Alright, yesterday I wrote about disposable diapers, so in the interest of being fair and P.C. Today I want to write about cloth diapers! Many of the positions I have worked in as a Nanny and as a child care professional have required that I be familiar with the cloth diaper and it's benefits. What my employers didn't always know was that in the 80's my mother practiced cloth diapering with my siblings, and as the oldest daughter of 10 siblings, I had my fair share of first hand exposure to the topic. I have quite a few tips and tricks to pass on to new mothers who choose cloth diapering. First of all, let me say, I admire you. I respect your choice, and I hope that my tips can help make it an easier one for you. Now for the tips...
1. Know the fold.
There is a certain fold that is the best for cloth diapering. Most cloth diapering sites will show you how it is done, but let me describe it loosely here. Lay the diaper flat with the thick part running from your left hand to your right hand horizontally. With your right hand fold in the thinner corners of the cloth diaper so that they overlap in the middle on the right side, making the diaper look like a blunted arrow with the wide end on your left and the blunt but pointier end on the right. Now take about 1 inch of the diapers edge on each of the 2 ends and fold them in towards one another. This is the diaper fold that will be best for preventing leaks for you and your baby. The large end goes across your babies behind, and the blunted point goes just under your babies belly button.
2. Change often.
One of the basic drawbacks of the cloth diaper is that they cannot hold very much liquid before they need to be changed. They do breath better than any other kind of diaper, but if you don't remove every wet diaper immediately, they will start to chafe your baby's bottom, and that chaffing is hard to get rid of. So do a load of diapers every night, or have the diaper service pick up the diapers as often as the y will, and be liberal with the changing of the nappy.
3. Baking soda satchel between diaper and cover.
This is a little trick that my grandmother used. she took a small cotton sack and filled it half way with baking soda, and slipped it in between the cover (in those days a cover was a heavy plastic thing with tight elastic at the legs) and the cloth diaper. It worked wonders for absorbing smells, and didn't run the risk of caking onto the baby's bottom or irritating the skin. If you have a sewing machine you can turn one of these out pretty quick.
4. Double up for over-nights.
Changing often is all fine and good until you try to get your baby to sleep through the night. Doubling the cloth diaper is the usual remedy for lasting 6 to 8 hours. However, I have a trick, (surprised?) Take some batting, used for padding quilts, and sew a strip of it to the underside of a regular cloth diaper's thicker inner strip, covered with a bit of breathable cotton. Next time you diaper your baby for the night still use two diapers, but have the batting sandwiched between the two. This will capture overflows just long enough to let them absorb into one of the diapers instead of running out the leg opening. If you still experience leaks you can flip the reinforced diaper over so the batting will start to slow the flow of fluid faster, but there is an increased risk of diaper rash.
5. Keep burp-cloths and diapers separate.
Never confuse the nappy's that you are using for your baby's behind, and those that you may use for your baby's face. Though there is very little chance that bacteria would survive washing and be able to cause your baby an eye infection or worse, there is still that small chance. Not to mention the chance that the sugars in your baby's spit up could VERY easily survive washing to give your baby a yeast infection. Simply devise a system (putting a small mark by a permanent marker in the corner of the diapers meant for the baby behind) that you can maintain simply and easily.
Over all, there is not that huge a difference between changing one diaper or another. The challenges you will face with cloth diapering will without question be worth the returns, and with a few tricky tips up your sleeve, those challenges might prove to be nothing more than a momentary distraction from the overall joy of being a mother. If you find these tips helpful, please pass them on to any new mothers or soon-to-be mothers that you might know. I relish questions and comments, so please don't hesitate to leave it if you have one. Happy parenting!