From the moment we found out that we were pregnant, I knew that I wanted to cloth diaper. The thought of all those nappies being ending up in landfill horrified me. Soon, I was researching, learning all there is to know about the fine art of cloth diapering. I read reviews on every kind of cloth diaper imaginable and ended up buying three different sets of diapers. Before our baby was born, I had 20 cloth diapers washed, folded and ready to use. I was ready.
Then, our little man entered the world and suddenly, everything changed. An emergency c-section left me unable to navigate up and down stairs, let alone carry out baskets of cloth diapers. Life was a blur of breast feeding, crying babies, crying parents and plenty of diaper changes. Those beautiful new cloth diapers sat untouched in the draw.
Six weeks later, we started to adjust to life and we decided it was time to give the cloth diapers a go. I'm not sure why, when our baby was covered in terrible eczema from head to toe, we thought this was a good idea. After a single day of cloth diapering his bottom was raw. Each time we tried the same thing would happen. I felt completely disheartened. I didn't want to use disposable diapers, but it seemed that we had no choice. Over the next year we tried the diapers here and there. We noticed a gradual improvement, but not enough that we could go cloth full time.
Our little boys skin is much better now, in part, because of a strict routine of creams and coconut oil, but mostly, because he is growing out of the eczema. Now, his skin is able to handle cloth diapers all day. We use disposable diapers at night to give his bottom a little break (it still gets a little red by the end of the day and needs cream to prevent eczema flare-ups).
I haven't cloth diapering for very long, but I've already learned five things that have made the process much easier.
1. Keep trying every so often...
I'm always hearing people say how cloth diapering prevented their babies from getting a rash. As I've mentioned, this wasn't our experience. Skin does change as babies grow, so it is worth trying every so often to see if anything has changed for your little one.
2. Change that adorable bottom frequently
Now that we are cloth diapering, I am changing a nappy every hour or two. I have found this to be the best way to prevent leaks and to keep my babies bottom healthy and happy. Cloth diapers aren't nearly as absorbent as disposable diapers, so if you have a heavy wetter be prepared to change your little one pretty regularly.
3. Get to the poop ASAP
One of the main reasons I hear friends say they don't want to cloth diaper is because of the poop. I'll be honest, it isn't pleasant. I have learned that the sooner you get to that smelly bottom, the easier the clean up will be. I'm lucky, because my little one goes bright red and makes a squeaky noise every time he poops. When this starts happening, I take him straight to the change table and undo his nappy. I find, that if the nappy is undone, the poop comes out in one nice solid 'log' that you can shake straight into the toilet. If you don't get to the poop quickly, it gets all smushed into the cloth and you can spend 15 minutes trying to rinse all the poop out.
4. Learn to love the dry pale
My mum cloth diapered us and honestly, back then it sounded a lot harder than it is now. She used to have to soak and scrub nappies before throwing them into the machine (not to mention safety pins and all kinds of folds etc). These days, most cloth diapers are just placed in a dry pale. No water. No soaking. If the nappy is just wet, I just throw it straight in the pale. If it has poop, I'll give it a little rinse and ring it out, then straight in the pale it goes. I've heard of people soaking nappies and my first response is why? For most modern cloth nappies there is no need and in fact, it can damage the cloth diapers absorbency.
5. Do it up tight
When we first started cloth diapering I was afraid that the elastic would hurt our little man. But I've come to realise, what bothers him is pulling his clothes off every hour and a half because he has leaked out the top again. I put my little mans nappy on so one finger can comfortably fit in the top. I also check that all the absorbent fabric is tucked in and that the leg holes are up towards his crotch and not down his legs. Now I know this, the only time we leak is when he naps for too long and the nappy is too full.