simply means that your cloth diaper isn’t absorbing any liquid in the absorbent part. Unfortunately there is no test to tell if your diaper is repelling other than using it and finding out the hard way. Normally a fabric that repels liquid will look like this:

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Many fibers used in cloth diapers, however, require the pressure of the baby’s weight to absorb liquid properly. If you do the “water drop test,” you may find that perfectly absorbent diapers still have water beads on the surface like the pictures above.

What causes repelling in cloth diapers?

Repelling can be caused by using too much detergent in your loads, which leads to residue build up. It can also be caused by using too little detergent, which leaves your diapers dirty after a wash load. Using a detergent that is not cloth diaper friendly can cause build up that leads to repelling as well. Not rinsing your diapers thoroughly can also cause repelling. This is an especially common problem with those who use front loaders and are unable to add more water to their rinse cycles. Water conditions can also contribute to this problem; hard water leaving unwanted residue, and soft water being hard to rinse. Some diaper creams that are not meant for cloth diapered bums have also been reported to create residue that has lead to repelling. Some people also believe that a large amount of poop residue left on diapers may contribute to this issue.

So how do you fix the repelling issue?

There is no cut and dry answer to this, unfortunately, and sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem. But you might try the following until your diapers start absorbing again:

-Strip your diapers with RLR
-Try using 1 tsp (for front loaders) or 1 T (for top loaders) of the original blue Dawn dishsoap to your wash cycle.
-Make sure you are using a cloth diaper friendly detergent. If you are, use more or less of it.
-Add more water to your rinse cycles or more rinse cycles to your wash routine.
-Thoroughly rinse your diapers with a diaper sprayer before you place them in the pail, whether they are peed or pooped in.
-If none of the above help, it may be useful to take a scrub brush and some de-greaser to the inside of the diapers.

Prepping your cloth diapers for use

Whether you are expecting a newborn and planning to use cloth diapers, new to cloth diapering with an older baby, or getting new cloth for a baby already in them, it is important to know how properly prepare the diapers before you use them. Pre-washing “rules” differ by the type of material the diaper is made of. If not done correctly, the diaper may produce less than desirable results.

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Natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp take several washing and drying sessions to reach their maximum absorbency. Unbleached cotton contains a natural wax layer that is water-resistant and needs to be stripped away before they are used. They will shrink and become more fluffy and soft with each wash.

We suggest 6-8 initial washes for Bottombumpers on HOT with a very tiny amount of detergent (I recommend 1 tbsp). It is not necessary to dry in between each wash, but doing so will assist in removing any extra lint and making them more absorbent. Make sure to dry on hot at least once to seal the needle holes on the PUL and ensure shrinkage and proper absorbency.

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Here are a few important things to remember when caring for your cloth:
1. Use a cloth diaper safe detergent

2. Unsnap the soaker before washing/drying so it doesn’t pull on the surrounding material and cause a hole

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3. Allow the diapers to cool before you fold or put them away (or put them on baby) to protect the elastic from stretching out or breaking

Using cloth wipes

If you cloth diaper, it really makes sense to use cloth wipes as well. Otherwise, when you have a dirty diaper you are challenged to make it to two separate containers with a poopy diaper in one hand and disposable wipes in the other. If you use cloth wipes, you can just throw them all in together! It is really very simple.

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I use two different systems at home. Upstairs, where we mainly just nap, sleep, and bathe, I keep a basket with dry cloth wipes, bottom spray, and my diaper cream.

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When I’m ready to do a change, I just grab my spray and a couple of wipes and I’m set.

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I love a pre-made spray with a little scent to it since I am dealing with the smell of poop, but some people choose to use only water in a spray bottle. Others choose to use essential oils or special solutions (I use BabyBits) dissolved in water and add it to their spray bottle.

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Downstairs, where we spend most of our time, I use warm, wet cloths for baby’s bottom which I store in a wipes warmer.

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I know some people pre-soak their wipes and then place them in the warmer, but I’m all about easy, so this is what I do:

Fill the warmer about half full with distilled water. Tap water is probably fine, but I find it lasts a bit longer if I use distilled water. Usually I add one BabyBit to the water and let it melt. If I run out, I go with plain water-that works too! When it has dissolved, I grab a stack of folded wipes. They fit nicely just folded in half.

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I press them into the water so they become saturated.

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Then I let them sit that way until I need them.

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I find that a great deal of the water evaporates, but we do live in a dry climate. If I run out of wet wipes and the water still seems fresh, I add a new pile of wipes. I dump out the water and rinse the warmer every 3-4 days.

What to look for in your cloth diaper detergent

People often think it is fine to use their regular detergent on their cloth diapers. It may be, but it is a good idea to check the ingredients first to make sure there is nothing listed that may be detrimental to cloth diapers.

These are the main offenders to look for:
Enzymes – naturally break down materials, may also cause children to break out
Dyes & Fragrances – harsh chemicals that may lead to skin irritation
Brighteners – leave build-up leading to smell issueSofteners – waterproof the fibers so that diapers will no longer absorb

I have seen enough detergent problems in cloth diapers to instruct people to start with a detergent known to be safe for cloth diapers from the beginning. There are ways to remove “bad” detergent build-up, but none of them are fun or guaranteed to work. It is also difficult to recommend which detergent will work best for you. Water conditions differ greatly by region, state, and sometimes even by city. Type of washer also plays a huge role in how detergents work. One of the best ways to find out what might work for you is to ask other local cloth diaperers with similar conditions what they use.

My story:

When we lived in Arizona, we had extremely hard water. I have also had front loaders since I started cloth diapering. When I started 11 years ago, I don’t recall there being any detergents specially formulated for cloth diapers. I started with Tide Free & Clear because some friends on mothering.com recommended it. It seemed to get the diapers clean, but I had to do quite a few rinses on each load to get the suds out of them. I also got a strong ammonia smell frequently, but was able to strip them with some success for short periods of time.

When my second son was born, he broke out almost immediately when I put the cloth diapers his older brother had used on him. I decided to try a different detergent and tried Mountain Green Free & Clear and was fairly successful with that. I didn’t seem to have any build-up issues, but the diapers always seemed to look dingy to me. I used Purex for a bit, but they changed the formula somewhere along the way and the new brew didn’t work as well for me. I used a box of Planet but didn’t feel that it really got the diapers clean with my hard water. I also tried Sun Free and had awful stink issues. I finally found Country Save at a local cloth diaper store and used it successfully for several years and entirely through my third son’s diaper days.

When my fourth son was on the way, I was seduced by the fun names and delicious scents of Rockin’ Green, and used their Hard Rock blend starting with prepping his diapers until we moved to Washington when he was two. Since we moved into a house with a water softener, I switched to the Classic Rock formula and had continued success. I have been happy with Rockin’ Green’s performance, and am excited that I can now justify using it on all of my laundry since we are now OFFICIALLY DONE WITH DIAPERS!

Are you feeling lucky?

One lucky winner will receive 2 One-Size AIO diapers and another will win a pack of wipes!

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Details on how to score entries by liking our page, sharing, tweeting the giveaway, etc. can be found here.

The contest starts Friday, March 7, 2014 and ends on Monday, March 10, 2014.

Have fun!

Myth vs Reality

Myth #1: Cloth diapers are difficult to use.
Reality #1: Many people envision cloth diapers of long ago, with large flats, plastic covers, and pointy pins. Today’s cloth diapers are so much simpler. PUL outers, cotton inside, and snap-in soakers are a breeze.

Myth #2: Cloth diapers are expensive.
Reality #2: Yes, cloth diapers do have a much larger price tag than disposables….when you first buy them. But you can use them again, and again, and again….Once you have spent $300-400, you can have a decent cloth diaper stash. I believe most people spend that much within a year of using disposable diapers. You can also use many diapers for subsequent children.

Myth #3: You have to touch the poop.
Reality #3: Google ‘diaper sprayers,’ ‘flushable liners,’ or ‘poop spatula.’

Myth #4: Your regular laundry will have poop on it.
Reality #4: Nobody has ever pointed out poop on my clean clothing in 11 years of cloth diapering four kids. Food and spit-up, yes. Poop, no.

Myth #5: Cloth diapering is unsanitary.
Reality #5: Provided that you remove poop from diapers of babies that are not exclusively breastfed, your washer does truly clean your diapers, just as is does your underwear, or underwear that may have been peed in by your toddler.

Myth #6: It is too much work.
Reality #6: Parenting is hard work. I’d personally rather have to throw on a load of laundry every 2-3 days than to remember to buy more diapers all the time. Or worse, have to pack my kids in the car to go out and get them if I forget. Washing diapers is a very simple process and really only takes a few minutes of your time each week.

Myth #7: You have to use a special detergent to wash cloth diapers.
Reality #7: It is true that you need to use an additive-free detergent for cloth diaper loads, however they are readily available in a variety of formulas, and most can even be used on your normal wash loads.

Myth #8: It raises your electric costs.
Reality #8: My bills have been the same whether I have been cloth diapering or not over the past decade, controlling for regular energy cost increases. I’ve never met another cloth diaperer who has claimed a spike in their electric bill.

Myth #9: It uses too much water.
Reality #9: It does use a lot of water to wash a cloth diaper load properly. However, I believe the environmental impact of that water use still comes out ahead of the output from the manufacturing, transporting, and distributing of paper diaper products. Then there is the landfill consideration. I don’t have any hard evidence, but I’d say cloth diapering wins.

Myth #10: They will make my baby’s butt look ridiculously large.
Reality #10: Babies don’t care how big their butts look. Cloth diapered bums are the cutest!

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Dirty diapers on the go

Over the years I have received the question repeatedly…what in the world do you do with your dirty diapers when you are out and about? It is a valid question, and one I had when I began cloth diapering in 2003. Back then, there were only a handful of online cloth diaper retailers, and I wasn’t a big online shopper.

I started by carrying sealable plastic storage bags for containing soiled diapers. Gross. Soggy cloth with urine and poop does not like plastic. Lesson learned.

On an online forum I learned about these fancy little inventions called wet bags. I hunted one down and bought it, and it revolutionized my cloth diapering experience.

The beauty of the wet bag is that it’s waterproof, mostly smell-proof, and washable…with your diapers! That’s right! You can throw your soiled diapers inside your wet bag, put it in your diaper bag, empty it in to your pail when you get home, and throw it in to wash all together. If someone walks by your diaper bag, they won’t be able to smell the soiled diapers either.

Now what to do with poops, you ask? Some people use the dunk & swish method if baby poops out in public and they have a restroom available. I love my diaper sprayer, so I just wrap those diapers up and deal with them when I get home. It does prevent me from just dumping everything into the pail (unless of course baby is still exclusively breastfeeding), but it only takes a few seconds.

There are many sizes and styles of wet bags available, and my personal preference is for zippered wet bags which are great for keeping smells contained. My suggestion is to invest in a few in a variety of sizes. They are useful far beyond your diapering years…for wet swimsuits, gym clothes, makeup, to keep books or electronics dry, and to keep in the car while potty training your toddler.

Cloth diapering newborns

Whether you are birthing in the hospital, birthing center, or at home, cloth diapering the first few days after baby is born is really simple. After you have chosen your newborn stash, make sure to prep everything before baby is born. If you want to pack a bag to take with you, or a small basket to keep at your bedside at home, this information may help you.

How many diapers do I need for the first few days?

Newborn breastfed babies will generally pee and poop one time each per day of life for the first 5 or so days. So day 1: 1 pee, 1 poop. Day 2: 2 pees, 2 poops. Day 3: 3 pees, 3 poops, and so on. Most people return home from birth centers after 1 day, so packing about 6 diapers would be appropriate in this situation. Hospital stays are generally between 2 to 3 days, so a dozen diapers diapers is generally a good amount. If you are planning to stay longer, add diapers accordingly. It is also important to remember that the output baby will have the first few days will not be great in quantity, so your chances of experiencing a blowout is very slim.

What will baby’s first poops be like?

The first few bowel movements baby will pass will actually be meconium, which is a black or green, sticky, tar-like substance. Many people fear this will stain their newborn diapers and choose to use flushable liners to catch it and flush it away. I chose to spray the meconium off of our first few dirty diapers, but I was at home with a sprayer handy. You could also choose to dunk and swish it in a toilet if you are away from home. I have also heard that people have avoiding meconium staining by running a cold rinse before their wash, and others have placed their clean, wet diapers out in the sun to bleach the stains as they dry.

Breastfed babies generally start their “transition” poops between days 2 to 4 of their lives as mom’s milk is coming in. These poops are characterized by their green or yellowish-brown color and may appear grainy or seedy. At this point, I have foregone removing the debris on the diapers. Shortly after this, the typical “breastfed poop” appears. It can appear light yellow to bright green, be runny or curdy, look creamy like mustard, or even be seedy. This might change from diaper to diaper, or day to day. But the best thing about breastfed baby poop is that it is COMPLETELY WATER SOLUBLE! This means that until you add anything else to an infant’s diet, their cloth diapers DO NOT NEED TO BE RINSED! Just throw them in the pail, and wait until laundry day.

What else will I need during the first few days?

Bring a wetbag or pail liner to store your soiled cloth diapers in until you get home. Don’t worry, it won’t smell up the room. Most people claim that breastfed baby poop has very little scent to it at all. Others describe it as “curried yogurt” or “buttery popcorn.” Either way, it will not stink up any space you might be limited to.

Pack about a dozen cloth wipes. I also prefer to use a spray bottom cleaner to wipe off the stubborn sticky first poops. Throw them right into your wetbag or pail liner along with the diapers and wash them all together when you return home.

As previously mentioned, you may want to bring a few flushable liners for the first few diaper changes. After that, you may save the rest of the roll for later when baby is introduced to solid foods.

It is very unlikely that your baby will develop any kind of diaper rash during this period, so don’t worry about packing any creams, ointments, or other types of baby toiletries.

I also like to have a cloth changing pad to change baby on near my bed and in my diaper bag at all times. You may or may not need it in a hospital or birth center, but I find it useful even when changing a wiggly baby on my bed. Cloth changing pads, which can be washed with your linens, can protect your beds, couches, or floors from baby messes. They are also great for changing baby on the go.

What about the umbilical cord?

Until baby’s umbilical stump falls off, it is a good idea to fold or place diapers so that the area is clear to keep it from being rubbed or becoming damp.