Frequently Asked Questions About Cloth Diapering

Why do you keep so many wipes around?

Cloth wipes are fantastic for everything. I use them for cleaning, wiping hands and faces, anything you would use a store-bought Handiwipe or diaper wipe for. It’s nice having so many around.

What about diaper rash?

We have not had nearly as many problems with diaper rash since switching to cloth, even though we had constant cases of mild to severe diaper rash while using disposables. If we see any diaper rash with cloth, it’s usually just from extended diarrhea. This happens maybe once every 2-3 months, and is best treated with milk of magnesia applied to the bottom with a cotton ball. Also, whenever any of the kids are placed on antibiotics, they get one full serving of yogurt a day for the duration of the treatment. This helps limit the diarrhea they all get and eliminates the yeast infections they might get from the drugs.

What about daycare?

The only daycare I’ve encountered which had a problem with cloth diapers was a local drop-in chain in Austin, Texas. They cited health concerns, but no other daycare I’ve worked with has had any problems. With the triplets, I used an extra-large diaper bag, which I purchased from WeeBees (now closed) and which would hold a full days supply of diapers, covers, and accessories for three babies with room to spare. I also included a copy of my illustrated How to Change a Cloth Diaper in the top of the bag. Since I started doing this, my kids have always been diapered correctly at child care. Works well for sitters, too, when posted over the changing table.

Make sure your travel diaper bag is big enough to last through an all-day daycare. There are two smaller sizes good for away from home, small and medium. I recommend the medium, since it will hold a lot more diapers. Or you could use two small, but then you’ll just have to buy more. For a single baby, a regular-sized diaper bag will be okay, but not the little ones the formula companies give you in the hospital.

The only time we still use disposable diapers is on overnight road trips. We’ve noticed though, that the kids can definitely tell the difference. Our triplets would ask for a “diaper” for hours before actually peeing in a disposable!

Couldn’t I use a diaper service so that I won’t have to wash them myself?

You could, but there are several reasons that I wouldn’t recommend it. Remember, washing diapers is easier than you think; see the cloth diaper home page.

First, you’re not likely to see much competition, which means that you are at the mercy of your service as far as price. Back in Austin, there was only one diaper service, and it would have cost me just as much to use them as to use disposables. I’m not aware of any cloth diaper services here in central Michigan.

Second, you will not be able to choose what type of diaper you use, and you may wind up with inferior diapers. Services have been known to provide thin and/or low-quality diapers so that their customers wind up using more (and paying more!). The diapers we use will, in the Regular 4x8x4 size, hold 3 cups or more of liquid, performance comparable to a disposable diaper. I wouldn’t trade them in for anything.

Won’t I go through more cloth diapers than disposables, especially with a newborn?

Not if you use high-quality cloth diapers. Don’t settle for the cheap stuff, and whatever you do don’t shop at the supermarket! My diapers actually out-perform disposables, soaking up just as much liquid and containing poops much better. As mentioned before, diaper rash shouldn’t be a concern, either; if it is, you’re not washing often enough or in small enough loads.

Why do I need diapers pins if I’m using a velcro cover?

Many people claim that you can fold a diaper into a velcro cover and never need to use pins. I never had a good experience with this. On my wiggly babies, the diaper will not stay in place without pins. It goes everywhere except where you need it, when you need it. Also, all of my children went through a stripper phase, and I was so glad they at least couldn’t take off those pinned-on poopy diapers!

What if I live in a dry region? Won’t cloth diapers use too much water?

The water you wash with is recycled through the sewage treatment system. It’s not going to waste; it’s going back into the public water supply, clean as a whistle! Also, no matter where you live, landfill space is not unlimited. You’ll use your cloth diapers until they are shreds, long after you potty-train, so there will be much less waste going into your local landfill.

What about the cost of washing cloth diapers? Doesn’t it eliminate the savings?

Not at all. We never noticed any significant change in our utility bills with cloth diapering, even with the triplets and washing every day. You are welcome to do your own research into it. Keep in mind that some of the cost analyses out there probably use much more water than I do!

How about all-in-one diapers? Wouldn’t that be more convenient?

You can get all-in-one cloth diapers. They are VERY expensive, running $14-$20 per diaper. I like to have 2-3 dozen diapers around. That comes to $720 just in diapers, and you would have to spend that every time you needed a new size, not to mention all your accessories. Some all-in-ones and pocket diapers use snap arrangements to size down for newborns, but then you get a huge amount of extra bulk. A big reason for using cloth, for me, is money. All-in-ones can wind up costing you more than disposables. Some people keep them around for sitters, etc., so they don’t have to demonstrate all the time. I created my illustrated How to Change a Cloth Diaper guide, and I keep it in their diaper bag for child care and post it over the changing table for sitters. Nobody’s messed it up since we started doing that.

If your only reasons for cloth diapering are aesthetic and/or environmental, all-in-ones might be something you’d like to try.

Why Velcro? Why not snaps? Doesn’t the Velcro get messed up in the wash?

I don’t like snaps because I don’t feel like I’d get as good of a fit. With velcro and pins, you get a perfect fit, every time, even when the baby is sort of between sizes. It also doesn’t get messed up in the wash, especially if you use the fold-backs available in the Bummis covers. They get stuck together sometimes, but they also come apart. After a full 15 months of being washed every other day, the nine covers I used on my triplets were still in good-enough shape to use for another baby.

I’m afraid I’ll stab myself or the baby with the pins.

The pins won’t hurt anybody. I only stabbed myself a couple of times in the first few days, and I’ve never stabbed a baby. If you keep your fingers between the diaper and the baby, you can’t stab them, and you quickly learn how to pin so you don’t hit yourself either.

One tip that makes pinning easier is to run the pin through your hair once before you stick it in the diaper. The oils and static electricity in your hair will make the pin go through like a hot knife through butter; it can be quite difficult to get the pins in without this step.

I plan to just use cloth at home and use disposables when we’re out of the house.

You may start out that way, but I’ll bet you’ll be so impressed with the performance of your cloth diapers that you’ll soon be using them away from home, too. It’s not difficult. Just bring along a small or medium water-resistant nylon bag to place used diapers and wipes in, and you’re set. Empty the bag into your big pail when you get home and wash as usual.

For more info:

Check out our main Cloth Diapering page and our illustrated How to Change a Cloth Diaper guide.

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