Cloth diapering is not everyone’s cup of tea but generally those who do it are huge advocates.
There are many things to consider when you are deciding to use cloth diapers – aside from the actual diapers themselves, diaper cream is also an important consideration because some will ruin your diapers immediately!
For me I was initially just looking for an effective natural diaper cream that didn’t contain any nasty chemicals but then I realised there was the added complication of making sure the cream didn’t make the diapers less absorbent.
So I have tried quite a few creams and to make matters more complicated my little one is pretty susceptible to getting a rash – see my take below on cloth diapering and the best organic diaper rash cream that I have found.
Cloth diapering – Why, How and What
Cloth diapers – why do we do it?
Health: Normal disposable diapers have lots of chemicals in them to ensure their absorbency and make sure the baby’s bottom doesn’t stay wet. These chemicals include Dioxin, Sodium Polyacrylate both of which have been linked to various issues in numerous studies ranging from birth defects to toxic shock syndrome. And of coure the amounts in the diapers are very small but why expose your baby to them at all if there is a lower risk alternative.
Environment so this is quite contentious and there are different studies with varying outcomes. Of course in terms of landfill using cloth diapers is by far and away the best option. However on the flip side you can argue that cloth diapers are often made of cotton which has a heavy environmental toll and you need to use more water and electricity in the washing.
Having weighed up the pros and the cons I feel that if you are planning to use the diapers for more than one child then the environmental impact is smaller with cloth vs. disposable diapers.
Money – It is definitely cheaper to use cloth diapers. Here is a simple rough calculation – assuming your child potty trains around the age of 2.5yrs (ok that’s hopeful..), you will change more than 4,000 diapers (this is a low estimate!!!!) in that time. In Hong Kong that would probably cost you about $8000 HKD ($1k usd) for standard nappies and $12,000 ($1.5k usd) for eco-disposables. And for our cloth diapers in total we have paid about $5000 ($600 usd).
Cloth diapers – how we do it?
Cloth diapering is definitely more hassle – no question but if is very easy once you have a system.
We have the changing table in our daughter’s bedroom and we have a bin there for any rubbish but we take the cloth diapers straight into the bathroom after the change and put them in an ikea foot pedal bin – we didn’t get a nappy bin and this works very well at keeping the smell contained. If it is ever left open you know pretty quickly!!
If it is pee – very easy straight into the bin in the bathroom.
If it is a poo – more work – ideally you have the biodegradable, flushable liners so you can put it all straight into the toilet. This works if your baby is on a pooing routine- haha this is not something you can schedule (as far as I know;) but some babies seem to poo at the same sort of time each day.
Unfortunately we don’t have one of those babies so often get caught without a liner – we tend to change her quickly after we notice the pooo face so if she hasn’t been sitting in it for long it just comes straight off into the toilet and we then put it into a bucket of water that we have in the bathroom to soak.
Washing – we generally put the nappies on once a day or once every 2 days to wash. It is unnecessary to have too many nappies – reduces the advantages! We don’t use special detergent – just our regular natural detergent which works well.
Drying – we don’t put them in the dryer and just hang them in the sun to dry – this helps with getting rid of any staining too.
Going away – when we have been away without access to a washing machine we use the eco disposable nappies – I often get Naty by nature from iherb or Bambo.
When the little one was tiny and the poo is super runny we used more disposables but by about 2 months she was able to fit into the non disposables so we transitioned to them almost exclusively.
Cloth diapers – what do we use?
We use two brands and three systems…when I was looking at what to get I didn’t know what would work the best so I hedged my bets. But in reality all 3 types have worked well.
Charlie Banana – one sized. We have 6 of these with 12 inserts. These are made of Polyester outer with Polyurethane lining Insert: 88% Biconstituent Fiber (82% Polyester 18% Nylon) 12% Polyester. These are poppers with adjustable legs so they fit from very small to potty training. The popper system is surprisingly not a hassle and I think will last longer than the velcro ones over time. If you use two inserts then you don’t have to change the whole nappy every time you can just change the top insert if it hasn’t soaked through.
Bambino Mio 2 piece nappy – Outer plus fold-able cotton inserts. These are very economical because we only have 3 outers and then we have 12 inserts. The outers are made from 100% polyester, laminated to polyurethane and do not need to be washed that often. Then inserts are 100% cotton – basically a big piece of thick cotton that you fold in 3 and put into the outer – very easy to use. We found these worked best out of the 3 types when the baby was very small as they have elasticated edges – still great now.
Bambino Mio All in One nappy – we only have 2 of these. I like then and they are easy to use because they are all in one piece but the downside is the whole thing needs to go into the wash every time. So my preference would be for the 2 piece system.
The amazing designs with Bambino Mio was definitely a contributing factor to my initial decision – Just noticed they have brought out new designs!
The problem with diaper rash cream & cloth diapers
So once you have considered all the above then what about diaper rash cream? Some diaper rash creams stain the cloth diapers and worse still take away their absorbency.
Basically avoid creams with Petroleum on any diapers made from synthetic fibers – Petroleum can cause repelling on synthetic fibers which could make the cloth diapers completely useless!
Surprisingly this is not as easy as you may think – most of the mainstream diaper creams contain ingredients derived from petroleum.
But there are other reasons to avoid diaper creams with Petrolatum derived ingredients which you can read more about in my previous post on mineral oil vs. baby oil.
Here are some of the best-selling diaper creams and why you should avoid them – I have linked to other sources if you are keen to find out more about the individual ingredients of concern.
3. Aquaphor – Mineral oil
4. Bourdreaux – Mineral Oil, Petrolatum
These are just some of the many creams on the market but I do recommending checking what you are using because the majority of creams do use petroleum derived ingredients.
So what is the best cloth diaper rash cream?
There are many products that are good for cloth diapering but ones that are also good for the baby and work well are a little more difficult to find. I have tried quite a few and the one I find works almost immediately to get rid of any rash is Babo Botanicals Baby Zinc diaper cream for Sensitive Skin.
What I love about it:
- The active ingredient is zinc oxide (and it is in a relatively high concentration in this product at 25%) which protects area and provides an effective barrier from the moisture.
- The organic Calendula soothes and organic shea and cocoa butter calm irritation.
- Cloth diaper friendly
- Fragrance free – I am not anti essential oils and other natural scents in baby products but the diaper area is the most sensitive skin so I personally feel that stripping the product back to the bare minimum is the best way to avoid any unnecessary reactions.
Some other options:
California baby calming diaper rash cream and Super sensitive diaper rash cream which is completely free of any scent like the Babo one above. You can buy it at Watson’s baby in IFC mall in Hong Kong.
Moo goo nappy balm – this is a great brand and the product is very safe but I just didn’t find it cleared up rashes as well as the Babo Botanicals one. Available at Babycentral.com.hk
What is good for your baby is also good for you cloth diapers! In my opinion Babo Botanicals does the best cloth diaper rash cream.