25 July 2009

Cloth diapers: the war rages on

Oh, cloth diapers. I am so tired of you making me think about diapers all the time.

Ok. Little Dude has been in cloth diapers for most of his life. I didn't have them until he was about three months old, and I had a relapse for a couple of months, and I don't use them when we travel. But it is time for me to admit the truth. He has developed a chronic rash in them, and it goes away whenever he's in disposables.

This rash persists despite the fact that I am good about changing him very promptly, and he usually stays dry during his nap of his own accord. I cannot find a balm or emollient which suffices preventatively or remedially. He's a manly baby man, but he still has sensitive skin. He'll probably be in Gillette commercials someday and buy me a nice trailer and let me live in his backyard.

I'm just not board with disposables being carcinogenic or otherwise personally hazardous (and totally unqualified to have come to this conclusion, since there is no way of knowing which side in the absurdly inflated argument not untainted by the premise that babies are bad is actually right), so I'm making one final attempt. I'm now experimenting with Chinese prefolds, thanks again to my diaper sugar mama aka Grandma, and if they work, that will be great and mean a lot less dryer time in the winter and I'll buy me some Snappis because pins stink.

But if they don't, that imaginary stack of rank disposables on my ridiculous Al Gore-influenced conscience and my dogmatic notion that it only makes sense for people with a lot of kids to use cloth diapers just cannot outweigh my baby's comfort any longer. I KNOW that the cloth diapers I've been using are personally hazardous to this particular person. He cries whenever I change him. It's terrible.

This all came into focus a few mornings ago when my husband found me retching in the bathroom as I pregnantly sprayed out a really noxious specimen, informed me that this is completely insane, and offered to contribute the MONEY he earns at his JOB so that his son and I will no longer be afflicted in our bodies by this matter of principle. Um . . . right.

So, maybe the prefolds will work, or maybe Baby 5 will be a better candidate for cloth, or maybe Jesus will come back before I have to find out.


Shannon @ Some Fine Taters said...

You've probably considered this, but is it a laundry issue? Most likely a sensitivity to the detergent, also consider using an extra rinse or two.

Megan said...

Poor baby boy, and poor mama. I actually switched to cloth just 4 months ago, and it was for the worst of reasons, spite. Wal-mart discontinued my favorite diapers ( White Cloud) and I refused to spend more money on diapers I didn't like as well. I bought unbleached Indian prefolds, Thirsties covers and flush able liners. We have actually had less diaper rash with my sons very delicate skin, which leaves me wondering if he was sensitive to the chemicals in the disposable. Plus my three year old potty trained within three days because she hated the cloth diapers.

We use disposables at night, or when the morning (all day) sickness gets me to the point I just can't handle another load of laundry. But I say do what every keeps your sanity in tact. A happy mommy trumps any reason for cloth diapers.

Reb. Mary said...

I'm rootin' really hard for Jesus to come back first.

Meanwhile, your earthly bridegroom seems to have good advice on the matter :)

Chinese prefolds? This I must Google.

Gauntlets said...

I have been anxiously watching your diapering experiment, and I cannot help but be pleased with this, your most recent conclusion.

I hate the smell of Parent's Choice, but, by golly, I can't imagine what you've been through. Very glad to hear you're getting to go on leave.

Ted said...

As the man of the house, I am typically charged with the care and laundering of poopy diapers. That said, when Little One gets a little diaper rash, usually that means its time for a little oxygen bleach and an extra rinse cycle. Usually once every second or third week will do.

Melrose said...

What are all the diapers you've used made out of?

I used fuzzi bunz with baby #1 and that poor child suffered more than his share of diaper rashes...that being said, even though they would clear up in disposables, if I kept him in disposables long enough the rash would return (one time I switched to disposables for about a month and the rash came back after two weeks). The rash was mostly yeast, which a good probiotic and apple cider vinegar bath every day keeps away, but was also caused by the rancid poop caused by teething.

With baby number 2 I heard that synthetic fabric is often terrible for sensitive skin so I switched to SposoEasy diapers. These diapers are AWESOME. They are all in ones but because the soaker is only attached on one end they dry super fast. They come in 100% cotton and 100% organic cotton. Baby 2 has been nearly rash free, though a good teething episode or too much sugar in his diet always gives him a pretty impressive rash (which since you cant use rash cream in cloth I give him a good dump of corn starch to keep him dry).

Cloth diapers are certainly no picnic and yes, I imagine sitting in a damp cloth filled with waste no matter how brief a time vs sitting in a dry paper diaper will always lose the rash contest, so if I were in your shoes I'd ditch those puppies until the next one comes along. It is not worth baby being in pain :)

Melrose said...

oh yes, and chinese prefolds are awesome. I wanted to use them this time because they're cheap and dry so easily but hubby wasnt into the folding and snappi idea :)

Anyhow, my sister used them on her newborn baby girl and loved them, since they're 100% cotton they dont hold smells nearly as much and seem much gentler. hope you love them!

JenniferH said...

Love this post which also does well to assuage my guilt over using disposables for both (gasp!) babies. Tried cloth with baby #1 who had a constant rash when wearing them, all the while pregnant with baby #2 and actively participating in said pregnant retching until hubby put a stop to the whole thing.

Oh, and I most certainly did NOT leave a sealed up diaper pail hidden in the corner of my garage for months until past the 16th week of pregnancy before dealing with it. Hubby of course did not try to throw the whole pail away twice, and I did not remove it due to personal guilt over waste and good intentions for the future. I was also not thanking my lucky stars for a strong bleach solution and new front-loading washer with XXXSanitary setting when these were finally laundered...twice.

Rebekah said...

As the man of the house, I am typically charged with the care and laundering of poopy diapers.

Now this is the weirdest thing I've read in a long time, Luther quotes notwithstanding! ;)

My original cloth diapers were birdseye cotton with an internal PUL liner and a flannel outer. I've done Oxyclean and the periodic bleachings to no avail. I use the same detergent as on our other clothes and linens, which doesn't cause him undue trouble. I think it's just the wetness issue.

These prefolds are the old oldschools, not sewn at all. Easy for now because he just runs free (except that a major episode is equivalent to wearing no diaper at all--awesome), but winter is going to be a trick again since I like onesies in this big cold house.

I am also super mad about White Cloud disappearing--Parents' Choice is terrible and I hate all disposables with character endorsements.

Rebekah said...

Oh, and that should say, "not on board," not "not board." And I'm definitely bored about it.

Gauntlets said...

JenniferH: :D I approve of your methods, because they are hilarious.

Pam said...


For what it's worth to you Rebekah, I haven't used cloth diapers for the last 3+ children. When we switched to disposables, it was to be a temporary help for my own sanity's sake, and somehow I haven't managed to get back to them.

In my experience, the rash with one and not the other has gone both ways. I have most definitely had more than one child for whom cloth diapers cleared up, rather than caused, a rash. Olive oil has been a helpful salve. I hate zinc oxide and petroleum jelly. Ew.

We have been using cloth pullup-type pants for our nighttime wetters (till recently, there were FIVE, if you include the baby!). My husband, the one who wanted to stop buying GoodNites most, volunteered to take care of all laundering and making sure they were ready for each night. He washes them in hot water with our homemade laundry soap (and we don't use much), puts vinegar in the rinse cup, and they go for an extra rinse cycle as well. At times we have also used a pre-rinse.

The best, and I mean BEST thing for cloth diapers when it comes to odor is to hang them in the sun to dry. Not always feasible, but we do it as much as we can.

Regarding White Cloud, I concur. But what really really REALLY made me mad is that they also changed the Sam's Club Smiles diapers, and the "new" ones are awful. I received a survey about the diapers, and haven't yet filled it out. But when I do, they're getting an earful. I had relied on Smiles for everything but the early months (they don't have NB and 1), and now I have gone to buying LUVS, which I do LOVE, but they cost more.

I don't like character endorsements either, but I like having to change an entire outfit and bed every morning far FAR less. ;o)

Megan said...

I love the way LUVS work, but can't stand the smell. They give my husband and I headaches unless they have been out of the bag at least a month. But then we are both very sensitive to perfumes of any kind. I think Parent's Choice are worthless which left us with Huggies as an only option, and there just aren't enough coupons in the world to keep those affordable on a seminarians budget.

So I guess I'm stuck with cloth. But then I also find cloth diapers more convenient for me, but I'm also the one who is just as likely to make hot dog buns as to wrestle the kids into the car and go to the store and buy them. It's also easier to just throw a load in the wash then to run to the store... unless there is a load of kids clothes in the dryer I'm avoiding folding ;)

Jody S. said...

First, to all those searching for a good and cheap disposable, I offer up--Target brand. Once in a while, they are cheaper than Sam's. When they're not, they're still cheap. I haven't had any problems with them.

As for cloth diapers, I can only offer up what we do that works well. Our favorites are the chinese prefolds (the thickest ones). We use pins (dritz locking ones, please) and nylon pull-up covers (dappi brand). These all last pretty well. I rinse in cold, then wash in hot, then rinse in cold again, sometimes with vinegar to really get any detergent buildup out. We have never had any residual smells. (The diaper covers get put in a separate bucket, washed in cold, and hung to dry. They get stained, but I haven't noticed an odor, and they last!)

One "old-school" diaper I have found I do NOT like is the regular old flat square of diaper flannel (homemade). This required lots of time folding in fancy origami type shapes. Not so fun when juggling two babes of different sizes in poopy diapers. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with them for a while--until they wear out or I can justify buying new prefolds when I have something quite adequate.

But Rebekah, I totally get the sickness-induced disposables. For the first three months, my husband gets almost all of the messy diapers to change and the laundering detail. (Hang in there!)

Melrose, why can't you use rash cream with cloth diapers? (I do.)

Kelly said...

Rebekah, who is a woman much wiser than I am, predicted my flunking out of cloth diaperdom. :D I was so excited about doing cloth diapers for all the usual good reasons - then the reality of postpartum hit and there was no.freaking.way. that I could handle the laundry, the folding, the ANYTHING associated with them. Not to mention trying to get a NB prefold to fit a rapidly expanding 8 pounder was more than my fragile mental state was capable of handling.

But I spent an inordinate amount of time on CDing websites when I was pregnant and concur that it is most likely a detergent issue. I'm thinking it could be a breathability issue too - have you thought of trying wool covers? People that use it swear by it. greenmountaindiapers.com has tons of info about prefolds and covers, and the store owner is completely dedicated to carrying natural fibers as opposed to synthetics which tend to stink. Even if you don't order from her there is much to be learned.

I am no longer ashamed to admit that I am enjoying our disposables. We use Earth's Best because I too get awful headaches from scented diapers. The Huggies are cheaper but DD constantly leaked in them. Parent's Choice, as I quickly found out, is definitely a sick joke. Thanks to whoever suggested the Target brand - I'm going to have to try them out!

lisa said...

I don't want to be redundant.
I will, however, offer up my insights:

Charlie's Soap: Charliesoap.com
1 scoop washes a load (of anything). For prefolds wash on cold no detergent, then wash on hot with one scoop of CSoap. Done.

I love corn starch as well. Good barrier. It's also super cute slathered in between neck fat and chubby thighs.

If you like petroleum jelly but want something lighter you can try Alba's UnPetroleum (how unique ;) Jelly.
(I recommend this website in general: Vitacost.com)

Lastly - this little gem by Wish Garden Herbs is priceless: http://www.preciousarrows.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=nipple
I know the title makes it sound one dimensional but you can use it for any owwie. It's wonderful and can restore even mama's neglected chapped lips (for when you are so tired cloth diapering you forget to look in the mirror for a week).
For such a small tub it is pricy but I can't tell you how many times I've had joy in my heart knowing this is in my cabinet & I *get* to use it. For the record, it is good for its intended use for new moms and does not hurt baby when ingested. I attest to this. My babies have survived.

I hear Weleda makes something similar but I can't vouch for it. It should be available through Vitacost.

I don't use prefolds exclusively. When I do use them, I pair them with Bummis Whisper Wraps. However, in my limited experience, these wraps only seem to make it through 2 babies max. And they're plasticized synthetic material, so if you're not into that..

Right now I am trying to phase the Bummis _out_ and Vermont Diaper Company wool wraps _in_ (for use with my prefolds). A lot of wool wraps don't keep prefolds snug and this can be a challenge.

Dude, If you can work with a Snappi, bully for you! You're tough. It's funny - cloth diapering does create a certain sense of pride in mommies who feel it's been a "job well done" at the end of a day, folding up sweet stained cloth rectangles.
However, pride comes before the fall. So, resorting to the use of disposables occasionally is probably good, right and salutary for me. I like Parent's Choice when I get too cocky. Nothing like Wal*Mart to make me yearn for the second coming.

2 cents done.

lisa said...

"We have been using cloth pullup-type pants for our nighttime wetters.."

Please tell me more. Where did you find these? Target? There is a lady on Etsy.com who makes pullups out of prefolds but they're $5 a pop. (I know, a fair price, but pricy for me :(

Melrose said...

Sorry, I meant to say that with the fuzzi bunz cloth dipes you cant use rash creams since the part that touches baby's skin is fleece...it causes the dipes to repel moisture (aka, pee runs out the leg hole!!!) :O

Now that I have sposo's I can use the creams, thank the Lord, because ds has a nice little rash right now.

Pam said...


I explained what I do and where I got them in this blog post:


Regarding the smell of LUVS, yeah, I'm not big on perfumed diapers either. I just try not to inhale too deeply. ;o)

Jody S. said...

Oh, and with prefolds, the name says it all. . . no folding needed. My mil cloth diapered 13 babes, and when she saw my "method" of throwing clean diapers back into their own clothes basket without bothering to fold them, she wondered why she had spent so much time over the years bothering to fold hers.

Glenda said...

Rebekah, When my mom married my dad (second marriage for both) they had me and my little sister. Mom said she bought cloth for me, but like your poor son, I reacted horribly, so store bought it was. She stocked up on store bought for my little sister, and wouldn't you know, she was allergic to those and mom had to buy cloth. (Or it might be the other way, I frankly don't recall those days). That was the first clue to just how different my sister and I are.

And with all five of mine, I thanked God that He allowed me to live in a time of drugs for childbirth and disposable diapers.

Monique said...

I have to totally agree with Glenda's last statement.

I've never used cloth diapers and I pray that I'll never have to. We live on a very tight budget, but there are some expenses I think are necessary for the sake of Mom's sanity. Along with disposable diapers we make room in our budget for really good coffee, paper plates (even though I have a dishwasher)and when I'm pregnant my husband hires a housekeeper to deep clean our house once a month. We scrape and scrimp to come up with $60 each month for the 9 months of pregnancy plus about 3 months post-partum. My husband says he doesn't believe any pregnant woman should be on her knees bending over to scrub a tub or toilet. And out of subsmission to him and his authority, I don't argue with him :D

Anonymous said...

I think this is further proof that I am not a CSPP, but I have no qualms about using disposables, I LOVE the smell of pampers and Luvs, and what's the big deal about characters on diapers?? Neither of my kids have paid any attention to them either on their own diaper or on the diaper of the other one.

Regarding diaper rash creams, I too think nipple cream on baby's bottom works very well. I have used Lansinoh. It is sticky, but it's sooo much better than Desitin, and one tube lasts forever.


PS. My word verification was "menput". "Men put" what? :)

Monique said...


I forgot to mention, have you ever tried Bag Balm for diaper rash? The stuff works awesome. It was initially used on cow's teets after milking to avoid chapping but the stuff is the best thing I have found for diaper rash.

Pam said...


I don't think anyone here was saying you or anyone else ought to have qualms about using disposable diapers.

And in NO way does the type of diapers one chooses to use, or the reason(s) behind that choice, directly affect or result from being "CSPP" or not. I have used both types of diapers, and at no time was that related to my faith and trust in God.

As for the characters, I won't claim to speak for Rebekah... but personally I have a preference across the board for things unadorned by the latest cartoon or other character that is "in." I tend not to buy them, and I tend to pass over them in handmedown boxes. Having them on diapers is merely another manifestation of our culture's obsession with fads.

It's not because I am paranoid that our children will be scarred by having diapers with characters on them. I just want a plain old diaper, that's all.

I have used bag balm and udder cream on bottoms too, as Monique mentioned. But with my worst ouchie rashes, the best treatment was bathing, patting and airing the red bottom till thoroughly dry, applying olive oil (although I too have used cornstarch if it's more of a heat rash), and repeating this process with each diaper change till it clears up.

Boy, this is getting to be a long comment exchange!

Liz said...

Not to get personal or anything, but if it is a rash that is comprised of a lot of red dots and the occasional bump (dots ranging in size up to the size of a pencil eraser) you might be dealing with a fungus in which case athletes foot cream works wonders. And then bleach your diapers really well, also bleach your changing table pad and cover... and pretty much anything that comes in contact with the bare bum.

Rebekah said...

Kelly, I'm of the opinion that early breastfeeding problems and cloth diapers are mutually exclusive. Breastfeeding problems and human life are nearly mutually exclusive, so maybe you'll still get your chance a baby or two down the road.

Jody, maybe my prefolds aren't really prefolds because I do have to fold them. I don't know what they are. Huge quadrilaterals of fabric.

Glenda, I at least feel desensitized to both approaches now, whate'r the bums may demand. :P

Monique, a housecleaner! Wow! We just live with the mess. :D

Susan, diapering has absolutely nothing to do with CSPP proper. This is a purely practical question. Characters also just a matter of taste and opportunity for complaint, which I love.

Liz, I hate fungus. :P

Mrs. Jones said...

We use Country Save detergent. It's cheap, doesn't have a lot of horrible, irritating chemicals, and is known for being great on cloth diapers. You can buy it in bulk on Amazon, and if you have Amazon Prime you can get free shipping. Highly recommend.

Also, I second the notion that it may be yeast (because it has been hanging around so long), in which case you need to ask your doctor for a cream. Switching diapers won't make it go away.

Susan said...

I hadn't been reading this, but somebody mentioned to me "my" post on this comment thread and the responses to "me." Just wanted to mention that the Susan who posted earlier was her own individual person and not me. :-) I was one of those hippie mommies with her babies in cloth instead of disposable, and I love Bag Balm for diaper rash. Well, Bag Balm and lots of sunlight and fresh air. Now that we've got a society so squeamish about naked little baby bums, what on earth do you young mommies do about diaper rashes when you have to be "decent" about your 4-month-old's private parts??? I thought taking the kid out in the wagon or to the playground naked from the waste down was the quickest cure to diaper rash you could find. (How dare elKid get a diaper rash in January!)

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