Yeah, dumped ’em. No pun intended. Stopped the madness of leaks and rashes. Went cold turkey on the whole cloth diaper grind. I still had them tucked away in my emergency preparedness boxes, but I was done using them! Then…I took them up again. Baby girl got older, I slept more and the whole thing didn’t seem like such a mess. We started figuring out the kinks and I tried different systems. And then, I quit again. So, more for me than you, here are a few things I learned about cloth diapering.
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The Truth about Cloth Diapering
Cloth diapers stink.
Yeah, but you’re a mom, and you get used to stuff being rank.
The thing I discovered about cloth diapering with a newborn is that I didn’t have enough time to deal with the cloth diapers and the baby and the other four kids and everything else.
I’d change the baby (you do a lot of diaper changing with a newborn), and then go to rinse out the poop and take out the inserts and put everything into a wet bag to hold for laundering. However, on the way another kiddo would have a cut. Or there’d be a fight. Or a math problem that needed tending. Or a goat that got out. Or insert a scene from the life of any mother of young children.
The diapers would end up in piles, waiting to be sorted and cleaned. And the dog would sometimes find those piles….And it stank on many levels.
Cloth diapering gave my baby rashes.
I’m savvy with salves, and can handle most problems, but these rashes had a hard time healing because the diaper wasn’t wicking the moisture away from the baby’s bum the way paper diapers do. A lot of people say they don’t struggle with diaper rash once they switch to cloth diapers, and that’s wonderful! We had the opposite experience.
It took me awhile to realize that my sweet baby just has really sensitive skin. Her similarly sensitive brother struggled with body rashes as a baby, too. Back then we were still going to doctors, and ours prescribed some nasty concoction in a tube that did very little for my son. With baby girl, I just couldn’t get a handle on treating and stopping the cause of the diaper rash.
Cloth diapering adds to the laundry piles.
Whatever. I’m used to laundry but cloth diapers have a lot of parts, and there’s a high volume of them. How can a human that’s so small poop so much?!
Plus, cloth diapers have special washing requirements. Regardless of your cloth diapering system, the part that gets the brunt of the contact with the poop will need to be washed pretty vigorously.
We started with a cloth system called “pocket diapers” where absorbent material gets placed inside the pocket of a special diaper. The diaper has a cotton/poly section against baby’s tushie, and a waterproof fabric on the back. The water proof fabric, called PUL, has to be taken care of so as not to become un-water-proofed. It really can’t stand up to the rigorous, hot-water washing to remove poop from the cotton/poly side. Ask me how I know.
Also, we were using an HE washer when baby was first born, and that thing was constantly foul – everything we washed came out smelling like a dirty gym sock. This was not because of the diapers, but just because that brand of HE washer was always stinky. I discovered that if I used my citrus vinegar cleaner in every load I washed, the nasty mildewed smell disappeared. Well, turns out PUL fabric doesn’t like constant doses of vinegar – it makes them porous.
At least, I think the vinegar is what was causing the diapers to leak through all the time. And that’s another thing…
Cloth diapers leak.
All diapers leak – there isn’t one on the market that doesn’t but, nearly every time? Really?! At least, the cloth diapering system I tried first (the pocket diaper) leaked out the sides, where the diaper wraps around the leg. The elastic failed on several, and the diaper would no longer seal around the baby’s leg. When that happened I was constantly changing a soggy baby, and soggy bedding, and thinking I’d really like a different hobby.
If you have this problem, sometimes the cloth diaper design is just bad, but perhaps you just haven’t figured out the best way to fit it to baby. We had better luck with “pre-fold” diapers where fitting and leaking was concerned. (But more on that in the next article on trouble shooting cloth diaper problems.)
As an aside, cloth diapering makes your baby’s butt so big. The cushion comes in handy when they’re learning to walk, and I think the padded hiney is actually pretty cute, but baby clothes manufacturers don’t design their clothing with cloth diaper bulk in mind. Some things baby girl just couldn’t wear because her butt was too big. Not a problem normally encountered by a six month old.
The Result of Cloth Diapering?
The result was that, for the sake of my sanity, I ditched cloth diapering. I kept them, hoping I’d come to a time where I was getting more rest, and the homeschool schedule evened out, and the homestead could chill a bit while I figured out how to make cloth diapers work for my baby and myself. Plus, they’re a great preparedness item.
The truth was, I really loved the idea of cloth diapers, and wanted so much to have them be something I could do on a regular basis. But, I just couldn’t. And that’s ok.
To all the mothers of young children I say, do what ya gotta do.
You have THE hardest job in the entire world. Forget about trial lawyers and brain surgeons – I’m completely serious. Being a mother is more difficult, and sucks more marrow out of your bones than anything else to which you could possibly give your life and love. (Incidentally, you don’t have to have your own, biological children to be a mother – you just have to constantly serve children to know what I mean.)
If it comes down to cloth diapers or your sanity, ditch the cloth diapers. At least, for a time. Don’t hold onto any system that just isn’t working because you feel like you have to – that’s not a good enough reason to embrace failure in any endeavor. Sometimes we have to step back and learn more.
I will say, that I did just that with cloth diapers. I set them aside until I was ready to take them up again. So, you cloth diaper people, re-sheath your knives ;). I invite everyone to go read this article on troubleshooting some of the cloth diaper problems I ran into – especially how “pre-folds” solved my washing problem. There are ways to fix the problems you run into, for the most part. I promise.
And, in case your wondering about all the other stuff regarding cloth diapers, the stuff that isn’t included in most cloth diapers posts, just visit my friend, Jess, at The 104 Homestead and her very useful post.
Don’t forget to email me for that free sample of The Do It Yourself Homestead! We hope the book will be useful to you, but don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Joel Salatin had to say about it:
*Cover photo gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.