So if you have planned to start on cloth diapering you will probably want to know more on it.Here is the second part of ‘Introduction to cloth diaper’ by Neha Chopra
Read part 1 here
Choosing the BEST cloth diaper
‘Best’ cloth diaper is a myth because every baby is different and what works for the lifestyle of one family may be completely different from another. The web is full of cloth diaper reviews, opinions and video demo tutorials; they come in handy to understand the pros & cons of a particular type of cloth-diaper. Your family can commit to either one type of diaper style or can opt for a combination of styles. I recommend buying 1 or 2 of each kind initially and to gradually build your stash of 12-24 diapers or more depending on your lifestyle needs. As a newbie, I spent many a sleepless nights trying to figure out which kind of cloth diaper to buy. When I was starting out I did not have much choice so I mostly got one-size pocket diapers, few AIOs and one odd diaper cover with pre-folds. Being a work from home mom I could manage to keep a daily laundry routine and managed very well with 10 diapers. Later, when the monsoons were approaching, I realized that drying would be a problem, so I increased my stash by few more pockets. My daughter is 18 months now and we get by with 15 odd diapers with an alternate day laundry routine.
Initially the varied number of style choices can be intimidating, but if you focus on your family’s needs & priorities – for example least complicated, on budget, fit for chunky baby or a thin baby, at home vs. daycare, you will learn this new language soon. Here is quick list of style that you can choose from… crazy huh…!
- Flats & Pre-folds Diapers
- Contour Diapers
- Fitted Diapers
- Diaper Covers
- Inserts, Doublers & Liners
- Pocket Diapers
- One-Size Diapers
- All-In-One Diapers
- All-In-Two or Hybrid Diapers
They are sustainable
Many sustainability experts say that cloth diapers will add to water and air pollution because of the water and energy used to wash and dry them. Even though disposables require a significant amount of water to produce the diapers, I cannot argue with the fact that cloth diapers could produce greenhouse gas and other emissions from energy consumption in the dryer. So, are they really better for the environment then? I grappled with this question for a long time until one day my dryer conked off and I had to line dry the cloth diapers in the sun. Now, I have a tiny balcony niche covered with grills, yet the sun, managed to get in and dry them clean and OMG! the tropical sun we get in India works like magic in getting the stubborn stains out. You will see the magic! The second discovery I made while looking for mild detergents for my cloth-diapers were Soap-Nuts (Reetha in Hindi), these are free from petroleum based surfactants, fragrances, colors, bleaches, enzymes or any other chemical additives or toxins. In fact we have completely switched to soap-nuts for all our laundry needs and the great thing is that the wash water you generate from your regular laundry (not soiled cloth-diapers) can be re-used to water your plants! Now, that is environmentally sustainable… isn’t it?
Be a Laundry Ninja
I cannot deny the fact that you will have more laundry. It was a major concern for me when I was starting out to make the switch, but it turned out to be the easiest part. It does add two to four loads per week to your laundry schedule, but other than that it is not time-intensive and soon becomes a part of your regular routine. Believe me when I say this, that in no time, you will toss them in the bucket, close the lid and walk away and when it’s wash-day, you will open the washer, dump them in, turn it on and walk away… it rhymes!
I wash every alternate day, so I have a load of 8 – 10 diapers. Here is what I do:
- When the diaper is soiled, I spray off solids (if any) into the toilet.
- Toss the diaper into a covered bucket or a wet bag until wash time.
- Pre-rinse in plain cold water in a machine to remove all soaked pee.
- While the pre-rinse is in process, I put half a tablespoon of soap-nuts detergent in a pouch and dip it in a mug of hot water (I use Krya brand because they come with cute cotton pouches!). The soaking helps release the saponins faster!
- After Pre-rinse, I fill my machine with warm water to the highest water setting; pour the soap-nut solution and the pouch into the machine.
- Rinse once or twice in the machine with plain water after the main wash.
- Then I simply line-dry them in the sun. The sun is a great anti bacterial agent.
- I leave my diapers to dry early in the morning and let them dry till evening, this helps them stay soft and not get stiff!
- If after wash & dry, your inserts smell neutral (almost like water) then they are clean. They should not smell of pee, poop or detergent.
- Note – If you are hard pressed for time, you can tumble dry on medium and then line-dry, no one is going to judge you!
Prepping & Pre-wash
Prepping essentially is preparing your cloth diapers to reach their maximum absorbency. Natural fiber cloth diapers like hemp or cotton need to be pre-washed 5 – 8 times in hot water with detergent to ensure the removal of natural oils and waxes they have. I only use a couple of hemp inserts and cotton pre-folds as my nighttime diapering choice, so I put them in a deep cooking pot with a dash of Pril liquid dishwashing soap and let it boil on medium flame on the stove and follow it up by couple of cold rinses in the washing machine. Synthetic fiber cloth diapers like microfiber and micro fleece need to be pre-washed with detergent just once before they are ready to use. Avoid prewashing polyester/synthetic with natural fibers diapers. Once the prewash process is complete, most cloth diapering products (except wool) can be washed together according to the manufacturer’s washing recommendations.
Stripping… ahem ahem!
It is not as dirty as it sounds. Stripping mainly refers to the removal of build-up. Build-up can happen due to detergent residue/ urine residue/ mineral residue etc. and can often cause your cloth diapers to stink, leak or be less absorbent. There are many ways of stripping, the most basic method is to set your washing machine on a heavy duty cycle with a hot wash, add your clean diapers and don’t add any detergent. Agitation and water helps remove most of the residue. Keep checking for any suds in the water until you no longer see the suds. If you maintain a good wash routine, you won’t need to strip your cloth diapers often. But in my experience, I found that if you use detergents, no matter how natural or mild, you do need to strip every couple of months, but since I switched to soap-nuts, I almost never needed to strip because they do not build up on diapers. Another, pertinent observation was that, whenever I rubbed diaper rash creams on my baby’s bum (cloth-diaper safe ones too), it needed to be stripped more often, now I use only coconut oil, rub it well so that the skin absorbs it and nothing builds up on my diapers!
Travelling with Cloth-Diapers
Disposable diapers were actually invented to make diapering while traveling more convenient. But, you can easily take cloth diapers on day trips and vacations too. Wet bags come very handy while traveling, you can store your soiled diapers in them and they keep the smells at bay. The most challenging part of traveling with cloth diapers is figuring out where you are going to wash the diapers. If you are visiting family or friends, it’s polite to let your hosts know that you will need to borrow their washing machine during your stay. However, at hotels and resorts in India, the coin-operated washing machines aren’t popular, in which case you can hand wash your diapers, it will take about 30-40 minutes, and if you wash them late evening, it will dry quickly over the night. Now, I like to laze around on vacations (literally do nothing!) so I resort to combo diapering. When I run out of cloth diapers or don’t get time/facility to wash them or feel too lazy to hand wash, I simply use a disposable. I don’t feel guilty because at least the rest of the time I am using 100% cloth. Hush, if you choose to combo-diaper while travelling, I won’t tell a soul…!
Cloth-Diapering Essentials Checklist
Like disposable diapers, the disposable wipes too are full of chemicals that can dry and irritate your baby’s skin. Cloth wipes on the other hand are easy to use and can be washed with the load of cloth diaper laundry. In fact, there are many tutorial videos on DIY cloth wipes and DIY wipes solution (with essential oils for extra gentle love). I simply use a spray bottle with water along with a box of cloth wipes. You simply spray your babies bum with water from the spray bottle and gently wipe away with cloth. I made my own flannel cloth wipes, but you can choose cotton, hemp, fleece or soft terry cloth to make your own wipes. Baby’s burp cloth, washcloth, fleece blankets also make for excellent ready-made cloth wipes.
Here is a quick checklist of essentials to get you started:
- 12 – 18 cloth diapers
- Cloth diaper friendly detergent (my vote goes to soap-nuts)
- Open or Closed bucket to store soiled diapers (I use closed-top)
- Wet bags (I use two, one at home and another for travel)
- Cloth Wipes (I have about two dozen wipes, one box at home, one in the car)
- Spray Bottle (I use two, changing table and car)
- Quick dry sheets (I have two, changing table and car)
- A diaper sprayer (it’s not really a necessity but it is very convenient)
- Drying Racks – foldable or circular, especially helpful for air-drying indoors during monsoons or to save space for regular laundry load.
- Cloth diaper friendly rash cream (I use cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil). You won’t require to use a rash cream often because cloth diapered babies seldom have rashes, but in case they do get a rash (because of various other reasons), you will have to choose a cloth diaper friendly cream so as not to damage/ build-up on the inner lining of the diaper.
Out of diapers again? Never!
When we were using disposables, we tried many brands before settling in for one brand of disposables that worked for my daughter (there were lesser incidents of diaper rashes). Imagine my horror, when we would run out of diapers or would find them out of stock on the store shelves. When you buy cloth diapers, you always have them available. Just reach out to the colorful display of your diaper stash and pull out the print you fancy!
Earlier potty training
I cannot vouch for this totally but I have heard and read that cloth diapers may encourage babies to potty-train faster because they learn what a wet bum feels like! But many cloth-diapering parents also follow EC (Elimination Communication), which makes potty-training a breeze.
I am not kidding when I say this, but in the past couple of months I have sold and swapped my cloth diapers with moms in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi. There is an emerging market for cloth diapers in India. There are Facebook pages and groups that sell & swap. Can you imagine making money off a diaper that has been pooped in? Well yeah, cloth-diapering system that did not work for you may be really effective for another family.
Start Simple, Start Small & Start at any Age
The first year with the baby is a learning curve for the parents – we learn their cues, their cries, how to soothe them, how to nurse them, how to carry them, then what is so stressful about learning how to cloth diaper your baby’s tiny tush? There is no wrong, right or perfect way to start. You can start with a sample of various styles & types, and in no time you do find out which diaper is right for your baby’s fit and for your lifestyle. Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom whose child is in a daycare, cloth diapering can be tailored to your lifestyle choices. The One-Size diapers available in the market today, literally grow with your baby, the adjustable size snaps fits your baby from approximately 3 to 17 kgs. Actually cloth diapers are probably the only apparel that your baby can use from birth until 2.5 years of age. And remember, you are never too late to join the joys of cloth diapering. I switched when I experienced the nasty diaper rash when my daughter was 5 months-old, a friend of mine switched when her boy was 15 months-old and she saw me cloth-diapering my child in cute owl & dinosaur prints and another mommy-to-be is placing an order as we read for her bun in the oven!
With all the benefits of disposable diapers in the goodness of cloth, why would you still want plastic to be touching your baby’s bottom? Dive into cloth with confidence and when in doubt, ask for help and before you know it, you will be a fluff-addict!
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Meet the Blogger: Neha Chopra is a Mumbai based filmmaker and a full-time mom to Noor. She believes in the freshness of dreams and lives in a kaleidoscopic world of change.Motherhood has initiated a journey to within and inspired her to launch a photography company with her husband called Out of Focus Pictures.
Neha and Deepak, a husband and wife duo are motivated to capture, create, celebrate and bring to life people’s innate desire to dream, share and express with their cameras.
They can be reached at +91-9167619555 or firstname.lastname@example.org