Want to use a cloth diapering system, but don’t know where to begin? Here is a checklist to get you started!
1. A cloth diapering system includes the diapers themselves, liners and diaper covers.
- Diapers: The number you buy will depend on how often you’ll be doing laundry. Start with three to five dozen diapers (less for older babies who need changing less often) if you don’t want to do laundry every day. Cloth diapers come in a wide variety of fabrics and styles, from $2.00 each up to $15 each.
- Liners: Buy a supply of liners, also called doublers. These add extra absorbency to diapers — great for overnight.
- Diaper Covers: These go over the diaper to protect clothing and bedding from wetness. They come in a variety of fabrics, styles and prices. It’s a good idea to get five diaper covers per size.
2. Use cloth baby wipes instead of the disposable kind.
- Disposable baby wipes contain alcohol and fragrances which may irritate your baby’s delicate skin. All you really need is water. Buy 2-3 dozen wash cloths or cut up old t-shirts or sheets to the size you need. Keep a spray bottle with water handy. Then spray and wipe. On the road, you can keep damp wash cloths in a zip bag.
3. The best way to avoid diaper rash is to change baby’s diaper frequently.
- Cloth diapers make it easier to feel if baby is wet than disposables. Though disposable pull moisture away into the diaper, the bacteria that causes diaper rash is still in contact with baby’s skin.
- In case of diaper rash, have a rash cream or ointment on hand. If you want to use a powder, cornstarch is a better option. Talcum powder can cause pneumonia and irritation of the airways. Long term use of talc has also been linked to ovarian cancer in women.
4. Don’t landfill your baby’s poop!
- Whether you use disposable or cloth diapers, don’t forget to flush the feces down the toilet. Human waste can carry disease into landfills, which can leak and expose other humans and wildlife to health risks.
5. Say goodbye to pre-soaking diapers.
- Soaking dirty diapers isn’t absolutely necessary. Put soiled diapers (after flushing feces down the toilet) into a waterproof pail with a lid. Wash them within two days, or mold may start to grow. If you do choose to soak soiled diapers, put them through the spin cycle before washing them to get rid of the extra water.
- You can deodorize the diaper pail with baking soda, vinegar or borax.
6. Wash cloth diapers in hot water with a mild laundry detergent.
- Some people choose to rinse dry dirty diapers in the washing machine in cold water first, to prevent stains from setting. Use a fragrance-free, dye-free detergent, as residues of strong detergents could caush a rash. Also avoid chlorine bleach (which can wear out diapers, anyway), fabric softeners and antistatic products as these can also leave irritating residues behind.
- One way to bleach out stains naturally is to dry diapers in the sun, which also disinfects them.
7. Brighten and soften cloth diapers and other tough whites without harmful chemicals.
- Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar to wash water. Make sure the detergent does not contain chlorine bleach, which reacts with acids.
- You can also bleach out stains naturally by drying whites in the sun, which also disinfects them.
- Add 1/2 cup baking soda to wash water as a fabric softener.
8. Consider using a diaper service to wash and dry your cloth diapers.
- The main advantage to diaper services is that you don’t have to deal with dirty diapers! Just set them aside in a waterproof pail with a lid and a garbage bag. They are picked up once a week in exchange for a fresh set of diapers. Check with the Real Diaper Industry Association to see if there’s one in your area.
Do you use cloth or disposable diapers — or a combination of both? Share your diapering tips with the Baby’s First Year Community.