Welcome to our extensive Abby's Lane Cloth Diapering 101 Resource Page
Why would I want to use cloth diapers?
A lil' disclaimer:
Cloth diapering is easy and fun. There are lots of choices out there but don't get overwhelmed! We have been in business for many years with our primary goal to make cloth easy and fun for every family. Cloth diapering doesn't have to be "all or nothing", if you can work cloth into your lifestyle weekends and evenings only, or solely for nighttime use that is fantastic, it is money saved, great for the environment and your baby's health, even a few cloth diapers can make a difference. :)
Our moms did "cloth" with diapers the size of tablecloths and pins that could poke through steel (ask your mama, she probably still has the scars from those pins on her fingers). Those days are gone, and cloth has come a long way. If you have any questions, please contact us and either myself or one of my employees will get back to you as quickly as our children will let us.
For me, there was a HUGE reason to get involved- $$$$$!! The savings is astronomical. I was spending about 40-50$ a month in disposables, not even including wipes and diaper rash cream on top of that. Cloth diapering is an investment, and you can make it as expensive or as thrifty as you want. Cloth diapers "breathe" much better than disposables, and children tend to have fewer incidences of diaper rash in cloth diapers.
FUN!! Cloth diapering is such a fun experience!! I had heard horror stories of cloth diapers...getting stuck with pins, leaking, poop everywhere, a constant smell in your house, etc. Thanks to so many wonderful updates in cloth diapering technology (hee hee), all of those myths have been dispelled. You can invest in cloth diapers that are no different than disposables in style, totally eliminating pins, or you can "pin" your covers with a Snappi fastener. Odors can be easily managed, and diaper changes are no messier than disposable changing. Cloth diapering makes diaper changing interesting, cute prints to soft fabrics let you know cloth diapering pleases both mom and baby, plus extra $$ in your wallet.
Don't cloth diapers get stains?
If you have a good cloth diaper wash routine, most stains will only occur during the first few months of your baby's life. A good cloth diaper safe detergent will fade stains over time, shout stain remover is great for stubborn ones. Also, when you take wet diapers out of the washer, lay them in the sun! The sun creates a natural bleaching effect on the diapers and will fade stains. If you have stains, press the diapers to your nose for a deep whiff, if you have odors then we need to fix the wash routine, if they are purely cosmetic stains then you can use one of the above methods to rid them.
How do I get started?
The products I sell at Abby's Lane, I have used personally or had many customers thrilled with, so I can attest and guarantee your satisfaction with every item. I have broken down these products into categories:
A two piece system, one being your waterproof “pocket”, the second piece is an insert you stuff into the pocket for absorbency. Offers versatility of absorbency and ease-of-use, once stuffed will go on as one piece and come off as one piece.. Change entire diaper at each changing, easily stuffed with more inserts for older babies and nighttime. Many pockets are now one-size, working best at around 6-8 weeks, through roughly 35 pounds. Pocket diapers do not require a cover. BumGenius 5.0 One Size Pocket Diaper have a 14 day trial period on one diaper which is a great way to test run the pocket diaper system. Thirsties One Size Pocket Diaper is a popular, made in the USA option available in lots of colors and cute prints.
Prefolds and Covers:
Prefolds are square, 100% cotton diapers. They can wrapped around the baby and fastened (with a plastic tether fastener called a Snappi), or folded like a business letter and laid inside a cover. Prefolds absorb and contain, but need a second piece called a cover. Covers are waterproof, usually laminated polyester materials in bright colors, they cover the prefold diaper to make for a waterproof system. Most covers can be reused throughout the day, unless a bowel movement leaks onto them. Our best selling cover are steadily the Thirsties Duo Wrap and the Smart Bottoms Too Smart Cover, both of which come in a variety of colors and prints.
Fitted Cloth Diapers are similar to prefolds and easily interchanged with them for diapering. Fitteds absorb and contain, but do not require using a fastener or folding because they will have Velcro (also called aplix) or snap closure. Fitteds do need a cover, like prefolds do. Fitteds are useful in older babies for napping and nighttime, as their absorbency wraps around your baby rather than just down the middle like pocket diapers. SustainableBabyish makes some of the most absorbent fitteds on the market. Other favorites are Ecoposh Organic Bamboo Velour Fitteds and Geffen Baby Fitted Diapers.
AIO's or All-In-One's:
One piece, easy to use, great for caregivers. Usually very trim fitting under clothes, but if your baby outwets their absorbency, you may have to change very frequently or add an insert on top of the diaper. Many All-In-One Diapers have natural fibers directly against the baby’s skin, whereas most pockets will have a stay dry lining from synthetic materials. AIO diapers do not require a cover. Brands you should try are SmartBottoms 3.1, Lighthouse Kids Company Diapers and Grovia O.N.E.
Hybrid or AI2 (All-In-Two) Systems:
Examples of this system would be the Flip, Grovia and Best Bottoms systems. This system relies on using an outer shell that is waterproof, and usually one-size (10-30 pounds or so) and a snap-in or lay-in insert. The insert absorbs the feces and urine and is changed during the day. Some of these brands also have a disposable insert options to change out for greater versatility. The Flip system relies on flaps on their covers to hold an insert in place whereas the Grovia and Best Bottoms systems have snaps in the shell to snap-in the inserts. Hybrid systems are incredibly economical because a variety of inserts can be used in them (even old washcloths or hand towels!).
How do I wash my diapers?
Our comprehensive washing and stripping guide can be found on our blog here:
Depending on who you ask, you may get a variety of answers on this question. If you use a diaper pail with a reusable liner, you can just throw everything in the wash without ever touching a dirty diaper. I have always used a hot wash/warm rinse cycle for my diapers, and they all go in together. I have never needed to add vinegar or other laundry boosters. I have never had staining problems or odor problems with my system, so you may have luck with it! As far as detergents, I use regular powder Tide Ultra (if you have a high efficiency machine make sure you use the HE formula). "Free and Clear" detergents contain waxy products, which may build up on your diapers, hindering their absorbancy, and also lack the ability to really get diapers clean. Overall, natural detergents (seventh generation, Biokleen, etc...) just don't seem to cut it with cloth diapers. They lack the stronger cleansing agents and can leave the diapers still soiled after washing. Two popular detergents promoted with cloth diapers are "Charlie's Soap" and "Sensi-Clean". We have encountered too many stories of chemical-like burns on babies who wore diapers washed in these products to recommend them. If you encounter a blistery-raw rash after using these laundry products, please immediately discontinue use.
This is the routine we recommend and see working for many customers and ourselves for 7+ years in diapering:
- Warm pre-rinse, no cold. If you only have the cold option, skip it.
- Hot wash, at least to the first line of your powdered detergent, for a full load you will likely need closer to the "2" line or half of a full scoop, I personally use the "3" line of our scoop, the fullest it can go
- 2 cold rinses, your machine will do one automatically, if you can do an extra rinse, do it. Temperature here really isn't important.
For front Loaders, or top loading HE machines, set the machine to extra water level if you can, don't "trick" it by adding extra or adding weight. Towels will soak up as much water as they add, and manually adding water can break your machine. Rinses are your friend with HE machines, do as many as you can work in, the warmer the better, but NOT the sanitary cycle at any point.
One thing to remember: Every website has an opinion on diaper washing. If it works for you, don't worry about what everyone else (including us) recommends, washing is far from a science. Water conditions, wash cycles, duration of wash cycles, temperatures and how often you are washing all come into play here. What works for your next door neighbor may be problematic for you, so if what you are doing is working, stick with it :)
For Top/ HE Loaders, please make sure the version you use is HE safe if you have an HE machine:
Detergents we LOVE- Tide Original or Ultra Powder, Country Save, Planet (but you HAVE to do a hot wash and it is best to do a warm rinse, and you still may periodically need to use a stripping method)
Detergents we LIKE- Tide Original or Ultra liquid, Cheer, Sun, Tide Free ultra, Mountain Green (same as Planet, definitely HOT wash, warm rinse and be prepared for periodic stripping) Purex Free and Clear is on this list, but we don't recommend it over Tide Free.
Detergents we DON'T LIKE- Allen's, Dr. Bronner's, 7th generation, Soap Nuts, Method, Shaklee, any other "free and clear" detergents (powder or liquid)
Detergents we DO NOT recommend under any circumstances- Charlies, Sensi-clean, Sportwash
At Abby's Lane, we recommend washing diapers every 2 days, using a "regular" detergent. We personally use regular powder Tide, and find a great number of customers have their best washing success with Tide as well. Regular meaning not a Free and Clear, or a Natural detergent (including anything soap based). Now, I know some mamas use the natural and F&C detergents without any problems, but we encounter enough problems from our experiences and that of our customers to recommend otherwise. Families who have a "green" household and only use detergents that fall under that category may need extra steps in their laundry cycle to properly cleanse their diapers.We would love to work with you on finding a system that works for you, please contact us with any questions.
My disclaimer: If your baby is very sensitive to regular detergents, the least problematic Free and Clear detergent we have found is Tide Free.
Free and clear or natural detergents tend to not have the stronger cleansers that regular detergents do, and they also tend to have waxier ingredients in them. I would estimate 99% of our customers who have odor issues are using a free and clear or natural detergent. We personally love regular, powdered Tide, but any of your other store brands (Gain, Sun, Era, etc..) can work just as well. Don't skimp on detergent, but also don't go overboard. Take the amount you would use on a load of clothing the size of your load of diapers, and use a tiny bit less.
Many are concerned with specific ingredients in mainstream detergents, but we feel they are still the best choice for the majority of our customers. If your child shows a reaction or is allergic to any one detergent, then of course there are alternatives. If you wish to use a detergent that is biodegradable and does not cause as much of an environmental impact, we would love to work with you to find a solution.
The fact that some children react to some of these detergents does not make them harmful overall. As with anything you use for your baby, test it in a small amount first. If you see redness, a rash, blisters, discontinue use. Enzymes are present in Tide, and many other detergents. Enzymes eat away at stains, if you are washing in hot water, the enzymes will get rinsed out. Perfumes are an extra added ingredient, but detergents with perfumes are usually the stronger, mainstream detergents that contain the stronger cleansers, so in order to have the great cleaning agents, the perfumes are part of the package. If you do not like having scents on your clothes there are detergents that do not contain these that we would still recommend. Dyes are present in many mainstream detergents. Are they harmful to diapers? No, it is an aesthetic issue, and unless we are all wearing organic cotton clothing in an off-white shade, we are participating in the dye-phenomenon.
We want to make diaper washing, first and foremost, safe for your child. This is why we cannot in good conscience recommend Charlie's Soap or Sensi-Clean. We have not been able to pinpoint what causes such a strong reaction in these products, until we do we advise to use other detergents.
Environmental concerns are of course taken into account. We do realize Tide hasn't won any awards for being a "green" detergent, and we have to balance that with the success rate we see of customers using Tide or other mainstream detergents. What we have seen work with a "green" detergent:
-Planet is a detergent brand we see working with the most success among biodegradable and eco-friendly detergents. BUT, you do have to wash on hot, you do need a good rinse cycle (we recommend a warm rinse cycle over a cold one for this product), your diapers need to be washed frequently (meaning daily or every other day), and if you have hard water or well water you may need a water softener to aid in your washing. We also see more success with the powder over the liquid.
FRONT LOADERS: Great for the environment, sometimes problematic for cloth diapers. But, it can be done successfully.
Based on what our customers are telling us, and some trial and error, here is what seems to work with front loaders:
- If you have control over the water level, fill it higher than the load size as the "extra water" setting. Many front loaders don't let you do this, they automatically adjust the water level, but if you can adjust it higher, it will work better.
- Use a HE detergent, or any that is formulated for a front loader. The less suds, the better, and HE are made to be easier to rinse out. Since front loaders are designed to be water-efficient, this is important.
- Use a tad more detergent that you would in a top loader. Not extra, but just closer to what you would use in a regular clothing load of the same size.
- If you have an extra rinse cycle at the end you can use, do so :)
Some mamas will come to us, and say they want enough diapers to only do laundry once a week, or at the most every 5-6 days. This can be incredibly problematic. First, your pail would have to reach the ceiling. Second, I always like to throw out the analogy of storing your husband's work shirts in urine and feces for a week and see how easily you can get them fresh and sparkly on Sunday wash day. I would love to try this with my husband, but by day 3 of the experiment he gets rather cranky. ;)
Cloth diapers are diapers, but they are fabric, so remember what they are sitting in, and washing every 1-2 days will eliminate many odor problems.
If you encounter odors or repelling on your diapers, please contact us and we can figure it out together. :)
Comprehensive Guide to Newborn Cloth Diapering
Cloth diapering a newborn is both easy and lots of fun! Babies aren't too wiggly yet, and nothing is cuter than a newborn little baby bottom wrapped in a cloth diaper.
Newborn diapering is a little different than diapering an older baby, in that you have to think of "quantity" of diapers rather than "absorbancy" as you will when the baby is a little older. Newborns, especially breastfed newborns, tend to have a small bowel movement with each urine output, which can mean upwards of 12-18 diapers a day.
There are three recommended systems for newborn diapering are prefolds/covers, fitteds/covers and pocket diaper/all-in one diapers.
This is our "Official" Comprehensive Guide to Cloth Diapering Newborns
System #1 Prefolds and Covers:
Prefolds and Covers - The first system we will be discussing is the system of prefolds and covers. This was my first introduction to cloth diapers about 10 years ago, and is known for it's frugality, effectiveness and long-term usage (meaning prefolds will last through at least 2 children with proper care and storage). The beauty of prefolds, when you fold them over your baby you can customize the fit to your newborn. New babies aren't usually very proportionate, with a chubby belly and skinny legs, or vice/versa, finding a great fit is easy when you are folding the diaper around a little one. We have a link on our site here on two of our favorite newborn folds.
Prefolds themselves are layers of cotton that have been sewn together in layers, usually 4 or 6 layers on the sides, with 6 or 8 layers down the middle. When you get new prefolds, they will look HUGE and actually repel liquid if you use them without pre-washing them. Prefolds are made from cotton, hemp, bamboo or a combination of those fabrics, and will feel wet when the baby urinates. Most newborns are not sensitive to wetness, their urine is in small outputs, very pure, and you are changing pretty frequently since they tend to poop a tiny bit every time they urinate (think little baby skid marks).
If your baby is sensitive to wetness (this will usually resemble a mild sunburn wherever the diaper touches, sometimes accompanied by tiny red dots), you can easily add a fleece liner. We do sell them, or you can cut your own from scrap fleece for a few pennies (no sewing needed), just cut into 15 x 5 rectangles. Lay the liner in the middle of the prefold, half under the baby's bottom, then flip the front half over their belly button. Fold/wrap your prefold as usual, and you have a stay dry barrier down the middle of the diaper where the wetness is mostly concentrated.
Prefolds are great for bigger diapers, even your little newborn ones can be folded for thin and effective doublers in toddler diapers, so don't retire them completely once you bump up a size.
If you have a very heavy wetting newborn, you can tri-fold one prefold like a business letter, lay it in the middle of the prefold that is laying flat under the baby, and you have over 30 layers of cotton to absorb right in the middle of your diaper. It will be bulkier, and you may have to upsize your covers, but it is a great way to make a super absorbent diaper for no extra cost.
The second part of this system is a cover, your prefolds will be doing the catching and absorbing, you need a waterproof layer to protect your baby's clothing. Thirsties duo wraps are our most popular newborn cover, the aplix closure offers a great size range with babies starting at around 7 pounds. Covers may be reused through the day if they are not soiled by a bowel movement, then can be tossed in the pail at the end of the day.
How many diaper changes can you expect?
Newborns will go through 12-18 diapers a day, if you are washing every other day you would want to start with at least 24 diapers. You can always add to your stash, I would rather see you washing more frequently for a few days until the extra diapers arrive then have so many you don't ever get to the last 6-10 diapers (money you could have used for the next size up!)
Prefolds come in a variety of brands and fabrics, truly the Osocozy Indian Prefolds in infant size are perfect for most term newborns, you can splurge on the pricier ones with denser fabrics for naptimes and nighttime, but don't feel like you have to buy the most expensive prefolds to get them to work well during the day.
System #2 Fitted Diapers and Covers:
Fitted Diapers and Covers - Fitted diapers range in size from newborn through toddler sizes, and always need a cover. Fitteds are absorbent all around, not just down the middle like pockets or all in ones, and are fantastic for naptime and nighttime, also for heavy wetters. Fitteds are easily used with prefolds, as you have to use a cover for both systems, for customers using prefolds exclusively for their newborn, I advise buying 3-4 fitteds for nighttime changes. Since your newborn will continue to have bowel movements during the night for the first few weeks, you will be doing diaper changes at nighttime every 1-3 hours, just like during the day. Fastening a fitted and cover at 2 and 4 am can be a tad easier than folding a prefold, using a Snappi and then tucking the edges in a cover. You can absolutely use prefolds at night, but if there is room in the budget fitteds for nighttime can make the changes a bit easier.
Since newborns are getting changed with regular frequency, and you don't need the 8-10 hour window of mega-absorbency that an older baby or toddler would need, splurging on super absorbent fitteds may not be needed at this stage, save that diaper $$ for the bigger sizes.
Our best selling newborn fitteds are:
Some fitteds will have the umbilical cord notch, but we advise not to let the lack of one stop you from using that diaper, or delay you in using cloth if you are ready to start, take a peek at our past article on umbilical notches here.
Fitteds need to be changed with the same frequency as prefolds, if you choose fitteds with natural fibers and decide you prefer a stay dry feature, they are very easy to add a stay dry fleece liner to.
System #3 Pocket Diapers and All-In-One Diapers:
Newborn Pocket Diapers and All-In-One Diapers - Now, prefolds are fantastic and definitely hold a great deal of appeal for both their cost, and their ease of customizing the fit to your baby (babies do not come out evenly proportioned, they are often chubby in some areas and skinny in others, it takes a few weeks for them to "chunk up" and even out). However, in the past few years we have seen some fantastic market improvements with newborn pockets and AIOs, for those parents who want or need a one piece system to go on and off their newborn.
Here is our list of brands and what some of the pros/cons may be, keeping in mind your experience may vary, this is what we see as the results from most of our customer base and our own personal experience:
- Lil Joey's Newborn AIO (made by Rumparooz) and Grovia Newborn AIO: These are great diapers for the weight ranges of 4-9 pounds, generally though if you are expecting a term newborn at 7+ pounds, these two may be ones to skip, as they are generally outgrown by the 10 pound mark, both in size and absorbency. If you are expecting a tiny newborn, twins or a preemie, they are great and will not overwhelm the baby by bulk and size.
- Bumgenius Littles 2.0 AIOs: These are great for the weight range of 7-12 lbs which gives them a little edge over the two brands above. They are big enough to add a preemie prefold folded in half or a thick washcloth as a doubler to boost absorbency. This is a true AIO that is one piece and completely enclosed.
- Thirsties Newborn Natural Fiber AIO: 6 layers of cotton/hemp blend makes this an extremely absorbent and trim diaper. The size range is 5-14lbs.
- Tots Bots TeenyFit AIOs: These were another fave with my last baby, they have a binky inner material, which is not a stay-dry material.. They have a good size range of about 7-13 pounds, and have a semi attached soaker. What that means, while the diaper is all one piece, the soaker will agitate out during washing and almost look like a "tail" hanging off of the end, which you have to tuck back into the little pocket opening to have it fit on your baby. These diapers also include a tiny 2-layer doubler to add extra absorbency in the optional pocket. Adorable prints and great workmanship on them.
- SmartBottoms Born Smart:
*This brings us to our only "one size" diaper we recommend for a term newborn. Rumparooz one size pockets can and do work on 7+ pound newborns, with their double gusset system are great for newborn bowel movements, and have unique TPU material (a little different from PUL) which makes them squish down nicely on little babies. However, they will be the bulkiest option on a newborn, since they are designed to fit into 25+ pounds, but you can use them for most babies during the first year. Expect to have to purchase larger diapers for the toddler years, as most babies outgrow them between 12 and 18 months. Rumaprooz include a great insert system, which has a smaller insert for little babies, and a large one to use as a set for older babies.
How many diapers do I need?
I hate to answer a question with a question, but it really depends on how often you plan to be washing, and how old your baby is. My guideline I always give to my customers is that you can ALWAYS add to your collection of diapers. Don't think that the initial investment is several hundred dollars. If you start with a few prefolds and a cover or two, and gradually add to it while you phase out disposables, it can be done very economically. You can always add to what you have, if you are in a pinch we always ship next business day so we can get items to you quickly.
For a newborn, washing every day, you need about 18-20 prefolds or fitteds, 2-4 covers, and a few Snappis if you are doing prefolds or fitteds and covers exclusively. If you are using a pocket diaper or AIO, just subtract that many fitteds or prefolds from that number. If you plan to wash diapers every two days, double those numbers.
For an older baby, maybe 3-4 months and up, about 15-17 diapers (pockets, AIO's or prefolds/fitteds) will get you through the day with time to wash the diapers.
Toddlers need the fewest diapers, but you do need absorbent ones. 8-10 pockets, AIO's or prefolds/fitteds with a few covers will work perfectly :)
For a newborn, about 2 dozen wipes is a great place to be, for an older baby about half of that will suffice. If you are in a pinch for wipes, baby washcloths will work great as well.
That is really all you need for full-time cloth diapering. A few extras like a wetbag or two, and a pail liner or two will come in handy, but if you really need to start now, the above numbers will be a great start!
Do I really want to use cloth wipes?
They are so easy and will save you money! Cloth wipes will save you lots of $$ over time, plus if you have a cloth diapering/laundry system going, you won't even notice the switch! I used disposable wipes for a while with cloth diapers, and it was a big chore. I would have to separate the wipes from the diapers before they went into the pail, and find a separate bag to wrap up the wipes in, put them in our trash can, then take them out before they got stinky. If you throw disposable wipes in your diaper pail, they disintegrate in the laundry, making a big task out of having to pick little fuzzies out of your clean diapers.
When you use cloth wipes, you just toss everything in the pail together, no sorting or touching the soiled items. Just sort them when you fold your laundry, and use them again. Some moms like to soak their wipes in various solutions, but again, I opt for the easiest option. I have a stack of cloth wipes in my diaper changing area.
Before a diaper change, I just grab a few, wet them with water, and use them. I bought a little "Huggies" wipe container, took out the disposable wipes, and just throw some cloth wipes in it to store them. Some moms use a spray bottle while changing the diaper, you can pick whichever method works for you! If you have lots of baby washcloths at the house, they make great wipes as well.
What the heck do all of these different inserts mean?
Our insert/doubler page can be overwhelming, try a little "Stuffing 101" before examining the products :)
Inserts/doublers/prefolds/stuffins are all words that mean specific items to place inside apocket diaper=for absorbancy
a cover=for absorbancy (NOT microfiber inserts unless below another layer of fabric, read below for why)
Generally, inserts are made of 3 different materials, either by themselves or in a combination.
Microfiber- The most common insert material on the market. Most "free" inserts are microfiber. You can shop our selection of inserts here. They are white in color, and usually 3 layers of microfiber, a 100% polyester fabric. These inserts can be used inside a pocket diaper or underneath another insert or fabric layer in a cover. Microfiber is super absorbent, and we have heard of babies having problems with the absorbent inserts adhering to fragile skin, so we advise having another fabric between the skin of your baby and these inserts. A layer of fleece, flannel, suedecloth, anything really will work.
Microfiber inserts are quick-absorbing, and work beautifully for many customers.
Hemp can touch the baby's skin without issue. We advise not to let your hemp inserts go more than 2 days without washing. While hemp is a favorite insert for many mamas, they can get stinky if you let them sit in urine for too long. A little detergent goes a long way with hemp.
Prefolds are fabulous for durability and absorbancy. A must have for any cloth diapering mama!
Make sure you check out our "nighttime diapering" article for more tips.
What diaper creams can I use with my cloth diapers?
Unfortunately we have yet to encounter one single diaper cream we can safely say "across the board" will not cause any problems. Diaper creams work because they cause a barrier against wetness and your baby's skin. This causes problems with cloth diapers because they can adhere to the fabrics and cause a barrier against the diapers absorbing urine. This is referred to as "buildup".
But, there are some ways around this:
What we recommend, is the fleece liner system, or flannel liner if your baby is allergic to fleece, to use any cream you wish with your diapers. We do sell fleece liners, but you can make them for pennies (flannel, too). At your nearest fabric store, get a yard or so of fleece or flannel, and cut into rectangles to fit your diapers. Fleece doesn't need to be sewn on the edges, flannel does because it frays. Make a bunch, about two dozen. Put the cream directly on these liners, against your baby's skin. Keep a grocery bag or wet bag handy just for these liners once they are used, don't mix them with the rest of your diaper laundry. Wash separately from the diapers, so the creams don't rinse off in the wash cycle and adhere to your diapers.
After about a week, check the liners. If they are slimy, stained and smelly, continue using this system, or try another cream to test. If they are washing clean, it is safe for your diapers.
Nighttime Diapering 101
So you have gotten a good handle on cloth diapering, have your shopping list all ready to go, maybe even check out some cloth diapering online forums. Then, you notice some mamas talking about difficulties with nighttime diapering. Nighttime diapering? You mean there is a totally different system for when Mr Moon comes out?
Well, yes and no~
Newborn diapering is the same round the clock, for most babies. For at least the first few weeks, the little guys are pooping around the clock, so those diapers get changed at nighttime just like the daytime hours. But then, that little lumpy newborn gets a bit older, stops having a bowel movement at night, and you are greeted with your first 3 hour stretch of sleep and awake to...a leaky sleeper.
Time to upgrade your nighttime system!
The most common e-mail from customers on nighttime diapering is:
"My baby wakes up crying because he is soaking wet!"
Check the insert of the diaper. If you are using prefolds, is it saturated? If so, time to upgrade. Add a hemp Joey Bunz underneath, or maybe it is time to get a bigger prefold.
Insert not wet? Possibly a fit issue. Is the cover snug around the legs? Is the waistline too low? Fit issues tend to be very specific, contact me with the issue, I know I can help.
Here are a few tips we can offer based on ages of your child. Now, ages are a very general way to break it down, but we feel it is more accurate than weight, since a 12 pound baby could be a newborn (don't laugh, my darling husband was 12 pounds at BIRTH, you may send a Mother's Day card to my mother in law for that one, e-mail me for her address-LOL) or it could be a 4 month old, but both will have very different nighttime patterns.
From birth to 6 weeks: Those little baby nuggets are still busy a-pooping at all hours of the night. Nighttime changes are like daytime changes, pick a user-friendly fitted or pocket for changes at 2,3 and 4, and don't worry, it gets better soon.
2-6 months-they have stopped pooping, but are still eating at night (for some of you this may go on for the next two years). If you are using natural fibers, like a prefold or an organic fitted, if you are noticing redness in the morning, consider a stay-dry liner to keep the wetness off of their skin. If you want to stick to natural fibers, you may find a nighttime change helpful to keep that redness away. Some mamas are passionate about changing the baby several times a night to prevent the baby from sitting in urine, but many feel a sleeping baby is vital to everyone's sanity, so definitely employ whatever method you can to make baby feel comfy. At this point, absorbency needs are creeping up, if you are using pockets, consider switching out your microfiber inserts for a tri-folded prefold at this point, either the infant or regular size, depending on the size of your diaper.
6 months to a year-Pocket diaper users find a combo of a prefold, or a prefold with a joey bunz insert great for meeting nighttime needs. Absorbency is key here, and the older babies can be very heavy wetters. Prefold/fitted users may find a hemp doubler or even two in the prefold or fitted provides the extra boost.
12 months to 2 years-Yes, they have a bladder the size of a racehorse. My favorite pocket combo for this age range, a prefold tri-folded, sandwiched between two joey bunz hemp inserts.
2 years+- Toddlers can swing either way here. Those potty training early may start actually waking up with very light diapers, they are holding it more at night and flooding that first morning diaper. For the rest of us, we are waking up at 1 am with our child crying in a swimming pool of urine. This is when I pull out the big guns. My second daughter is the absolute heaviest wetter I could dream up. We are fond of pockets, so I would stuff a pocket diaper with a tri-folded premium prefold, two joey bunz hemp inserts, and then pull a wool cover over the whole contraption. It is absolutely flawless. If you are using pockets, the wool cover on top will not cook your baby, wool is 100% breathable, but perfect for catching those last-minute leaks that heavy wetting toddler will provide. Fitteds/prefolds users, check into the Disana covers as well, absorbency underneath is still key ( Sustainablebabyish Fitteds), but those wool covers are unbeatable.
What other equipment do I need?
Once you decide on which system to go with (or a combination of both), and purchase your diapers, Snappis (if you are using the cover/prefold system), and inserts, you need very little additional equiptment. A pail I have used for years and love is below:
It is a "dry" pail, meaning it has no water in it to soak the soiled diapers. Some prefer a "wet" pail with a water-solution in it, but they are
- a drowning hazard
- a bacterial hazard
- messy and stinky
Lord help you if you drop it carrying it to your washer. Although if you want new carpet this is a good way to get it done
You will want a reusable bag liner to store the soiled diapers in, actually, you will want a few of these. Lastly, you may want to use cloth wipes and a natural deodorizer for your bathroom, pail or diaper changing area, if necessary. I keep a little potpourri burner in my house, so we have never had any odors.
Diaper Rash 101
Rashes happen, even in the child who has the diaper changed incredibly frequently, fed the healthiest of solids and/or breastmilk, bathed regularly and in a clean environment. Teething, illness, new solids, heat, allergies, yeast from mom being on antibiotics, new detergents, all of these things can cause a rash. Here is a little "rash 101" (and I am not a doctor by any means, just a mama with 3 girls who have all had various rashes and trouble shooting with customers frequently, if the rash is bad, see a doctor, don't hesitate to get help with anything that causes your baby pain!)
The most frequent rash babies will get is a reaction to new foods. The biggest irritants tend to be acidy foods (oranges, tomatoes), but cow dairy, wheat, any food irritant will usually cause redness and possibly blisters around the anus when the child has a bowel movement. thi is also common when the child is starting solids. It is usually just around the rectum, not on the entire diaper area.
Teething can cause horrific diarrhea and stools that seem to burn the child coming out. This rash can be more spread out, and the child really can experience pain when passing the movement.
Yeast is usually raw and blistery, all over the diaper area. Cracked and very dry looking skin is common, possibly even white centers in the blisters.
Staph is typically pimples on the diaper area, filled with either white or green pus, with a pink circle around the pimple and possibly very hard feeling under the skin.
Detergent rashes, if mild, usually present as a general redness wherever the diaper touches. Severe detergent reactions can produce very red skin, and quickly, possibly blisters. A severe reaction usually occurs within an hour of having the diaper on.
If the child is sensitive to wetness, if you are using prefolds or fitteds without fleece liners, will start as a general redness and the skin can get very deep-red in the cracks of the skin. The child will flinch when the diaper is changed, you may notice the skin shedding after a few days if it isn't treated.
If the child has a fleece/polyester allergy (this is very, very rare, many moms we talk to usually discover the irritant was something else, but this condition does exist), reactions have been a general redness to immediate blistering and deep red skin.
Heat rash is usually redness with tiny red blisters (no white centers), and goes away if the child has breathable diapers on or is changed more frequently.
Consult your physician if your methods of treating aren't helping, in the case of Staph or yeast, you will need to treat your diapers with a disinfectant to make sure it doesn't keep recurring. Yeast can be tough to deal with, but you can disinfect your diapers. Please contact me if you have this occur, we can discuss ways to safely do this depending on the diapers you have.
A note on "my diapers are leaking so I need to strip them".
I just want to address an issue for many of our customers already into cloth diapering.
It seems very popular now that if a diaper is leaking, meaning a cover, pocket diaper or an AIO, that the first step seems to be to "strip" it. Not the kind that starts with red wine and Barry Manilow, but the kind that uses Dawn dish soap, a toothbrush and very hot water on your diapers. The idea is that detergent residue is built up on your diapers, repelling the urine and it leaks onto the clothing.
BEFORE you strip your diapers, answer these questions:
- Does the diaper leak immediately, meaning within the first 10 minutes, or does at least an hour or so go by before it leaks?
- Does it leak around the legs or the very front of the waist?
- When you take it off, is the insert at all wet, or if you do fitteds/prefolds and covers, are they wet?
If you answered "no, yes and yes", don't strip your diapers. If they are truly repelling, they will leak immediately, not absorb any urine and leak all over, including the back. The key here is absorbency, absorbency, absorbency.
THE EXCEPTION HERE:DIAPER CREAMS. IF YOU ARE USING DIAPER CREAMS BUILDUP CAN HAPPEN QUICKLY, contact me for suggestions to fix this!
Many customers underestimate the need for good absorbency. A 9 month old in a single microfiber insert isn't going to last all night, an 11 month old in a microfiber insert in a pocket isn't going to last for a daytime nap.
My favorite and EASY way, before going through all of the work of stripping, is to buy a prefold (if you need help picking a size, contact me), for less than $3.00, prep it, tri-fold it like a business letter and use it inside your pocket diaper. I can almost guarantee (almost is the key word here) your leaking will be solved. It takes a LOT of wrong washing and odd detergents to cause true buildup bad enough to repel.
If you are using AIOs, most only have a 3-layer microfiber soaker sewn in. This is not enough absorbency for most older babies and toddlers for extended periods of time. You need to lay in a hemp insert or change more frequently to make this work for you.
If you are using prefolds/fitteds and covers, and your cover is leaking, how wet is the prefold? It may be time for an absorbency upgrade. Stripping be can be incredibly frustrating, it is work, it takes time and resources, and if the problem is absorbency it won't help a thing. If you need more assistance with this, or you think you have true detergent buildup, please contact me.
How do I care for my wool?
From our newsletter:
Wool is really very easy to care for, I am going to outline my very easy, no fuss wool care washing system.
- First, do all of your wool washing outside of your sink. You don't want lanolin in your pipes, look at it in the cooled version, and imagine it sitting in your drain. Use a rubbermaid basin, an old pitcher with a wide opening, a metal baking tin, sometimes I used a cake pan, easy to wash and it wouldn't absorb the wool care products (be careful using anything plastic, the scents or your wool care products will soak in).
- Fill your container with warm water, and about a tablespoon of liquid wool wash (CJs is fantastic, you can use Eucalan, in a pinch liquid dish soap will do, but on a regular basis this can really wear on the wool fibers). If you are using a bar, you will scrub the wool lightly all over after you wet it. Compress the soaker into the solution, and let sit for about a minute, swishing it with your hand to work the water/soap into the soaker.
- Have an old towel nearby, take the soaker out and lay it in the towel. Roll the towel up, and press on it, don't wring it, but press it to compress the water out.
- Dump your first basin outside, and refill with new warm water
- Take a coffee mug, microwave it full of water for about a minute
IF USING LIQUID LANOLIN:
- When you take it out, squirt about 2 pea sized drops of lanolin in it, or Lansinoh, and mix it up quickly with a fork or knife. This is really the only part that you have to move quickly, you have to dissolve the lanolin and use it fast, or it will reclump back up as it cools.
- Pour the coffee mug into the basin, and quickly press your soaker down into it. Gently swish it around in the basin, then let it sit a minute
IF USING A WOOL REVITALIZER, LIKE CJ'S
- Spray the revitalizer in the "wet zone", specifically right in the crotch from front to back, flip inside out and spray as well
- Repeat the towel trick, compress the water out, and hang to dry.
- Toss the basin water/lanolin outside, and allow the soaker to dry a day or two.
During the winter, I have mine in my laundry room so it doesn't freeze, if you have a really large soaker, or longies, lay them flat to dry instead of hanging to preserve their shape. If you need a wool soaker overnight, get two so one can dry while you use the second.
This whole process takes maybe 5 minutes to do, and is really very easy to get the hang of. As some of my babies became lighter wetters at night, I would skip lanolizing altogether. Wool is super absorbent on its own, so you can see if you really need to lanolize your wool if you have good absorbency underneath.
It looks like a lot of steps written out, but truly it can be done in less than two minutes, what takes a while is air drying.