The Ultimate Cloth Diaper Care Resource Page

Part 1:  Washing Cloth Diapers

(Added 01/30/12)  What follows below is some updated information with past articles put into one article. This week we are tackling washing problem number 1:

My diapers stink out of the dryer, or stink like stale urine once freshly peed in.

I would like to begin this article by saying
1) If your wash routine is fine, disregard what I write below. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
2) What I am writing about below is what we see working for the majority of our customers, there will always be examples of a wash routine being very different but it will work for that customer, however we feel the need to put into words what we see working for most of our customers who cannot get their diapers clean.
Clean diapers are more than just a “want”, if you have stinky diapers you have bacteria lingering behind, which can cause skin issues that can be troublesome to fix.

Wash problems generally fall into two categories, tonight we are tackling the problem of the diapers smelling out of the dryer. This is usually caused by one of two problems
1) Wrong detergent   or   2) Not enough detergent.
Let’s start with number one, the wrong detergent. Here are some cliff notes for choosing a detergent:

  • Powders generally rinse out easier than liquid
  • The more natural the detergent, generally the less effective it will be with very few exceptions
  • Free and clears, especially liquid ones, can be notorious for buildup.
  • Maintsream powders and liquids are *fine* to use, you do not have to use a cloth diaper detergent to get your diapers clean.

Over 8 years of troubleshooting wash issues with thousands of clients, and our own 5 babies, we find one detergent leading the pack over and over again. Tide.
Tide? Before you shoot the idea down completely, take a peek at who else recommends Tide:
Happy Heinys (over 10 years in the business):
http://www.happyheinys.com/care-and-sizing/cloth-diaper-detergents
Fuzzi Bunz (recommends Tide Free, over 10 years in the business):
http://www.fuzzibunz.com/faq.php#wash9
Tiny Tush (over 10 years in the business):
http://www.tinytush.com/How-To-Wash-Cloth-Diapers_ep_51-1.html
Rumparooz (over 5 years in the business):
http://www.rumparooz.com/faqs.php

That being said, if you hate the idea of Tide, try another mainstream store powder, even a generic one if it fits the budget better. Worst case scenario, you strip and start over.

The second part of this equation is using enough detergent. Unless you are using Rockin Green or Thirsties super wash, 1-2 tablespoons will not cut it. You have to use enough detergent to get them clean ( I use to the 3 line on my Tide powder ultra scoop for a load of diapers).
On January 24th, Bummis (over 20 years in the biz) had on their Facebook page:

Had a wonderful discussion with Steve “the detergent guru” again. We discussed how many people recommend using so little detergent and recommend Dawn to strip detergent residues from “suede cloth”, microfiber and other synthetics.

He does not believe it is a “detergent” residue that is causing repelling or stink in these synthetics. He believes what is really happening is that consumers are crea…ting a self-filling prophecy by not using enough detergent. This leads to microscopic soil being left behind. In fecal matter there are oils/fats from digestion. Polyester loves fats and oils and forms a chemical bond with them. If you are using too little detergent to release this soil, you will then get a microscopic build up of oils on the surface of the fabric eventually causing it to repel or stink.

While great at releasing grease on solid surfaces (think dishes) Dawn is not super effective on fabric. Hence it would work with a mild build up of oils causing repelling/stink but not on all cases. Best to avoid oily build up by using enough detergent to release oils from synthetics and enough rinsing/water to get rid of all detergent/soils left behind in the wash cycle.

Make sure you are using enough, remember that seeing suds does not mean you are using too much. Some detergents are more sudsy than others, unless you have odors with the diapers out of the dryer or once freshly peed in, don’t sweat the suds! Really, if you don’t smell anything, don’t lift the lid, don’t even peek at the rinse cycle. If they smell great out of the dryer, and once freshly peed in, don’t worry about suds.

Let’s go over wash temps here, the best routine we have found for diapers is

  • Warm or hot pre-rinse (see notes below)
  • Hot wash with good amount of detergent (not the sanitary cycle, your regular hot cycle, your water heater should be set to 120 degrees F)
  • 2 cold rinses. Your machine will do one automatically, add another if you can.

Wait, warm or hot pre-rinse? We have always advised warm or hot, the reason for hot being that many water heaters won’t get up to 120 in the pre-rinse, so setting it to warm gave you room temperature water, setting it to hot gave you the higher temperature that is needed. Now with more sophisticated machines, we are adjusting our advice to say warm pre-rinse, not hot or cold.

Bummis recently had this article as well for some of the science behind the warm prerinse:
http://blog.bummis.com/2011/10/laundry-science.html#!/2011/10/laundry-science.html

In our experience, the cold prerinse set in stains and make it much harder to wash the fresh feces and urine out of the diapers. Switch your prerinse, see if it helps. If your water heater doesn’t get very hot, consider doing a hot prerinse to boost those temps a little.

Stripping: We are going to cover how to strip the diapers.
Stripping refers to an action of doing something to the diapers to disinfect or strip them from detergent buildup, ointment buildup, old feces or urine buildup, fabric softener, basically anything that is hindering absorbency. Today I am going to review what does need to be stripped versus what doesn’t.
Many times, truly most times, when a customer thinks the diaper needs to be stripped, it is actually a scenario where more absorbency is needed, or the fit is incorrect for the baby. You do NOT need to strip if:

  • The diapers leak, but more than 30-60 minutes has passed
  • The diapers leak, but the entire diaper/fitted or insert is wet
  • The diapers leak but do not have odors to them

If you are having leaking but find that the above fits, you likely have an absorbency or fit issue, not a need to strip. Very, very rarely will buildup occur without an accompanying odor. If you have enough buildup left to hinder absorbency, you will be trapping old feces and urine, and it will stink. What may be a cause a need to strip is:

  • Odors out of the dryer, or once freshly peed in.
  • Leaking within the first few minutes of the diaper being on.
  • Leaking and the diaper is wet in spots only.
  • Use of creams, and you can see and smell spots where ointment has been.
  • Use of the wrong detergent, this is also evident when you take the diapers out and they have a sticky or tacky feel to them, almost like they are coated with something.

I like to highlight the odor key in all of this, remember you cannot ever mask the smell of poop. You can spray perfume on it, put bleach spray on it, it will smell like perfumed and bleached poo. It is incredibly rare when we see buildup not accompanying odors, it can happen, but really is very rare. If you suspect buildup and do not have any odors, we will first go the route of more absorbency/checking the fit. If you strip and it is an absorbency or fit issue, you won’t solve anything and be right back where you started with leaky diapers.

I do want to throw one more tidbit in,I see websites promoting the “water drip test” to see if your diapers are repelling. The idea being you dribble a few drops of water on the diaper, if it doesn’t sink in right away the diapers need to be stripped. The truth is I can do this on my perfectly fine pocket diapers and you won’t see it sink in, the pressure of the baby against the diaper pushes urine into it, so don’t rely on that test to see if you have buildup and need to strip.

There was a method that was very popular a few years ago in stripping, and I sincerely hope it has completely died out but I know some still recommend it. It involves using your dishwasher to strip the diapers. Now, this is a fire hazard, and will render your snaps and elastic pretty useless, so under no circumstances should you ever put your diapers in the dishwasher, please please please.

Another popular method is to put Dawn dish soap in the washing machine. We don’t recommend this either, your washing machine wasn’t made for dish soap, it is high sudsing and can clog the hoses. If you have a new washer under warranty you could void it. We have had customers who used Dawn, and when their machine broke and the repairman came, it was very easy to tell soap had been used, and the warranty was voided, so please take note of those problems if you go the Dawn route.

What is safer for you and the machine, is to bleach the diapers if you have buildup. 1/3 cup of chlorox in the detergent cycle with clean cloth diapers, and hot water, will take care of the problem. If you have cotton print diapers, dyed fitteds or prefolds, or cotton outer wet bags, you can use color safe bleach. That is the best method to strip, and safe for your machine. For disinfecting purposes, color safe bleach may not be appropriate as it uses hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine to bleach, but for residue purposes it can work.

Make sure the diapers have been washed and dried, if they are soiled the bleach won’t do much. Once in a blue moon bleach is fine on your diapers, it is when it is used on a regular basis that you see premature wear and tear, just like you would on your clothing. PUL is dye fast and will not bleed from bleach.

Next week we will chat about the problem of “they smell fine out of the dryer, but stink when freshly peed in” issue, since hopefully we have conquered the “they smell out of the dryer” issue.

Don’t just “put up” with stink, doing so can lead to health problems and rash problems that you don’t want against your child’s skin. If your toddler threw up on a tee shirt, you wash it and it still smells like puke, there is no way you would put it back on the child. Diapers have to be treated the same way, (except even worse because you are putting old poop and urine back up against their genital areas). Don’t tolerate stink, truly, shoot me an email and we will figure it out!

We don’t stand to profit on your smelly diapers, most of our customer service is in regards to fixing wash routines. My first goal is to make sure your baby’s skin is healthy, and my secondary goal is to make your wash routine easy. When you have to do 3 wash cycles or add more ingredients than you do making cookies, it really sucks the fun and ease out of using cloth diapers. With those two goals in mind, we are always working on trying to get as close to a uniform wash routine as possible. If you still have odor issues, email me with a “tried it, still have stink at x,y and z” and we will troubleshoot what needs to change.

Part 2:  Dealing with urine, ammonia and other strong mystery odors.

(Added 02/06/12) This week is a comprehensive look at the “my diapers smell fine out of the dryer but smell like stale urine once freshly urinated in.”

This is one of two problems, too much detergent, or not the right detergent to begin with. Make sure you read our first article to see if your detergent is the right kind (powder over liquid if possible, not a free and clear if it can be helped, not the more natural detergents).

How to tell if you are using too much? Remember, last week(part 1) we said “don’t sweat the suds IF you have no odors issues”, and we stand by that advice. If everything is fine and smells like clean fabric, don’t worry about checking for suds at any point in your wash routine. However, if you have this problem of stink when peed in, check your suds. To do this with a front loader, clean the diapers as usual, then do a hot wash cycle with no detergent and then…

  1. If you have an HE machine, look at the glass during the wash cycle, do you see bubbles coming out?
  2. If you have a top loader, wait until you hear it going in the wash cycle (past the filling stage, then you hear it agitating everything around), then open the lid. Do you see bubbles formed (give it a minute or two to get washing)

If you see some soapy bubbles (not just little air bubbles from swishing fabric around), then you may have buildup. There are a few ways to strip diapers with this kind of buildup:

  1. If they aren’t too bad (and hopefully you can catch this early so you don’t get a lot of bacteria built up), doing 2-3 wash cycles with just hot water on CLEAN diapers (make sure you wash them first and then do this), should strip out the residue. Don’t do any cold pre-rinses, try to hit them with as much hot water as possible.If they are really stenchy, you may need bleach to strip them. Again, that link above has proper stripping techniques, please do not use Dawn dish soap to strip.
  2. Once they have been stripped of the detergent buildup, reductions in detergent are needed or a new detergent. IF you have very soft water, you CAN use an HE detergent in a regular machine. You can never use regular detergent in an HE machine, but you can use HE detergent in a regular machine with soft water, it is formulated to be low sudsing for HE machines, and will rinse easier. You have to be careful with detergent levels, too high and you get buildup, too low and you will get that bacteria left behind/stink out of the dryer problem. If you want help finding the right level of detergent or the right detergent, give us an email at AbbysLane@aol.com

Part of this problem also embraces ammonia. Old detergent buildup can trap old feces and urine, which can lead to ammonia odors. That being said….  There are two times when ammonia can be normal:

  1. 1) in the diaper pail, when you lift the lid, ammonia wafting can be normal.
  2. 2)in the morning diaper. When a diaper has been on for 8+ hours, it can smell of ammonia in the morning.

Remember, our bodies cannot tolerate ammonia internally, so we convert it to other byproducts. When urine leaves our body and meets air, it will start to convert back to ammonia salts (with or without bacteria present). If your baby pees early in the night, that is 8+ hours of urine salts sitting in a nice, warm, moist environment, so it will smell in the morning. Adding absorbency to break down the concentration will help, but especially as your baby ages that morning smell is normal. If your diapers smell fresh out of the dryer, and do not smell of stale urine within the first hour of being worn, your wash routine is otherwise fine.

Ammonia burn or chafing is *never* acceptable, it is something we work with many customers to fix, usually by fixing the wash routine or increasing absorbency/breathability depending on why the child is sensitive to the urine.

Ammonia isn’t present in urine until it leaves the body and meets air. The Urea that it is converted to internally is sterile until oxygen will start to convert it to ammonia, bacteria doesn’t always have to be present. We have had many customers who had ammonia odors in disposables they used, which obviously didn’t have detergent buildup and hadn’t been in play with bacteria long enough to build it up. There are lots of factors that can cause that “ammonia” smell, some will never encounter it at all unless these factors are in play. Heavy wetters will be more prone to the odor, if you have had a light wetter versus a heavy wetter, you know the difference between the volumes. When you start adding half an ounce of urine to each diaper change, or more, you are really increasing the urea output. Toddler urine is more complicated as well, more going into it, more coming out.

Additionally, if your baby pees when you put them down and it is a big one, you are getting several hours of a head start on this whole process, so the odors will be much stronger.

Imagine peeing on a tee shirt (fitted/prefolds), wrapping it in a plastic bag (cover) then leaving it for 8 hours, it would stink to high heaven when you opened the bag, on the flip side, if your had your 2 month old pee in a little tee shirt and did the same thing for 3 hours, the stench wouldn’t be nearly as much, hence the volume/concentration/age factors.

For the pail, it can vary based on lots of things, if you keep an open pail in a broom closet and wash toddler diapers every 3-4 days, your odors will be very different from a closed pail in a larger ventilated room washing every 1-2 days. Clean diapers will still do this in pails, it doesn’t matter how clean they are going in, if you have the right combination of volume and age in urine, it can produce the same effect. Additionally, remember a closed lid pail isn’t airtight, unless you vacuum seal it after each time you put a diaper in, you allow lots of air flow in the pail to open and close the lid every 90 minutes to a few hours, plus the lid itself doesn’t seal air out, so it is fine to have a closed-lid pail (this is beneficial for other reasons than containing odors, like keeping out bugs-yes it does happen-and exploring little children)

Nothing that harms a baby’s skin is ever normal, and needs to be corrected. If the wash routine is otherwise fine and you have stripped the diapers, sometimes increasing the absorbency does the trick, breaking down the concentration of urea leaving the body makes it less volatile on the skin. For some, they need more breathable options, since air still gets into PUL diapers you never have an airtight diapering system, but for some babies the extra air flow to their skin is what it needs to tolerate that old urine breathing back onto their skin.

For some babies, you need to explore eczema and other skin sensitivities, if you have skin that is already compromised to begin with, adding urine breathing onto it for 8+ hours is too much. Middle of the night changes, eczema ointments,other options can help. For “yeasty” babies cornstarch is great as a preventative measure (not during an outbreak, as it will feed the yeast, but on healed skin to prevent it is great), plus lots of air flow/naked time so the fungus has a hard time growing without the moist and dark conditions.

We relay this to our customers who have perfectly fresh diapers out of the dryer (meaning nothing bacterial is left behind from feces), and the diapers do not smell of stale urine when freshly peed in (indicates buildup and need to be stripped), and the only time they smell the ammonia odors, or “strong urine” odors is in the pail when they lift the lid to toss in a newly soiled diaper, or the morning diaper on from 8 hours prior. Remember, rashes or burns are not normal, please email us if you need help with these issues!

Some fun urine resource sites-LOL:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/urine-odor/MY00378
http://sxxz.blogspot.com/2006/07/why-is-urine-yellow.html

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January 30, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Diaper Chatter, FAQ, Wash routines. 41 comments.

prevention of yeast

This week we are going into some tips and tricks for prevention of yeast if your baby has battled it more than once.

First, one cause of yeast could be antibiotics. If you are nursing and are on antibiotics, or if your baby has to be on antibiotics, all of the good bacteria along with the bad will be killed, and the overall chemistry of your baby’s skin will be more susceptible to yeast. If your baby is old enough, talk to your pediatrician about giving him/her probiotics. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to take some as well if you are nursing, there are safe supplements for babies and toddlers, adults can take over the counter acidophilus tablets. You may or may not see thrush in the mouth of your baby, it can appear in a few different forms, but if you see any changes inside your baby’s mouth or it seems painful for them to eat (nursing or bottle), let your pediatrician know ASAP.

If your baby isn’t on any antibiotics and you are not either (if nursing), but seems to be more yeast-prone, ask about probiotics anyway, it can definitely help keep the yeast away!

Now, the next step will seem completely pointless if you haven’t battled yeast, but I have to throw it out there. We see yeast happening as much in natural fibers as in synthetics. It really just depends on the baby, some cannot tolerate the wetness from natural fibers, and will flare into yeast quickly. Others cannot tolerate synthetics, and need natural fibers to promote breatheability. If your baby is battling yeast, look at the diaper system you have. If you have solely natural fibers, consider investing in some fleece liners to use to see if it makes a difference. On the flip side, if you only use synthetics, switching to a more air-flow friendly system can help.

Keep an eye on your nighttime system as well, for baby boys often yeast will start as a very red penis, sometimes with or without blisters, if your baby boy presents this symptom and you don’t see it clear up with ointment within a day or two at the most, take him in to get diagnosed.

We will go over some more on this next week, but one last thing to remember with yeast.

If your baby’s skin is completely clear, and has been for at least a few days, cornstarch is fine to use to help absorb moisture to keep yeast away. However, if your baby has any skin symptoms at all, cornstarch will feed yeast with the sugars present, so do not use if there is any skin rash present to suggest yeast.

January 13, 2012. Tags: , . cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, FAQ, Uncategorized. 3 comments.

diapering 0-3 month babies

We have gone over some of the newer products that were personal favorites for my 5th baby (now 3 months old), and some of these products are really going to the top of the charts by our customers as favorites as well. A few notes on some of these new purchases for those interested:

1) tiny tush minis: these are my personal fave for Jaxson, they start to fit around the 5-6 pound mark, and go to 14-15 pounds (I preferred the aplix, I found they fit longer with the way the front of the diaper laid, the weight range is anywhere from 2-5 months depending on how quickly the baby grows). One tip about them, they come with what looks like a big washcloth, it is a microfiber towel intended to be trifolded and used in the diaper. When you do trifold it, it will be the same as a 3 layer microfiber newborn insert. I found Jax needed more than what came with it, as a newborn an extra small microfiber would work, a preemie prefold folded in half, or on the bigger sizes a small joey bunz packed in with the microfiber towel would be great 🙂 If you have terry washcloths on hand fold them into half or thirds, they will work great! Baby washcloths on the smaller sizes work well, too for an extra boost.

2) Bummis tiny fit: these will fit a tad smaller, starting at around 6-7 pounds but outgrown a tad earlier, around the 12-14 pound mark, and have a nice, trim fit. The soakers on these guys fold in to add extra absorbency, and they come with a tiny booster to add to it. In these little guys a preemie prefold folded in half would work, or a small microfiber washcloth you could fold into thirds, small joey bunz would be right at the end of the size range on these guys, they may overwhelm the baby is the baby has a tiny build.

December 23, 2011. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, FAQ, Q & A. Leave a comment.

Cloth 101: absorbency

This week I wanted to chat a little about absorbency, we had lots of emails this week about leaks and I wanted to do a brief 101 on insert and fabric density, next week we will get into more specifics. In cloth diapers, there are 3 basic “groups” that I put fabrics into.

1)microfiber/microterry, 2) cotton/bamboo (other organic velours and cotton blends fall here) 3) hemp

You can have variations of these groups, but for discussing density these three will do 🙂

These three groups will behave differently in wetting situations. If I laid out a microfiber insert, a cotton prefold and a hemp insert (all prewashed),
and tossed a cup of water on them, the microfiber is going to slurp it up wherever it hits, but hold the least amount overall. The cotton prefold will soak up most of it, some will roll off before it has a chance to absorb, but will hold more overall. The hemp insert will likely “catch” the least amount, but if it has time to absorb will hold the most overall. This is why layering is important in fitteds and pockets. Now, many times fitteds will have the hemp blended with another fabric to “catch” faster, so this isn’t so much of a deal as just putting plain hemp inserts inside a pocket by themselves. If you have pocket diapers, putting microfiber on top of a hemp or cotton insert will help catch fast wetters. If your baby or toddler is a slow wetter or light wetter (meaning they pee a tiny amount every few minutes rather than flooding the diaper once or twice an hour), denser fabrics will work more effectively by themselves. For quick wetters or flooders you may find you need the microfiber to catch it initially and give the hemp a chance to absorb it all. Next week we will get into some specific layering advice, what is “too much” for a pocket diaper, and why pockets don’t usually work for super heavy wetters at nighttime and naptime, even if layered correctly~

October 14, 2011. cloth diapers, FAQ, night time diapering, Night time solutions. Leave a comment.

cloth diapers and yeast issues

We tackled a lot of yeast issues this week with customers. We have written quite a bit about yeast in past articles, which you can find here.

But the main points I want to readdress are:
-Over the years, we have found the best way to get rid of yeast the first time, when you are prescribed the antifungal, pick up a pack of disposables at the pharmacy. Keep the baby in them until the skin has been clear for 48 hours, then they can move back into disinfected cloth. If your baby is allergic to disposables, we will have to find some other alternatives, it is best if you have prefolds or flats that can withstand multiple disinfecting sessions to keep the baby in cloth while they are being treated. Remember, yeast doesn’t come from the diapers, but it can live in the diapers and reinfect the child.
-To disinfect the diapers, we recommend all diapers, wipes, inserts be bleached. To do this, wash/dry as normal, then wash with just hot water and 1/3 cup clorox bleach. PUL is dye fast and will not fade. If you have dyed or cotton print diapers, color safe bleach can be used for these items, although remember color safe bleach uses hydrogen peroxide to disinfect, which in rare yeast strains may not be enough. If you go this route and the yeast comes back, you may want to consider using chlorine bleach to kill the strain.
-After you go back into cloth, changing frequently the first 1-2 weeks back in cloth are important while your baby’s chemistry gets back to normal, also, if the yeast is completely gone using cornstarch in the diaper to promote dryness is good. Cornstarch feeds an active yeast infection though, so be sure your baby is completely healed for a few days before starting this.
-If you have dealt with more than a few yeast infections within a 6 month period, we need to evaluate the diaper choices and your wash/disinfecting routine with you, so please email us. Some babies truly are more yeast prone than others, and analyzing what you are currently doing can help find a solution. Also, some babies with medical conditions that require continuous antibiotics will be more prone to yeast as well, so if this is your baby please let us know and we can offer some tips to make cloth successful.
-And as always, please seek a doctor’s advice and help diagnosing the yeast.

October 6, 2011. Tags: . Diaper Chatter, FAQ. 3 comments.

Cloth Diapering on the cheap

I started cloth in 2003 with my first daughter, Abby (who let me steal her name for our store), and for some time I was diapering on a very tiny budget, the “groceries or diapers” kind. I started with my youngest brother’s 24 year old Gerber prefolds, pins and rubber pants from walmart. My first splurge was a snappi, then another snappi, then proraps and finally some chinese prefolds (indian were just starting to come on the scene back then). We diapered her that way for some time, every few paychecks I would snag a few dollars and get a pocket for nighttime. My second daughter was a mix of prefolds and pockets, bumgenius came out when she was a baby with their first version (the 1.0 white nylon pocket for the veterans here!), and I had the store at that point and could try a few more things. With each baby I have been able to increase my stash, but it doesn’t mean I forgot what I did, what I HAD to do with my first and second to make sure we could pay the bills on time.

Gerber prefolds are cheap, can be bought at the grocery store and certainly can work. She always had to be doubled up, nighttime was 3 and still being changed every few hours to prevent leaks. Same can be said for today’s Indian prefolds that I love and use, they last a long time, and you can diaper with them from birth to potty training for around 200 dollars, including covers and snappis. If your baby is a heavier wetter and you have prefolds, double them up! Fold one like a business letter, lay it in the middle of the second, when you lay the baby in, flip the trifolded middle piece up over their belly, then wrap the second prefold around them. You have just made two prefolds give your baby 30 layers of cotton in the middle. For this style, you will have to upsize the cover, but it will still work!

I also would use old rags, handtowels and washcloths to boost absorbency. I started with enough diapers to almost get me through the day, so I ran tiny loads of laundry every day to keep up until i could afford more prefolds. Using washcloths, handtowels and cutting/sewing the edges on old bath towels got me through the day of laundry. Don’t have a sewing machine? Roll the edges of a cut handtowel and hand-sew the edges with a whip stitch, it holds and is easy and quick to do. If your baby is sensitive to wetness, go to your local fabric store, you can get a half a yard of scrap fleece for about 2-3 dollars. Cut them into 5 x 15 rectangles, no sewing needed, and lay one in with each prefold. Lay it in the middle, lay the baby down, flip up the liner over their belly then wrap the prefold around, otherwise the liner gets wrapped up in the prefold and is useless.

I look at Abby’s baby pictures and giggle, she was a tiny, tiny petite child and her diaper was HUGE! LOL-put a handtowel in a gerber prefold with a snappi on a 13 pound 6 month old and a medium cover over it, watch what happens 😉

Bottom line, it works, and I think I spent maybe 75 dollars on her entire first year of diapering. We would have done that in disposables in less than two months. Those prefolds she used I had in use until my third daughter, they finally wore out during her baby-hood. The worst feeling in the world when you are tight on cash, is looking in a disposable diaper pail when your child has “cluster pooped” and you see that you have just gone through 7 disposables in a 2 hour period when you thought they were done and they just kept going, the best feeling is looking in a cloth diaper pail and seeing 7 prefolds that will be washed by morning and ready to use again.

Some cheap accessory ideas:
-Wipes: wipes can be expensive and a pain to wash/dispose of. The best cloth wipes for newborns are going to be small and thin for their little nooks and crannies, especially for baby girls. Big thick wipes won’t do the job, and the best newborn wipes can be baby washcloths. Usually at your baby shower you get 30 packs of washcloths, and end up needing 4-5 during the week to actually bathe your baby. Use the rest for cloth diaper wipes! At wal mart or the dollar store, you can get a 5 pack for around a dollar, so you can build your stash of wipes for 5-6 dollars. For my oldest daughter we used these through her toddler years, you need more per changing then the bigger thicker wipes, but they do the job and will last for years. You don’t need essential oils or wipe recipes, plain old water is the best for any age of cleaning 🙂

-I would say 99% of babies will need fleece liners at some point in their diapering years. Whether for nighttime dryness, or to be able to use diaper creams, fleece liners are needed. You can make your own for 2-3 dollars, go to your local fabric store and buy a yard of scrap fleece, the kind doesn’t matter. Or, sometimes big box stores will sell cheap fleece throws at the 2-3 price point, and you can cut them up. Rectangles of 5 x 15 inches, no sewing needed as it won’t fray.
-Diaper Sprayer: Get your husband or partner to dunk/swish, pretty cheap method, failproof and be used anywhere 😉

The biggest challenge to frugal diapering is the toddlers and nighttime heavy wetters, but surely generations before us did it with success, we can, too, right? Absolutely! Much of this will tie back into the first article we did on prefolds/layering. If you have any sewing skills and access to a machine, this will come in handy. Being able to sew flannel layers from old receiving blankets is invaluable, if you can sweet talk your mother or mother in law into doing this for you, even better 😉

Flannel is cotton, is very durable and easy to wash. It also provides good absorbency, and is super trim. Making inserts out of lots of layers is easy and cheap to do. If you don’t/can’t sew, you can whip stitch by hand the same thing, it will just take longer and not be as neat, just keep folding the flannel onto itself and finish the edges, you can do this to two stacks and then sew them together. Sandwich these in your prefolds, or behind the prefolds held in place by the cover for extra core absorbency.

For nighttime your homemade fleece liners we discussed earlier will help provide a stay dry feeling for your baby is he is sensitive to wetness. If you go to any thrift shop you can get old wool sweaters for a few dollars. These can be cut and sewn into wool soakers, if you google “recycled wool sweater soakers” you will get a bajillion links on how to sew your own, many with free patterns. Wool is invaluable for heavy wetters and breatheable covers, and easy wool care can be found here.

May 3, 2011. Tags: , . cloth diapers, FAQ, Q & A. Leave a comment.

Is cloth diapering hard?

Nice post over on Everything Cloth about debunking the myths behind how difficult it is to use cloth diapers. At Abby’s Lane I believe we’ve also covered many, many concerns on our Cloth Diapering 101 page.

I started cloth diapering when my oldest was almost 2. Other mothers from my mothers group were using cloth. I was shocked. But I started using them, and really loved them (and that’s also how I discovered Abby’s Lane!). My baby potty trained quickly, but luckily number 2 had arrived, and she used 100% cloth, exclusively, day, night, and out and about until she toilet trained.

Because of a variety of influences I ended up going back to disposables for baby number three.

By baby number four, I am down to one in diapers, and I am back in cloth. Because here’s the thing- diapers are freaking EXPENSIVE. My baby is turning 2 in about 6 weeks and I would venture to say that he is nowhere near toilet training (my oldest girls trained by 2. My third, rarely in cloth, didn’t toilet train until close to 3.5. Coincidence? I am not so sure). Anyway, baby is big, thus the diaper size is big, thus the quantity of diapers/package is small. And, since money doesn’t grow on trees (more’s the pity) he is back in cloth. I had actually forgotten how easy it really is, how cute they really are, and my only regret is that I didn’t put him in cloth much earlier into his babyhood.

What myths would you like to bust about cloth diapering? Is it the sheer wonder at the fact that our ancestors would have CHEERED at the idea of not washing diapers? Is it the thought of one more chore? Or do people just not even KNOW about the options available?

April 13, 2011. cloth diapers, FAQ, Posted by Rose, Q & A. 2 comments.

Cloth diapers & diaper rashes

We are back talking about rashes again in our series we have had the past few weeks. This week we are going onto a bacterial issue, that of Staph and/or MRSA. Some of the saddest emails over the years that stick out are from customers who had their babies battle this, and it was misdiagnosed by the pediatrician, or treated as a minor skin irritation that turned into something worse.

Staph does not come from the diapers, staph comes from another contact point, but needs a place to enter the body. The diaper area is the perfect place for it, since it is warm and damp, and the pressure points where the diaper is tighter on the skin can provide this opening. Staph usually presents as blisters, that may be fluid or pus filled, sometimes with a hard red center on the base of it. They will often start out looking like pimples, and many times will burst and reform within hours.

This has to be taken very seriously, if your baby exhibits these symptoms, you need to take him to the pediatrician, have it diagnosed, and if it is identified as a staph infection, please demand that it be cultured. Some pediatricians will not offer this, but you can insist it be done, and it is in the best interest for the health of your child. What they will do is take some of the fluid or pus in the blister and watch it grow over a few days in their lab, to make sure the antibiotic they prescribe will work for the bacteria that your child is infected with. MRSA is antibiotic-resistent staph, if your baby has MRSA, it means they will have to take the extra steps to make sure the bacteria will respond to the given antibiotic.

For staph and/or MRSA, we absolutely cannot recommend homepathic treatments, this can be serious if left untreated, and does get bad quickly if not taken care of. Sometimes yeast can have blisters that may resemble staph blisters, your doctor will be able to tell which it is, *usually* yeast will not have the raised fluid filled centers that staph has. If your baby is diagnosed with staph, he/she will need to go on an oral antibiotic, and likely be given a bactroban cream (antibiotic cream), and the diapers will need to be disinfected the same way you do for yeast. This involves chlorine bleach. Because of the severity of staph, I do recommend putting the baby in disposables until you can bleach all of your diapers and inserts, staph does not come from the diapers, but can live in them, even through washing and drying.

I have throwing this one out there because I usually get emails of parents new to cloth who fear getting into this rash situation. The truth is I have had it with my kids both in cloth and disposables, staph just wants a place to enter, if you catch it the baby will be just fine, and there is no proof cloth diapers increase the chances of infection from staph.

March 31, 2011. Diaper Rash, FAQ, Q & A. 9 comments.

More washing issues!

The ammonia and stripping articles have been going over well from our email feedback, I am excited to see washing issues being solved and clean diapers being the norm in the house 🙂

This week we are going to start our Rash 101 series, going over common rashes/symptoms/causes/treatments that can occur in cloth diapers. Now, every week I will put the same reminder in this section, if your baby is in pain, bleeding, cracked or open skin, fluid filled blisters or open blisters, you absolutely must take them to the doctor immediately. As much as I love and adore homeopathic remedies, if your baby or toddler exhibits these symptoms, for their health and safety they must see a doctor.

We will start today with the most common ammonia/chafing/heat rash that can occur with babies. The symptoms of this will usually present as a mild sunburn wherever the diaper is touching, sometimes only in the contact points of the thighs and waist. The skin will be a dull pink color, with or without tiny red pinprick dots (not raised), in the warmest folds of the skin. Sometimes this rash will peel away as it heals, it will turn back to the normal color of the skin and slough off like a sunburn would, only to come right back. The most common cause of this type of rash is exposure to wetness that is irritating the baby, most common in natural fibers such as prefolds or natural fiber fitteds. Sometimes it happens only overnight when the skin is damp for a long period of time. It can happen with stay dry diapers as well, as urine sits in the pocket or AIO fibers, ammonia will breathe back onto the skin and can cause irritation, then the tighter contact points of the diaper can cause a chafing rash, and the peeling skin that accompanies this.

If your baby has this type of rash, and you are using natural fibers, trying putting fleece liners in the diaper for each change to promote dryness, you can also sprinkle cornstarch in the diaper to absorb wetness (if you do this and you see the rash become immediately worse, you may have yeast which can feed off of cornstarch, so if that happens you need to see your doctor for an antifungal quickly). For our natural fiber babies using a fleece liner will solve this the majority of the time. If the baby only gets this rash at nighttime, and you already use stay dry diapers, if the baby is very sensitive you may need a mild cream to help protect the skin (make sure you use liners for the cream to prevent buildup), but before using cream regularly I would increase absorbency to break down the concentration of the urine. Also, frequent changing is important to allow air to heal the skin, and keep ammonia away to allow the rash to go away. Increasing the absorbency of your diapers can also help, it will break down the concentration of the urine in the diaper. Forthe chafing rash, a pea sized amount of vaseline or a clear-ish color ointment will help, rub it in at every diaper change, this small amount on the legs will not cause buildup in your diapers and will help that skin heal. For babies who have very sensitive skin, as we move into the summertime if this rash keeps coming back you may need to look into diapering options that allow lots of air flow. This nice thing about this rash is it is very quick to heal once you take the above measures. Usually within 24 hours you will see a dramatic improvement if not completely resolved. If you go 2-3 days and it is not getting better, or it gets worse, you may have another rash issue on your hands so it is important to watch how it progresses.

March 10, 2011. cloth diapers, FAQ, Q & A, Wash routines. 1 comment.

stripping diapers, part 2

We are continuing our stripping discussion, this week being “how to strip” if reading last week’s post makes you think you need to strip. I do want to throw one more tidbit in, it drives me a little batty when I see websites promoting the “water drip test” to see if your diapers are repelling. The idea being you dribble a few drops of water on the diaper, if it doesn’t sink in right away the diapers need to be stripped. The truth is I can do this on my perfectly fine pocket diapers and you won’t see it sink in, the pressure of the baby against the diaper pushes urine into it, so don’t rely on that test to see if you have buildup and need to strip.

There was a method that was very popular a few years ago in stripping, and I sincerely hope it has completely died out but I know some still recommend it. It involves using your dishwasher to strip the diapers. Now, this is a fire hazard, and will render your snaps and elastic pretty useless, so under no circumstances should you ever put your diapers in the dishwasher, please please please. Another popular method is to put Dawn dish soap in the washing machine. We don’t recommend this either, your washing machine wasn’t made for dish soap, it is high sudsing and can clog the hoses. If you have a new washer under warranty, we have had customers who used Dawn, and when their machine broke and the repairman came, it was very easy to tell soap had been used, and the warranty was voided, so please take note of those problems if you go the Dawn route. What is safer for you and the machine, is to bleach the diapers if you have buildup. 1/3 cup of clorox in the detergent cycle with clean diapers, and hot water, will take care of the problem. If you have cotton print diapers, dyed fitteds or prefolds, or cotton outer wet bags, you can use color safe bleach. That is the best method to strip, and safe for your machine.

Make sure the diapers have been washed and dried, if they are soiled the bleach won’t do much. Once in a blue moon bleach is fine on your diapers, it is when it is used on a regular basis that you see premature wear and tear, just like you would on your clothing. PUL is dye fast and will not bleed from bleach.

February 22, 2011. cloth diapers, FAQ, Q & A. 6 comments.

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