Second Look at Cloth Diapering

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Forget those flat sheets and clumsy pins. Cloth diapering has a new look that is functional and easier than ever! When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember a friend telling me to buy those flat cloth diapers for burp rags. She commented, "I don't know how people use those for diapers, they are so thin!" It turns out that people don't use those! At least not anymore. Actually there is quite a broad selection with today's cloth diaper. Diapers come as prefolds, fitted or all-in-one (AIO). You can get them in plain white or with patterns and prints. You can also fasten them with pins, velcro or snaps. In fact, there is such a selection in cloth diapers that it can be quite overwhelming.

Diaper Dictionary
The main types of diapers are pre-fold, fitted and all-in-ones. Pre-fold diapers are rectangular shaped and are divided into 3 sections than span the length of the diaper. The middle is the thickest section with 6 to 8 layers of fabric. The outer sections usually are four layers. Then there are fitted diapers which resemble disposable diapers. They have a contoured shape and have gathered elastic edges around the legs. Instead of tape, they are fastened with Velcro or snaps. You can also have them made without fasteners so you can pin or fold into a waterproof cover.

I have already mentioned the waterproof cover a few times. Cloth diapering requires two pieces, the diaper and a waterproof cover. The main reason for separating the diapers from the covers is that diapers require more rigorous cleaning and can wear out the waterproof quality of an attached cover. I find that having these two pieces separate just makes buying diapers more fun. You can mix and match covers, find covers with cute prints, or buy different kind for day or evening wear. Separate covers can be reused several times between washings and can be hand or machine washed when necessary. Still if you want, you can invest in AIOs (All In Ones). These are basically fitted diapers with the waterproof cover already sewn on. Since these are more expensive and require more care most parents prefer to reserve these for outings.

No more pins

While there are many cloth diaperers that prefer to pin, pins are no longer a necessity with cloth. You have already read about fitted diapers and AIOs which can be closed with attached fasteners like Velcro or snaps. However if you want to stick with the economical prefold, you have pinless alternatives. You can enclose your prefold in a waterproof cover. Alternately you can use snappy clips, which are Y shaped plastic fasteners that have claws at each end to grab and hold the diapers in place.

Personally I love the way my baby looks in a pinned prefold. Pinning is easy once you get the hang of it. One trick I use is to stick my pins in a bar of soap between uses. The soap provides a coating that makes the pin slide right through the diaper the next time...this makes a big difference when trying to diaper a wriggly child.

Caring for diapers

If dirty diapers scare you, don't worry. Today's washing machines do all of the work. For dirty diapers, simply shake out loose pieces into the toilet bowl and dunk if necessary and put the diaper in the pail. If this still bothers you, use paper thin flushable liners between your baby's bottom and the diaper. You never have to touch the yucky stuff!

My method for washing diapers consists of 4 steps:

= Overnight Soak. I place all diapers in the washer with cold water and ½ cup of baking soda. Baking soda is key here. It is very effective in whitening and removing the urine smell from the diapers. I let the diapers soak in a baking soda solution for at least 8 hours, usually overnight.
= Hot Wash. I drain the water from the soak and re-fill the washing machine with hot water, liquid fragrance-free laundry detergent and more baking soda.
= Rinse. For the rinse I use cold water, add ½ cup of vinegar, this softens the diapers and balances the PH balance of the diapers.
= 2nd Rinse: For this final rinse I use cold water only.

Worried about the smell?
Many parents think a cloth diaper pail is smellier than a disposable diaper one. I found the contrary to be true. Since I flush poops down the toilet there is less to stink up the baby's room. With disposable diapers, you usually have dirty diapers sitting for days. Even through a Diaper Genie TM, I have been able to detect the scent of a dirty diaper. Therefore, unless you take the Diaper Genie TM out to the garage to remove the diapers when it is full, your baby's room will stink of week old dirty diapers for a few hours.

On the few occasions when my diaper pail starts to emit a bad odor, I simply sprinkle baking soda (again!) This does the trick.

The truth about Diaper Rash

It is a myth that cloth diapered babies get diaper rash more frequently than disposable diapered ones. Procter & Gamble's own studies have shown that the occurrence of diaper rash increases from 7.1 percent to 61 percent with the increased use of disposable diapers ("A Review of Procter & Gamble's Environmental Balances for Disposable and Re-usable Nappies" The Landbank Consultancy Limited, 1991).

If your baby gets diaper rash with cloth diapers chances are you have done something wrong. When washing diapers make sure to use fragrance free detergent in the wash and vinegar in rinse. Also avoid borax, bleach, soap detergents and fabric softener. Bleach and borax break down diaper fibers. Soap and fabric softener reduce the absorbency of diapers.

So there you have it cloth diapering in a nutshell. Now you that have the basic information try it out for yourself! It's fun, fashionable and easier than you thought.

Credits: Jennifer Liptrot

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