How-To · Motherhood · Tales

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

Just to warn folks in case it makes you squeamish: blunt discussion of poop ahead. It’s funny, but count yourself warned.

My old house was built around the turn of the century (that would be the 20th century, whippersnappers) and that means two things: 1. no A/C and 2. no insulation. Paper bags are better at keeping the cold out in winter and the heat out in summer. When the heat wave hit us a month or so ago (yes, at the same time as the firenadoes), suffice to say, we were all pretty uncomfortable. We couldn’t go outside due to the air quality being somewhere between garbage and death, so the family huddled around our few fans in collective misery. My son was so uncomfortable, he tried to take off his diapers!

Hot baby is hot.

After a couple of days, I saw why: he had developed a gnarly heat rash where the disposable diapers were chafing against his sweaty legs. I tried our usual set of diaper creams, but he was either sweating them off or the sheer friction involved made it moot. I was at a loss – he was so unhappy, but he’s also not anywhere near being potty trained going naked wasn’t an option, and honestly I wasn’t about to add that to my plate amid a heatpocalypse.

And then I was like, CLOTH DIAPERS. One of my two besties (of Crafty Council fame) uses cloth diapers for her infant son. Could it work to help the heat rash? Yes! she tells me. She had some diaper covers and prefolds and inserts and pockets and sleeves and socks and sarongs and ALL THE THINGS that she could lend me. It was amazing. She explained the basics to me, remaining patient when I asked her about the same thing for the third time. Feeling somewhat prepared, I make my first attempt at Cloth Diapering The Toddler.

From the left: diaper cloth, prefold cloth, hemp insert, diaper covers, pocket diaper cover. Got it? Of course you do.

The first go was… a good lesson. Luckily he did NOT poop in the first one, because that’s def in Cloth Diapering 102. I took some pictures as the toddler fled and sent them for feedback. I received a few corrections (again, very kind – this woman is saintly in her patience): no prefold sticking out, it will wick onto his clothes; make sure the gussets have been laid flat; the back and front should be level with each other.

Hey, it’s not pretty but at least it stayed on him.

Next attempt: I am improving at generally getting everything on the kid, but it still takes me forever and my son is learning that it’s super fun to grab the prefolds and fling them like he’s on a Mardi Gras float. Lesson #2: Keep plenty of prefolds at hand so you don’t have to leave the toddler on the changing table that apparently he can climb off of now and run diaperless through the house… *sigh*

Bag of diaper covers: check. Ginormous wet/dry bag: check. Bag of prefolds ready for deployment: DOUBLE CHECK.

Third attempt is the make or break moment: POOP. Now, I am not queasy about poop in general. In fact, my partner feels I’m rather abnormally indifferent about excrement. However, that indifference does NOT apply in the case of toddlers. It’s gross, guys. Like, really really gross. But I pat myself on the back for diapering the child before he can escape, after not one but TWO prefold-tosses (Mama was ready), and set him on his way so I can have the showdown with The Poopy Cloth Diaper, alone.

I learn of two ways to address TPCD: “The Scrape” and “The Dunk & Swish.” The Scrape is just as it sounds: you designate some poor implement as a poo-scraper and you do your best to scrape the poop into the toilet. It’s about as fun as it sounds. The D&S is also aptly named: you hold the prefold on the most-clean corner, dunk it in the toilet bowl and swish it around until the poo comes loose. In both cases, have your wet/dry bag handy to dump the now-somewhat-poo-free-but-still-gross prefold into. I didn’t and I don’t want to talk about what I had to do instead. Let’s just say, REMEMBER THE WET/DRY BAG.

I am sorry, plastic play spatula, but you have been chosen as Tribute.

Moving on.

It took about a week of doing the cloth diapering to get a rhythm down, but it’s been pretty straightforward once I did. I wouldn’t say it’s easier or harder than disposables (with the exception of poo, but that’s only one every 5 diapers for us), it’s just …different. And hey, a lot cheaper than buying size giant disposables for my size giant toddler. AND it’s easier on the planet too, so I get to be all smug about it, right?

Okay, maybe not. I’ll just be smug about how this kid’s fluff-butt is absurdly cute. *heart eyes*

I’m biased but isn’t this adorable?!

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