Do's & Don'ts for Newbies
Cloth diapering isn't rocket science, but there is a lot to learn for parents who haven't tried it before. Since cloth diapers haven't been popular in over a generation some knowledge has been lost in the meantime. Things have changed, too - with a whole new line up of high-tech cloth diapers on the market, renewed interest in green living, and health concerns regarding disposables driving more parents to choose cloth. The following DOs and DON'Ts are designed to give parents a crash course in modern cloth diapering.
DO: Research the cloth diapers available today and decide what diaper styles to try. You may want several different diapers to use in certain circumstances - diapers to use for daytime, for naps, for overnight, and with a child care provider. One of the best ways to research cloth diapers is to visit active online cloth diapering forums. There you can ask parents questions about cloth diapers and read what others have to say. Try visiting the forums at Mothering.com and DiaperSwappers.com.
DON'T: Think you can't afford to invest in cloth diapers. Although purchasing an adequate supply of cloth diapers is expensive up front remember you will be saving a significant amount of money in the long run. If you can't afford to buy all the diapers at once buy them gradually as your budget allows.
DO: Find the diapers that fit your child best. Modern cloth diapers fit remarkably well on most babies and are better at containing leaks than disposables. However, if your child is especially chunky or thin you may need to look around to find diapers that fit properly.
DO: Change your baby often. Babies who wear cloth diapers need to be changed more often than those wearing super-absorbent disposables. Check for wetness every hour and change as often as needed.
DO: Wash your diapers in a clean-rinsing detergent every 3 days at least. Diaperjungle has a list of detergents recommended by parents for use on cloth diapers. Be willing to experiment with different detergents if you notice any skin irritation on your baby. Every child's skin is different. What works for washing diapers in one family may cause problems for your child.
DO: Wash diapers in cold water for a first rinse. Set the washer to run a full cycle with cold water and a small amount of detergent to rinse the diapers. Follow with another full cycle in warm water, or the temperature recommended by your diapers' washing instructions.
DON'T: Add too much detergent to your wash. Cloth diapers wash clean with a surprisingly small amount of detergent. Use no more than half the recommended amount of detergent per load. If too much detergent is used residual detergent left on the diapers after washing can cause a build-up that leads to skin rashes and odors.
DON'T: Use fabric softener. Fabric softener coats the diapers with a non-absorbent film that will repel moisture.
DO: Hang your diapers to dry in the sunshine. Whenever possible, dry your diapers after washing on a clothesline in the sunshine. Sunlight works to naturally kill bacteria and remove stains.
DON'T: Leave home without an ample supply of cloth diapers and accessories, especially when traveling. For a day out and about you'll need several diapers, cloth wipes and cleaning solution, and plastic bags for dirty diapers. If you're packing for a family trip bring along your detergent.
DO: Encourage family members or child care providers to use cloth diapers when watching your baby. You may need to give them a lesson on how to use the diapers. Bring along a plastic bag or wetbag (sold at cloth diaper retailers) for dirty diapers.
DO: Spread the word about how you enjoy using cloth diapers for your child. Let other parents know that using cloth is an easy way to reduce your family's environmental impact. Remind others that using cloth diapers greatly reduces household garbage and keeps human waste out of landfills.